Join Ayah Bdeir for an in-depth discussion in this video Launching a start-up company, part of Creative Insights: Ayah Bdeir and littleBits.
[MUSIC]. Ayah Bdeir: The path to get littleBites into a product and then made into a company, was a series of of problems that I became obsessed with solving that one, that each led the next. It was a combination of manufacturing problems, electrical engineering problems and sort of social and design problems, that I was trying to, to solve, that at every juncture carried me through to the second, and third, and fourth phase.
And next thing I knew I had been working on it for four and a half years. I went to China, found a factory, you know, placed a small order for parts. And in the mean time press was finding out about it and writing about littlebBits even though there was no product. So what I needed was capital to place an order at the factory, because you can't place orders for less than 5,000 pieces, and I didn't have the money to do that. And so what I did is, I started exploring this idea of raising money and starting a company.
I took a lot of, I took some time in the beginning to learn about that process, but once you, kind of, take a sneak peek into the world of entrepreneurship, it sucks you in really easily and people start to lead you to one another and you understand the ropes. The first round I raised was from was led by Joi Ito, who's currently the director of the media lab at IT. He used to be the CEO of Creative Commons where I was a fellow. And he asked me if I was raising money for littleBits and I said, actually yes.
And suddenly we put around together and raised the first round, seed round with 850,000 and placed the first factory order. We started out of a shared space. We had a 10 x 10 office in a shared space in the West Village called Co Lab where we basically just rented a 10 x 10 room. And we kept hiring people, all sitting on top of each other. And suddenly, you know, when the press started getting traction and our sales started getting traction, and we raised the Series A, we moved out of that office, and we're looking for the same type of feel where everybody could feel sort of very close to each other and collaborating , but still have a, have an office that's fully working.
So, it took some time to find this office. And we're now 31 people and, we sort of sit in pods depending on what your focus is, whether it's designer, engineering or web. We do all our prototyping and all our design and all our engineering of new bits and kits and projects. So we'll come up with a new bit, we'll say, for example, we want to make a screen bit. We'll think about how that should work and how it should display and the interaction should work. We'll make a prototype of it and assemble it and then we’ll play with it, and then we’ll see if we feel like it makes sense. Then we will design enclosures for it in-house using the laser cutter or 3D printer, and we really design the product in-house.
I really, really genuinely love the team we have. Every single person has been hand picked and carefully selected to join, because they believe in a certain culture. One of the big ideas that we all believe in, is that there is no ego at littleBits, the best idea always wins. And the best idea could come from an intern that's been with the company for two days or it could come from the CEO. It doesn't matter, the best idea always wins. [MUSIC]. Ayah Bdeir: And it's something that, that keeps us all humble.
and, and makes us all realize it's not a question of hierarchy and it's not a question of the best way to do it according to industry. It's the best way for us; it's the best way for now. It's the best way for this particular problem, and it becomes something that's much more fun and much more collaborative.