So, Vector Watch was launched a couple of weeks ago, in Basel. You can now pre-order it online, and the reviews (“this gorgeous timepiece“, “was the boldest smartwatch at Baselworld” and so many others) are already very positive.

I don’t want to go into the qualities and features of the product now – although I now wear one of these watches and it’s spectacular. I only want to tell you why this company is extraordinary and why I believe it will make it big:

I was talking to Andrei a year ago about the idea and the project he and two other co-founders had. Here we are – only one year later – and let me walk you through what they have already achieved:

  • Hardware design: new watch, completely from scratch. You know, motherboard, processor, the full nine yards;
  • Operating system, from scratch. I’ll write a blog post these days and I’ll tell you why a new operating system for watches is required. All in all, the company wrote a completely new operating system. And they didn’t start from Linux, or from RTOS, or from Android – but from the blank paper! You know… “void main ()”… those were the days :-);
  • Connecting Apps for all the three main operating systems for phones: iOS, Android, Microsoft, with connection, notifications, updates, AppStore, the whole shebang;
  • Cloud: with API for developers, full-fledged AppStore, apps to be run in the cloud…
  • Watch apps: Vector did not wait for developers to come with third party apps (though it is so exciting, I am sure so many will), but they already created quite a few nice vector apps. Mainly around better organizing you time – as a watch should do – but also the normally expected health, activity, weather, news…
  • Design: it’s not easy to design a watch in a fashionable way. There are few people in the world that know how to do that well and Vector managed to work with them and make a watch that looks gorgeous. Simple, like a classy watch. A collection that offers various shapes, materials and colors;
  • Production: it seems easy to say that once the prototype is made in the lab, the rest is being sent to the factory and it gets done. Not true… it’s a very complicated battle to find companies you can rely on to produce what you want, when you want it, with the desired rate of accuracy. You have to negotiate with these factories technologies, inches, finishing strokes… assembly, testing, certification… storage, transport, delivery;
  • Distribution: worldwide, distribution channels are much easier to build for software than for a watch. Online stores but also brick and mortar watch stores. And telecoms… in many countries… inventory, returns, warranties, politics between local dealers;
  • Branding: a complex exercise that has to explain a coherent vision. In itself, this process only may take up to a year;
  • Team: hey, I should have started with this! Vector has the coolest team ever: Joe Santana (ex CEO Timex, London) and Andrei Pitis (ex VP Engineering Ixia, Romania) are the two forces that have built the bridge between technology and watches. Steve (Portland) handles design, Bandu (Hong Kong) does production, Michelle (London) handles finances…. Dan (Bucharest) is behind the Hardware and Irina (Bucharest) does design engineering. More great guys and girls that complete a very special team;
  • R&D: you may not believe this, but this very young company has a separate R&D team that is already researching for the future, the same time as the rest of the company is fighting for launching the new product.

All in all, it’s been only a year from the first idea and Vector has a wonderful hardware product that is ready and functional; a great team that works well and at a crazy pace. And it does have everything it needs to become a unicorn. It’s a project you can’t but love to be involved in!

PS: I have received at least 200 emails saying “I want to buy a watch, how can I get it faster?”. The first watches to be delivered are the ones pre-ordered from the company’s website.

Original Romanian Version
Va fi Vectorwatch urmatorul unicorn?

Deci s-a lansat Vector Watch acum doua saptamani, la Basel. Acum se poate deja comanda online, iar review-urile (“this gorgeous timepiece“, “was the boldest smartwatch at Baselworld” si multe multe altele) sunt deja foarte pozitive.

Nu vreau sa intru acum in calitatile produsului, desi am un ceas pe mana (sic!) si este spectaculos. Vreau doar sa va povestesc de ce compania este extraordinara:

Am vazut multe cumpanii care incep, incet, incet si peste 2-3 ani se prezinta in continuare ca oportunitati, “sa vezi ce putem noi face daca avem ocazia”. Ei bine Vector nu e asa: tace si face. Repede si bine.

Acum un an vorbeam cu Andrei despre ideea si proiectul pe care el si inca doi co-fondatori le aveau. A trecut doar un an si fiti atenti ce aceasta companie a reusit sa faca:

  • Design hardware: “de la zero” a unui ceas complet nou. Stiti voi, placa de baza, procesor, the full nine yards;
  • Sistem de operare nou, de la zero. O sa revin cu un post zilele astea povestind de ce este nevoie de un sistem de operare nou pentru ceasuri. Una peste alta compania a scris un sistem de operare nou. Nu pornind de la Linux, nu pornind de la RTOS, nu de la Android. Ci de la zero. Stiti voi…  “void main ()”… ce timpuri :-)
  • Aplicatii pentru cele trei sisteme de operare de telefoane: iOS, Android, Microsoft. Cu conectare, notificari, updates, AppStore, toate alea;
  • Cloud: cu API pentru dezvoltatori, Vector AppStore complet, rulare a unor aplicatii in cloud…
  • Aplicatii de ceas: Vector nu a asteptat sa vina dezvoltatorii sa construiasca aplicatii – A facut deja cateva exemple, mai ales in jurul gestionarii mai eficiente a timpului (despre asta este un ceas pana la urma, nu?). Dar si tot ce astepti in mod normal de la un smartwatch: sanatate, activitati, vreme, notati…
  • Design: nu este usor sa desenezi un ceas. Sunt putini oameni in lume care stiu sa faca asta si Vector a reusit sa lucreze cu ei si sa faca un ceas care sa arate superb. De simplu. Ca un ceas J. O colectie, cu mai multe versiuni de forma, material si culoare;
  • Productie: pare usor de spus ca se odata facut prototipul in laborator, restul se trimite la fabrica si se face. Nu e adevarat… este o batalie extrem de complicata ca firme pe care sa te poti baza sa iti produca ce vrei tu, in timpul dorit, cu rata de corectitudine dorita. Trebuie negociate cu aceste fabrici tehnologii, milimetri, finisaje… Asamblare, testare, certificare…. Depozitare, transport, livrare;
  • Distributie: canalele de distributie in lume sunt mult mai simplu de construit pentru un software decat pentru un ceas. Magazine online, dar si magazine fizice de ceasuri. Si telecomi… in multe tari. Stocuri, retururi, garantii, politici intre dealeri locali;
  • Branding: un exercitiu complex, de prezentare coerenta a viziunii… In sine, doar acest proces poate dura un an intreg:-)
  • Echipa: hei, cu asta trebuia sa incep! Vector are cea mai tare echipa care se putea construi in lumea asta globala: Joe Santana (ex CEO Timex, Londra) si Andrei Pitis (ex VP Engineering Ixia, Romania) sunt cele doua forte care unesc cu un pod prapastia dintre tehnologie si ceasuri. Steve (Portland) design, Bandu (Hong Kong) productie, Michelle (Londra) financiar, Dan (Bucuresti) hardware, Irina (Bucuresti) design engineering. Si inca multi altii care completeaza o echipa fantastica;
  • R&D: nu o sa va vina sa credeti, dar aceasta companie mica are o echipa separata de R&D care, in paralel cu lupta restului companiei de a lansa un produs, sapa pentru versiunile urmatoare. Deci avem si viitorul “asigurat”

Una peste alta, intr-un an de la idee Vectorwach are un produs hardware superb, gata, functional; o echipa spectaculoasa, care executa fara mila intr-un ritm nebun. Si tot ce-i trebuie ca sa fie un unicorn. Sa tot fii parte in astfel de proiecte!

PS: am primit pana acum cel putin 200 de emailuri de “vreau si eu sa cumpar un ceas, cum fac sa vina mai repede?”. Primele ceasuri care se vor livra sunt cele pre-comandate pe site-ul firmei.

As comenta un pic despre legea referitoare la investitiile de tip Business Angels, aflata in discutie publica . Au mai fost ceva discutii aici si exista undeva si textul propusei legi, dar nu il gasesc acum repede.
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Back in November last year, I was drinking coffee at HTW and chatting with a good friend. He started telling me about how much profit he made by investing in Bitcoin. “Bit… what?” I asked and he told me a story related to a virtual currency, invented by a pseudonym (Satoshi Nakamoto) that was valued 1 USD last year (per Bitcoin) and 800 USD now. Huge profit! He even made me download a wallet and gave me a few dollars’ worth of Bitcoins. My mind was full of visions of another “Ponzi Scheme” and I made fun of him together with the rest of the guys around the table. Went back home, researched. And I was intrigued. Researched some more. And I was surprised. More work and I was amazed. Eventually, in December, I was sold. Bitcoin is the next big thing. Get prepared for a long read.
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When he left Microsoft I had an opinion which I wrote about here (2008, Ro only).

I argued that those who leave multinational companies aren’t as successful as they expected. What happened to Silviu after some time? And, BTW, what happened to MS Romania after Silviu?
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“Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is in the doing something else.”

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Radu Georgescu
GECAD Group