Lean Startup approach wins Clara Swiss Tech the Wearable Technology award

Stefan Kyora / Ritah Ayebare Nyakato

30.03.2016 14:00

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Clara Swiss Tech, a Lugano-based Swiss start-up follows a lean startup model. With this approach, the startup acquired the Wearable technology award in the category Best Customer Product for their smart jacket, which incorporates ultra-bright turn signals and braking sensors to improve cyclists and pedestrians' safety, in London. Marco Dal Lago, CEO Clara explains how the startup implements the model.

The Wearable Technology Award seeks to recognize the excellence in wearable, smart device & IOT innovation by identifying the best innovators in the market in eight different categories worldwide. This year Clara Swiss Tech, established in 2015, brought home an award as category winner: Best customer product for its innovative smart jacket, which incorporates Ultra-bright turn signals braking sensors. The company intends to improve cyclists and pedestrians' safety around the world through enhancing their visibility in poor light conditions.

In the conversation with Marco Dal Lago, CEO CLARA Swiss Tech, Startupticker was able to acquire further details regarding the award and how the lean startup model has contributed to the success of Clara.

What was your inspiration for participating in the award?

We want to involve more people as possible so that they know there is a chance to improve safety in urban traffic and avoiding accidents. Participating in this award gave us the opportunity to show our product to a big audience both of end users who can directly benefit from it but also to big brands that can decide to implement our technology into their clothing.

Have you received feedback from users or tests before the award too?

Yes. That was really the key point of our project. We started from the day one with a lean start-up approach by involving the customer as much as possible.

In concrete terms, how did you achieve that?

For example, when we start we found much information available on forums online where many urban riders were discussing the problems and potential benefits of this kind of jacket. Then we made surveys, directly in front of biking shops in London and we set up an online platform where our potential customers could comment or give new ideas about new features to be integrated into our products. Afterwards, other people could vote the comments already placed in order to highlight the most-desired upgrade of the jacket so that the team could evaluate its feasibility and integrate it. As a result, this platform allowed shaping the product in line with the customer needs.

In the tests, were there specific preferences from potential users?

Yes, several commented on the issue that most of cyclists wear a backpack and the lights placed on the back of the jacket might be hidden. In order to overcome this issue, other LEDs were integrated also onto the sleeves of the jacket thus to have a 360° of visibility.

Where does Clara currently stand in terms of progress and production?

Since we fully engaged customers in the product design phase of CLARA, we have changed and taken out several features that we initially we wanted to incorporate in our product when we firstly designed it. Other than the smart jacket we developed also a backpack cover and a gilet that will be really to amazing products affordable.

Change usually means that there are some costs to be incurred for both the company and the customer. How are you dealing with this factor?

In all our decisions we are trying to reduce costs as much as possible since we want to provide the customers with an affordable product. In doing so, we are now re-designing some parts of the circuits in line with new components we are using.

Will you be responsible for the manufacturing?

No, we are working hand in hand with an Italian manufacturer who works with unique photo-luminescent fabrics. In the next two months he will finish the new prototypes and we will prepare the new 0-series with our suppliers. However, it has taken a bit longer than expected to finish our prototypes since we decided to adopted state of the art electrical components (e-textile and smart sensors) within the wearable technology field. Despite the delay, the result will be an incomparable, in terms of quality and flexibility, product.

When do you intend to launch the product?

We are preparing our start-up to launch CLARA in line with a business-to-consumer model so to sell directly it to the customers. The perfect moment will depend much from the certification process we will face in the next month, this can lead in launching firstly only few products we will know this really soon. Besides we are also investigation into business-to-business opportunities in the form of a licensing agreement of our technology. In the latter case the launch will depend also on the partner. We expect to launch the product in the end of this summer.

What does this victory in London mean to your company and CLARA as a product?

The award is another step implying that we are going in the right direction. Competing against such big wearable technology players and succeeding means that we are solving a problem with a unique solution. Besides, it gives us the energy to develop the best product possible. We will focus on the feedbacks we got at the wearable technology ceremony to make our product more unique.

What are the future plans for the product?

We are already working on other cutting-edge technologies that we will integrate in our fabrics. For example we are testing a jacket with more sensors such as GPS, and an heart rate monitor in the wristband that will help also our customers to track their performances. Moreover, we will also try to adapt our technology to more existing products making it even more light and small. Our aim is that technology should not change the user habits and we are trying to find smart solutions in line with this vision.

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