Today we’d like to introduce you to Yared Akalou.
Yared, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I am a designer, entrepreneur and proud Houstonian. I am the son of Ethiopian immigrants who migrated to the United States to seek a better life for their children due to unrest in their home country. I grew up in Houston and was exposed to design and architecture during my formation years which had a significant impact on how I viewed the world.
My professional work and zest to “pick up and go” has taken me to distant places; most recently to Sao Paulo, Brazil as an expat.
As an advisor and mentor, continual learning and sharing are integral to my life’s work.
Alcove brings together my passion for improving people’s lives through design and my experience as a remote worker.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
A smooth road rarely uncovers breakthrough ideas. This question reminds me of a book I read years ago when I dabbled in acting called “The Audition”, by Broadway director Michael Shurtleff who proclaimed that the definition of a good plot is grounded in conflict.
As a hardware startup, one of our biggest obstacles was finding the right manufacturing partner. It’s like hiring your first CTO in a software startup. Get that wrong and it will stop you in your tracks. We experienced issues early on with our first manufacturer regarding timely communications and overall quality with product samples. We took that lesson and developed an internal competition to evaluate subsequent manufacturers based on 1) timely communication, 2) price and process for development and 3) overall quality of a product. A series of quick product sample runs with multiple manufacturers in tandem enabled us to select the manufacturer who is currently developing our first production run of Alcove.
Another challenge has been raising money for a hardware startup in the energy capital where the focus on investment seems to be on software startups. We have early traction and more demand than supply, and the diverse background and experience of our team derisks uncertainty. I’m confident that we’ll be able to secure the right investment partner/s after we finalize our deals with major brands that we have in our pipeline.
Alcove Group – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Many people ask us how we came up with Alcove. Alcove solves the challenges people face every day when working in different locales, yet the solution did not reveal itself overnight. It required careful study and observation of people working in different spaces to witness, firsthand, the problems they experience in context. In essence, the conflict that our customers experienced became the stage for what we were solving at Alcove. The primary benefits of Alcove:
-Reduces background noise to improve communications
-Enhances privacy when working in open spaces
-Light bar and visor accessories increase visibility when reading and writing
I am most proud of Alcove Group’s focus on solving real customer needs. Our early customers have been instrumental in helping us to realize the broader applications of our solution. Mothers have repurposed Alcove to help their children focus better. Alcove as an adaptive technology for children with special learning needs? Latent needs like this one were discovered during our open-ended prototyping phase. Educators have lauded Alcove as the study cubby for the modern classroom. Corporate executives have hinted at our case replacing the bulky briefcase every new employee receives with their laptop. At Alcove, we’ve set out to help people create their best work from anywhere and thanks to our three-step discovery process, our target market has expanded exponentially.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
By far, the proudest moment in my career is the early growth and traction of Alcove. My cumulative life/work experiences are what shaped my hypothesis for Alcove. My business partner, Sergio Aleman, Jr., and team are amazing. It’s so gratifying to create something tangible. The idea of Alcove transforming into a brand that people connect with is invigorating. More so, having my kids see the day to day struggles and triumphs is a gift that I didn’t fully realize. In their eyes, anything is possible if you have the vision and work hard.
- Pre-order pricing:Alcove case $79 (Future retail $129)
- Pre-order pricing:Alcove bundle pack $99 (Future retail $149)
- Website: getalcove.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: instagram.com/getalcove/
- Facebook: facebook.com/getalcove/
- Twitter: twitter.com/GetAlcove
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