Summary of Mycroft Founder's Story

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00:00:00 - 00:25:00

The founders of Mycroft created their AI assistant with the initial goal of turning the Warren Center into a place where entrepreneurs could start their businesses. They set out to write a new open-source Python solution that would be extensible and customizable, using Raspberry Pis on their desks. The Mycroft team refined their product design using a 3D printer and chose to venture into Kickstarter to raise funds for their creation, learning from the success of others on the platform. To ensure success, they made changes such as changing their initial goal from $49,000 to $99,000 and used multiple tools for social media automation, list-building, and marketing. Despite delivering more than they promised and adding hardware features, the cost of building and delivering each device exceeded the amount they raised from Kickstarter.

  • 00:00:00 In this section, the Mycroft founders discuss the creation of their AI assistant. The initial concept was to turn the Warren Center for Entrepreneurship into a place where entrepreneurs in the University of Kansas community could have a low overhead and start a business. They wanted to place an AI on site so people could have conversations with it. Josh Montgomery was inspired by a technology developed by Dave Dalton called IRIS, based on some legacy Microsoft technology, which had push buttons that played messages in his makerspace. However, there were no existing solutions that were open source and customizable. They set out to write a new solution in Python that would be extensible, and all of the people who were working on it had a little Raspberry Pi on their desk.
  • 00:05:00 In this section, the founder of Mycroft describes the development of a proof of concept for a microphone and speaker that are separated. The team used a 3D printer to create a mock-up of what it might look like and then refined the design to be more detailed. They eventually created a working product that fit the snowball microphone electronics, but were limited by the form factor of the Raspberry Pi and the size of the connectors. Additionally, the founder describes how they decided to venture into Kickstarter to raise funds for their product and learned from the success of others on the platform.
  • 00:10:00 In this section, the co-founder of Mycroft, Derick Schweppe, discusses how he got involved with the project. His grandfather Earl had informed him about the company, and he was immediately interested because of his experience with a successful Kickstarter campaign for IoT products. Derick was impressed with the prototype and the engineering behind the product, and he and Josh began discussing the design for the product. They decided on a character-based design, making it relatable for people and choosing off-the-shelf components for the product. They evolved from the concept form factor to a working prototype, which they used in their Kickstarter video.
  • 00:15:00 In this section, the Mycroft founders discuss the evolution of their product's design and how they have balanced creating a maker product with anthropomorphic qualities while still making it customizable for consumers. From their initial design to their pre-production with full electronics, the team has learned a lot and has been successful in creating a venture-backed open assistant that will serve a global market. While they did not intend to start an artificial intelligence company, their desire to create something anthropomorphic and customizable has led to the creation of Mycroft.
  • 00:20:00 In this section, the founder of Mycroft explains the process of creating a Kickstarter campaign and how they worked to ensure its success. First, they decided to change their initial goal of $49,000 to $99,000 the day before launch, based on the belief that they would get more sales. They also utilized resources from Tim Ferriss' blog, as well as research on social media connections and their success rates. The team used multiple tools to build up their social media channels and automated list-building to create excitement about the project among followers.
  • 00:25:00 In this section, the Mycroft founder discusses the marketing strategy that they used to promote their startup. They followed basic formulas about sharing information and relied on social media platforms and video marketing to get the word out. They manually built their network and got noticed by media contacts which helped them in fundraising. The founder also revealed that the cost of building and delivering each device is more than the amount they raised from Kickstarter. They delivered more than they promised, with better hardware features on each device.

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