Ooh, yeah, you're amazing!
We think you're incredible.
You say we're fantastic,
But still we don't head the bill.
Amazing, incredible, fantastic...
We are Finns, so these kinds of superlatives don’t really belong to our daily vocabulary. Instead, we like to play it down and not make fuzz about things. Still, these words pop up in my brain when I think back about what a week we had. The whole company history culminated in the past week. In the six previous months, we sold nearly one thousand bttns, and we finally received the first batch of commercial quality circuit boards from our factory. Our office turned into a veritable Santa’s workshop: all around there were hundreds of different parts of bttns, packaging material, and extra helpers creating shipment packages, just like Santa's little elves.
We had bttn frames, red caps, yellow caps, springs, PCBs in various versions, battery connectors being glued, green box sleeves, bttn's firmware software installers, red box sleeves, Quality Assurance stations, address labeling stations, shipping list controllers, assembly line, media war room, and loading station for DHL.
We managed to get nearly 700 bttns out the door last week. Later on they will be shipped directly from the factory, but the first batch we wanted to experience first-hand. If you have ordered a bttn before Dec 1st, your bttn is on its way to you.
The only setback was that we only received 700 bttns from the factory instead of the 800+ boards we had been promised. The factory claims they sent 800, but we received only 700. Sadly, nobody knows where the 100 missing ones are. Blame it on the logistics company? Anyway, the result was that we just had to tell 100 people that we cannot deliver before Christmas. This felt really bad.
Anyway, this was a brief glimpse into IoT startup's week of fulfillment. I hope you like your bttn, and if you do, please tell us. If you see something that can be improved, tell us that, too at support(ӕ)bt.tn. And if you come up with cool use cases, share them in Twitter via #mybttn.
And now, from the crew of bttn, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas – to, all of you on the good Earth.
And as for the song this week, it is, of course, Wow by the incomparable Kate Bush. No substitutions here.
Pumpin' up the volume with this brand new beat
Everybody's dancin' and their dancin' for me
I'm your operator, you can call anytime
I'll be your connection to the party line.
A lot of things are happening here in bttnlandia. A lot of things.
Hopefully you’ve heard that we will start shipping next week. But that is fodder for an upcoming blog entry that will provide all the details.
But something else is happening also:
We’ve been testing the IFTTT integration backwards and forwards and our very own IFTTT channel is going live at 9 am PST (UTC-8) on December 3rd (that is today, by the way). We are in very good company, as there are already 151 cool channels on IFTTT.
This means that all the IFTTT goodies will be available to you when you get your bttn. If you are already playing with the virtual bttn, you can start trying new recipes even sooner. The channel is at https://ifttt.com/bttn. Just remember it only opens at 09:00 PST (12:00 EST, 17:00 GMT, 19:00 EET).
Some fun stuff you can try with the IFTTT integration include:
Make it fast, make it urgent
Do it quick, do it urgent
Gotta rush, make it urgent
Want it quick
Urgent, urgent, emergency...
In case you've been living under a rock for the past few weeks, I've got news for you: bttn is on Indiegogo.
We've at the halfway mark of our campaign time wise and we are at a bit over 75% of our target. This is not bad at all. But there is one problem:
I made a rookie mistake when we were building the campaign. My boss Harri asked me how certain I was of us hitting our target. No sweat, I said. Piece of cake. Easy as pie. Eminently doable.
Well then the crafty devil (I am saying that in the nicest possible way, of course) suggested a personal pledge: how about I don't shave or get a haircut before we hit the target. In the heat of the moment, I said "Sure".
As this happened a few weeks before the actual start of the campaign, the results are starting to be visible. See the following selfie to wit:
Even I must admit it is not a very pretty sight. But that is not the real problem. The real problem is that my wife has started giving me some not-so-subtle hints that if the beard and the reverse mullet do no go pretty soon, I will be sleeping on the balcony
Before you shrug this away as an irrelevant piece of trivia, may I remind of some geoclimatic facts: I am based in Finland, above 60° North. That's Alaska, folks. That's like Siberia for you. And we are fast approaching thermal winter.
To give you an idea of what that means, below is a documentary picture of said balcony in winter:
As you can imagine, the prospect of extended arctic outside living with a rapidly growing beard and dwindling layer of blubber (as you may have seen/heard on the campaign video, I am on a diet) is not a pleasant one.
So please, please, please, please check out the campaign and help me stay inside by contributing!
PS. With this week's music choice we are making a bit of a departure. No cover versions, no clever gimmicks – just a dose of Anglo-American urgency in the form of Foreigner's first chart-topper.
PPS. Do check out the campaign even if you don't care about a longhaired Finn growing icicles in his beard. The bttn is pretty darn magically cool.
Wake me up before you go go
Don't leave me hanging on like a yo yo
Wake me up before you go go
I don't want to miss it when you hit that high
The time has finally come: we hit Indiegogo this morning and the campaign has started off really great, thanks to our customers and fans.
The campaign ties up with our alliance with iControl Networks and their OpenHome Labs program that we also announced this morning. Our gear is now fully compatible with all OpenHome gear and systems. With this partnership we are making smart homes even smarter and simpler.
You can find the campaign at www.indiegogo.com/projects/bttn/ (or at the convenient shortcut bt.tn/igg). As the first 48-72 hours are always critical in an Indiegogo campaign, we'd love to have your support and would really appreciate you letting your friends and colleagues know about the campaign.
By contributing and spreading the word, you can help make sure the grannies of this world never run out of beer. Who else can say that?
There is a referral bonus available in the campaign: you get $10 off any contribution from each referral and with just 3 referrals you can get a free t-shirt and 10 referrals score you a free bttn.
PS. We would normally not touch a Wham! song with a ten-foot pole but the title was just too good to resist. Fortunately for us, front man Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou (some people call him George Michael) got serious later and wrote some pretty good tunes in his solo career. This week it is our distinct pleasure to present one of the most provocatively titled US #1 hits of all time: I Want Your Sex.
PPS. We are a bit less demanding and will settle for your money at Indiegogo.
PPPS. To make things really easy for you, you can use e.g. this text for tweeting your friends: "bttn, the simplest Internet user interface in the world, is now on Indiegogo. Check out bt.tn/igg.
PPPPS. The bttn's ordered in the Indiegogo campaign will be shipped in November.
PPPPPS. No, nothing. We just wanted to make a new record with the P's.
Oh! They really pack 'em in
The in crowd say it's cool
To dig this chanting thing
You've really been rockin' our casbah again. And this time, the shareef does like it.
Yes, it is that time of the month again: announcing the winners of our July bttn use case competition and giving away some free bttns.
Without further ado, here are the deserving winners:
John Pryzbylek @thepryz:
@officialbttn would be cool to have in classroom to request on-site assistance
Niels Schuddeboom @shakingtree:
Would use it to automate emergency messages to my caregivers.
Arrive at Office > push #mybttn > lights, coffee machine & iMac turns on.. oh, and iTunes starts Tom Jones "What's up pussycat"! :D
Maarten Bierman @maartenbierman:
Use button to notify clients when food is ready in take-away restaurants instead of screaming. Collecting customer data at same time #mybttn
Thanks to all participants and a great big hand to the winners. The bttns are coming your way.
PS. The title song this week never made it to #1 in the anywhere. In fact, The Clash (unlike Tom Jones) never topped any list with an original release of their song. This Arabic cover version by Mick Jones' Algerian doppelgänger Rachid Taha (they even were born the same year) never even charted but it is really, really, really cool nevertheless. And certainly enough to give the shareef some serious heartburn.
PPS. We are temporarily pausing our use case competition for now. Thank you for all the people who contributed. Look for a new edition starting September 3 when we go Indiegogo.
You get up every morning
From your 'larm clock's warning
Take the 8:15 into the city
There's a whistle up above.
In case we haven't said that already (I suspect we have), the success of our own product launch and presales campaign in May and June exceeded all our expectations, thanks to you guys.
It is now roughly ten weeks until we start initial shipments of the bttn in earnest and our crew is working overtime to make sure we get bttn's to all of you on time. And we are happy to report that those early mornings and late nights seem to be paying off – everything looks good and we are progressing on schedule, at least so far so good.
In fact, it is looking so good that we have decided to add a new cool integration for the bttn: With help from iControl, we are integrating the OpenHome platform for state-of-the-art smart homes.
We are also bringing bttn to Indiegogo starting September 3rd. Encouraged by your support, we are going to the main stage of crowd funding and trying to make bttn even a bigger phenomenon that it already is.
So, in case you missed our own presales, Indiegogo will be your opportunity to have early access to the bttn.
And don't worry – we still work with IFTTT, Zapier, and many other open interfaces; in fact, you'll see examples of these integrations in the video we are making for Indiegogo (and we may just give you a sneak preview here before the launch of the campaign).
PS. Today's title song, Taking Care of Business, might be the best known song of Bachman-Turner Overdrive, but it never topped the US charts. In fact, BTO's only US #1 was You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet, a simple yet catching ditty Randy Bachman did not want to release as a single. Fortunately, he relented. Randy had, in fact, another US #1 before BTO: American Woman by The Guess Who made it in 1970. Here's Lenny Kravitz with his inimitable version.
PPS. If you have already ordered bttn from our own presales, you need not worry: you will be getting yours from our very first batch, before we ship to Indiegogo supporters.
Purple Haze was in my brain
lately things don't seem the same,
actin' funny but I don't know why
'scuse me while I kiss the sky.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls hear this: this is a glorious time to be an entrepreneur. Sky-kissing glorious!
It is often said that ideas are cheap; it is the execution that counts. This is still very much true, but the great thing is that even the execution is cheaper than ever. Developing a technology stack to bring an idea to life is more affordable than ever.
I was involved in a startup in the early 2000's that had raised $25 Million in funding – pre-revenue, pre-anything. We never shipped a product. We weren't criminally incompetent, either. Back in those days, money like that was needed. Or at least it was expected to be needed.
Today nobody raises $25 M pre-revenue unless you are Elon Musk. Quite simply because it is not needed. Of course, later in the lifecycle of a company more money may be needed, but it is quite a different matter to raise millions for a proven product instead of a fledgling idea.
A startup still needs to pay top people top dollar, but technology has become affordable. There are numerous open source solutions, inexpensive components, cloud services, and an abundant supply of high-quality, reasonable-cost subcontractors.
And what is perhaps even greater is speed. Back in the bad old days, software development cycles of 12 months, even 18 months were par for the course. These days a talented team can hack together an MVP in a few days. Days, not weeks.
The speed is reflected also in investors: programs like Kima15 promise to make a seed investment of $150k in 15 days (not surprisingly, the stake is 15%). Way back when, it often took 15 days just to get an appointment with an analyst at a VC firm.
No more 60-page business plans, either. Pure gloriousness!
PS. This week's song, Purple Haze, is perhaps the most covered song from the oeuvre of Jimi Hendrix. It did not, however, make the Top 20 on the Billboard singles chart. In fact, the only Hendrix single to make Top 20 was All Along the Watchtower, written by none other than Bob Dylan.
PPS. The cartoon in the blog is by Robert van Goeben and Kathryn Siegler. See more of their work on their excellent site.
It's a kind of magic,
It's a kind of magic,
A kind of magic,
One dream, one soul, one prize,
One goal, one golden glance of what should be
The magic here is not about us – it is about you guys. We've had some insanely fantastic suggestions from our fans to the monthly bttn use case competition. We got loads of suggestions and, after careful deliberation we chose the five best. The submitters of these five get not only our gratitude and immediate fame, but also a free bttn each.
Without further ado, here are the winning entries from June in alphabetical order:
Alex Jubien @AlexJubien
Create a physical customer survey on wall in a shop or real world service, with several buttons and text labels painted #mybttn
Jason Bates @jasonbates
#mybttn I'd celebrate big sales in the office, with ch-ching on everyone's mobile phones.
I would buy two bttns: red and green.
Pressing the green would disable my wifi, lock me out of any procrastination destinations, and open my Any.DO to-do list for the following 2 hours. The red would announce, "That was easy," from every piece of technology that I own. Just for kicks.
Kurt Zenisek @kzeni
@officialbttn #mybttn would be at my office. One press and BAM! It orders my favorite lunch for delivery. Press twice for a hungry friend.
Potential use of @officialbttn for medical office. MA or nurse hits bttn to let doc know next patient is ready, to send phone alert
Awesome, guys! Thank you so much and congratulations to the winners!
Actually, we lied. There is also a sixth winner:
Ashton Moskowitz @AshtonWitz (Hi, Ashton, we love you!!!)
Press the button and send some good lovin' to the special person in your life. So much more romantic than Yo.
We will notify the winners via Twitter and collect your information so that we can send you your loot. (The images are courtesy of our awesome friends at Magnani Caruso Dutton. Thanks again for your help and support. You are skilled and we exhort you!)
P.S. This week’s song lyrics are from Queen's A Kind of Magic. The eponymous album is notable for being the unofficial sound track of the movie Highlander (the lone highlight of Christopher Lambert's career). But, at least to us (and, we suspect, to many others), the quintessential Queen Song is Bohemian Rhapsody. Which makes us proud to present possibly the most magical cover version of any Queen song ever: Bohemian Gravity. This unlikely mashup of Queen and String Theory is really quantum magic of the highest order – hats off to Master Tim Blais!
Check out some other cool use cases from the gallery below:
Sweet dreams are made of this
Who am I to disagree?
I travel the world and the seven seas
Everybody's looking for something
We've often been asked how we came up with the idea for the bttn. As many of the greatest inventions or services (no, we are not on that level yet but we are working on it) the bttn grew out of a series of small use case discoveries.
The very first use case was born out of frustration: we were sitting around in a bar and could not for the life of us get the attention of the waiters who seemed to be extremely well trained in avoiding eye contact. Why not have a button at the table to get a garçon for us?
Then came along those great motivators of first-world middle-class: guilt and fear. What happens if someone's granny wants to get in touch but has lost her phone or does not remember their number or is in shaky condition, or or or... Maybe a simple button would do the trick.
After several more small epiphanies (anyone remember the coolest early Internet company name ever: e.piphany...?) it hit us like a hammer: a seemingly super-simple yet programmable device to solve these and many other needs did not really exist.
Many companies are developing wonderful, difficult, and complex things. bttn was founded to develop something wonderful, easy, and simple. Something magical. Of course, creating something that simple turned out to be less than simple but that is our headache, not yours. More on our creation project next week.
P.S. This week’s song lyrics are from Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This). It is a fine song in its own right, but what makes it more interesting is the certainly unintended but very successful reuse by none other than Marilyn Manson – this cover version was his first single to chart in the US and UK.
I've been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain
After a good six months of skunkworks mode and secrecy, it is truly nice to be out of stealth. We've been bursting to tell about bttn, and now, finally, we can!
What makes the feeling even more special is the tremendous response we've had from all of you out there. In the less than two weeks we've been out in the open, we'd had some fantastic press coverage, over 25000 hits on our website, and several hundred pre-orders from 25 countries (If you want to make sure you get the bttn among the first, remember to order yours here). We are pleased and humbled. Thank you!
Obviously, we've been thinking about use cases for the bttn since the very beginning but we have been just blown away by the suggestions we've received from all over the world. Our CEO and janitor will be announcing the first winners of our #mybttn use case competition shortly, but in the meantime, I'd like to direct your attention to the insanely fantastic work by the good folks at Magnani Caruso Dutton, a NY-based digital customer experience agency. MCD created not one, not two, but TEN usage scenarios and put them up on their web site. We love all the scenarios but if we were to choose one, it would have to be the last one: Beer-mergency!
Thanks guys! May the bttn be with you and may you never run out of beer. BTW: the song lyrics in the beginning are, of course, from A Horse with No Name by America. If you want to hear a surprising, yet fantastic remake, check out Place with No Name by Michael Jackson.