Edtech Product Startup
Project Overview
It is estimated that more than 5% of the general population have symptoms associated with sensory integration difficulties and these estimates are higher for people with autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

This project focused on designing a product for children of high-functioning autism with sensory integration disorder to learn pen holding. Griphint is created as an interactive pen that provides instant light feedback according to gradation of force when a kid is holding it. With the right amount of holding force, they can write more sustainably without tiring their small muscle groups. The training of small muscle groups is important in children's learning and development because it's the key for them to use their hands, and develop other skills through touching and exploring the world around them.
My Contributions
Concept development in 2 months, and working prototype development with 20+ users
Griphint started out as a school graduation project. The concept was developed within 2 months containing intensive research work, field visits, expert interviews, fast prototyping, and user testing. The product was developed and tested with 20+ other autistic children learning handwriting. I also self-made the electronics, wrote the lighting software, consulted academic experts for light positioning and behavioural feedback provision, and came up with a strategy for product assembly.

Secured 6 months of funding from CIID Nest, registered a 3-people startup
This project won a seat in CIID Nest plus 6 months of prototyping funds. I recruited 2 other talents and form a team of three, covering the skills of product development, marketing and special need education.

Positioned B2B model, Planned 2-years product roadmap, and found 2 angels.
With the help of business mentors in CIID Nest, we came up with a B2B business model that targeted selling to educational centers first. We also built a product roadmap that the pen will turn into a pen grip and soft toys for muscle training. To prepare for development and finalise the practicalities, my responsibilities include finding manufacturers in Taiwan and finding investments. I successfully secured two angels who committed to funding the first 20 alpha products.

Prepared for manufacturing, failed at financing, end up ranked the top 5 startups in Denmark and received 2 design awards
With more practicalities planning with the OEMs, I recognised the magnitude of resources (time, money, team) needed to produce a small-sized hardware product which also requires certifications for selling to children. I understood that we don't have enough resources, so as a final push, I led the team and entered Creative Business Cup 2014 in Denmark. The first prize would receive $20,000 and a VIP ticket to Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC). Griphint was recognised as the top 5 startups but didn't manage to secure a prize. I made the hard decision to stop the project and closed the company. The next year, the project received awards from Core77 Design Awards and Interaction Design Awards (IxDA).
Key Learnings
Fail fast, and Learn faster!
Jan 2014 - Jul 2014
With only 7 months, my startup went from birth to closure. There are tons of learnings turned into important nutrition for my next works. Here I concluded three key learnings from this short but fruitful experience.

Fail fast, and learn faster!
The most critical learning from building Griphint is to not be afraid of failing. In the hindsight, I chose to work too much on product development instead of marketing and sales which would put the words out there in the market. We knew that the market was there but didn't know if the product will sell. It's important to confront the unknown, research, and plan a roadmap for it.

Think big, start small.
The most interesting learning is probably my leadership style. I tend to connect products to the impact they create. For Griphint, enabling autistic kids' fine motor skills (such as hand-eye coordination) is the key to unlocking much more important learnings as they grow up (because learning starts from exploration, from using their hands and eyes). However, there're so many different products we could create for this vision. I learned to start with a big vision, but land on only one success story, followed by making a concrete plan that helps the team start with something small but actionable.

Know when to pivot, preserve, or stop
I am very comfortable with iterative prototyping. And, I gained even more experience and confidence during Griphint's product development. Lots of ideas we had were fun and had potential, but we are a small team with very few resources. It's critical to filter the good ideas, group them with practicalities, and priorities. Having a birds-eye view of the stage of our startup was enormously helpful. I learned this from talking to other more experienced entrepreneurs. They guided the importance to focus on growing the things matter for an early-stage startup, which are value finding, product-market fit (PMF), and funding/financing.