WakeMate (YC S09) on building their business and their YCombinator experience

I recently had the chance to do an interview with the founders of the YCombinator backed startup, WakeMate. WakeMake wants to help you sleep better by tracking your sleep. In this interview we talk about how they came up with the idea, how they gained traction, and their experience with YCombinator. I’ve also included a summary below the video.

What is WakeMake

WakeMate is a cellphone accessory that tracks your sleep cycle, and helps you improve your quality of sleep.

Where did the idea come from?

• Idea came from an experience 6 years ago when they realized they didn’t always feel refreshed in the morning when they woke up.
• They’ve done a ton thinking and research.

What helped to set you apart?

• Dedication.
• Research.
• We had already built a prototype.
• Proved that we were determined (both had dropped out of school at this point to work on WakeMate).

Biggest plus to being in YCombinator:

• The YCombinator Brand. This opened a lot of doors.
• Direct Access to Paul Graham. You have a lot of people giving you advice and it helps to have just one voice to focus on.
• Incredible almuni network.

Getting in to YCombinator:

• Don’t let not getting into YCombinator hurt you. There are many successful startups that have nothing to do with YC.
• Focus on building a business. Statistically you’re not going to get into YC, but that shouldn’t stop you from building an awesome startup.
• Advance your startup, and don’t worry about getting into YCombinator. Focus on building a business.

How did WakeMate gain traction?

• WakeMate solves a problem that is easily communicable. The best salesman you have is a customer who loves your product.

How do you move from early adopters into the mainstream?

• Target specific market segments where sleep is a major pain point (traveling businessman, medical students, etc.)

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs and founder that are just starting out

• Talk to everybody. You need to gather research.
• You need to be an expert in your field so keep learning.
• Focus on your elevator pitch. Figure out how to comunicate your business in 30 seconds.

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  • Neofliplay

    Cool story! Thanks for sharing. Good luck with WakeMate!

  • Kelv Chen28

    that was very fine [removed spam link]

  • Anthony

    I was very excited about their product, pre-ordered it, waited a year for it. All that. In the end, very underwhelming. It just doesn’t work all that well, I encountered all sorts of issues with getting the wristband to stay synced with my Android phone, and even when it says it’s synced I don’t actually see data uploaded to the site the next morning. After a few confusing and mysterious software failures, I just put it in my drawer and haven’t been motivated to pull it out again. They’ve been great on customer support emails, and I wish them the best of luck in version 2, but v1 UX was a buggy disappointment.

  • Morten

    I was looking forward to hearing actually interesting stuff about the one year product delay, how they dealt with the YouTube posting of a WakeMate bursting into flames and them having to recall the chargers, what it is like building a hardware+software product, why they felt they had to support 3 platforms from the outset, etc.
    But all the interviewer wants to hear is how to get into YC and how to pitch.

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