The Story of Neptune: How I Launched and Built My First Startup

By Simon Tian

Neptune was an idea that I had conceived at 13, but it was not delivered into this world until my 18th birthday.

The first wave of wearable technologies hit the market in 2012 but these devices were “dumb” and dependent on antiquated wireless technologies. One of them is Bluetooth which needed to be forever tethered to your smartphone – a hassle to need to live with. People believed then that the future of wireless evolution was headed towards Bluetooth; herein lies the greatest misconception. This presented me with a reason and an opportunity to make a difference with Neptune.

As a high school student with no prototype, I had to start with what little I had. I spent a mere five dollars to purchase the Neptune domain, used Weebly to build my website and held dear to the basic computer rendering of the device which I called the “Pine”. I googled how to drive traffic to the website and issued a press release on PRWeb. This alone generated mainstream tech coverage the very next day. Within 3 weeks, Neptune received 20,000 reservations for the Pine.

With orders in hand, I traveled to China to meet with prospective consumer electronics manufacturers and product development firms. I took a crash course in Chinese manufacturing and learnt more about the process of transforming my vision for the hardware from a concept to a reality. Within two months, I engaged with a Chinese manufacturer and a handful of professional parties to kick-off
development.

One of my biggest challenges was to act as the bridge between the engineering and design teams so that they could work together efficiently and effectively. Effective communication became one of my most cherished tools in churning dreams into a living-and-breathing product. Seven months later, I launched a Kickstarter campaign. My campaign went on to raise $800,000 in one month – one of the highest-grossing campaigns of all time. This provided the necessary funds for mass production. Soon after, in 2014, the Pine shipped to retailers, like Best Buy and Amazon. Neptune went on to sell over 10,000 Pine devices. Till this day, the Pine has a dedicated and passionate following.

Now, I am working on my next device – the Neptune Hub, a smartwatch that is designed to power your everyday technology; all in one place. There is a lot of anticipation from media publications, like Wall Street Journal, Engagdet, Wired and the Verge, to see this product become a global popular device. With $1.16M raised in an Indiegogo campaign, we are excited to bring in another piece of never-seen-before technology that will go on to render whatever devices you now know as “smart” dumb.

 

About the Author

Simon Tian, 23, is a Canadian tech entrepreneur and inventor. He is the founder and CEO of Neptune, a consumer electronics and wearable technology company. Simon dropped out of high school at the age of 18 to start Neptune, and has raised $2 million from crowdfunding sources alone. Simon is a 2015 Thiel Fellow, having been awarded $100,000 by PayPal co-founder and venture capitalist Peter Thiel. Simon was named one of the top 30 Quebecers under 30 by Les Affaires in 2014.

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