min read

Gestr - Hardware is Hard - Chapter 1

The startup grind is hard. Launching a hardware startup... even more of a challenge. Cashflow. Investment. Product runs. CoGS. Supply chain. Ad spend. Returns. Go-to-market. In this first of an ongoing series, we follow Tony Donaj and his journey as he builds a plan to bring Gestr - a wearable device that tracks hand movement to interact with your smartphone - to market.

You are alone. On top of the world.
3200 feet above the powder and the digital buzz of everyday life.
Bundled inside layers of winter gear.
Skis pointed downwards. It is getting dark.
Music in your ear.
A growing blizzard building up around you.

In your element.
And unreachable?

No one wants to ditch all of their gear just to answer a phone call halfway down an epic run.

Your biggest investor has a critical update.

A telemarketer has an amazing offer to upgrade your internet.

Or maybe your son is stuck in that snowstorm below…

For Tony Dobaj - it all started with a snowstorm and a call from his son - stuck down below with a dying cellphone - unable to get his car to start.

Hardware is Hard

The Gestr is a tiny, wearable remote-control device that allows the user to control their smartphone using familiar and intuitive swipe gestures without looking at or touching anything.

Tony, like any adventurer, knows that taking your eye off the ball in outdoor conditions can lead to a world of pain.

He built The Gestr to revolutionize that balance between sport and on-the-fly, SAFE, communication. The ability to interact, hands “free” with your digital device, whether on skis at the top of the hill, halfway down on a mountain bike, or running a lap around the seawall.

But after years as an Engineer, Tony also knows that hardware, and bringing that hardware to market, is notoriously hard.

A hardware product roadmap is never a straight line. There are iterations on the technology, prototypes, patents, go-to-market and manufacturing considerations.

Unlike typical software startups, you can’t simply launch an MVP and release software updates every two weeks.

And all of that costs money.

The Challenges

• Research and Development

• Manufacturing

• Supply Chain Management

• Quality Control

• Regulatory Compliance

• Funding and Cashflow

• Market Fit and Competition

• Distribution Channels

• Customer Support and Service

• Intellectual Property

• Scaling and Growth

• Technology Evolution

Still think you’re cut out to bring that cool idea of yours off of the napkin and turn it into a real product? Getting it funded should be easy, right?

The Plan?

Prototype and R&D the initial product. Sell early access to this run on platforms like Kickstarter and social media to drum up support for this first 1,000 unit run. Charge $20 to get the ball rolling on the manufacturing order overseas. Kick off that first 1,000 unit build. Ship to your signups. Charge the remaining balance. Wait for returns and feedback. Retool/iterate as needed. Hire sales staff. Onboard product support. Kick off marketing and sales for a larger 10,000 unit run. Partner with influencers. Hit the tradeshows. Dominate the market…

But Tony and his team at AugSense (the makers of The Gestr) have “what ifs”.

whatif making the 1,000 sales takes longer than expected? Try a Kickstarter campaign? Or chase virality?

whatif inflation and the turnaround time on key components pushes my CoGS too high and my delivery dates too far out?

whatifi renegotiate with my suppliers to get longer payment terms to free up my cash flow?

whatifi split my planned second 10,000 unit order into two smaller batches of 5,000?

whatif my return rate on the first 1,000 is higher than the 8.3% industry average? Do I still push forward with the 10,000 unit launch?”

But there is more.

The Market

Cue Anant.

Anant Singh is a growth expert. Part of his job is to help Tony explore new markets, drive early adoption, and help connect all of those dots.

Some of his initial questions…

Are there other opportunities and other verticals outside of sport that can push this product from being a “nice to have” to a “must have”?

Is the sport industry large enough and willing to pay the MSRP to make the whole endeavor profitable?

Can the core value proposition work for other industries like healthcare or construction or government or construction or military applications?

And how much money do they need to raise to make all of this happen?


This is where we step in.

Spreadsheets simply can’t handle the sheer volume of variables and “what if” scenarios. They are near impossible to work on collaboratively, are error-prone, and a challenge to interactively share and present to team mates and investors.

whatifi is a highly visual, “what if” simulation platform that makes it ridiculously easy for founders and management teams to ask, and answer, multiple financial and strategic questions - in real time - all without formulas or spreadsheets.

Everything from pricing to OPEX to customer growth to CoGS calculations to ROAS and seventeen other four letter acronyms.

We excel (pun intended) at helping decision-makers not only ask the “what”, but also the “when”.

Cash flow and runway are the lifeblood of a startup.

And time is the differentiator.

Being able to forecast different time-based scenarios can make all of the difference when planning your fundraise. Potential investors have “what ifs”. You need to be able to answer them.

Over the coming months, we’re going to be documenting Tony’s journey to bring the Gestr to market.

We’ll share the pivots, the challenges, the wins, the financials and the step-by-step evolution of his product and his company.

Planning to scale your business? Here are 90+ services and tools to automate your financial workflows.

Download our guide to 90+ digital software solutions and frameworks to help automate your business and set your finances up for scale.

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