Hey everyone, I hope all is well with you!
In the last couple of months we’ve:
- Shipped more helmets than we’ve ever shipped before
- Received some amazing recognition including the Red Dot Design Award and named one of the Designs of the Year by the London Design Museum
- Been interviewed by Fast Company, The Huffington Post, and CNN about Lumos
Not to mention that there are now thousands and thousands of you wearing Lumos Helmets on your rides every single day. It has been a wild, wild ride.
How did Lumos start? Where did it come from? How did it all begin? I’d like to share with you the story. At the end, I talk a little bit about our future, and an idea for an initiative called the Lumos Insiders Program. We’d love to get your feedback on it.
October 2013 (~3.5 years ago)
Jeff and I (Eu-wen) meet for the first time. Jeff was an engineering student looking for a fun side project to stay busy with, and I was a business school student looking to build my idea for a new type of helmet. We met at a Hackathon in a basement in MIT, and ended up winning the hackathon with this prototype.
We refine the prototype and keep showing it to people. We’re actually pretty surprised that people like what we built. You can see the intrigue on their face. The positive response encouraged us to keep working on the concept.
Lumos is starting to take shape. I had a boring internship at a big company in Silicon Valley, and spent most of my time that summer working on Lumos after work out of the TechShop in San Mateo and San Jose.
August 2014 (~3 years ago)
By this time I had become obsessed with making Lumos into a reality. It was what I thought about when I woke up in the morning, and it was constantly on my mind. Lumos was something that deserved - needed even - to exist, but did not, and Jeff and I could be the ones to make it happen.
I decided as the entrepreneur it fell to me to take the first big step, that first big risk, to go out there and make something happen.
I was supposed to start the 2nd year at Harvard Business School that September and I was thinking of dropping out instead to work on Lumos full time. I asked one of the entrepreneurship professors at HBS for advice. He told me: “You’d be crazy to drop out to pursue this."
This is a picture of me having landed in Hong Kong a week after dropping out. You can see my bags in the background. I was committed now.
July 2015: Launching Lumos on Kickstarter. (~2 years ago)
Kickstarter was a real make-or-break moment for us. It wasn’t a marketing stunt. We went with the goal of $125,000, but in truth we needed at least $400,000 to make the project work. We weren’t sure if we were going to make it, and it was pretty terrifying. I felt pretty sick in the hours before launching the campaign.
It was probably the most intense 30 days of our lives. Jeff and I were basically flat out every single day for 30 days. Most days that month we went to bed at 7am. We put EVERYTHING we had into the campaign. By the end we had about $200 left in our bank account and another $10,000 in debt on our credit cards, but we had done it and then some. Lumos became (and remains) the highest funded bicycle helmet crowdfunding campaign in Kickstarter history. We had been featured on ABC, CBS, Fox, and Sky News. Bill Nye the Science Guy supported us, and most importantly, we had a new community of about 7,000 backers and supporters.
Sept 2015 - Jan 2016: First product hiccup
We took Lumos to sample tooling and a beta release, and we actually got it done on budget and on schedule. If the beta helmet tested well, that was going to be the final product. The problem was that, as we soon found out, it kind of sucked.
Functionally it work well, but we had been careless with the details. The helmet fit wasn’t great for a lot of people, and the design overall made the product feel more like a toy or a prototype than a premium helmet. Feedback from beta testers was not negative, but it was lukewarm at best.
We had invested a lot of money in the tooling to make this design. Redesigning would basically mean announcing a delay, turning those tools into expensive paperweights, and basically starting again from scratch.
It was a tough (and expensive) decision, but in the end it was actually pretty clear what we had to do. There was no way we were going to release a mediocre product. We went back to the drawing board.
Feb 2016 - Sept/Dec 2016
This time we went through every single detail. Our carelessness the last time was a huge mistake, and we were not going to let it happen again. We were heads down most of the year making sure everything was right, and in the end it was all worth it. The final product was BEAUTIFUL.
Today there are literally thousands of you everywhere around the world using Lumos Helmets on your ride every single day. In cities like Boston, New York, San Francisco, London, and many other places, Lumos Helmets are starting to be a common sight!
Kickstarter made us what we are today.
YOU made us what we are today.
Kickstarter and crowdfunding has lost some of its shine recently with prominent failures making the news. However here at Lumos we remain fans.
It is my firm belief that making a product like Lumos would not have been possible without Kickstarter, and without you.
It isn’t easy being a Kickstarter creator. Managing the expectations of thousands of backers + the large volume of messages, comments, and emails is taxing!
But being forced to send out monthly updates to you guys kept us accountable. That cycle of having to show you guys our latest developments every month was a great disciplining force, and it really helped keep pushing us forward.
We’re trying something new.
Most businesses pay lip service to the idea of talking to their customers. At Lumos we want to do it for real. But how?
We’re working on an initiative that we’re pretty excited about, tentatively called the Lumos Insiders Program. An extension of our experience with Kickstarter, we want to invite those of you passionate about Lumos, our product, our brand, and our mission, to continue to be a part of our story and our movement. We want you to keep playing a real role in our growth and evolution as a company. A core, self-selected group of uber-passionate Lumos Helmet supporters that will have access to exclusive monthly updates, inside looks to our new projects and new products, and opportunities to have influence over them as well as first access to beta programs and products.
Intrigued? Find out more about it HERE. The program is not launched yet, but we would love to get your thoughts and feedback on it.
Let’s build the future of Lumos together.
Eu-wen, Jeff, and the entire Lumos Helmet team