Steve's ITK

By Steve O'Hear

Steve's ITK: Hardware is hard

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Steve's ITK

March 28 · Issue #71 · View online

Steve's In The Know: Thoughts from a European tech insider.


Opening thought: Hardware is hard (but also fun!)
Takaab VLH from Siam Modular (VCO's Little Helper)
In the technology industry, the cliche is that hardware is hard. And while that is undoubtedly true, in many ways, boutique makers have never had it so good. Access to low-cost manufacturing and components, better software for the entire stack, finance via crowdfunding, marketplaces and the advent of direct-to-consumer commerce, has helped to create a hardware renaissance. 
Hardware is also incredibly rewarding, at least from a creative point-of-view, something I’ve now experienced first-hand. This month I finally got to launch my first commercial hardware product, which has already generated a few thousand pounds in revenue. Nobody is going to get rich off this thing, but it’s gratifying to see an idea validated with actual paying customers (a concept that may seem alien to some readers of this newsletter!).
In partnership with Siam Modular, a small Eurorack synthesiser company in Thailand, I co-designed “VCO’s LIttle Helper” (VLH). It’s a tiny module that adds vintage sounds to a Eurorack synthesizer. It’s not an original idea in the purest sense, but - like many of the best music products - takes an old concept and refines it for today’s musicians. 
To celebrate the launch, and in the name of provenance marketing (I don’t even know if that’s a thing), we shot an 8 minute documentary about the collaboration. One fun part of the story is that I reached out to Pete at Siam Modular with the idea entirely cold, after I’d written a feature on Eurorack synthesisers for TechCrunch. Without ever meeting in person, we then developed the product from a back of the napkin sketch all the way to a commercial release. Little did we know at the time that it would all have to happen during the worst health crisis of a generation.
Takaab VLH : VCO's Little Helper: The making of ...
Matt Clifford's podcast: Thought in Between
Steve O'Hear: The future of European tech - Thoughts in Between: exploring how technology collides with politics, culture and society
A few weeks ago I recorded a podcast with Matt Clifford, co-founder of Entrepreneur First, the so-called ‘talent-first’ investor that backs founders pre-idea and helps them start companies. He also writes a regular newsletter called Thoughts in Between - and his new podcast is an extension of that. 
We discussed new social media apps like Clubhouse, regulation and European tech, Silicon Valley’s media backlash and its relationship with journalism, and my strong - albeit still forming - views on diversity and inclusion in the tech industry and where I think the D&I agenda in this part of the world needs to course correct (spoiler: it should be more anchored in equality of opportunity and social mobility).
The podcast benefited from being recorded on a very relaxed Saturday. I think you’ll enjoy it.
Things I wrote recently
Gorillas, the on-demand grocery delivery startup, raises $290M and ‘surpasses’ $1B valuation
Ribbon wants to make it easier for product teams to interview users
Digital banking solutions provider Meniga closes additional €10M investment
Clubhouse UX teardown: A closer look at homepage curation, follow hooks and other features
Swedish fintech Zaver raises $5M to bring cardless payments and BNPL to ‘durables’ sector
Saleor scores $2.5M seed round for its ‘headless’ e-commerce platform
Fulfilment startup Cubyn raises €35M to expand across Europe
Dija acquires Cambridge-based Genie to expand its 10-minute grocery service across UK
Wise accuses former Brazil banking partner of smear campaign after ‘unfounded’ accusations of fraud
London’s Jiffy picks up £2.6M seed to enter the grocery dark store race
New challenger Ikigai combines digital banking and wealth management
Wise’s Taavet Hinrikus and Teleport’s Sten Tamkivi partner in new investment firm — just don’t call it a VC fund
Zego, the tech-enabled commercial motor insurer, raises $150M at $1.1B valuation
Cosi raises €20M for its ‘full-stack’ approach to short-term rentals
Backed by Blossom, Creandum and Index, grocery delivery and dark store startup Dija launches in London
Countingup closes £9.1M for its business current account with built-in accounting features
Flink, the Berlin-based grocery delivery startup that operates its own ‘dark stores’, raises $52M
Humaans raises $5M seed to make it easier for companies to on-board and manage staff
Klarna confirms new $31B valuation
Sources: Lightspeed is close to hiring a new London-based partner to put down further roots in Europe
Katana raises $11M Series A to be the SaaS powering ‘manufacturing entrepreneurs’
Gophr, the UK last-mile delivery company, picks up £4M funding
Tweet of the week
Eren Bali 🥼📲
VC: Can’t you replace doctors with AI?

Me: I think AI will replace VCs way before doctors

VC:

Me:

VC: I’ve a hard stop at 2:37pm
TechCrunch Sessions: Justice
Access All Areas: Designing Accessibility From Day One | TC Sessions: Justice 2021
I recently moderated a panel for TechCrunch Sessions: Justice – on how to design for accessibility. When managing editor Henry Pickavet asked me if I wanted to moderate, I initially hesitated: I never want to be the disabled journalist covering disability tech. At the same time, Henry and I both agreed that I could probably moderate the topic better than most people and so my ego got the better of me. I was quite tired on the evening of recording, but, luckily, all three panelists had plenty of interesting things to say. 
Get in touch / send me tips
Have feedback or something to say? Hit reply. I answer every single ITK email (as long as it isn’t a pitch).
Or DM me with tips (sources always protected).
Be kind to each other,
Steve
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