132 – Nora Levinson and Soyoung Park of Caeden – Form, Function, and Finding Balance

Wearables and portable consumer electronics …

IMG_0094-minNora Levinson (bio) Co-Founder and CEO, and Soyoung Park (bio) CMO, of Caeden (uses technology and design to inspire dynamic and engaged living, with on-ear, in-ear headphones and connected jewelry) join hosts Pavan Bahl, Rob Sanchez and Marc Raco. This interview is the third of three focused on manufacturing and scalability of direct-to-consumer products.

Tech and wellness, heart rate, a three-punch strategy

IMG_6335-minLevinson discusses headphones and the new connected bracelet, the goal of bringing tech to help wellness goals and find balance in lives, the objectives in starting Caeden, living in China, what was missing, about stress, sensor technology, and bringing tech in a beautifully designed product. A heart rate sensor measuring heart rate variability with ten times accuracy, providing a glimpse into nervous system balance, and the stress and relaxation response tug of war. Looking at Caeden as a product design company, focusing on design vs. technology, a focus on not compromising, evaluating the need to dealing with copycats, creating products with attention to lines, aesthetics, form and function, and how making seem seamless requires complexity. Why Levinson and partner David Watkins have worked together more than a decade, a track record with Skull Candy, Jawbone, InCase, and Harmon, a three-punch strategy, why headphones first, and how considerations of arm hair and skin tone are a big engineering challenge.

Manufacturing and scalability, a learning curve, vetting factories

IMG_6334-minA conversation on communicating products to audience with performance and digital marketing, robust features distilled into quick and easy understandable selling points/features, translating beautiful wearables onto social media platforms, how the visual has been important, and changing the story from headphones to wellness. What changed with Caeden in manufacturing over time, challenges and pivots, what was learned during trial runs, robustness, a Catch 22 in hardware development, longer cycles from R and D to proper feedback, considerations in manufacturing and scaling and maintaining that level of quality while scaling, how to vet factories and pick the right manufacturing partner, understanding what’s possible in manufacturing, the design process and timeframe, finding well-matched suppliers, designing aesthetics and functionality with the manufacturing process in mind, and planning issues in scheduling and communication.

Designing, fighting robots, and superhero movies

Designing from the designer’s mind vs. considering what consumer wants, the merits of designing by committee, and metallic accents and vegan leather. Off the Grid Questions cover anthropology, fighting robots, steampunk, Cuba, feminist superhero movies, post-apocalyptic skills, Jimmy Fallon, and a by-yourself 80’s dance party.

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