Q & A with the Founders of Chronos
What does Chronos do? What are you guys building?
Mark: Chronos is a thin discrete disc that attaches to the back of your watch. It’s the thinnest wearable device in the world. It fits over 80% of watches sold today. It attaches with microsuction and it gives you the very best of today’s wearable tech. It connects your phone via low energy Bluetooth. It tracks your steps and activity throughout the day, connects your phone and gives you unique personalized notifications for just the things you care about.
Why watches? Why is this market you’re going after?
Mark: I love watches. I was an avid buyer of wearable tech and I didn’t like the way the watch looked next to the fitness band. I said, “Hey, there’s got to be a better way. Can’t I have the wearable tech I want but keep the watch that I love?”
That's the problem I wanted to fix. No one else can attach a device to the back of your watch.
How big is this market? Watches are obviously a popular item, but give us an idea of really how popular they are and if this takes off.
Mark: The watch industry is enormous. It’s actually surprising to hear how big it is. A record-setting 1.2 billion watches were sold last year. The industry’s grown between 5 and 10 percent every single year since 2000 and I don’t think it’s slowing down.
We can make the thinnest wearable device in the world, but we aren’t good at designing beautiful time pieces. We said, hey, let’s just turn to making all these watches smart. 55% of Americans wear a traditional watch every single day and the number one reason they don’t want to buy a fitness band or a smartwatch is because they don’t want to compromise the watch they love.
Chronos doesn’t compromise the look of the wristwatch, it works with anything?
Mark: Yep. We fit on 80% of watches sold and every single watch on the top 20 bestseller list. When we say 80%, the only reason we don’t work with them is because of the size. Some women’s watches in particular are less than 33 millimeters in diameter. But the great thing is that women’s watches are getting bigger, so the average women’s watch sold today is 38 millimeters.
You guys just launched. What's the response been like?
Mark: We did a PR push in the middle of November and the response was overwhelming. We had 25 articles on the first day. We had an average about an article a day since then. We sold out our 250 early bird units in 2 and a half hours. We sold over 1000 in the first week and we’re selling roughly 150 per day since then, so it’s going really well.
When do you plan to deliver these watches?
Mark: We plan to deliver the Chronos disc in spring 2016.
Why is the spring such an optimum time to get these out there?
Luke: One of the big, key dates is the timeframe we call Dads and Grads. Graduation and Father’s Day is a big watch buying time.
Mark: We want to make sure we capture Dads and Grads next year, because we think this is the perfect up-sell. You either got a watch as a gift last year or got a watch for graduating college. Why not make it smart for a little over $100?
To get it out there, what specific plans do you have to get the Chronos on shelves?
Mark: We’re currently negotiating with some of the biggest retailers out there, the best CE names as well as the high end department stores who sell a ton of watches. That’s where we’re shooting to be having Chronos sitting next to beautiful watches.
Luke: Don’t forget the biggest watch seller.
Mark: Of course. There’s Amazon, the biggest watch retailer in the world. We’re also talking to them.
You’re certainly not the first to think of integrating smart tech into watches. Are there any competitors who tried to integrate smart tech into regular watches?
Luke: Time pieces are meant to last a lifetime or even multiple lifetimes. The technology that they’re putting in these new devices now will last 6 months to a year and they become outdated.
Our whole take on this is that we’re modular and almost invisible. All the manufacturer of the watch has to do is swap out their supplier and case backs from who they were using to Chronos. When that technology becomes outdated, there’s a new version that we come out with, they can replace it and keep their customer relevant.
We had an investor specifically ask about MontBlanc and their smart strap. Why did you take the approach of sticking something on the back of the watch as opposed to creating a strap that’s smart?
Luke: I think our biggest critique to what the watch industry’s attempted so far is that they’re really changing the look and feel of the time pieces. We love Montblanc watches. I own a Montblanc watch. I don’t want the strap to change, I don’t want the face to change.
They’re also very expensive. The Montblanc connected strap is $350. The IWC watch only comes on watches that cost $10,000. They seem like they’re not attainable and they really change the look and feel of the timepiece, where our device is $125. It sticks on the back and instantly turns it into the smartwatch that you want.
Can you explain why you didn’t use a screen?
Mark: What we’ve found is that people really love three things about their smartwatch. They love being able to track their steps and activity, checking the time, surprisingly, and the third is personalized notifications. That’s what we really focused in on. To do that, we don’t need a screen.
Luke: The old model is taking your personal phone device, taking this interaction and putting it on your wrist. The phone is something that’s personal to you, lives in your pocket and no one else usually sees it. Th watch is something that’s opposite. I wear the watch so people know something about who I am. There's some kind of disconnect when you’re taking a very personal communication model and putting it on something that you’re exploiting to the world.
People are saying, "Help me be engaged in real life" and that’s what Chronos does. We allow you to add what we call Chronos Contacts, which is those few people that you think are really important that you want to always be notified on. When you add someone, you can actually go into their contacts and change what color and what kind of vibration pattern you feel.
Some of our investors were concerned that the iPhone didn’t blow up until it became a platform for applications. The Apple Watch hasn’t gotten to that point yet, but we can presume that it will. Are you concerned about limiting the functionality of the Chronos?
Luke: The groundwork for that platform isn't fully fleshed out yet. There’s not enough adoption of developers to make that smartwatch platform work for those apps. I think it’s a long time coming. The reason is once again because it’s a wearable piece of fashion that needs to happen first. Until we get everyone’s style, it’s going to be a slow adoption curve for Apple.
Until then, there needs to be some kind of transition to get people used to this behavior and understanding what’s the right interaction on your wrist.
That’s why we’ve kept it very bare minimum. Just lights, vibration, and doing this passive stuff. For example, if you get a phone call, you can tap your watch to silence the phone call. You can also skip tracks on your media player on your phone among other easy actions.
What’s next? Two years from now, what else will we do with our Chronos?
Luke: We’re going to be working on making Chronos thinner, adding in more sensors, more capabilities, but also looking at other products that you may wear every day or have in your every day life and applying this philosophy of making modules or invisible technology to the stuff that you love every day.
More specifically, we are going to make Chronos thinner, smaller, fit that extra 20% that we don’t fit on right now, and then add more features. V2 payments,heart rate and, as we’ve mentioned, a lot of those IOT features.
What are you worried about? What keeps you guys up at night? What are the risks?
Mark: I think my biggest fear is we’ve created an incredible product and we just need to get it in front of people and when people see it we have an incredibly high conversion rate. I’m always nervous people aren’t quite as excited about it as I am, but they have been, which is awesome.
There’s nothing else like Chronos in the market right now, so there is a piece of education that goes into it and that is a hurdle you have to get over, but people understand it. When they see it, they’re amazed by it. How do you get so much stuff out of such a small package?
To learn more about Chronos, visit their profile at wefunder.com/chronos