Nikhil Basu Trivedi, Principal at Shasta Ventures, recently distinguished exceptional founders by their ability to prioritize. “It all comes back to prioritization, speed, paranoia, and knowing that if you don’t iterate, even after finding product market fit, you can be disrupted by the next product,” he says.
I was fortunate to witness Nikhil’s insight come to life in our recent conversation with Nick Weaver, the CEO, and Co-founder of eero, one of Shasta’s portfolio companies. Since launching in 2014, the San Francisco Wi-Fi startup has wholly committed themselves to developing a palpable brand. Between their succinct slogans and witty tweets, the team’s designed each part of their product to be approachable for their community, which ranges from millennials to grandparents.
In today’s featured interview, Nick details the deliberate steps eero’s taking to lay a company foundation that’s strong enough to pioneer the next generation of wireless internet.
Approachable and enable are two words eero utilizes to describe the way they want their brand to exist for consumers. “Our Wi-Fi networks are some of the most frustrating and scary pieces of equipment in our homes,” Nick says. “One of our core principles at eero is: How do we take away the complexities and make things approachable and easy to use?”
Technology should be an enabler, not a frustration.
Ease is particularly pertinent as we progress into the smart home era. Whereas we previously relied on our wireless networks for search, today our homes are becoming more connected than ever. Habitual streaming on services like HBO and Netflix as well as devices like the Wi-Fi enabled June oven require a wide-spanning connection single routers are incapable of delivering. eero solves this by selling multiple wireless units that “blanket your home in wi-fi” and save you from the “buffering screen of death” when you’re watching the season finale of House of Cards. You can gain deeper insight about how eero works and the setup process here.
In addition to the seamless set-up, which can be completed in five minutes, eero thoughtfully integrates features like the ability to share your Wi-Fi password with guests and an app to monitor your settings. The system also issues software updates automatically, similar to an iPhone or Tesla. They’ve sent 10 feature updates since their launch in late February.
We’re building eero as a super reliable, performative system that keeps getting better and better over time.
While eero’s brand is firmly rooted in their technology, the company’s voice educating consumers is critical as they seek to power the core experiences in our lives: content, communication, home control, and security. “For the first time ever, all of these core experiences and services connect to the internet to run your home. Hearing stories like Betsy’s (a grandmother who successfully installed eero) are the moments I live for,” Nick says. “We want to give people a piece of technology that enables them to remove frustrations and have richer experiences in their homes.” Betsy’s story is among the team’s favorites and serves as a strong depiction of the voice they hope to project for the company. The startup’s second hire was their Head of Marketing, Sean Harris, who the founders exclusively brought on to shape the brand.
Reflecting on an exercise assigning human traits to the company (You can gain deeper insight in this First Round Review article) Nick says: “All of us came back to the friends in our lives who are always friendly, helpful, and approachable. We wanted to create that same experience when people use our product.” When you spend time on the company’s website or social media profiles the persona is immediately highlighted in infographics such as “What to do in your Wi-Fi dead zones,” and memorable slogans like “Your router can’t do this,” “Mad Hops,” and “Under the Hood.”
From design to software, and even their manufacturing line, eero is on a daily quest to infuse their brand in every part of the company. “It all comes full circle,” Nick says. “Everyone makes the commitment to build the brand and experience. Whether it’s an article, tweet, or a call to the help desk every team member is focused on approachability and helpfulness.”
Brand and voice require your whole team’s effort.
The affirmation aligns with the most significant learning Nick’s gleaned leading the company the last two years: “You have to be willing to create a process and ruthlessly reassess whether you can be doing it better.” The result is a mentality where every individual is driven by an insatiable desire to learn, iterate, and improve. eero team members constantly ask: “Could we be doing this better? Could we be serving our customers in a different or more approachable way?” Nick describes these as “questions that get you to where you need to go;” Catalyzed by curiosity, they stimulate understanding versus promoting a prescribed ideology.
“As the company evolves, your intuition improves about what types of questions you should be asking. It’s about pushing people to think in a different direction and ensuring that they process all of the different possibilities so you can make the best decision as a company,” he says. “We focus on getting a minimum viable product out in a timely manner and committing to making it better and better as we receive feedback. The underlying piece is that when we make the network that runs your entire home run flawlessly, we’re moving in the right direction to remove complexity and add intelligence to our homes.”