[S1,E9] The challenges of pivoting the product after raising nearly $500k on Kickstarter. Neuroon – intelligent mask that hacks your sleep

Tomasz Kolodziejak is a co-founder of Inteliclinic, the company that produces Neuroon — the world’s first mask, which allows to modify sleep paterns with patented light therapy. Neuroon had huge success on Kickstarter in 2014, reaching their $100K goal in one day(!) and raising nearly $500K in total. Now, the company is selling the mask to thousands of people worldwide. On the day of the interview Neuroon was accepted to SkyDeck – the University of California Berkeley Acceleration program. This exciting news means the company will become a part of this great university’s business and research network.

I met with Tomasz at Runway Incubator in San Francisco to talk about how Neuroon works and what are its best applications. In what way did the purpose of the mask change over time and why? What was the reaction of Kickstarter backers to the product’s changes and the delay of delivery? And how did the founders deal with their backers’ responses? How did the founders manage to keep company’s operations after Kickstarter funding? Did they look for investors? How did they find first customers outside of Kickstarter?

Watch the interview and discover the insights of Neuroon’s amazing story!


Here are some highlights from the interview:

  • It is thrilling massive success on Kickstarter, but the joy is quickly followed by a lot of stress and pressure:

    “[After the campaign] You’re on top of the world, super happy that you raised the money, and then you have to deliver. Happiness really doesn’t last very long, maybe for a week, and then you are trying to figure out ‘Ok, how am I going to do this in such a short amount of time?’”

  • The original target, a mask helping only with polyphasic sleep, turned out to be too narrow of a market for long term success:

    “We figured that polyphasic sleep is a niche market and not many people have biological capabilities to do that. We still hack sleep, we help you sleep at a different times that you can, take power naps, adjust your body clock when you travel.”

  • Raising $500K from Kickstarter was a good start for Intelclinic, however it does not last for long in the hardware world:

    “If you ask someone outside from Silicon Valley, they will say $500K is plenty of money. Then, if you talk to people in Silicon Valley, they will say ‘Half a million for a hardware? You can’t really do anything.’”

  • Intelclinic manufactures their masks in Poland, because it is both safe and convenient:

    “Poland is the best country in Europe, home country for us. Easy access to engineers. You don’t have to fly to Shenzhen every time something goes wrong, and at the beginning a lot of things go wrong. We can ship parts from Asia and just assemble them in Poland. We have full control of the quality.”

  • Neuroon is a great product for airlines to use to delight their premium clients:

    “We signed LOIs with four different airlines to do partnerships with business and first class users. Those include ANA – a major Japanese carrier, Lufthansa, Quantas and Virgin Atlantic.”

  • Problems that seem to be huge at the start, start to seem more like an everyday hassle along the way:

    “Some problems that we thought at the beginning of the campaign were big, today are day to day things. One time you are on the top of the world thinking you are a Zuckerberg – the best person in the world with this great idea. The next day you think ‘Maybe this will not work out.’ since you have so many problems to tackle. And then you even out and see ‘Oh, this is growing. It’s going to be the next big thing.’”

  • Time stamps:

    [column size=one_half position=first ]– Product 0:46
    – Competition 3:47
    – Decision to pivot 4:53
    – Kickstarter success 5:47
    – Communicating with backers 08:54
    – Financials 11:16[/column]
    [column size=one_half position=middle ]– Tackling problems 12:49
    – Hiring 15:45
    – Manufacturing 17:14
    – Visas 22:52
    – Finding customers 23:57
    – Growing a startup 25:36
    – Plans for the future 28:38


    Enjoyed the interview? Sign up to the newsletter and be notified about new inspiring startup stories and articles. You will get only the best, curated content.

    [button color=”red” size=”normal” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”samewindow” url=”#mailmunch-pop-260162″]Subscribe[/button]

    One Response

    1. niscon

      Well .. when do they ship really? All kickstarter backers are waiting for shipments .. delayed from December to April to whatever, and no communication whatsoever from the team.


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.