I didn’t set out to start a wearable technology company. In fact, when I first had the idea for Ringly, the term “wearables” hadn’t even hit mainstream. I was simply tired of worrying where my phone was — at dinner, meetings, parties, drives, picnics, hikes, everywhere — for fear I’d miss something important.
Ringly was founded to solve this problem, one that many of us struggle with in our connected world: How can we stay in touch with those that matter, without sacrificing time with those we’re with?
Our first collection of rings, launched this past year, allows women to stay on top of their notifications discreetly, and without surrendering their individual style. The rings, currently crafted with an 18k matte gold finish and precious and semi-precious stones, notify the wearer about different notifications through vibration and a subtle light integrated into the side of the jewelry. You’ll notice it, but no one else should.
The notifications can be customized to the things that are most important, whether it’s an upcoming meeting, an urgent call from the babysitter, texts from your significant other, or a Snapchat pic. The point is that you’re in control of what comes through. The ring complements — not replaces — a phone you have nearby, whether in your car, purse, pocket, or elsewhere.
I’m not against the term wearables; it’s an important, growing category and perhaps that is where we fit in the world of tech. But we’re also a piece of jewelry that stands on its own — it’s a mistake to only think of Ringly as a wearable. Because ultimately, Ringly is about fashion: It is our belief that wearables should be designed to fit both your life and your style.
Just like we own several different pairs of shoes to address certain situations and needs — and let’s admit it, desires too (shoes aren’t just about function!) — different wearables will suit different purposes and lifestyles. You might wear a shirt that tracks your heart rate while you’re at the gym, a bathing suit that monitors sun exposure at the beach, or a ring that notifies you about an important message when you’re at work and out to dinner with your friends. As we start shifting the conversation from gadgets to clothing and accessories, the wearables industry, like fashion, will thrive on a diversity of offerings.
We didn’t begin with the idea of technology followed by fashion. We began with fashion first, and technology at the core. This required us to concentrate heavily on the miniaturization of our electronics upfront. It was no easy task — and took a lot of deep technical and manufacturing expertise that is invisible to our ring wearers — but we ended up with a lot of specialized knowledge as well as a set of ecosystem relationships that made our vision real.
Miniaturization for us is key, not just because it creates that “distance” from obvious tech, but because it allows jewelry designers and artists the freedom to create on top of and around it without restrictions. So this year, we’ll be expanding our collection, adding new features and introducing partnerships with fashion brands and designers to create a wider variety of new designs — all with the technology embedded and invisible.
One year ago we were a team of just 3 people with a prototype and a vision. Since then, we’ve grown to a team of twelve of the most talented engineers and designers from companies ranging from Etsy to Boeing and schools ranging from MIT to FIT. I’ve never met a more interesting, creative, and quirky group of people. With our combined knowledge and experience, I’m more excited than ever for what we have built and are building next.
Today, I’m thrilled to announce our $5.1M in Series A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz with participation from High Line Venture Partners, Silas Capital, PCH and others. We’re also proud of the follow-on investments from our early stage partners First Round Capital, Mesa+, Social+Capital and Brooklyn Bridge Ventures. It’s a privilege to have support and mentorship from such a talented group of people, and I’m excited to have Chris Dixon and Shana Fisher involved in our next phase of growth.
My sincere thanks goes out to our passionate fans and early customers who’ve been following and supporting us on our journey. We’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response from so many people, and love seeing the creativity and excitement for what we’ve created.
Here’s to an awesome 2015.
— Christina Mercando, Founder and CEO of Ringly