How does the road to growth look for this automotive tech startup?

There are a lot of exciting companies that work out of the CIC — the coworking space our agency calls home — and being around them every day made us curious: What were these companies doing to spur such impressive growth?

Hardware is a difficult vertical to succeed in as a startup, which is why we wanted to reach out to Haowei Zhang, CEO and cofounder of Waylens, an automotive camera company. In this article, you’ll learn how Haowei is growing Waylens in spite of the challenges all hardware startups face.

This is part 4 of 5 of our CIC Growth Series, featuring Haowei Zhang, CEO and cofounder at Waylens. Check out part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 5 of the series.

Give us the elevator pitch for Waylens.

Waylens is the automotive camera company. We’re transforming the way people drive and discover the thrill of driving through our Horizon product, which allows drivers to easily capture, edit, and share interesting moments from the road with our innovative camera, OBD-II transmitter, remote, and mobile app.

What did you do in 2016 to drive growth?

Last year was our first product launch. We tried an all-encompassing way to drive growth, but the most important one is PR. We spent a lot of effort on PR and influencer marketing.

We also used email and Facebook ads, and we started testing YouTube ads through Google Accelerator, which helps startups advertise on YouTube. Everything we produced sold out almost immediately, and then additional production runs of the product were delayed. We had already done a heavy marketing push, and once the program started, we couldn’t stop the orders from coming in. It was a big lesson learned for us.

Hardware is difficult. We have a complex product — a camera, accessories and software. There’s a lot of software to QA and test. For these reasons, a lot of hardware startups fail after the first round of funding. We got delayed a bit but we delivered, and that was a big achievement for us.

What will you do in 2017 to continue growing?

In 2017, we will continue doing direct sales through the digital marketing channels we used last year, as well as focusing on Amazon sales. Because we’re a hardware company, we also need to get into physical retail and distribution channels, which will be more achievable as we continue to grow the brand.

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Want to learn how other CIC members are growing their businesses? Check out the rest of our CIC Growth Series here:

Ideometry is a full-service marketing agency located in Boston helping awesome companies and organizations amplify their growth strategies.