Startup Profile: inTouch

inTouch

Below are comments from Moonyoung (Mark) Lee ECE ’15, Co-Founder of inTouch:

inTouch Technologies Inc develops hardware solutions that provide decentralized communication to provide connectivity in places where there are no cellular coverage. InTouch was co-founded by Moonyoung Lee (ECE’15) and Dong Ki Kim (ECE ’16). inTouch began as part of the Life Changing Labs program over the summer in 2014 as a continuation of winning Cornell’s BIG IDEA Competition. After we recruited product designer (Jasmine Oh ’15), business lead (Salmaan Qadir ’16), and software developer (Sean Viswanathan ’18), we continued our growth through the guidance under eLab accelerator on campus throughout the 2014-2015 year. Bruce Land provided access to the Digital Lab to develop our hardware product.

1. Can you speak a little about inTouch and why you started it? How was your team formed?

My family travels often to places where cellular networks are not present. Without fully functioning cellphones, I found it to be very difficult or cumbersome for our family to regroup once we split apart. In these situations, I couldn’t help but feel our vacation experience was limited due to lack of secondary communicative tools. inTouch was formed so that families and group of friends can stay connected wherever they go.

At first, we envisioned our product to be a wearable device that could be compact and easily portable. Below is the CAD rendering of our early stage of the company. It would contain an embedded LCD screen, user input button, power status/indicator, and the flexible PCB would be enclosed in the bracelet. We modeled our solution similar to the Fitbit or Nike Fuelband solutions.

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Once the prototype was able to communicate successfully, we made the solution portable so that we could start range testing the Xbee modules in different environments with varying interferences.After using gEDA schematic software to design prototype v3.0, we then designed and fabricated into our final form factor of a phone case rather than a wearable gadget. This solution is ongoing at the moment.

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Overview of InTouch’s Timeline:
  • Jan 2014 co-founder and idea
  • Apr 2014 BIG IDEA Competition 1st place
  • June 2014 LCL incubator
  • Aug 2014 Founding team formed
  • Sep 2014 eLab Program
  • Nov 2014 customer development
  • Dec 2014 prototype v1
  • Jan 2015 software recruit
  • Feb 2015 prototype v2
  • March 2015 team brand restructure
  • Apr 2015 Demo Day
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2. What are the most important lessons you’ve learned from creating your business so far? Are there any lessons especially important in entrepreneurship?

If you want to go fast, do it by yourself. If you want to go far, do it together with your partner. With that said, don’t recruit just to fill positions or because certain tasks outside your expertise needs to be completed. If a 20 year old college student can do it, the material can’t be too difficult to pick up yourself.

3. What existing experiences/skills/knowledge were you able to leverage in building your business? What did you have to learn?

Through this experience, I learned the importance of customer driven product and developed a basic intuition for effectively carrying out customer development.

4. What has been inTouch’s favorite Cornell entrepreneurship resource and what advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Our favorite resource has to be the eLab teaching team!

Let’s open our eyes to the abundant problems laying around us. Status quo can always be improved — we just need to develop senses to identify problems and improve them.

 

Want to see inTouch’s presentation at Demo Day? Check out the video here!