The Internet of Things has been a major focus for Verizon Ventures over the past several years and the innovations coming out of this space have the potential to enhance so many aspects of our lives. While we’ve already highlighted some of the ways in which IoT is transforming industries likeagriculture and smart energy, consumer-facing capabilities shouldn’t be overlooked. According to an IDC forecast, the wearables market is expected to double by 2020. This proliferation of connected wearable devices is being driven not simply by wider adoption of existing products with existing feature sets, but is being spurred by the emergence of new form factors and functionality that will be increasingly compelling for consumers. Many of these emerging devices will seamlessly complement the smartphones and other primary communication devices upon which consumers have already come to rely.
I’m thrilled to welcome Ringly to our portfolio, a company at the intersection of jewelry and technology that keeps users connected to what matters the most. Ringly is also funded by BBG Ventures, which marks the first time Verizon Ventures has invested in an AOL backed portfolio company. We asked founder and CEO Christina Mercando d’Avignon a few questions about the company’s beginnings and the experiences that have brought her and Ringly here today.
Can you set the stage? What was the inspiration behind building Ringly?
Like most startup founders, I created Ringly to solve a problem. I often found myself checking my phone during important moments - dinner with my friends and family, meetings at work, on vacation, etc. And when I did put my phone away, I would miss important calls or messages and feel guilty about it – something many women can relate to. I started to think about how I could have the most important information sent to me, but without it being distracting or interrupting anything I was focused on. I envisioned a future where our clothing and accessories become our mobile devices and ultimately help us become healthier, happier and more efficient (Click to Tweet).
Ringly recently announced fitness tracking capability and the availability of its product in stores. Tell us about the evolution of your product and where you see Ringly's place in the ever-expanding wearables market?
Building upon our mission of helping women lead a more healthy and balanced lifestyle, we decided activity tracking was a natural next step(Click To Tweet). As a company, we love to listen to our customers and the ability to track steps was one of our most requested features. In our research, we found that many women wanted to track their activity, but didn’t like the aesthetics of other fitness trackers on the market. We’re excited about the future of wearables and can’t wait to announce new features and functionality that will further help women stay on top of their game.
You have degrees in both fine art and human computer interaction. How has your background influenced your approach to fashion and technology?
From an early age, I’ve always had an interest in both the arts and technology. At Carnegie Mellon, I was able to practice both left-brain, right-brain thinking with their art and computer science programs, which exposed me to the creativity that I take into consideration with Ringly today. Academics have played a major role in the innovation behind the company and continue to influence my decision making in building a functional product that is effortless to wear.
What advice do you have for female entrepreneurs looking to get their businesses off the ground?
My advice to anyone starting out would be to have perseverance. Over the years, I’ve definitely had my fair share of ideas, but Ringly was the one that really struck a chord in me. I kept thinking about how cool it would be to have a cute piece of jewelry that’s functional and helps solve a problem. Starting a company is not an easy endeavor, but you’ll learn more than you ever thought possible and there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing your vision unfold and having others believe in it too. The hardest part is having the courage to get started and fully commit, but once you do you won’t regret not trying (Click to Tweet).
In your experience, what's the best way to work with an investor like Verizon Ventures?
We’re extremely lucky to be a part of such a dedicated team who are truly invested in helping their portfolio companies grow and expand. Verizon Ventures has been extremely helpful in introducing us to different business units within the Verizon network. They help champion our efforts throughout the organization, which can go a long way.
What's next for Ringly in 2017?
We have a lot of exciting things in the pipeline. Next year we’ll be expanding our collection and adding new features and functionality to our mobile experience. We'll also be embedding our technology into other designs and form factors, such as new rings and bracelets. Stay tuned for collaborations as well!
Related posts from Verizon Ventures:
Accelerating IoT Innovation with Techstars
Innovation Talk: Verizon Ventures’ Annual Startup Day
Key Takeaways from the IEEE Women in Engineering International Leadership Conference