Startup Spotlight: Adam Adelman of Nex Band
By Janet Ho ● June 12, 2017 20:15
According to a recent article in Forbes, which just happens to celebrate Nex Band, wearable technology is expected to grow to $34 billion in 2020. Popular brands on the current market include FitBit and Apple Watch, and, comparable wristband products focus primarily on fitness tracking or communications capabilities. Nex Band is leading the evolution in wearable technology.
Created by the Montreal-based company, Mighty Cast, founder and CEO Adam Edelman launched the first-generation Nex Band in 2014, followed by Nex Band Evolution in 2017. The Nex Band Evolution, like its predecessor, is completely customizable, offering consumers the ability to create various “hacks’” to suit their everyday needs with a simple tap or two of their band —starting coffee in the morning, posting on social media, adjusting the temperature before arriving home, finding friends at a concert, or as a game controller and music maker.
Here, CEO Adam Edelman, a member of Cohort 6 of CFC Media Lab’s IDEABOOST, shares a couple of his favourite Nex Band features and the toughest lesson he’s learned as an entrepreneur.
What inspired you to create Nex Band?
Adam Adelman: Our last company was a content company, and when we started Mighty Cast, we were developing this fantasy-science fiction story world. It was all about these kids who wanted to make positive change in the world and they ended up becoming vigilantes. The only way they could communicate with each other and unlock magical powers was through magical bracelets that everyone wore. We were focus-testing this story world, and every group we brought in was fixated on this magical bracelet. It was a hammer over the head a few years ago when we realized we had something here and decided to become a hardware company.
Nex Band has partnered with gaming and content companies. How are you integrating these applications?
Adelman: The idea behind the Nex Band is this: we want to give our users complete creative control so that they can have a brand new smart band every day, every hour, or even every minute if they want. It takes about three seconds to customize your band, and you only have to double tap or single tap to execute any command you want. We were doing a large study with Niantic Labs with their Ingress augmented reality game. [A gamer] could tap on one of the buttons to unlock a secret video, or it could alert them if they were near a specific location and needed to take some sort of action through gesture on the band. We've had a lot of excitement through augmented reality partners and [content creators], even as far as the recording artists side. For example, we have one hack where you can turn your band into a beatbox controller — I tap on the different buttons and it creates different beats or loops. We're working with a recording artist to create different sounds to download and trigger from a Nex Band as well.
What’s features on the Nex Band do you use regularly?
Adelman: I use it primarily as a camera controller and a music controller, and I also have a fake phone call button that makes my phone ring to get me out of sticky situations!
There’s also a distress hack — if someone feels like they are in an unsafe environment, they can easily notify their family or friends.
Adelman: Yeah, you don't need your phone. You're able to just tap one of your mods and it will send light patterns to other Nex users or, and here I’ll give you an example of one thing I do with my daughter. She’s 14 years old. When she goes out and wears her Nex Band, she can just double-tap one of the mods and it pin drops her location and sends me an email with a map of her whereabouts.
What’s the toughest lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
Adelman: It’s hard to balance sticking to a belief you feel very strongly about, with listening to feedback and potential comments and criticisms you get from the team and community and responding to that feedback. As a young entrepreneur, sometimes I feel like there are mixed messages, like "see your dream through and don’t listen to the naysayers.” At the same time, though, it's very important to strike a balance with responding to early feedback as quickly as you can.
What prompted you to join CFC Media Lab’s IDEABOOST Network?
Adelman: Our DNA is rooted in content. So even though we are a wearable technology company, we love the idea of working with creative properties.
What’s next on the horizon for Nex Band?
Adelman: Now that we're in market, we're really looking forward to leveraging and expanding our relationships. We have some nice partnerships with some of the gaming companies I mentioned, and we're announcing GoPro, which is public now. But we also have a software development kit that we're going to be opening up to independent game, content and app developers, which we're excited about.
Can you talk a little about the new GoPro application?
Adelman: It's actually very simple. You know when you're wearing a GoPro on a head mount? Let’s say you're skiing and you're about to go down a hill. You want to turn the GoPro on, and you don't know whether or not you're recording or not, or if you've pressed the right button. With our band, you double-tap one of the mods and it will automatically turn your GoPro on. It flashes red while it's recording, and then you tap it again to turn it off, like a shortcut remote controller.
What’s been one of your greatest highlights running a startup?
Adelman: Celebrating victories with the team, like when we receive positive press or get positive feedback on a product release, we all experience it together — that’s the biggest high that I personally have.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
IDEABOOST Accelerator is a four-month boot camp for tech companies that want to achieve success and scale in the media and entertainment ecosystem. An initiative of the Canadian Film Centre’s Media Lab, in partnership with Corus Entertainment, IDEABOOST provides high–potential Canadian startups with seed investment, mentorship and access to its network. Join Network Connect to find out more.