Pando

Peeq: A raw, heartwarming update from the winner of the 2015 Pando Prize

By Sarah Lacy and Paul Bradley Carr , written on January 18, 2017

From The Pandoland 2015 Desk

Attendees (or viewers) of Pandoland 2015 will probably remember Peeq: The microphone-in-a-ball educational startup that walked away with our $15k Pando Prize, chosen by Pando's writers and editors. 

When we last checked in with the company, a little over a year ago, Peeq had just launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the rest of the cash it needed to get it debut "Qball" device into production. The campaign raised over $46k. Since then, though, we hadn't heard much from them. 

Until last week. Out of the blue, an email landed in our mailbox from founder Shane Cox updating us on the company's (and his own) wild ride since we last spoke. It's a story that will resonate with plenty of Pando readers, particularly those who have hustled against the odds to bring a physical product to market. 

Cox's full email is repoduced below, with his permission. You can read more about Peeq here. The photo above is our very own Qball which arrived a few days after the email. 

Paul and Sarah, 

Wow, it's been a while!  True to form, for most crowdfunding campaigns, we blew right on past every "extremely conservative" timeline that we thought it would take to bring our product to life. And by we, I mean I, since I am still flying solo.  I am happy to say though, after spending more than 2 months in China, going through 3 different manufacturers, moving my family three times, living with the in-laws for a year, selling every single asset, spending every single penny, and every scrap of credit to my name... the Qball is finally a reality!  All of my Indiegogo orders have been fulfilled or are in the mail.  As big of a nightmare as it has been, I feel extremely lucky to have the most understanding and patient backers that you could ever ask for.  The funny thing is it might never have happened if it wasn't for Pandoland.  
At the time I applied for the pitch competition I was at one of my all-time lows.  I had just shelved the previous "invention" I had been working on after spending everything I had made from selling a business that took me nearly ten years to build. As a solo-founder I had been shut-down and shot-down by every investor, incubator, and accelerator that I had applied for. My development on the Qball had stalled because I wasn't sure I was ready to go all-in again. I was beginning to think that maybe I just had shitty ideas and was surrounded by nice people who couldn't bring themselves to tell me they were shitty ideas. 
I had taken a job installing satellite dishes in Seattle... that wasn't really panning out.  I was away from my family, stuck in a different shitty hotel every night with no jobs coming in.  One night in particular, I was relegated to the oh-so-beautiful Monroe Motel "and trailer park", in a room that had been smoked in for so long it had even managed to permeate the burnt orange shag carpet.  It was so bad it was comical.  I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.  After picking up a couple cans of Febreeze at the local supermarket, I sprayed the hell out of that place and tried my best to get some sleep thinking to myself, this has got to be the bottom.  It was the very next day that I received an email saying I had been accepted as one of the startups to pitch at Pandoland.  It was the kick in the ass that I needed. I called the company I was working for the very next day, told them I was done, packed up and went back home and put it all on the line.  My success on Indiegogo was due in large part to the $15K I won at Pandoland that year.  It paid for my video and helped pay for marketing to get the word out.  
The last year and a half since Pandoland has been full of amazing highs and even lower lows.  After finishing my Indiegogo campaign I thought that maybe now that I had pre-sold almost $50K worth of my product I would had the validation that investors were looking for, but alas even that wasn't enough to make ed-tech hardware look sexy.  I finally just had to come to the realization that I didn't need them.  I had people that believed in me and my product. I didn't care what it was going to take but I was going to make it work.  I finally gave up on this stupid notion that only venture capital worthy businesses are important, that my product and my company may end up being "just" a lifestyle business. But if it provides for my family and serves my customers needs, then that is good enough for me.  I could bore you with all of the hurdles I've encountered to make it actually happen, but suffice it to say, the Qball is finally here and for the part you and Pandoland played, I thank you!
I just have one last favor to ask.  I need a shipping address so I can send you a couple of Qballs as a thanks for your $15K pledge :)
Thanks again,
Shane Cox
PEEQ