The news stories this week about the vaccine were really good.
By late Monday afternoon it was clear that convincing investors that there would be a market for smart masks by the end of 2021 would have been an uphill battle.
For now we have decided to reorganize and discontinue the Undead Mask.
We have laid off everyone and will issue refunds to those that pre-ordered. We have licensed back the IP to those that created, so some might still decide to pursue this on their own.
Our plan was to soft-launch the Undead Mask before the presidential election (which might have brought a mask mandate in the US). Then spend the next 30 days iterating on our KPIs, talking to more customers, and getting ready to ship the units in early February. We had been using the prototypes for weeks and it worked, and had an improved version of the Undead Mask almost ready.
We factored in the “risk” of getting a vaccine when we started, and our deck (written in April) was clear that the market was going to peak in 2020, and reach almost zero by 2022, and only at that point tech would have been mature enough to deliver mass market products. Had we raised $3m over the summer it would have been different, but the response of VCs were generally negative, and in few cases extremely negative in a way that surprised even me. It turned out people had strong opinions about masks, and they were almost always negative. It did not help that the CDC finally acknowledged this week — 11 months into this pandemic that, yes actually, masks do protect the wearer.
It’s no accident that the angel money that we ended up raising was mostly from investors that understood masks, pollution, sports, respiratory infections etc.
In the end we believed we could build a business, but did not believe we could convince investors we could build a venture-scale business before we’d run out of money.
Aleksandra is leaving with some of our advisors and has started OEM Central, a curated marketplace to simplify how hardware startups find factories and go to mass production.
As for UNDEAD I will be taking the next few weeks to figure out what’s next.
Thanks to everyone that ordered one of our masks, upvoted us, liked us, gave us feedback along the way.
As the name of this company implies, I am not done here.