2020 was a year like no other. It was dominated by a pandemic that changed how people live and work. Our team quickly reacted to the situation and went 100% remote in early March. We adjusted our strategy and plans to maximize our progress in this challenging year.

Looking back, we’re proud of what we achieved and excited for what’s ahead.

In the first part of 2020, we closed a funding round from Google, Y Combinator, F7 Ventures, Cleo Capital, and many exceptional angel investors. The funding fueled our product work and sales activities.

Over the next few months, we…

30 years ago today, my parents and I boarded a train to immigrate to Sweden. This experience came with incredible challenges and obstacles. But mainly it opened up opportunities that I could never have dreamed of otherwise.

As 2020 is luckily nearing its end, I’ve reflected on how my immigrant background and other outsider experiences have prepared me for starting a company in a crazy year like this.

It’s not people like myself (women, immigrants, no family wealth) who get most of the opportunities to start companies. We don’t fit VC’s pattern matched molds. …

The holy grail of smart home is to have your home know what you need and do it for you. But for users to feel empowered by an autonomous home, they first need to feel in-control over today’s smart home products at a basic level.

People generally have a good sense of how things in their home work. If you want to light up your bedroom, you flip the switch on the wall. That usually works. But in the rare instance when it doesn’t, you can change the light bulb. …

Lately, there’s been a lot of discussion about whether the pandemic has accelerated the remote work revolution. To me that discussion is missing the point. It’s not just about the future of work. It’s about the future of home.

There’s certainly a large category of knowledge workers and their employers who discovered that work can actually be productive from home with video conferencing and other collaboration software. Multiple tech companies announced remote work as their permanent arrangement going forward and some city dwellers have started considering cheaper locations as their home base.

But remote work is just one of the…

The smart home demands a user experience that’s much more intuitive than other tech products. Here’s why:

1. Homes are full of distractions

As we’ve all learned from working from home the past 2 months, it’s very different from sitting at your desk or running between conference rooms at the office. There are kids and pets running around. Food is being delivered. Lunch is being prepped. So unlike the software you interact with in the office, the UX that powers smart home products should make it easy to quickly achieve your desired task before you get distracted.

2. Homes are…

The best way to power through the stress of running a startup in these crazy times is to focus on the problem you solve.

I stay focused on Kraftful’s mission by reading app store reviews for other smart home apps as inspiration on how to create the ultimate smart home experience.

From our research, we found that 80% of all smart home apps have three or less stars in the app stores. Many of the problems users complain about are usability issues. Here are some examples:

A smart lock app that doesn’t let you unlock your home.

Which smart home players will come strong out of the 2020 recession?

Hint: it’s the ones that can selectively cut costs while making new investments in R&D and future looking initiatives.

Target’s strategy in 2000 is a great case study. Target reduced cost, while investing in future looking initiatives like growing its internet business. And because they understood that online retail is not their forte, they partnered with Amazon to sell their products. This savvy partnership helped Target emerge as a market leader — growing profits by 50% over the course of the recession.

For smart home products, the best…

I’m a toddler mom CEO. It’s an identity I’ve suddenly had to come to terms with over the past few weeks while trying to do my job locked in a house without any childcare.

It’s never easy to be a toddler mom CEO, but it’s manageable. We were lucky to get into an excellent preschool with particularly long hours and have an evening/weekend nanny. I’ve made a point of being mindfully present when I am with my son to be a source of comfort, education, and fun in his life, even if I don’t hang around him every second of…

Lots of VCs are giving entrepreneurs advice about what they should do. Some of it is helpful, but often not tactical enough.

Some later stage companies have shared their plans, which is great. Their plans are not entirely applicable to early stage B2B start-ups. Most B2C software start-ups are better adjusted for a pandemic because their business doesn’t depend on meetings with customers.

I wanted to share what we have done so far to help other start-ups figure out what they can do:

  • Since March 2, we’ve been 100% remote. When your team is still very small, one sickness can…

I failed.

Many times!

So have you.

So how do we make the most of it?

Yesterday, I was on a panel at Schoolab, talking about reframing failure. It’s a scary topic to tackle on stage, but I think that we handled it gracefully.

As the PM-turned-CEO on the panel, I got to talk about failure and iteration in product development. To me, failure is intimately tied to goal setting and team morale. Some failure is also an inevitable step in getting to bigger success.

No failure (or growth) without goals

To recognize failure in product development, you need to articulate a clear hypothesis and set…

Yana Welinder

CEO & Co-Founder at Kraftful (kraftful.com)

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