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WakeMate Update (wakemate.com)
199 points by spydertennis on June 27, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 96 comments

Interesting Greg Nemeth is listed as on WakeMate's about page http://www.wakemate.com/about/ as a cofounder of the company that produces WakeMate.

   "Greg Nemeth is Co-Founder and President of Perfect 
   Third, Inc. He manages WakeMate’s finances, 
   communications, and marketing strategy. Greg 
   studied business at Boston College until he left 
   to pursue WakeMate full-time."
According to this blog post he seems to have secretly started a competing company and used WakeMates email list? http://www.indiegogo.com/MiLifePlus

Its a shame WakeMate didn't end up succeeding, it was one of my favorite YC startup ideas.

Check out the name of Greg's new company. I'm sure it's designed to sound like the original company:

* Wakemate: By Perfect Third Inc. (http://wakemate.com/about/)

* MiLife+: By Three Thirds Inc. (http://www.indiegogo.com/GregNemeth)

Somehow this all reminds me of the JooJoo tablet (http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/12/crunchpad-tablet-jooj...).

Picking the right Co-founders is so important! I would not start a company with a person unless we have a proven track record and have built trust over several years and having worked together on a number of projects.

That is easy to say, but often you don't know exactly the right person with the right skill set at the time you need them. If you only work with people you have known for several years you are going to have a slow time growing your company.

If you don't have the skill set within your personal network of yourself plus possible cofounders to start the company, then this idea/company is not within your reach to execute effectively. Do something else.

You can't hire founders.

I was referring to co-founders only in my comment about trust and track record. I agree that at some point you will have to bring people on board that you haven't known for that long, but then the risk is also a lot smaller since they won't be co-founders.

So you'll only bring on people with a proven track record of having multiple past exits? That severely limits your options... plus why would someone with multiple successful exits want to work with you?

No, he's saying the exact opposite of that. Bringing people on board doesn't require as much pickiness as choosing cofounders.

Oops, the information on that page is outdated. Greg is a co-founder of WakeMate.

Edit: as per swombat's comment below changed "was" to "is"

There's no such thing as "was a cofounder". Once you're a cofounder, you always are, even if you're kicked out of your company or leave for any reason. Steve Jobs was still cofounder of Apple when he was kicked out of it.

If you really want to be pedantic, if he is a cofounder, he was a cofounder too. As Mitch Hedberg said, "I used to do drugs. I still do, but I used to too"

He doesn't any more.


Hmmm. Just in case I am being misunderstood - I'm not sad because he stopped doing drugs. I'm sad because the reason he stopped doing drugs was because he died of a heroin overdose.

I thought it was wakemate which "was".

What about the reverse? If one co-founder leaves, does that make you “founder” and not co-founder?

I've been wondering this as this is exactly what happened to me and I'm never sure how to introduce myself!

In my mind "co-founder" is a type of founder. I don't think you are doing anything wrong by calling yourself founder.

Kind of like "former alumnus?" I'm trying to figure out how one can do that transition...

You can have your degree stripped from you

Oh, no question.

But I wonder if that makes you a former alumnus. Being an alumnus doesn't require a degree, does it?

Not entirely true. There are many cases where someone joins the business but then leaves after a couple months, before any of their equity even vests.

Founding a company is an act. Those who found a company are its founders. It can't be undone.

No.. having founded a company is a decision made and re-made by historians.

Steve Case was VP of Marketing when AOL was founded as Quantum Computer Services. As his role grew, early employees left, and time passed, he became the co-founder.

Don't you mean: Steve Jobs IS still cofounder of Apple when he was kicked out of it. ;)

He got a hold of their Twitter account too. Check the stream, as the interactions are hilarious. https://twitter.com/#!/wakemate (but hurry because I'm sure the tweets will be gone soon).

This is as good of a place as any to ask:

Greg seems to be trying to charge not only a $150 fee to access the API (see price tiers), but also an unknown % cut of all app revenue: http://www.indiegogo.com/MiLifePlus

It's one thing for Apple to do this when they have a huge install base, but is this really a smart move for a product with an install base of zero? What would possibly motivate me to shell out $250+ plus my hourly rate plus a revenue cut for an unproven hardware device with a customer base that is (generously) 1500 people?

Disclaimer: I've had many bad experiences with WakeMate.

It's interesting to see him use the YC brand to launch his new company -- are they associated? Can he just walk with the WakeMate IP?

Also, why does he seem to be whispering in the video? It's freakin me out.

Update: Even more interesting, it seems that Greg had been tweeting from @wakemate even after leaving...shady shady shady


Do you have more details on how they did this/what happened?

yeah it would make much more sense for them to just use the % cut. Get a bunch of developers tied to their platform...and get that market share

Some people are having trouble accessing it:

    WakeMate Update

    Hello everyone.


    Many of you received an email this morning concerning 
    a new product called MiLife+.

    Today is the first time I have heard of this product 
    and I am shocked at the way it was promoted to 
    WakeMate customers. We are not affliated with this 
    product in any way. It was completely unauthorized 
    and I am scrambling to get to the bottom of it. I 
    sincerely apologize that you received those 
    unsolicited messages.

    What’s Next?

    I poured my heart and soul into this company and 
    though we stumbled along the way I believe that we 
    provided something of value to our customers. 
    However, as many of you have guessed, we have 
    exhausted our capital and will no longer be making 
    any more WakeMates.

    Currently our plan is to keep the service going while 
    we work on open sourcing the technology. Hopefully 
    this will ensure that you can continue to enjoy the 
    product and its benefits even after the company no 
    longer exists.

    As always if you have any concerns please email me 
    and I will do my best to resolve them: 

    all the best,
    Arun Gupta
    co-founder of WakeMate

Regardless of the drama, I can't imagine buying anything from someone involved with WakeMate after the horrible experience the first time around. $50 spent, and it never succeeded in tracking a night of my sleep. There are other products out there these days that actually work.

As another person who spent money on WakeMate but never got it work properly, I couldn't agree more. WakeMate was fraught with delays and the product they actually shipped looked nothing like their concept art or "prototype". Heck, they even shipped power adapters that were a fire hazard and never replaced them.

Sad that this latest shadiness from a (former?) WakeMate person doesn't surprise me in the least.

I never got my promised replacement power adapter either. I thought it was just me. :-(

I'm really sorry about that. We kept trying but never had the cash to source a replacement and get it re-certified for use with our product.

How much would it have cost to communicate that by email to customers that were waiting for a replacement?

The worst part, in my opinion, was the miserable communication. I had some contact with their support and they kept promising updates to their software over and over again. Of course, this never happened.

Ooof. I have nothing to do with Wakemate, but I'll admit that earlier in my career I've been on that end of situation -- overpromising and underdelivering on an already waaaaay overdue project. It sucks.

Do you mean products for sleep improvement? Which would you recommend?

I haven't used any others, but off the top of my head, I'm aware of Zeo and Fitbit. Find the Amazon pages for those, and more competitors will show up as recommendations.

I used to work for WakeMate - feel free to ask me anything. This insane action from Greg doesn't surprise me in the slightest.

I have three questions:

1) WTF?

2) How close is pg to this whole mess? I'm guessing this is no longer in his sphere of influence, but it would seem that given that Wakemate is a YC company he should probably clarify YC's position on this debacle. I realise this is more a question to pg than to you, but I guess you might have an opinion.

3) Do you think the problem that ultimately killed the company was a mismatch between the founders, or did that evolve as a result of the multitude of problems that the company encountered? I'm getting a hunch that all these mistakes by the company could have been the result of lacking a clear direction/leadership.

1.) LOL I dunno!

2.) I never talked to PG, I can't speak to that.

3.) The problems were absolutely cumulative over the course of development. Neither Greg nor Arun were engineers or technical in any way and the hardware developer had a full time job that was not WakeMate. I started ~1.5 months before launch and was told the hardware was functional. I managed to get the iOS version to work most of the time but the firmware was hosed in such a way that pretty much all units would fail over the course of a few months.

> the firmware was hosed in such a way that pretty much all units would fail over the course of a few months

I initially had some good experiences with the android version which then got more and more unreliable until I stopped using it altogether. I was led to believe that this was due to bugs in the android app. Are you now saying that it is actually a firmware bug on the devices?

And if yes, is there any hope to have this fixed once everything is open sourced?

We fixed one of the issues. I processed enough returns on refurbished units to know that there were still several bugs. One of the main complaints is that the wristband would be dead in the morning - I believe this was caused by a firmware defect that caused the bluetooth radio to blare at full strength all night. That being said this was almost a year ago so I might be misremembering specific issues. One thing is for sure though - there were bugs even after we revised the firmware.

As to fixing the firmware - that's absolutely possible although we made some non optimal decisions with the hardware itself that caused the WakeMate to waste a lot of power. That's one of the reasons why the WakeMate's battery is comically large for the amount of usage you get out of the device.

The firmware was fixed. Only the initial batch of units that was sent out had the issue. And almost all of those were refurbished by us.

Sigh, that would have been nice to know. Arun told me to unpair and pair the wakemate again. That was it. After telling him that didn't fix it, I got no response. :\

HAH! "Greg studied _business_ at Boston College until he left to pursue WakeMate"... go figure.

Alright... I can see why Gupta wants to open source it. Smart and the right thing to do.

Sheesh. Leaving a company to start a direct competitor is already asking for trouble.

Stealing their email list, hijacking their Twitter account, and actually admitting to using "the WakeMate sensor technology" in your new product is a great way to get to get the crap sued out of you.

Although the company (wakemate) is deadpool, and the founder says they'll just open source the technology.

With all the hate going on about WakeMate, I have to give my 2 cents.

I bought the product immediately after seeing the power adapter fiasco, and still use my WakeMate to this day. At times it does feel like you have to be an engineer to know what you're doing and keep the thing running (I can attest to timing issues leaving the bluetooth transmitter blaring full power at night and the battery dead in the morning), but as with any "bleeding edge" product you have to respect it if you want it to respect you.

Seeing the company at the end of its funds even though they have an awesome product, cries of marketing mistakes. Seeing WakeMate's marketing manager take off with the mailing list, confirms to me that Greg was a poor fit, and not the best person to watch over WakeMate's interests.

Arun if you're reading this, I sincerely hope you'll send an email along the lines of "the previous announcement was sent by one of our previous employees, WakeMate does not endorse that product". My mailbox still thinks WakeMate and Greg are "taking it to the next step", and seeing what I see here, it does not leave a good taste in my mouth. Best of luck to you.

Working on it!

I've had some great email exchanges with Arun and he has been nothing but helpful and honest.

The fact that he is continuing to work on this product says a lot. Any team would be lucky to have a guy like him on it.

I hope this mess gets straightened out.

So have I, he seems like a great guy, is really concerned about the users, and is committed to taking it open source very soon. Sorry he's been dragged into this mess.

seems like he's doing the right thing

Update: I have spoken with Greg and the indiegogo is being taken down. Sorry to everyone who got an unsolicited email or donated to the campaign.

Glad to see the situation (semi) sorted out. Tragic that all this had to happen so publicly, instead of just a conversation between the two of you.

I've always been a fan of the WakeMate. Best of luck moving forward.

Shutting down a company is no fun, so I wish them luck.

Considering the problems with Jawbone's Up (which I also bought), I think we can all agree that making hardware is... err.. hard. There is definitely something of value here, and I hope someone gets it right.

Ex wakemate engineer as well, documenting all of this: http://storify.com/mvidutis/wakemate-returns

Ask me anything

Are you involved in the open sourcing arun hinted at?

If yes, what will this include and when can we expect to see some code?

I don't want to give any concrete details yet (this forced a premature announcement). We are hoping to include everything one would need to replicate the product.

As far as I have heard, no.

Arun just sent out a final update to the WakeMate mailing list, hopefully wrapping up this fiasco:

  WakeMate Update

  Hello WakeMaters!


  Many of you received an email this morning concerning a new
  product called MiLife+. I want to make it clear that
  WakeMate is not affiliated with this product in any way.

  Today was the first time I have heard of this product and I
  am shocked at the way it was promoted to WakeMate
  customers. Our mailing list was used without our knowledge
  by a former WakeMate employee, Greg. Fortunately no other
  user information was compromised and I am deleting the
  mailing list.

  For those of you who have donated to the Indiegogo project
  I have contacted Greg and Indiegogo and it is being taken
  down. You will all receive your money back.

  What’s Next?

  I poured my heart and soul into this company and though we
  stumbled along the way I believe that we provided something
  of value to our customers. However, as many of you have
  guessed, we have exhausted our capital and will no longer
  be making any more WakeMates.

  Currently our plan is to keep the service going while we
  work on open sourcing the technology. Hopefully this will
  ensure that you can continue to enjoy the product and its
  benefits even after the company no longer exists.

  I am very sorry for the unsolicited emails. This email list
  will not be used again.

  all the best,
  Arun Gupta
  co-founder of WakeMate

Ignoring the scandal in all of this, I don't think the product would work for me for the same reasons other sleep tracking apps didn't: added stress.

While waiting for my WakeMate to arrive, I tracked nearly every moment of my sleep with the SleepBot Tracker app. Every night that I didn't get the magical target of 8 hours, I not only felt worse for lack of sleep, I felt like I had failed something. My sleep debt grew, and I spent so much time calculating the logistics of how I could get everything done and "catch up" on sleep that I think I got less sleep overall and of the same low quality (e.g. 4+12 != 8+8).

Then the WakeMate arrived, and all it did was add more numbers, and a new headache to deal with in the morning.

This would appear to solve that problem by making specific recommendations, but then what about when I inevitably do not fall asleep at the optimum time? I know it would be useless to stress about that kind of thing, since I know I'm currently getting very sub-optimal sleep, and any improvement would be just that, but I think I know how my mind would behave anyways.

Does that make sense?

I dont see why everyone is interested in sleep aide devices. I don't really give a crap about how much I roll around in my sleep, nor some BS about circadian rythms

With a normal, functioning sleep cycle, or sleep/wake patterns that are predictable or manageable, there's little benefit besides the cool factor of tracking everything. Some of us have sleep issues, whether environmental or biological that we'd like to understand and manage better. I, for example, have been diagnosed with non-24 hour sleep disorder. The treatment is basically cycling through sleeping pills and amphetamines. I think the necessity of that is absurd and would rather find better ways to deal with it (like having alarm clocks actually work. I have a 50/50 shot of not waking up when my alarm goes off and instead wake up hours later with it having been going off the whole time, even when I would have had plenty of sleep). That being said, the technology is still very primitive and expensive for what it provides.

I like my Zeo because it lets me know when I actually got to sleep, and shows that REM happens toward the end of sleep, which is why an extra hour in the morning is so seductive every morning. The "wake in between REM stages" feature is actually pretty nice.

I don't see why everyone is interested in blood sugar aide devices. I don't really give a crap about how much insulin my body produces, nor some BS about insulin resistance.

The comparison is strained because blood sugar devices are specifically marketed to diabetics. I see that most sleep aid devices are marketed to the general population -- the messaging isn't "are you having trouble sleeping?" it's "Do you want to be a more effective person? Track your sleep!"

Most people in the US today have chronic sleep deprivation. Just because most people are used to not being healthy doesn't mean it is normal (over the course of human history).

Most people in the US today are also obese.

I don't hate on people being interested in it I'm just surprised that people are:)

Does anyone have a pointer to the backstory to this? The response and the discussion here don't make a lot of sense without knowing about what previously happened.

Here's what I can tell you from what I've gathered.

--There was WakeMate, a YC company --They were having issues (with hardware, customers...) --Greg (one of the founders) left --He started a new company that is trying to make a similar product by crowdfunding the capital needed --He emailed all of the WakeMate users --Nobody told Arun (another founder) --Arun discontinued WakeMate and apologized to the WakeMate users for the unauthorized email

I think you're caught up.

Not sure about others but for me its a dead link.

For me as well - I get redirected to a domain squatting page.

[ld] [~] nslookup blog.wakemate.com

Non-authoritative answer:

Name: blog.wakemate.com


Wow, this was classy (presumably by Greg).

Best of luck with whatever you do next. Software is way easier :)

I had some dealings with Greg and Arun early in the Wakemate lifecycle (they were looking for a programmer, I was looking for something interesting), but my schedule blew up right about that time (working at a game studio will do that to you).

I always hoped they would succeed. They both seemed sharp and, more importantly, highly driven. Sad to see it deadpool. Even more sad to see shady tactics by a founder.

I knew something was up with that email from MiLife+ this morning.

They're website was an awful Godaddy generated site (http://www.milifeplus.com/) and the video had a creepy audio narration http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCZQvguYTqg

Plus the wristband looked like a 5 minute CAD job with not effort.

And the video mentioned the project was on Kickstarter when it's actually on some other random crowdfunding site.

Not to mention the huge-type "Click here for all the detials" typo. Painful.

I really hate the 2 WakeMates I bought.

I was given support up to a point, and then nothing. First there was app problems, then I got stuck with two devices with not enough battery power to last a night.

People shouldn't release weak beta products.

This is a fundamental difference between hardware and software. You can release beta SW. You can't release beta HW.

Fully agreed. This product sucks. They stole $120 from me and made me a bad gift giver.

I'm glad they're going under.

I'm replacing my simply warn-out SleepTracker.

Now that it is official that WakeMate is dead, it would be great to see some kind of post mortem.

People keep iterating that hardware is not as easy as software, but WakeMate actually solved some of the biggest problems, including being allowed to sell the devices in the EU (for which you need to meet some requirements many small hardware companies do not want to deal with).

I would love to read about what actually went wrong. I guess there are some great lessons to be learned here.

David, planning on writing something up soon! Hopefully other people can learn from our many trials and tribulations.

Getting EU certification was actually pretty easy. I'll be sure to include information on that.

Hey Arun, just wanted to say that I was a (burned) WakeMate customer but once I got a hold of you I did get a refund. Sounds like you hit some rough times, but I appreciate how far you guys actually got. Good luck on whatever comes next.

Is it possible to get a list of all the hardware / firmware issues that were collected so that those of us out here who want to refurb our sleeping WakeMates could make an event of it?

Ex: I know I have trouble with mine dying before the night is over. Is it possible to get the firmware version that doesn't blast at full strength all night?

I would love to get it back up and running ^.^

I have been following the wakemate story since the beginning. Ordered a wakemate (with the $5 deposit) from almost the beginning. Waited anxiously for months for the device. Luckily, when the time eventually came for shipping, I declined to complete the order.

Great idea. Trying to solve a difficult problem and break new ground. But obviously the execution problems were evident from the first few months of missed deliverables and poor communication.

Good luck to Arun and the team on the next great idea. Kinda scummy that a co-founder went and started a company in the same space, stealing the twitter and email list in the process. How is this in any way going to get consumers to trust him?

The WakeMate product itself was good and actually worked for most people (myself included). This was a legitimate goodwill measure post, so why are most/some of you taking the opportunity to bash these people?

A bit off topic given the drama going on, but I've been wanting to see stats about people who got a WakeMate and used it continuously for at least a month for a while now. Will you still have a consistently easier time waking up after your body has had several weeks to adapt to the new regimen, or will you just adapt and resume trying to oversleep past the alarm? (Also, what about the same but with a month using a Zeo instead of a WakeMate?)

My Wakemate worked great, and I even bought the bigger wristband for it, but didn't use it after I switched to a Galaxy Nexus from an iPhone 4 back in December.

Ah- I thought this was the same Arun Gupta that does Glassfish at Oracle, but this is the YC Arun Gupta. Seems like a middle initial or nickname might help.

I forwarded this to can spam ( spam@uce.gov ), because I never authorized MiLifePlus to send me email.

Is this Hacker News, or Hacker Random Communiqués?

Where's the news?

It's an interesting insight into the ups and downs of running a startup.

That font kinda hurts my eyes.

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