This project began when my other business, a custom apparel company for student groups, started to grow. I was receiving thousands of dollars’ worth of orders, and I could hardly keep up. I started learning how to code, so that I could automate our backend operations. Three months later, I began to notice a new problem. I had become absolutely addicted to using external monitors when I worked. I had experienced the insane productivity boost that comes with having more screen real-estate, and there was no going back.
Even when I wasn’t coding, I realized that having the screen space to lay out all of my applications, so that I could visually see everything in front of me, was a game changer. My workflow became smooth, and I found myself able to work for longer without burning out.
It became clear that taking ownership over my workspace directly affected both the quality and quantity of work I was getting done. This set me on a path of heightened awareness, noticing every inefficiency in my workflow. I started to study myself, and the way I interacted with my space while I was working from home.
In the mornings I would wake up, grab some coffee, sit down, and feel unstoppable. With two screens in front of me, I could pull up everything I needed to get done, look it over, and then start banging out the work. Around 1pm, I would start to notice myself taking more frequent breaks; usually standing up to stretch out my back. Sometimes I would unplug my laptop and place it on my dresser or kitchen counter so that I could stand and continue working. By the late afternoon, I would often find myself sitting in another room, working again off of my laptop, without my monitor. Sometimes this was a result of my roommates coming home, and my needing to find a new, quiet place to work in the apartment. And sometimes I just wanted to mix it up.
Even though my monitors made me more productive, frequently, I was working from just my laptop. On February 12, 2020, I jotted this down in my journal:
My monitor setup is totally STATIC. If I want to move my setup and work in another room, it takes almost 10 minutes, and way too much effort. The height adjustment is basically nonexistent. I can only move the bottom of the screen 5’’ inches off the top of my desk. I want a monitor mount that allows me to stand, and that is able to be moved around.
About a month later, the world stood still, for a moment, unsure of what to do. And then in what felt like an instant, everything was different. Millions of people started working from home. Companies began investing billions of dollars in the systems and technology to facilitate remote work. Zoom became the new water cooler. The landscape of work was overhauled, globally. And remote work was here to stay.
As people took to their dining room tables, bedroom makeup counters, and home offices, it became clear that they were experiencing the same problems as me. People needed a flexible solution for mounting their monitors. They needed a solution that didn’t yet exist.
With the pandemic, my apparel business slowed down, and I started devoting more time to this idea. At first, I began by buying every different type of monitor mount I could find. I got monitor arms, standing desk converters, freestanding monitor mounts, monitor risers… you name it, I had ordered it, assembled it, put it to use, and then decided it wasn’t suitable for the new paradigm of remote and hybrid work— a dispersed model that needed one thing above all else. Flexibility.
I looked everywhere. Every solution I could find was either too big to maneuver around or needed to be clamped to a surface. Some products offered reasonable height adjustment, but very few had true sit/stand functionality.
In my research, I came up with my own set of features for a perfect mount:
From March into April, I spent hours interviewing friends, family, colleagues, and anyone else who would talk to me about their desk setup. I started sketching designs of my own. I bought a 3D printer. I became obsessed with finding a way to include all of these features in a single design. I engaged a professional mechanical engineer and hired him to start drafting a CAD model.
One evening, just after I had received the first deliverable from the engineer, I called an old friend from boarding school. Enter Thomas.
At the time, Thomas was a Junior at Notre Dame whose internship had fallen through. I called him up and asked him the usual exploratory questions about his personal workspace, before inadvertently stumbling into my pitch for the potential of a product that was designed to meet the needs of a brand-new workforce. I went on about this new economy with a distributed working model, and the massive loss in human capital that big companies were experiencing as a result of their employees’ inadequate home workspaces. Then I spiraled into my experience looking for a reliable mounting solution, only to find that large office furniture manufacturers were just recycling existing office products and repositioning them for the home, without actually innovating to meet these new needs. I vomited every market insight and product idea that I had gathered over the past 8 weeks into the phone.
Thomas heard me. Within 24 hours, we were co-founders.
Just as I had taught myself to write code -- to meet the evolving needs of a business I thought was about t-shirts but became about software development -- Thomas and I were now tasked with learning everything we could about new product development. We read books, attended online seminars, studied manufacturing techniques, and took so many meetings. We rang out our LinkedIn networks like a sopping wet towel, looking for anyone and everyone we thought could help us learn.
We studied sales books for strategies to help us book meetings.
We became masters of the cold email.
We took meetings with accomplished industrial designers, engineers, and business development leaders. Everyday speaking with people, learning more, and then re-enforcing those concepts with whatever we could find in books or on the internet.
By late April, we were landing meetings with c-level executives at billion-dollar companies for prospective licensing deals on a product that we hadn’t even prototyped yet. We had patents and trademark applications filed with the USPTO, and slowly we were becoming more adept in engaging new engineers and manufacturers. We started forming ongoing relationships with talented people, and above all, we remained hyper focused on product designed.
By July, we were on our 7th design iteration, and we had our first high-fidelity prototype in hand. I still remember the feeling of physically interacting with that prototype so clearly. We had taken an idea, watered it with long nights of working the PD cycle, learning the granular details of injection molding, writing patents, and, like a plant, it was starting to grow. It was becoming real.
We still had a long way to go, but from that moment on we knew we had something— something that would create value not only to us, but one day for other people too.
By October, we had been through countless more designs, and we were becoming veterans of the early product development cycle. Design. Test. Iterate. Repeat.
On January 7, 2021, we received our third prototype. It was unfinished, and still in need of another round of iteration, but otherwise exactly what we were hoping it would be.
Now, nearly 12 months after this project officially started, our product is ready. It is time for us to share our invention with the world.
At the heart of our mission is an idea: to help people do their best work. When someone is in flow, they find greater meaning in their work. They are more creative, more connected, and they are operating at their highest capacity. We want to help more people reach flow more often. No matter where they are working. Regardless of if they like to sit, or stand, or bounce from room to room. The workplace doesn’t really exist anymore—or at least not like it used to. Rigg exists to design products for a new generation of people, with a brand-new set of needs.
At the end of March, we are going to launch a Kickstarter campaign and start taking pre-orders for the first time. This is incredibly exciting for us. By the summer, we will be able to go into manufacturing at scale and start shipping product. In order to ensure that we are able to get the greatest exposure on the Kickstarter platform, it is very important to drive sales within the first 24 hours of our campaign launch. This is one way that the algorithm decides which campaigns to boost.
We’ve opted to go with this go-to-market strategy because it ensures that Rigg will remains ours. We have talked to VCs and large office furniture manufacturers to explore fundraising and licensing opportunities, respectively. And though intriguing paths, both Thomas and I have decided that we see a larger opportunity in getting to build out this company beyond just our first product.
The nature of the way we work has changed, and we are positioned to establish ourselves as the premier “Work from Anywhere” company. One that offers tools to help artists, entrepreneurs, designers, engineers, and everyone else, achieve their dreams.
This vision begins with our Kickstarter campaign.
In a way, this campaign marks the end of what has been a long road to this point. But in time, we hope it will instead come to signify the very start of something much greater.