For a seemingly tough pitch, Light has had little trouble getting noticed. The company has run two successful crowdfunding campaigns for a pair of minimalist phones designed to augment or replace the smartphone. Today the startup announced that it will be shipping the second version of the handset, which introduces a handful of features back into the product, like texting.
Ahead of the launch, we spoke to Light’s founders, Kaiwei Tang and Joe Hollier, about funding, feature glut and the future of the handset.
How it all began
Brian Heater: The project essentially started as an in-house at Google, is that correct?
Kaiwei Tang: We met in 2014 in Google’s incubator called 30 Weeks. That’s where we met and started talking about Light Phone eventually.
Joe Hollier: 30 Weeks program was an experiment that came out of the Google creative lab, and their hypothesis was that if given the right resources, guidance, designers might be able to create new creative startups, and that designers should be on the founding table of companies.
So their hypothesis was that we as designers would be able to imagine a new going to startup in the software application space, and then through designing the end product, which is how the Google creative lab works, we’d be able to inspire the engineers and make the funding investors that we would need to make the product a reality.
Brian: What did you see in the market that wasn’t being fulfilled by countless different smartphone companies?
Joe: People were feeling overwhelmed by their smartphone and craving some escape, and we didn’t really see an escape.