Arrow Awards FenSens $75,000 in Flash Funding

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It’s not every day we decide to give away $75,000 in flash funding, but today is a special occasion. Arrow is happy to announce FenSens, an accessible and highly desirable technology designed to enhance vehicle and passenger safety, as the next flash funding recipient in our collaborative program with Indiegogo.

Arrow is awarding $75,000 to the makers of FenSens, and we’re proud to introduce one of the team members behind this advantageous and affordable technology.

We had the opportunity to talk with Andy Karuza of FenSens and get his insight on the ideation and development of FenSens and the journey he and his team have taken to get to this point.

Chris from Arrow: Thanks for your time, Andy! First of all, could you explain what FenSens is and what it does?

Andy Karuza: FenSens is the world's first smart wireless parking sensor for any car. It detects objects in the car's blind spots and alerts the driver using Bluetooth technology through their smart device. 

Arrow: Tell us about your role and your team.

Andy: I'm the CEO of the company, and I lead a team of talented people around the world working to get this product to market. Our team consists of engineers with consumer electronics, software, transportation, and insurance backgrounds. 

 

Arrow: What inspired you to make FenSens?

Andy: We saw that there was a huge gap in the affordability and usability of automotive tech products being offered on the market today. With our first product, FenSens, we noticed that getting parking sensors upgraded on an aftermarket vehicle was extremely difficult and expensive once you account for the labor, so we wanted to set out to do it in a better way using smart technology. We believe there is a big shift that will be happening in the $40B automotive accessories aftermarket where products are finally made affordable and simple to install without having to call the "car guy."

Arrow: And that is definitely appealing. A lot of people are excited to start using this product, so I have to ask: What stage are you in with development?

Andy: We are in the pre-production testing stage right now. We are creating the EVT and DVT samples for testing the product in every scenario possible. After testing we will make the necessary tweaks and start production sometime in December-January. 

Arrow: Throughout this process, have you run into any challenges with design or with your business overall?

Andy: With a new technology and way of doing it, there are always tradeoffs. For instance, with ours, battery life is a big deal. We had to balance when/how the device runs with the battery life to ensure we don't have a negative tradeoff where we solve one problem, but introduce another, which happens quite a bit with technology development. The end result was a seamless low energy wireless experience that maximizes battery life and makes it ultra-convenient for the end customer. 

Arrow: FenSens is Arrow Certified. How did you first hear about Arrow Certification and how has it helped you overcome obstacles? Have you taken advantage of the design engineering support?

Andy: I first heard about the Arrow Certification program through the team at Indiegogo. I thought it would be great to have Arrow's experts on our side helping take us from a prototype hobby company to a full-fledged business. I've been working with the team for several weeks now, and our first order of business has been to source components while looking to bring cost down and find the highest quality components possible. Whenever I have a question, Anton Abioq (our Arrow Account Representative) and Rolando Rubalcava (Arrow Engineer) have been there to answer it.

Arrow: We’re so glad to hear it. Through Arrow and Indiegogo’s collaboration, you’ve received $75,000 in funds. What plans do you have to use your flash funding?

Andy: In many cases when running a campaign, there are a lot of hidden expenses people don't account for, and there’s usually not enough to build a business with. The flash funding helps us go from just delivering the product to turning the corner and becoming a real business.

We will be investing the money into a trip to China to meet with the manufacturers to ensure the product coming off the assembly line is of the highest quality with no surprises when it hits the mainland USA. We will be investing into more IP in the automotive IoT space and acquiring the necessary FCC and Bluetooth certifications. Lastly, we will now be able to fill out a full order of at least 1,000 units from the manufacturer, giving us enough samples to send to media and the many retail/distributor partners that are interested in working with us. This funding will have a huge impact over the next few months for our growing company. 

Arrow: Crowdfunding often gives you a better idea of what potential buyers want. Has crowdfunding impacted your original vision for FenSens?

Andy: Crowdfunding is a great way to validate the market and get direct feedback from customers. For the most part, we had a solution that solved people's needs, but we learned a lot from our customer requests about what's important to them. For instance, we didn't realize the global scale of our solution as much until we ran the campaign and saw that over 50% of our traffic was from overseas with visitors from over 165 countries. We also learned that our customers highly valued white labeling, so we made that opportunity available to them. I believe product development is fluid; while you have to stick with the product you've designed, you should make the tweaks that can be easily and affordably done without holding up the delivery process, unless you come across something critical. At worst, you're getting great new ideas for the next product or version. 

Arrow: Would you recommend others to apply for Arrow Certification? Why?

Andy: It's always good to get the eye of another expert on your product design or production strategy. As an entrepreneur, sometimes you can only see what's in front of you or you operate in a bubble. The Arrow team has seen many products and brings years of collective expert opinions from a panel of team members. It's priceless to have this type of input before taking the plunge and ramping up production. You don't know what you don't know, unless you're willing to gather feedback from more qualified experts. 

Arrow: Thanks again for your time, Andy. Do you have anything else you’d like to share?

Andy: Our goal is to make new car technology affordable, available, and simple to install for ANY car on the road. We love hearing from people on what they would like us to do next! We'll be focused on delivering FenSens for the next few months, but we will be starting development on another product or two during that time as well. We've got lots more coming down the road, but right now we are taking it one step at a time. The best startup strategy is to patiently work from one milestone to the next. You might not be guaranteed something three months down the line, but you have tomorrow to fully dedicate yourself to getting to the next step. This flash funding opportunity is an example of how anything can happen to take you to the next step, you just have to surround yourself with a good team (Arrow, Indiegogo, FenSens team, Wearable World Accelerator) and take it day-by-day. 


Speaking with Andy was a pleasure, and we’re happy to give our support to FenSens, whose team can continue to provide users with cutting edge yet affordable car technology. FenSens is working with Arrow to include technology partner, TE Connectivity’s, high quality sensors which will give them the ability to scale up when they're ready.

Arrow and Indiegogo will select one more recipient to receive flash funding and professional and engineer and developer guidance.

What would you do with Flash Funding?

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