22 Apr Giving Up What’s Good for Something Greater: How Far Would you go For what you Want with Jon Thai, Co-Founder of Hatch Duo and Aggregate Watches
With a previous background in art, Jon excels at visual problem solving and crafting products that are not only purposeful but beautiful and memorable. His approach is motivated by a commitment to provide visceral impressions through integrated product and brand experiences. Jon’s past design contributions have helped build global recognition for some of the most iconic brands and award-winning products in their respective categories. Learn what sacrifices Jon made to pursue what he believed in. Having worked for a billionaire and leaving his great paying job to start his business at what most people would assume to be the wrong time and what he had to do to stay afloat.
Jon is the co-founder of Hatch Duo a premium industrial design firm in addition to Aggregate Watches, an affordable watch brand with a focus on aesthetics and raw material.
You can follow Jon’s journey here:
Eric: [00:00:00] Everybody, this is Eric Y. Chen of Y Factor Podcast. This is a new recording for the year 2020 that you guys so much for tuning into our previous episodes that have been going on for season two.
I am excited to have our guests. Jon Thai of Hatch Duo. I love to have you introduce yourself.
Jon: [00:00:20] Yeah, thanks Eric for having me. It’s an honor to be here. Uh, So I’m Jon Tai. I am the co founder and owner of hatch duo. It’s an industrial design firm here in Silicon Valley, the Bay area, and I also run a watch company called Aggregate Watchers.
I’m co-founder of that as well.
Eric: [00:00:39] Yeah, absolutely. I’d love to dive into both businesses because. You know, you and I were able to catch up and have an understanding your story of how everything has developed over time, your work experience and how you got here. You know, the primary point of that show is where people to, figure out what their why is and what motivates them and how their path and journey has shaped them to where they are today.
And so I’d love to dive into that. So you tell me, you know, just basically how you got started in terms of your career, your background, like what is it that you did before.
Jon: [00:01:13] Yeah, so, um, my background is deep in industrial design. Growing up I was an Asian kid who loved art. I love to draw and paint, and I’m lucky enough for me.
My parents were not that stereotypical, and they did encourage me to pursue that if that’s my passion. So I took a lot of drawing, painting classes, all the way through high school. And then actually for college, I went to UCI undeclared, and I ended up majoring in studio art. so very untraditional.
Painting, love that sculpture, love that. and then just through that, I think graduating, and realizing, you know, I have to figure out a way to make money now and survive cause I can’t move back home. You know, what am I going to do? Right. And so, I actually started to research ways where I could monetize.
My love of art and figuring out ways to, you know, actually turn that into a career. And, um, for me, um, that finding was industrial design. I love collecting sneakers and Jordans, you know, throughout high school. And so, I researched, you know, like how do you design these shoes? And, I found Tinker Hatfield, which is an architect who then turned into a shoe designer.
who would then would basically, you know, was part of this field called industrial design. And, I found out there’s some classes near me when I was living in Irvine. And so I started to take some classes in Pasadena center at night , and I just fell in love with it. I was drawing cars, I was trying products and stuff, and, I just didn’t realize that you could make a career out of it.
So fast forward, you know, graduated UCI. I was planning to attend art center in Pasadena. and then my mom actually was diagnosed with breast cancer. and so that was kind of an emotional time, and I figured it’d probably be best to just move back home. in the Bay area to just be close with family and to just, you know, help support that.
And so, luckily right now she’s better and [talked over each other]. Yeah. Um, but I ended up attending Academy of art in San Francisco.
Eric: [00:03:12] So was there, was there a point when you decided to come back to the Bay area that you also needed to get some type of like part time job or you were able to still just at least be close to home to family or be at home with your family and then continue with, pursuing your, your art.
Jon: [00:03:30] Yeah. Luckily, um, you know, took out some school loans, and, you know, I didn’t live in San Francisco, I lived in the East Bay actually, cause rent is just cheaper there. [talked over each other]
Yeah, pretty much just went into school, like right away, took out a big that school loan, to do that.
Eric: [00:03:48] You said this is Academy of Arts
Jon: [00:03:51] Academy of art.
Eric: [00:03:51] Good. So it’s a question, you know, that I wonder, it’s like for people who already finished getting their bachelor’s degree and then already having, you know, a Korean student that then. Going into the Academy of arts cause can’t students already like from high school go to the Academy of Arts.
Right. So did you feel like you were spending more time to backtrack or you should’ve just gone to the Academy of Lawrence in the first place?
Jon: [00:04:16] Um, yeah, that’s a great question. And you know. Thankfully, like the first undergrads, like my parents supported that. Um, so I was lucky enough to benefit from that.
But then, yeah, the second term I was like, Nope. This is you, if you couldn’t figure out, you know, the first time and to have to go back to get another bachelor’s, that was something that, yeah. Like, you know, a few questions for relatives, like, “Well, why don’t you just get a master’s somewhere else?” You know? But like me having researched design and understanding what the career was, it’s like, you know, it’s a lot of hands on stuff.
You can’t just. You know, go take school for two years and say that you’re, you know, masters at it. And so, yeah, it was a hard pill to swallow, but I knew that it’d be worth it. And you know, it was something that I wanted to do anyway. So it was just like a chapter that I had to go through.
Eric: [00:05:02] So then you came back to the Bay and then you were doing school at Academy of Arts.
And then what happens next?
Jon: [00:05:09] Yeah, so doing school there, my first product design class, I was doing this project, it was for like a brain controller for the week. At the time, I’m kind of dating myself, but like that was like when the week came out. And for our finals. The really cool thing about Academy of art is they have professionals come into our final semester projects.
And a designer from this company called Neuro Scan here in San Jose. came in to see, you know, what the student work was like, and they loved my final project and offered me an internship after that. And so that kind of just got me started on my first ID internship. essentially, so over there is doing some really cool stuff.
Designing EEG brain controller devices
Eric: [00:05:55] What’s EEG?
Jon: [00:05:56] EEG is electroencephalogram, hopefully I’m saying that right. Um, what it is is it’s a technology. They use it in the medical field where you’re basically measuring brainwaves and transmitting that into data to either. You know, use it as data or control interfaces.
Eric: [00:06:13] And so you, you started with an internship with, basically, a company in the Bay area. And then how long was that? Did that
shape into like a career path? [talked over each other].
Jon: [00:06:27] So that was a three month internship. Went back to school after that. But having tasted, you know how much you can learn from real work experience.
I was like addicted, right? Like I wanted the next internship right away. And so I think within the next semester I finished another semester of classes and then right away I got another internship . A consultancy called Ripstop here in San Jose, San Francisco. Now I’m world renowned design firm. just like one of those dream internships for an industrial designer, where I studied under Dan Harden and, you know, just gotten my hands dirty, just doing everything from supporting other designers concept things, carving foam for models, prototyping, all that kind of stuff.
Eric: [00:07:09] So where was the turning point of you? You know, realizing the difference between, like. Art and becoming an industrial designer and that being the career path that you wanted to take.
Jon: [00:07:24] Yeah, so I think like once I started design school and, using art as a means as a process to get, to an end goal, you kind of realize that like art is like very self-expression , whereas design is, you’re serving, you know, a need or you’re serving a client or a user. And I think like when it relates to business, uh, that’s where you can really thrive because in business , you’re finding a need and then you’re serving that.
And so I think like, design process and just like, understanding what it’s a creative strategy to target people, right? And so. Um, I think there was just like a good marriage of like, okay, I love drawing and stuff, but I also need to eventually provide for like, [talked over each other]
Eric: [00:08:12] I think it’s basically, you know, everyone’s search for a balance of, some type of, you know, drone work that, you know, people feel when they’re incorporated. And then having a creative outlet, whether it is, Art, Typography, Painting, well, you know, seeing in, just some type of creative part of yourself. Right. That’s self expression. And so you found that ID designed a great balance for both.
Jon: [00:08:39] Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. It definitely was one of those things where. And I think like growing up, like I just, I was lucky enough to have parents that were very supportive to say, yeah, follow your passion. I mean, it’s a very cliche, cliche thing to say is like, follow your passion. How am I supposed to know my passion really at the end of the year?
Eric: [00:08:55] Like sketching shoes.
Jon: [00:08:56] Yeah. But I think like ID is a career allows me to be very curious. Right? And I think curiosity is what eventually leads to passion. And so because design allowed me to like get my hands into shoes, into cars, phones and speakers and headphones and things like that, of that nature, it just allowed me to just experience a lot of different things.
Eric: [00:09:16] Has there ever been a point where, say even your parents had faltered in their belief in you and maybe said you shouldn’t go. And you’ll get a finance job or something, or, just do this on the side or where they 100% like we believe in, you go, go at it. Just keep, keep going, and you’ll figure it out.
Jon: [00:09:36] Yeah. So I think that’s a great question. I think that’s a two part answer, where in the beginning, no, they’re very supportive. As long as I could go work for a design company, you know, being a good design employee, that was like very good , but I think there was a slight debating turning point was when I decided to be an entrepreneur where, at the time, and I can get into it.
When I decided three years ago to just be self-employed, my wife and I, we were expecting our first child. And so there was a lot of like light talks. My dad very lightly saying like, are you sure, you know, you’re going to do this, you could have great health benefits , a great salary. you know, you’re about to have a kid, like this is real stuff, you can’t just be going off and, you know, [talked over each other] and taking all these risks, you know, you can do that later when, when everything’s stabled on, in my head, I’m just like, well, when is later? When is stable really going to happen? And so, yeah, there is like some light debate there, but I think ultimately they understood that they can’t really change my mind.
Eric: [00:10:34] So, let’s, uh, let’s, let’s dive into that, right? You, you basically got to a point, you know, before you decided, pivot to becoming a full time entrepreneur, you and I, we discussed, you basically had a very extensive career opportunity. And was it, was it Dan Harden you said is your, was the Mentor
Jon: [00:10:52] so Dan Harden was a, who was a good mentor.
And during that time that, that I looked, saw, and I think all my mind has slipped the time, my time at Y Studios. Why really inspirational to also like what I’m starting now with my own design firm here. but yeah, like through, I worked, you know, at design firms like that, I eventually got into a startup called Sol Republic, which was kind of a break off of monster, monster cable and beats by Dre, to learn about branding.
And then, yeah, eventually got recruited by Robert Pera at Ubiquiti Networks, and I think that was a real turning point for me. When I initially met with him, it was a funny story because at the time,Sol Republic was getting acquired , it was this kind of uneasy turning point of like, okay, should I stay up the job if we get acquired as my job, still gonna be there.
So of course I was interviewing, at the time. Um, I got an email from this person, Robert Pera, just an email, and it opened it. It’s like, Hey, I saw your portfolio. Let’s, let’s go get lunch. I hadn’t applied. I don’t know who he is.
Eric: [00:11:55] For the audience who, who is Robert Pera?
Jon: [00:11:57] So Robert Pera is, a tech billionaire who also happens to own the Memphis Grizzlies.
Eric: [00:12:05] Yeah. So , super rich and successful person emails you out of nowhere.
Jon: [00:12:10] Yeah.
Eric: [00:12:11] Asked you to go to lunch?
Jon: [00:12:12] Asked me to go to lunch, and of course me being pretty ignorant and as I was like, who is this guy? So I Google Robert Pera, and then to my surprise, I was like, Oh my gosh, he owns the Memphis Grizzlies.
Right? And so I was like, yeah, let’s go get lunch right. and uh you know, fast forward through that lunch. Basically I got an offer that day that I couldn’t refuse, which was. To basically be, kind of like as Jonathan Ives essentially, right? Like, he wanted to build out a consumer division for Ubiquity, where not only would I be an industrial designer, I could, you know, work across multidisciplinary teams within his company to basically create just new stuff within, within the brand.
Eric: [00:12:54] That was really cool. What do you think was the lead up point to even have an opportunity, like, going there to reach out to you, right? Because he says it’s all your portfolio. Right. And I think this something of, even a lot of people who are in the arts are very trying to do creative, you know, how long that takes you, feel like to have like a portfolio of work that you know you are proud of, where you thought that it could get you to that level?
Jon: [00:13:22] Yeah. Great question. I think, I think it’s a number of things. Uh, meeting him, I feel like was partly luck, but, you know, the opportunity arose I think, because I think early in my career I chose the path of consulting, which was very different than going in house, right?
Like, I have really great friends, talented friends who became in house designers, but I think a lot of their portfolio is like the same thing. for me, I chose to take maybe a little bit lesser paid, but for a diversity of products. And so. You know, that first couple of years of, of being out of school, I was just able to pump out a bunch of diverse amount of work of like Activision, Sonas, you know, big, big name brands like that.
And I think, um, that just allowed me to put stuff up there that I was proud of and that I had an impact on. And, and then I think just like meeting people too, cause I think part of it was he found my name because I was on a trip in Taiwan, with, uh, my now wife for a wedding, we hadn’t met someone who also was, you know, in , hardware and we just got to talking and it turned out we knew the same person at the same factory, and then he was like, wait, you’re an industrial designer? Like, yeah. And he’s like, let me just get your card. So he actually was the one who took my card and gave it to Robert. And then that’s how like, I think they like looked me up.
Eric: [00:14:45] Power of networking right there, especially at a wedding. Any every interaction leading to huge opportunity. So, let’s fast forward you basically you, you’re working for this guy. What is it like working for, for someone in that level.
Jon: [00:15:02] Yeah. It’s, it’s amazing , but it’s also probably one of the most challenging things I’ve had to do in my career.
I think , you know, I’ve worked directly for owners of companies before , but that’s very small scale compared to this. This is a public company. 600, 700 people who had shareholders to answer to, and I have to answer to him directly. There’s no middle managers in between , so if he’s pleased, I can feel that.
If he’s unhappy, I can also feel that , but to his credit, I think it was really inspirational to work for him to just be able to see how he works and how someone that young, basically you can understand like, why he’s a billionaire. Like he, he just has that , that tenacity and drag, almost like how you see some athletes, huh.
Of just how many drags his teams , yeah, it was, it was interesting. That was my first time on Slack, and so my Slack would blow up all the time. You know, this is someone who is managing teams. You know, in Taiwan and you know, Latvia and so, and, and in Silicon Valley. And so sky doesn’t sleep, he doesn’t sleep.
And you’re answering him. You don’t sleep either.
Eric: [00:16:11] So do you feel like, in comparing him to other bosses that you’ve had. Like what is the biggest difference that you could tell. What makes them that much more successful than other people that you’ve worked for? Is it just the guy who just doesn’t sleep or,
Jon: [00:16:29] I think it’s just as laser focused to like where he wants to be and to really just, set high aspirational goals that he probably believes he can hit , and just driving towards it, like without compromise, whether that means, you know, and if you don’t fit in that plan, then you don’t fit in with that plan.
Eric: [00:16:47] So what, what were your learnings from, from him? Like have you integrated, just even being around someone like that into your current business?
Jon: [00:16:58] Yeah, I think, being around him and just, seeing the people around him too. Like, it’s funny, like I, you know, I would come into the office and Rick Fox would be there in my office, like sitting next to me one day , and just, you know, so just to understand, like the, the level of his circle and his network and the way they think and the way they think large and that it’s possible.
I think that was pretty influential too, like setting me off in my own entrepreneurial journey as well.
Eric: [00:17:30] So let’s talk about that.
You mentioned it earlier here in that this would be junction point, you and your wife are pregnant and you decided to leave , to pursue your own thing.
Eric: [00:17:42] So what was the thought process leading up to that?
Jon: [00:17:44] Yeah, it was a complex one , so I have this great career, great career path, within Ubiquiti networks where I was basically leading a lot of the design programs there, coming out with a lot of consumer products, but at the same time, my wife and I were, we’re at a stage where we’re like, Hey, we kind of want to start a family.
So obviously that was like the very stable path. And in my head, maybe as the designer or the artist in me starts to feel a little GG of like, okay, if that’s, if that’s like the path. And it’s like, so predictable. Like what else is there to do? Right. And so, and part of it too was influenced by myself.
Robert had a few friends, that are also entrepreneurs. Like I’ve been a circle that I was starting to do some side projects with , so he was introducing me to some really cool people. And so one of those people who’s now a really good friend of mine, Derwood, he was an NBA scout, for, for the Grizzlies.
And, he was in the process of starting his own, equipment brand for basketball players. And so I helped to kind of like design some stuff around and get him started on that. And just like kind of watching that journey, I was like, man, like. Like, this is stuff like I can do like myself too also , so yeah, just kind of that itch and that seed got planted there.
Like, okay. I’m doing this for a bunch of other people and I’m happy for them and I’m happy to see their success. They’re like, why am I not doing it for myself? And so that kind of started I think in like 2016 and you know, and then as we got pregnant, it just like shit got real honestly and is like, okay, if I don’t quit now, when am I going to quit?
Because it’s very easy. It’s like once you have the family and the kids, you got to get the house, you got to keep the salary and you got to worry about not getting laid off. And so this was like the only time for me to like just take the plunge. You know, as ironic as it sounds, it just sounds like so stupid actually, if you look back on it.
But if I didn’t take that risk now, I probably at this point, I have two kids now. I probably wouldn’t be taking notice.
Eric: [00:19:44] You feel it now. Like if you were, set out like, started a family, didn’t make that jump yet. Well, Yeah, it’s, it’s the right amount to stay in a, in a career path. I think it’s, it’s a tough decision, especially for people who are going to be at the stage of, you know, even planning to have a kid that they won’t look that far of making that leap.
So I, you know, for me it’s, it’s very surprising for you to be able to just decide to take that risk and say, yeah, this is, this is the time, because what, there’s no perfect time.
Jon: [00:20:16] Yeah. There’s, there’s definitely no perfect time. And I just think like. It was the curiosity I need too. It’s just like, well, you know, like what’s the worst that can happen?
Right? You know, what’s the worst that could happen right now?
Eric: [00:20:28] So the worst thing that could happen, what do you think is what? Give yourself a timeline , three months, six months, one year, and then go back to a full time job or,
Jon: [00:20:38] Yeah, I mean, [talked over each other].I mean, I guess like, I don’t want to sound overconfident, but I, I felt pretty competent in my skills in that, I would be in demand if this didn’t work out in terms of design, being a designer for some, some inhouse company.
You know, and so I just felt like, you know. Let’s just sell off those RSUs and have that be my runaway, you know, for a year or two. And let’s just see what happens if we can’t make a little bit of money to like, you know, start, get this machine going. And so, yeah, that’s pretty much what I did. I obviously.
Sold a bunch of, like it’s not can savings and made that my, my runway from my wife and I, and now obviously we had to make some lifestyle changes as well. We downsized into a, an apartment near Santa Clara university. So we’re living next to a bunch of college kids with our, with our newborn baby. And my wife took on extra hours at her, um, her job.
So, you know, definitely I couldn’t have done it without her too. It was a team effort. And then I also partnered with someone. Right. So Mike, my partner, you know, kind of shared a little bit of that business burden with me and as well. So
Eric: [00:21:43] Yeah , it really quickly touch upon going into, a partnership, it seems like, well, obviously since it’s been, what, three, three, four years now, what do you think about jumping into partnerships?
I feel like a lot of people when they’re starting off, they’re like, yeah, like I can do it on my own, or, yeah, they want to hedge their risk by working with someone else or work with their friends , what would your advice be on that?
Jon: [00:22:08] Yeah, I think it’s different for everyone , you know, there’s, there’s one camp that says like, you know, the ship that doesn’t sail as the partnership.
And then there’s the other camp, which I’m in, which is, you know, you’re only better together. And I think, like for me, it was one of those things where, you know, I’m about to do something so risky, you know, have a child on the way. You know, probably better to hedge my bets, to have someone with me to help, you know, cover me and, you know, look out for angles that, you know, perspectives that I can’t see.
And so for us, it’s worked really well , it doesn’t come without its challenges. I mean, Michael, tell you. How many times have you fought, you know, in the past, like, you know, almost four years now. but I think ultimately you need to go through that. It’s like marriage, right? Like it’s never perfect, but I think if you have good communication, you can get through it and you are aligned with the same end goal, then it works really well.
Eric: [00:23:01] So a lot of the business fundamentals will, will say, yeah, if you’re going to partner up with someone, it should be someone who has a completely different skill set. So do you guys have. Completely separate separation of responsibilities or he’s also an ID designer.
Jon: [00:23:15] Yeah, so he’s actually a mechanical engineer by trade.
So, we work both in product development, but I think it’s pretty complementary skill sets I have for an industrial designer. Digital designers focus a lot on the top end, front end of, you know, design strategy, branding, how things look, how things feel, how things are used, engineering on the other end is like making it work, making it manufacturable.
And so I think just kind of like meshing that frontend and backend just made a lot of sense, you know, so he’s my partner with the watch business, right? Like, I could design this concrete watch, but I did not know how the hell will make it right. Or how to mix the concrete or anything like that.
And so Mike was definitely like super pivotable on, you know, critical, just like how to, how to get this thing made right. Dealing with like a lot of the suppliers in China. So, yeah, super great partner.
Eric: [00:24:04] Got it. So yeah. You mentioned early on you have a brand called Aggregate Watches, and then you have your design house, Hatch Duo.
Did they, these two just started at the same time or one before the other? What was the time on that?
Jon: [00:24:17] No, so, uh, they started at different timelines, Aggregate Watches was, was something I’ve always wanted to start. Like I wanted to start some kind of. Product line or, or accessories, fashion line. And I’ve always been into watches.
And so, that was like the thing, like when I was, we’re expecting our first child, I was like, you know, here’s my chance to get out of tech for a little bit and try, you know, this, this passion project of mine and see if it can make any money. Right? And so, we, we basically created this watch concrete watch.
No one wanted to produce it because they’re like, who makes concrete watches right?
Eric: [00:24:53] Oh. The factors are like, we already make one, so just choose. Yeah.
Jon: [00:24:56] Just choose one, choose one.
Eric: [00:24:59] [talked over each other]
And you’re gonna make a custom one.
Jon: [00:25:03] Yeah. We’re super stubborn and we ended up, we ended up still prototyping it and found a factory that was like, okay, since you guys prototype, maybe we can. You know, mass produced this, and then, yeah, we got on Kickstarter, I think we raised $65,000, really modest amount, but, it was enough to at least get that first run going.
Eric: [00:25:22] What was the startup costs to even jump into that?
Jon: [00:25:25] So each of us threw in like 10K each which honestly, it was not enough at all, but that was like 10K. I’m like, okay , here’s enough to kind of like fund, hiring some people to like help us. So actually we pulled in one of my old colleagues, Alexander Burton, who’s awesome and I still, you know, kind of work with her sometimes now, but she kind of came in on the marketing end cause she’s a run like million dollar Kickstarter campaigns, things like that of that nature.
And we’re just like, okay, we’re good at design and engineering. We don’t know what the hell we’re doing, the marketing ends. So she kind of helped with that , and so we’re really bootstraps, really lean, and we basically just did it, you know, by sure we’re, you know, persistence honestly,
Eric: [00:26:08] and just launched it and see where it could go, right?
Jon: [00:26:10] Yeah. We launched it and then, yeah, we ended up , you know, garnering some, distributors off of Kickstarter as well. So. Watches.com and then a few other design websites where like distributing our watch and then, GQ and Highsnobiety.com Publications and stuff were great for us as well.
Eric: [00:26:29] You talked about watches. We’ll talk about design for like basically, succesful clients .The growing pains, and then, sure. We don’t have to probably talk about your guys’ merger partner
Jon: [00:26:43] Yes, that’s great. We’ll leave that out.
Eric: [00:26:46] You have aggravated watches, you guys launch it on Kickstarter, and then you guys got a lot of publications and basically it’s just been an ongoing business that you guys have on the side, right?
Jon: [00:26:56] Yeah, it’s been an ongoing business, but I mean, I think it’s definitely not as successful as everyone thinks it to be, and that’s kind of actually what led into. Our design firms. So, you know, after all that nice high end success of like, Hey, we’re funded on Kickstarter, we’re on all these publications.
We kind of, we should, we quickly realized that all that money that we made had to go back into the business. Right? and so meanwhile, we still have to pay bills and rent and all these other things, that, you know, we somehow magically thought that we were going to make enough money to do that.
And that wasn’t true. And so, you know, basically things got real and we had to freelance a little bit to start to pay some bills. So Mike and I were basically taking, you know, our own, you know, he was doing his own thing. I was doing my own thing on the side of, I was doing industrial design jobs for freelance.
He was doing some engineering jobs, we were even door dashing. Even at night, we were taking calls, in China, and we’re like, well, since we’re taking calls, we might as well just make some extra minimum wage plus like the tips that we would get so it was rough. And, and to say the least, like, I think our families, like our wives, like felt it too.
So it was kind of a rough time, there was even a point in time where Mike and I were like, should we just. Split, it will still hold aggregate, but should we just split up and go back to work? Cause like, dude, you’ve got to pay bills to pay, man, Family to take care of. And things like that. And our runway was like, you know, it was running down.
And so yeah, it was, it was this one time where there was a lot of discussions, a lot of fights, things like that
Eric: [00:28:28] between your partners and even the lives.
Jon: [00:28:30] Yeah, it was rough. It was rough to say the least.
Eric: [00:28:33] If I were to put myself in your position and it’s tough for me, right. And everyone’s circumstances are different, you know, you’ll, you’ll tell a lot of people, like if you want this really badly and someone tells you that.
Yeah. Like if you really want to pursue the side business. Business that you’re building out. Yeah. Go door dash, go Uber, go drive a Lyft. Right. And then, but then like, Nah, right? I feel like 99% of the time people will be like, okay, yeah, that’s not worth it. I’m just going to continue working in my full time job.
Right. So what, what made you guys decide like that is okay? Or it’s not like. Were you embarrassed that people were like, you know, this guy has gone off to launch a brand, but then all of a sudden, you know, just doing door dash.
Jon: [00:29:19] Yeah. I mean it is funny. It’s a funny thing cause it was like, well you’re an industrial designer.
You were working on Sonos and said, why are you ? You can just go, and the thing that people don’t realize is like, yeah, I could freelance, but it’s like. You know, sometimes I don’t know if anyone who’s listening has been a freelancer, but sometimes you’re not getting paid necessarily, like where your worth or the sales cycle.
It doesn’t happen like as quickly as you’d want it to. And so you just have to, you know, like, especially when you have a kid, like things just get real and you just need the cash flow, but I think just having the support of our, our families and, and my wife in particular, it was just like, dude, don’t quit.
I know it’s. You know, it’s very easy to just go back to work and do that. Just don’t do it. We’ll figure it out. And so I think like just through persisting, you know, jobs started to land in our lap on the design side, because people just started to realize like, Oh, Jon is no longer employed by someone, so can you do this, you know, independent design project for me.
And those projects started again, larger and larger. I started to learn a little bit more about how to charge, and so as soon as we started to get clients like bed bath and beyond logic tech, um, and then even like startups here in Silicon Valley, and, um, Mike and I were like, dude, let’s just start another company because like, it was getting too big for just the two of us.
We were basically doing all these design projects ourselves, and it was doing well, and we’re like, well, we got to run the watch business too, and there’s only two of us. And so, we LLC in 2018, for Hatch Duo. And then we started to hire subcontractors, interns, all that stuff to kind of, you know, help, you know, build the team and be able to take on the work that we were getting.
And I think like that was a huge turning point for us because. We realized like, Oh, Hillary are trying to be entrepreneurs ourselves and there’s plenty of people like us out there that also need design help that we can serve immediately and charge good money for it out of there. And so. Yeah. That’s kind of how we got started on the path of Hatch Duo.
Eric: [00:31:25] That is an amazing journey. I’m very glad that you can share the story with us. I mean, for those listening out there, I’ve come over to visit Jon at his office and we’re recording inside his office. They already.
You guys just recently moved in here, right? It’s a huge facility. How big is this place?
Jon: [00:31:42] It’s 20,000 square feet. Um, luckily we’re, we’re, our little design area that we were situated in is, you know, a smaller portion of that. But yeah, we started off in my garage, really, our apartments really in the past. You know, three years, it’s been from apartment to then a small little studio in Sunnyvale on top of happy lemon, we’re next to some insurance agents, and you know, a hair salon to now what, you know, more people are used to seeing when they see a design firm.
Eric: [00:32:13] Right, so, it’s basically a new chapter in your guys’ lives. No more happy lemon, the guys and float and shoot the getting the sugar rush right now. I’m very excited that, you know, we got to meet , even before this, understanding your story, and this is why exactly why I wanted to share it with my audience.
And just understanding the struggles that you’ve gone through. The sacrifices, the deciding point of, you know, leaving a career and even recognizing that even when you did jump out, there was a lot of struggle in between too, so thank you so much, Jon, for jumping on here on the Y factor , and we’ll look forward to chatting with you again and see where you are in the near future.
Jon: [00:32:54] Thanks so much, Eric. Thanks for having me.
Eric: [00:32:56] All right, awesome. Take it easy guys, and we’ll talk to you guys soon.