‒ By Scott Starrett, Creator Of Jorno
The idea for Jorno came to me a couple years ago. I was traveling a lot, working as a management consultant. I knew I could get more work done with my iPhone if I could just type faster and more efficiently. I loved the idea of leaving my laptop behind and working with just my iPhone. There were other folding keyboards on the market (I actually owned one for my old Palm device back in the early 2000s) but when I started to research, I found that no one was currently offering a first-rate folding keyboard (many had been discontinued since the Palm-era had passed). And all of the current Bluetooth keyboards were flawed (too bulky, keys in the wrong place, mushy keys impossible for touch typing).
I started testing the concept (just a pencil sketch of what Jorno could be – check out the sketches and photos below) with a simple website. I even bought some Google Ads to see if anyone else wanted something like this early concept. It turns out that lots of people wanted it and signed up for my mailing list – once I had a couple thousand people on the mailing list, I decided to get this project off the ground.
The evolution of Jorno: (Top Left) pencil sketch, (Top Right) initial CAD sketch, (Bottom Left) first Jorno prototype, (Bottom Right) final Jorno Prototype
I found an award-winning engineering/design team and an experienced keyboard manufacturer. We created Jorno and produced a couple prototypes. The moment I held Jorno in my hands, I knew it was a product I could be proud of. It was amazing to see my idea come to life.
I built a website and began showing the prototype at industry meetings, such as CES, the Consumer Electronics Show. Jorno actually won two design and innovation awards – a validation for how cool this product is and what it could mean to millions of smartphone users who wanted a slick product to help them get work done with their phone or tablet.
The biggest hurdle was to raise enough money to get Jorno into production. All the engineering was paid for through the generosity of relatives (and my own personal savings), but you actually need a big chunk of money to pay for plastic molds and initial manufacturing trials. To find this type of funding, I pitched numerous angel investors and venture capitalists. Most of them chose not to invest, since the “hot” area of investment is not hardware (they prefer web and mobile software investments). Interestingly enough, most of them said they would want to purchase a Jorno keyboard (for personal use) as soon as we launched. There was also an incredible amount of interest from big box retail and web retail outlets, except they weren’t ready to fund the initial manufacturing effort since it didn’t fit within their model (e.g., buy from a distributor and re-sell it in a store) and they didn’t see themselves as investors.
Unfortunately Jorno got delayed a couple times because of the lack of capital. We took pre-orders on our website which we later had to cancel. I felt horrible about Jorno’s delivery delays and ultimately had to inform our early believers that Jorno would be put on hold.
Then recently, I read that a bunch of consumer electronics start-ups had exactly the same history as us — a tough road to funding (and lack thereof), but ended up getting funded via Kickstarter. It was an article on CNN Money that brought this to my attention,
I had actually donated to a couple of projects on Kickstarter. Once I saw this article I wanted to try to launch Jorno with the help of crowdfunding. We’ve had some really great evangelists and believers from the beginning, including some enthusiastic journalists; they all want us to succeed. I truly hope that we can add to this circle with our Kickstarter campaign – one person at a time – and get to a successful launch.