The birth of hardware dark horse word card: a mountain-climbing extreme challenge
In the second half of 2021, the operation group formally transformed its strategy. As a pioneer in transforming technology, the company has opened a multi-dimensional exploration of intelligent hardware.
Among the list of new hardware products, wordcards are a humble presence. But no one expected that this product, which only invested 20% of the resources of the regular project, could sell more than 100,000 units in the third month on the market. No one expected that this small object, the size of an eraser, would not only carry the flag of new growth of the Meow-meow-machine brand, but also expand a new category of learning for the smart hardware industry.
Behind the brilliant results, is a mountaineering extreme challenge. From the project to research and development, and then to the final market, word card all the way bumpy, all the way breakthrough...
01 A difficult project in the voice of doubt
Back in early 21 years, product manager Li Yuyang was attracted by the electronic price tag at the bottom of the product when visiting the Xiaomi home: ink screen does not hurt the eyes, low power consumption and no total charging. Moreover, it was easy to operate and even omitted the step of turning on the computer. He immediately thought that it would be good if it could be made into an English learning device. So Li Yuyang went home and bought various components from the Internet and spent three days assembling a prototype. When he brought the machine to his electronic product enthusiasts, everyone was very excited, and Xiao Le, the head of research and development, used four words to summarize his feelings at that time: very good! Product, research and development hit it off: word card, worth doing! The team decided to formally submit the project.
However, the process of establishing the project was not smooth. Because there was never a similar product on the market, many things went unverified. Reviewers were left to their own guesses: some said memorizing words was too small a requirement; Some people say that this is not in line with the study habit of memorizing while writing; Others say it is too cheap and not very profitable. The voices of skepticism followed, but this did not let Li Yuyang discouraged.
He made a lot of investigation and interviews, and do not give up any a chance to upward communication. Interpret his idea, he use the data to verify their own ideas. In the end, the company was impressed by his persistence and decided to give it a try, but only if input costs were controlled.
(The price tag screen inspired by Li Yuyang and the simulation of the prototype machine)
02 from 0 to 1 build cognitive, climb a mountain nobody ever mounted
The positioning of the wordcard is clear: simple, small, and cheap. Simple means easy operation, small requires high precision, and low price requires extreme compression cost, which brings great challenges to product development.
Wordcard is a pioneering product. Everything is completely new. There is no competition to refer to, and no previous experience to reuse. From ink screen display, to small stacked product structure, to small device firmware, interaction and so on, there is no accumulation. There was no dedicated supply chain for the Meow product line, and they didn't even know where to find ink screen suppliers.
Li Yuyang and Xiao Le bought a number of price tag screens from Taobao. Look at product development materials one by one, and then ask customer service if they can support product development one by one. Finally, from a product website, they found the sales director's phone number, which solved the ink screen supply problem.
Over and over again, they bumped, polished, and revised the industry's common 3-second page turn gradually increased to 2 seconds, 1 second, until the first generation of word card products on the market, 0.6 seconds. The price tag screen was originally a small display device applied to B-end scenes such as supermarkets and shops. Unexpectedly, it was expanded to the C-end application market with the depth of research and development.
For this exploration, Xiao Le has a deep understanding: the first person to climb Mount Qomolangma must be difficult. A lot of people are afraid to do it, but if you don't do it, you never know if it will work. Don't set boundaries, just take the first step, and it's half the battle.
（Word card Project - Hardware Development team）
03 Throw yourself out every now and then and look for the best solution
Because it is a small batch of Demo trial research, many big factories are not willing to accept the word card this small order. In the end, the team had to find a small supplier with little experience to do the injection molding and assembly work.
It was really a small vendor, so small that it had almost no professional technical guidance staff. It is often the project manager of this company who takes structural, firmware and other engineers to the production line to test, while directing workers to assemble. The work is weekend or evening.
There's always a price to pay for exploring something new. The design of the word card follows the minimalism - the size is small, the buttons are so few, but it carries a lot of functions and content, and the fineness is extremely high. The production and research team needs to constantly adjust the structure, interaction, firmware, process and other ways to improve the user experience. However, these items usually affect each other, often affecting the whole body. As a result, the product has undergone numerous adjustments.
This kind of overthrow sometimes comes from others, sometimes comes from oneself.
In the months before the launch, Li Yuyang came to Beijing every month to show the development progress of the word card. Each time he came in with a stage prototype and came back with a lot of feedback. What impressed him most was the second time: teachers gave feedback that it was inconvenient to use, the interactive experience was not good, and the texture of the product was not enough.
The meeting was over 10 p.m., Li Yuyang walked out of the office, feeling his brain a little anoxia. At the end of November, Beijing is not in the depths of winter, but it already looks like winter. The north wind blew in his face, making the young man from the south who was still wearing short sleeves shiver.
To be honest, the product feedback had some impact on Li, but he soon recovered. There is no new product without criticism, so that we know what is not doing well. For an innovative project, you must have a big heart and be able to withstand pressure. What bothered him most was how to tell his partners when he returned to Xiamen. On the way back to the hotel, Li digested the feedback and thought about how to cheer up his friends.
The team members were obviously much tougher than Li Yuyang imagined. After hearing the feedback, there was no complaint or hesitation. After discussion, we decided: overturn, come again! Everyone knows that a broken reconstruction is a bone cramp, but who doesn't expect it to come back again? All for a better user experience!
"This is our first wordcard product, and we hope that when people get their hands on it, they will find it useful, easy to use and enjoy! We spent so much time, energy, and emotion to make this product, so we must be satisfied with the user!" This is the most simple desire of the partner's heart.
On his third visit to Beijing, Li Yuyang felt more at ease. This steadiness comes not only from the confidence in the product, but also from the trust and understanding of the team partners. This time, it went well.
（Word card Project - Software Development team）
04 the starting point for a bit higher
There is a saying within our team that our product started where the wordcard industry started, so we have to be better!
14 appearance adjustments, 3 interactive reconstructions, 15 color choices, and 30 font adaptations are the efforts made before the first generation of word card E1 is handed over to users. This effort has not stopped, and they continue to optimize the user experience.
Since its official release on January 10, in just a few months, the word card market has a number of competing products. It is harder to hold the battlefield than to open it. In March this year, after getting the first batch of market data, Wordcard started the research and development of the second-generation product, and the new product is expected to be officially released in July.
At the same time, under the meow meow brand, there are more new categories and new explorations on the way. Now, Li Yuyang and his team partners are constantly developing new products, and a new round of doubts and concerns are repeated. "The birth of each product will experience these, not because you made the story to become different, only the results can prove that." Li Yuyang said.
By the end of the current, the word card sales to exceed 300000 units, equipment activation of more than 250000 units. In the company's latest 618 war report, the word card market share exceeded 90%.