(From the archives) When one door closes...

(From the archives) When one door closes...
Photo by Jakub Kriz / Unsplash

Back in May, after a little over a year, the company I’d been working with, Sum, closed its doors.

The vision — to take wearables beyond data for data’s sake and empower people with the insight necessary to make meaningful improvements to their long term health — was a big swing in a space I cared deeply about. The opportunity to approach it as a designer was something I couldn’t pass up.

As with all big swings, I knew there was a high chance of failure but pulling out of a race before you even get to hear the starting gun, was crushing. Prior to joining the team, I’d had an outsider’s sense that hardware is hard and my curiosity about what exactly makes it hard was a big draw to the role. The experience was eye-opening, gives me a newfound respect the teams who pull off well-executed hardware launches, and has helped me develop a new set of product design tools in my arsenal.

While I’m disappointed to not bring our experience out into the world, I’m incredibly proud of the team and product we built. I’m also grateful for what I was able to learn about designing and building a hardware & software product in a space I’m deeply passionate about.

I believe strongly that a version of the product we were building is going to exist and wearables will finally show their long-term value to a wider audience. The question is who’ll bring us there? I don’t have a lot of faith in any of the hardware incumbents being able to pull off truly great software. More than likely, it’ll come from a 3rd party building on top of one of their platforms.


…another one opens.

Quickly going from leading a team to launch to being free as a bird left me at a place where I could entertain a variety of options for what would come next so I spent time really thinking about what I’ve enjoyed most in my professional life.

Since 1998 my career been mostly a mix of consulting and building products/startups. I’ve learned a ton during that time working in a variety of creative environments, building teams and shipping products. I’m also acutely aware of the fact that, despite how much the NYC startup ecosystem has evolved since we built Dodgeball back in 2003, NYC still doesn’t have the network of experienced product people the Valley benefits from.

I’ve long wanted to see if I could unite all these parts of my background and leverage what I’ve learned to help tech companies in New York with all things Product. Practically speaking this involves helping to:

  • Drive the entire product life cycle from concept to launch.
  • Develop a roadmap that supports the company vision and business goals.
  • Build or scale a design-driven and data-informed product org.
  • Design a product processes that suit the company.
  • Be a coach and operational mentor to team members.
  • Ship great products.

The abrupt closure of Sum served as a great forcing function to go after this and since May I’ve been working with 3 different companies, each at very different stages, to do many of the things listed above. Two of them are startups with whom I’m spending a day a week on-site and the third is a 2–3 month project with a company I’ve long admired.

The variety of engagements, teams and problems is energizing. As someone who has enjoyed consulting and building/scaling startups, this is providing a great opportunity to exercise both those muscles and stay close to the kinds of product and team problems that I’m most passionate about solving.

Let’s talk

Things are fairly busy right now but I’m always on the lookout for great potential opportunities to collaborate. I find this setup is best suited to the following kinds of organizations:

  • Early to mid stage startups looking to improve their product or build/scale their product teams.
  • Venture Capital firms looking to offer a partner for their portfolio companies.
  • Larger companies looking to move quickly.
  • Creative agencies looking for an outside voice.

If you’d like to talk, shoot me an email at alex@alexrainert.com. Thanks!