From Sug­ared Wa­ter to Chang­ing the World

John Sculley Co-founder, Mis­fit Wear­ables

HWM (Singapore) - - Think - BY ALVIN SOON

John Sculley is per­haps best known as the man to whom Steve Jobs made his leg­endary pitch: “Do you want to sell sug­ared wa­ter for the rest of your life? Or do you want to come with me and change the world?”

In 1983, Sculley was Pepsi’s youngest-ever pres­i­dent, and al­ready fa­mous for start­ing the Pepsi Chal­lenge cam­paign. Steve Jobs was head of the Macin­tosh di­vi­sion for a seven-year old Ap­ple Com­puter. Lit­tle did Jobs know that he would end up in a power strug­gle with the very man he hired to take over his com­pany and re­sign two years later.

Eight years later, Ap­ple’s board would force Sculley him­self out. Since then, Sculley has in­vested in and been in­volved in a num­ber of busi­nesses, one of which is Mis­fit Wear­ables, a com­pany he co-founded with Sonny Vu. The name Mis­fit is taken from the fa­mous Ap­ple com­mer­cial which went: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The mis­fits. The rebels. The trou­ble­mak­ers…” Why the in­ter­est in wear­ables? When I joined the com­puter in­dus­try it was in the early days of the mi­cro­pro­ces­sor, and we’ve seen where that’s gone. Each decade it’s grown more and more ca­pa­bil­i­ties. We’re now in the early days of sen­sors, and the es­ti­mate is that they will be 75 bil­lion de­vices con­nected to the in­ter­net by 2020, most of which are go­ing to be sen­sors.

We’re ex­cited about wear­ables, be­cause the sen­sors are be­com­ing so pow­er­ful that they can ac­tu­ally mon­i­tor all kinds of bod­ily func­tions. Health­care over the next decade is go­ing to rad­i­cally change be­cause we’re go­ing to be able to track well­ness over many dif­fer­ent fac­tors. For Mis­fit Wear­ables, it’s all about the big data an­a­lyt­ics, the abil­ity to do pop­u­la­tion stud­ies and look at peo­ple with sim­i­lar types of con­di­tions, to track based on those con­di­tions and pre­dict from that health and well­ness is­sues. The Mis­fit Shine only tracks in­di­vid­ual data, but you’re talk­ing about big data. Where’s the bridge? What we’re see­ing is the be­gin­ning of ac­tiv­ity track­ers, where we use ac­celerom­e­ters to track calo­rie burn and help peo­ple get move­ment goals. This is just the very be­gin­ning of what’s go­ing to hap­pen, so this is the start of some­thing that’s go­ing to be rev­o­lu­tion­ary, but it’s just the first step. What makes the Shine shine over its com­peti­tors? I think it has a lot of the same philoso­phies that we had in the very be­gin­ning with Ap­ple. Ap­ple wasn’t fo­cused on be­ing the first com­puter; it was in­ter­ested in be­ing the best prod­uct, where el­e­gant de­sign was as much a part of its rep­u­ta­tion as much as any­thing else.

In the case of Shine, we started with the idea that peo­ple want to feel good about wear­ing some­thing. We have a prod­uct we be­lieve that peo­ple can wear any­time; it’s one of the rea­sons why we fo­cus on the fash­ion and de­sign of it. What does in­no­va­tion mean to you? I think in­no­va­tion has to be some­thing that solves a big prob­lem in an im­por­tant way. And in­no­va­tion is not lin­ear. It doesn’t al­ways hap­pen when you pre­dict it’s go­ing to hap­pen. In the case of wear­ables, the real in­no­va­tion is about how we take health and well­ness and help the con­sumer be­come part of their own health prac­tice. In the past, we would have said that some­one else does that – the doc­tor, nurse, hos­pi­tal or clinic. That’s the real in­no­va­tion, where you think of it in the con­text of a com­plete health and well­ness sys­tem, not all the fea­tures that you can squeeze into a de­vice you put on your wrist. How do you think a cul­ture of in­no­va­tion can be fos­tered within com­pa­nies? I think that in­no­va­tion means tak­ing risks. When you take risks, you’re go­ing to fail. One of the rea­sons why you see so much in­no­va­tion com­ing out of Sil­i­con Val­ley is the cul­ture there is that fail­ure’s okay. So cul­ture is ex­tremely im­por­tant for in­no­va­tion to thrive. What would you say to a young per­son want­ing to be the next John Sculley, Steve Jobs or Bill Gates? To take an idea and turn it into a com­pany, you have to do that as a team. So it’s more im­por­tant to have the best peo­ple with you who com­ple­ment what you do. The best team has the best chance to take that in­spi­ra­tional idea and turn it into a start-up busi­ness.

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