Home The Apple Watch Is Coming—And This Entrepreneur Will Tell You What Else People Are Buying

The Apple Watch Is Coming—And This Entrepreneur Will Tell You What Else People Are Buying

Wearable World Congress is ReadWrite’s signature annual conference, taking place in San Francisco May 19-20. Every week, we’ll introduce you to interesting speakers you can meet at the event.

Forget lining up to get an Apple Watch. Aarthi Ramamurthy, the founder and CEO of Lumoid, will send you one to try on in the comfort of your own home. She’s already signed up more than 3,000 people who want to get their hands on the Apple Watch without putting down $349 or more.

Lumoid is a try-before-you-buy service for consumer electronics. You can get a box of gadgets and keep what you like—or return them and pay a rental fee. 

See also: Hear From Pebble’s Eric Migicovsky At Wearable World Congress

Ramamurthy started Lumoid in 2014 focusing on digital cameras and accessories, but more recently, she began offering wearable devices—and she’s now moving hundreds of boxes of fitness trackers and smartwatches a week.

Because she has unique insights into which devices people keep and which ones they send back, I’ve asked Ramamurthy to present her findings on consumer preferences at Wearable World Congress

Taking place in San Francisco on May 19-20, Wearable World Congress is ReadWrite’s first large-scale tech conference in years and our first big project with our new partners at Wearable World. I’ll be the host and master of ceremonies, so I’m thrilled to be telling you about the interesting speakers we’re putting on stage. (See the end of this post for a special offer on tickets for ReadWrite readers.)

I asked Ramamurthy some qustions recently about Lumoid, the Apple Watch, and the future of wearables. Here’s a lightly edited transcript of our conversation.

I couldn’t even imagine a conversation about renting wearable devices a few years ago. How’s business? 

I’m shocked at how fast the wearable side is growing.

We started off with photo and video gear, but the goal was to do a try-before-you-buy business for all consumer electronics.

We asked buyers, “What else would you like to try?” We kept seeing it over and over again, and I said, “We have to do this with wearables.”

We got 200 orders the first week. We send five devices in a box. Two hundred times five devices is 1,000, and we didn’t have a thousand units. The week after that it doubled, and the week after that it doubled again.

200 orders the first week, 200 times five devices is a thousand, and we didn’t have a thousand units. The week after that it doubled, the week after that it doubled. 

How many people do you have on your waitlist for the Apple Watch?

A little over 3,000 now. We know what they’re looking for—which color, which strap.

By design, you get a lot of devices returned to you. What could wearable companies be doing better?

Basic things. Their websites don’t communicate what they’re offering, or they overplay it. Or information about basic troubleshooting—we have a lot of customers complaining to us. Just making it a little more human and usable would go a long way.

We do a lot of support and troubleshooting—why is this not syncing, which app should I get? With Jawbone, for example, there are different apps. This should be straightforward.

The Misfit Shine looks gorgeous and everyone wants to try it out. But working with them has been a little bit of a problem. If you want to unlink the Misfit Shine, you have to email the company. [Editor’s note: Misfit users can unlink it within the app, but they sometimes forget to do so before returning a rental unit.] Customers hate it. We got hit by a ton of people saying the Misfit Shine doesn’t work. That’s one where we said, “What is going on?” 

Want to hear more of Aarthi Ramamurthy’s insights on what works—and what doesn’t—when it comes to wearables? Hear Lumoid’s founder and dozens of other top executives and entrepreneurs speak at Wearable World Congress. Use the code RW15 for a special discount for ReadWrite readers.

Update: We’ve added an editor’s note to clarify how Misfit users unlink a device.

Photos courtesy of Lumoid

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