SBrick, also called as SmartBrick, is the next level in remote controlling your LEGO®. Build more, play more like never before. This is what co-founders of SBrick say. Why shouldn’t they? After all, This tiny brick of goodness works flawlessly with a mobile app.
I must say that I am quite impressed after checking its Kickstarter campaign. I wondered how awesome the idea is and it would be even more awesome if I can share its story with you.
So, I reached out its co-founders for a short interview with Mark, communication director of SBricks, to gain as much knowledge as possible.
Here you go.
The name SBrick sounds pretty interesting. How did you land with such a cool name?
Mark – Thank you! When we first started out, the name we chose first was “Smart Brick,” because that perfectly describes what it is. It’s a brick (that fits into LEGO) and it is also a “smart device”. It’s a real IOT (internet of things) device that you can control using WiFi or Bluetooth. You can attach up to 4 motors or LEDs to the brick and then control it using our app (SBrick), available in both the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android). But back to the name, although we started out with Smart Brick (our Twitter handle is @smart_brick) we realized that it sounded too long, so we shortened it to SBrick. Another thing that encouraged up to change the name, ever-so-slightly, was that the website SBRICK.COM was still available.
Tell us more about SBrick.
Mark – When we started working with Hungarian start-ups we also started thinking that we could also develop something in the house. First, we had an idea for a security device that you could wear and that would call for help if you were in trouble. We developed technology for this, but as we were getting more serious about what’s coming to the market when we realized that we were simply too small to tackle the problem which is so large. And it was then that the SBrick founder and CEO, Mr. Lenard Pasztor, came up with the idea of SBrick.
He was at home with his parents for Christmas and had to look in the family basement for something for his mother. While down there he found one of his old LEGO sets. He picked it up, took it upstairs and then put it together. Once it was complete he thought “that’s it? I want it to move!” And that’s when the light went on in his head.
He brought the set into the office and within days we had adapted the technology we had developed for the security device into a primitive remote control. That was January 2014. By August 2014 we were already out on Kickstarter with our first campaign, so the development and turnaround time was very fast for this project.
As we enjoyed our Kickstarter experience so much, we have launched our second product – the SBrick Plus – through the same platform. We went live with SBrick Plus on Kickstarter on Saturday… that’s only 4 days ago.
Who are the persons behind SBrick?
Mark – The CEO and founder is Lenard Pasztor.
I am Mark Bollobas – I do communications and I am the project lead on our education platform.
Along from us, below is the list of all people who are associated with SBricks.
Tell us more about your Kickstarter campaign.
Mark – Our Kickstarter campaign is for the SBrick Plus, our latest product.
SBrick Plus is a brick that you can place into your LEGO® models so you can control them remotely using a smart device like a phone, tablet, gamepad or even Chromebook or PC. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though; SBrick Plus can use sensors from the WeDo 1.0™ family can be programmed in several languages. So, it’s a perfect way to start your journey into programming and robotics!
Even though the Technic™ family and Education™ products are both LEGO®, there has been no overlap between the two until now. SBrick Plus removes this barrier between the two families and brings those worlds together seamlessly.
SBrick Plus is the first product to work with Apple’s educational language, Swift Playgrounds. Everyone can code with SBrick Plus.
Apple, Google, and Microsoft are some of the biggest tech companies in the world. LEGO® is the biggest toy company in the world SBrick Plus connects them. You can now program with Apple and Google and Microsoft and play with LEGO®, all thanks to the SBrick Plus.
The biggest things here are that SBrick Plus can be programmed in lots of languages. We only have 3 listed but we can give users APIs for most languages out there.
SBricks is the first product in the world to work with Apple Swift Playgrounds.
And it accepts sensors, meaning that it can be programmed to react to the environment that it’s in. And it connects programming languages with LEGO, something that has never been done before.
What does a day at SBrick look like?
Mark – Right now we have the product completed and are on Kickstarter. Our day revolves around pushing the news of SBrick Plus to people in the industry, to gamers, to LEGO fans, to technology sites, education portals, etc.
We are also finalizing the packaging for the SBrick Plus. This is easier than the first time because the SBrick Plus is the same size as the SBrick.
Tell us about the entrepreneurial journey you guys undertook.
Mark – We are one of those very rare start-ups that did everything in-house. We have no investors, we retain full control over our brand, business model, and roadmap. This means that we have all the control, but it also means we have had to grow organically, mainly by users telling other people how good our product is. We were welcome by LEGO fans around the world. You will find that 99.9% of videos on YouTube are user-created when you search “SBrick”. And many of them are simply outstanding.
With our latest product, we hope that with the SBrick Plus we are giving LEGO fans and programming fans something that they can do some really exciting things with. Knowing how imaginative and creative they are, I think some of the models you will see come December or January (by which time they will have had the SBrick Plus in their hands for several months) will be mind-blowing.
We’re also one of the very few start-ups that set out on this journey with the aim of being profitable from the very first day.
As an Entrepreneur first, we have always understood that while it is good to dream. It’s important to keep your feet on the ground and even if the profits are small at the beginning.
What would be your guru mantra that you’d like to give to budding entrepreneurs for funding?
“No” is a word you must scrub from your vocabulary. There is no “no,” there is only “not yet.”
One of the many challenges that we faced was understanding that the world of start-ups is very much a world of smoke-and-mirrors. We met many people who said they could help us. We soon realized that most of these people are looking to earn money off investors and entrepreneurs. There are a lot of sharks out there, so I would advise anyone who is considering putting their idea into the marketplace and becoming a start-up to never believe someone on their words alone, and only take an interest when someone proves their worth through their actions.
And finally, if given a chance to reach out to all the entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs out there, what will you tell them?
Mark – Chase your dream and fight for it like a dog who hasn’t eaten for a week. And never chase the money, because that’s simply an illusion. The money will come when you have made your dream a reality.