Jackie Lai was born in Singapore and moved to the US in 1995 for college. Jackie is an expert in product design and manufacturing. A structural engineer by training, Jackie has broad experience spanning the entire product design process from concept to manufacturing.
After graduating from Harvey Mudd College with an engineering degree, her passion for cars led her to General Motors in Pontiac, Michigan. She realized the cold climate was not well-suited to her equatorial self, and trekked out to California’s Bay Area to pursue a master’s degree in Structural Engineering at Stanford. She spent a large part of her career at the Volkswagen Electronics Research Lab in Palo Alto, creating things like the Chinese Handwriting Recognition system now in the Audi A6 and A8. Then she went to a product design firm called D2M where she played a significant role in the manufacturing of the Zuvo Water Filtration system now available in stores.
Her new company makes the Tendher Pillow, which is a product for breast feeding Mothers.
In this episode you will also learn the following from Jackie:
- The back story behind her physical product
- How the prototyping process began within the first hour of conversation about it
- The mock up process and how she hacked it
- Why “Family First” was the main requirement for her new company
- Why Visa status wasn’t a struggle and how she got her green card
- How she selected her co-founders
- Where she found the first testers of her products
- Ways she tested her product on her target customer and used that to make her final product
- How she competes with bigger companies
- How she sold her first product
- How she got her products in the hands of strangers
- The challenges of outsourcing a physical products
- Why she determined to not to manufacture it herself early on and why that could change
- Jackie’s keys to obtaining balance in her life
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