Skip to main content

How one product can spawn hundreds of knock-offs

How one product can spawn hundreds of knock-offs


In the Making looks at the challenges hardware creators face

Share this story

Nimrod Back raised more than $600,000 on Kickstarter for a customizable button that you could plug into your phone’s headphone jack. But just as the crowdfunding campaign was ending, copycats struck. They managed to launch clones of Back’s product, Pressy, before his even shipped. Today, Pressy no longer exists.

Creating a physical product is hard. Creators have to come up with an idea, prototype it, figure out how to manufacture it at scale, raise enough money to cover the costs, ship it to customers, and develop a full retail strategy, in addition to keeping their company running. The actual journey can be more complex, with unexpected hurdles that come with working in foreign markets, dealing with copycats, and changing technology.

On The Verge’s new series In the Making, I talk with creators to unpack the challenges they face and how they overcome them.

This week, I chat with two creators who ran up against copycats. Max Gunawan, the creator of Lumio, a light that folds up like a book, says he’s used to knock-offs by now, although he hates to see them. He can’t focus on them, though, and he wants to innovate instead. I also speak with Scott Miller, the CEO of Dragon Innovation, a company that helps creators find their footing when it comes time to manufacture. Then there’s Back who elaborates on his Pressy experience. These guests explain the limitations of patents and how they protect themselves from knock-offs.

The Verge on YouTube /

Exclusive first looks at new tech, reviews, and shows like Better Worlds.