Update 2.15.19

This newsletter will focus on advisor conversations of last week and our pilot’s progression. Also, Jon Bon Jovi visited us for a photo shoot in our workspace. It was pretty cool. We might as well describe that, since famous people visiting for shoots is a semi regular occurrence. Thought to be fair, they don’t visit for ELIA Frames, or because we are delightful people.


As usual, we had our weekly call with the Simplexity team. It’s a pretty fluid conversation at this point. This week, the first half was technical, focused on questions that arose last week with regards to architecture, firmware and electrical systems. Steve Getz and Dan Periard of our team oversaw that portion of the conversation. Now that the paper path is finalized, the Simplexity team was able to further scope out the requirements for the system, and they had additional questions about the user interface, paper jam signaling, and how systems would communicate with the users computer. The second half of the conversation was more consumer market focused. Melanie Handshaw of Simplexity worked with Steve, Byron and me to discuss projected sales volumes (which will effect the engineering-for-manufacturing of the printer). The volume projections will be used by Simplexity for estimating the cost of the next portion of the product development effort.

Adam Linn

We are preparing to engage Adam’s network with ELIA Frames. This week’s and last week’s discussions centered around how we scale the pilot program. We found that our earlier conversation with Tom DeRosa was valuable for us to understand a new learner’s perspective. We captured some really great footage of Tom learning, so we are planning another engagement. The approach we will take is to teach people the ELIA Frames Font in such a way as to enable them to teach it to other people. This will be helpful in two ways. First, it is always more engaging to learn something that you will need to teach, and second, people will adhere to best practices if they feel they will need to learn them in order to teach skills to others.

Trailmix VC logo

Trailmix VC logo

Evan Wray (Swyft Media & TrailMix VC)

We spoke with Evan Wray, formerly of Swyft Media. He is focused on helping companies like ours grow and serve our community. A network contact of ours and mentor from NEW INC, Abby Pucker, introduced us to him. Evan shared his insights on branding and licensing to major corporations, as well as what they find compelling. He recommended that we detail a plan to make ELIA Frames the standard. We’ll be working on that.

Richard Morgan

This week we spoke with Richard Morgan, a noted venture capitalist and current investor in ELIA Life Technology, PBC. He has been a senior advisor to ELIA Life for nearly a decade. He had some pointed questions:

  • Is ELIA Frames now good enough that we will not be making significant revisions to it?
  • How can we persuade the world that it will be the next big thing?
  • How do we get out of our comfort zone and start telling our story (He suggested that we study the example of Tim Ferriss, and how he promotes his initiatives).
  • If it is mindshare we seek, what are the tools we need to get us there?

Jon Bon Jovi

Yes, Jon Bon Jovi visited us. The loft space where we work in Dumbo, Brooklyn is awesome. Glorious light, giant windows and a distressed look that is both gritty and beautiful. It hosts films and photo shoots on a regular basis. ELIA Life works here for free and as such, we are sometimes displaced by shoots. If it is a large shoot, we work at NEW INC.

Last week Jon Bon Jovi’s photographer wanted to shoot at Dumbo Salt Works with a small crew. We worked in one room while he and his team worked on the other two. Our interactions were limited to Mr. Bon Jovi asking us for the wifi name and password. At one point he did play his acoustic guitar for some photos and we had the privilege of listening. It was pretty awesome.

We understand that people like him come here for the same reasons we do, to get work done. We asked his manager to please ask Mr. Bon Jovi if we could share our work with him. At the end of the day, he just wanted to get home, and demurred. We didn’t expect to do so.

It was the same thing when Katie Holmes was in for a shoot (Andrea Li Ph.D., Claire Periard and Dawn Horton Ph.D. were collaborating with us that day and we worked in parallel with Holmes’s team). We asked her manager if we could share our work as well. But she too was ready to call it a day (though she did refer friends to Dumbo Salt Works for new photo shoots). As it is, we have ELIA Frames Font examples throughout the space. And when people visit, we often teach them the font.

Workman Publishing

We received news back from Workman Publishing that they would like additional information on our company before they allow us to publish the Little Zen Companion. In the interest of transparency, and because this is our first publishing exercise, it is fair to say that this initiative is not yet complete.

Update 1.18.19

ELIA Frame individual adhesive labels with “baking”, “soda”, “powder”, “sugar”, “socks”, “choco”, “under”, and “shirt”.

ELIA Frame individual adhesive labels with “baking”, “soda”, “powder”, “sugar”, “socks”, “choco”, “under”, and “shirt”.

"A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus."

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

We have always been a lean company. We stay this way by building relationships with professionals and teams who can collaborate with us when we need them, and when we don’t need them, they are lending their expertise to other organizations, or working for themselves. Many of our collaborators have been with us for more than a decade.

We also employ the practice of working with people and organizations on small projects first, wherever possible, before engaging in longer-term projects or employment (we learned from ReWork, by Jason Fried). This week’s work highlights our company’s efforts to build our internal and extended team. We will collaborate with them to help our community.

This week we had a meetings with:

  • Our consultant Adam Linn, who will be coming on board as a full time employee
  • Our product development partners, Simplexity PD
  • Our public relations and community development collaboration with Alex Daly and the Daly PR team
  • The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
  • Conversations with current and potential future investors

Adam Linn

We have been collaborating with Adam Linn for one day a week since May of 2018. Originally, we reached out to him to see if he would be interested in learning ELIA Frames and helping us with a pilot reader program. Through it Adam became one of the fastest ELIA Frames readers. And through our interviews with him, he began advising us on everything from strategy to font design.

This week Adam agreed to join the team as a full-time employee and serve as our head of community development. He will lead efforts to build relationships within the consumer community and to institutional partners. He will also continue with his role on our corporate strategy team.

Read more on our team page.


This week we reviewed Simplexity’s design input requirements (DIR) documentation for the TouchPrinter™. A DIR provides guidance for the advance development of a product. It includes technology to be used, required performance of the end product, end user requirements, etc. To give you some examples of what is considered, this week we discussed the performance of components that will be in the printer, what sizes and weights of paper would be accepted by the printer, its physical footprint requirements, desired print speed, firmware needed to integrate subsystems, and the prioritization of features and benefits. The DIR will be updated throughout the development process. It will guide each of the ELT team as well as Simplexity’s team, all the way through to the printer's design-for-manufacturing.

Daly PR

We completed negotiations to work with Alex Daly and her team at Daly PR. During our Kickstarter campaign (in the spring of 2018) we were fortunate to work with Alex’s crowdfunding team (known then as Vann Alexandra). They were a major part of the success of the campaign. One of the signature successes of the campaign was the dozens of articles in the press we were able to attract.

We valued her collaboration and reached out to her in late 2018 to see if she would be interested in working together again outside of a Kickstarter. Fortunately, she was!

Once we have raised our next round of financing, Daly PR will help us 1) form new stories for press coverage, 2) find corporate partners to grow our movement, 3) engage target and impact audiences in an interactive and meaningful way, 4) introduce us to audiences with whom we can share our work (e.g. design teams in companies that seek to better serve marginalized communities).

The collaboration we sought isn’t what one would expect of a traditional PR firm. And as Daly PR has so much more capacity beyond just traditional PR, we felt it would be more rewarding and enjoyable to work with them as a more integral part of our outreach efforts. So we gave them a wish list of all the ways we would like to work with them and where we felt they could help make our movement happen. We discussed it with them and they shared their thoughts, and together we made concrete realistic plans for a new kind of partnership. It might be called a PR partnership, but we both expect that it will be much, much more!

Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce

Thanks to an advisor of ours, Anthony Woods of Anthem BlueCross BlueShield, we were introduced to the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. This past week we met with them and began discussions regarding how ELIA Life can collaborate with them, federal, state and local government, and local organizations to help our the city utilize ELIA Frames. We brainstormed about what avenues we might take to serve the Brooklyn community. It is the early stages of our relationship with the Chamber. We’ll keep you updated.

Financing Conversations

We had a number of conversations with investors and advisors regarding our current round of financing. These centered on the amount of financing we should raise. We have set milestones and we’ve estimated what capital we will need to reach them. Some are longer term than others. Our advisors have shared helpful advice in this regard. We are still forming a consensus on whether to raise a round that is enough capital for a national initiative, or one through which we can demonstrate more regional adoption.

Label Development and Production

Adam Linn has invited a baseball teammate of his to join us this current week, with the goals of teaching his teammate ELIA Frames and of providing the gentleman with labels that can help him do his professional work more easily. The specific task he would like help with is labeling folders. This week Byron created label sets using adhesive transfer samples from 3M. We shared them with Adam, who critiqued them. All went well, there will be some minor adjustments, then we will print the requested labels for our new contact. It will be exciting to see how he feels about the labels.

3M adhesive transfer being applied to ELIA Frame adhesive and hanging label prototypes.

3M adhesive transfer being applied to ELIA Frame adhesive and hanging label prototypes.

Testing ELIA Frame adhesive and hanging labels.

Testing ELIA Frame adhesive and hanging labels.

Update 1.11.19

The front cover of “The Little Zen Companion” by David Schiller.

The front cover of “The Little Zen Companion” by David Schiller.

Below is a summary of the week's pursuits. Please feel free to comment or email us for further information.

Workman Publishing

The Little Zen Companion is a staple of the ELT library. Its motivational teachings are invaluable, and we are looking to print the contents in ELIA Frames. This week we moved our conversations forward with Workman Publishing. They own the rights to The Little Zen Companion and had some additional questions for us regarding sales outside of the Kickstarter. We'll keep you updated on our discussions.

Allen Bromberger - Social Impact Lawyer

We are excited to be working with Allen Bromberger of Perlman & Perlman, LLP. He is a nationally recognized leader in the social entrepreneurship ecosystem. We met Allen at the Social Venture Network - Investors Circle conference in Brooklyn in December of 2018. He served on a panel about term sheets and social impact. We attended assuming that we would review best practices with respect to traditional term sheets. Instead, Allen and Teresa Pahl of Hanson Bridgett LLP led a discussion about how one could include social impact terms in a terms sheet and how they could benefit both side of the negotiation (both the company and investors). In short, by aligning the expectation of both parties behind future milestones, social impact goals are not just more achievable, but they are an opportunity to focus the company with respect to its social mission. Given that ELIA Life is a PBC, we sought a legal representative who understood corporate law, not for profit law and PBCs (which are a new hybrid). We met with Allen this week to begin the relationship and to begin collaboration. We will continue to consult with Paul Oakley, our lawyer for over a decade, but he is pursuing his own entrepreneurial endevours and encouraged us to engage Allen.

ELIA Touch Printer

HP logo is shown.

HP logo is shown.

The team had a kick-off conference call about the TouchPrinter with our engineering team at Simplexity PD. Simplexity was recommended to us by our partner, HP, which collaborates with them extensively. We chose Simplexity in large part because many of the Simplexity engineers worked at HP for a decade or more. They continue to do so from outside HP. Their experience will be invaluable as we integrate HP components into our printer. (We have an exclusive license from HP for us of the components). Of note, Simplexity's offices are right acrosse the street from their former HP office. We also chose Simplexity because of their company ethos. They share and demonstrate the same core values to their community as we do.

We expect the printer to be available for sale in Fall 2019.

If you are interested in purchasing a printer, please send us an email.

NEW INC logo.

NEW INC logo.

Check-In Session at NEW INC.

As social impact community members at the NEW INC. incubator, Byron and I attend entrepreneurial programming. This Friday we have our first check in of the year. These check-in sessions are a great opportunity for us to practice pitching and also evaluate our recent milestones. Our peers and mentors share their perspectives and insights, offer assistance and ask tough questions. It's awesome. Without a vehicle such as these, getting perspective on our efforts is much more difficult. Through these sessions, we advance with focus and intention.

Peer-to-Peer Discussions with Collecteur

We had a discussion with Evrim Oralkan, one of the founders of Collecteur, which provides digital public access to private art collections. They too are a PBC, and at NEW INC, and as such, they are kindred spirits. Their view of work, public good and the service a compamy can give to society is evolving much like ours. What does it take to build a movement? What does being a PBC mean? How can we use being a PBC to further our mission? If one could rise about IRS distinctions about for-profit companies and not-for-profit institutions, how would a for-profit company serve its community? How do we become a better PBC? We both believe that PBCs are the future of business and, in many ways philanthropy. How do we help make that happen?


A red shirt with “LOVE” in ELIA Frames.

A red shirt with “LOVE” in ELIA Frames.

A blue shirt with “PEACE” in ELIA Frames.

A blue shirt with “PEACE” in ELIA Frames.

On the Thursday before the holiday break, I awoke with a kidney stone. Holy cow! It was painful. In the doctor's office, I read about an article in Money magazine ablout Merch Amazon, where people sell design intensive T-shirts. Amazon handles everything but the design. I've been wanting to wear ELIA T-shirts with funky saying on them. So over the holiday break, from the comfort of my in-law's couch, while the kids learned how to build with Legos, I learned the basics of Adobe Illustrator. With it, I designed a few shirts and posted them on Amazon. They have words in ELIA Frames, words like love and peace. They could have sayings of your choosing. For example, one person requested a shirt in ELIA Frames that says "All leaders are readers." (Harry Truman) I made one with a quote from Hannibal and one with "Never Quit!" on it. I'm looking forward to wearing these as power t-shirts; they will be something that will set the tone for my days but not intimidate those around me. Both new designs are working their way through the Amazon approval process. Search on Amazon under ELIAFrames for the list of shirt designs we have posted. We'll try to post a new shirt a day. Ping us if you would like a shirt with something specific on it. We'll design it, post it for you, and send you a link.

Fundraising and Strategy

As we start the year, we are evaluating potential goals, needs and initiatives, in addition to internal practices and professional goals. Earlier this week we continued our conversation regarding fundraising and strategy. We will delineate each of these initiatives in later posts, but the initiatives we will focus on are:

  1. Fulfilling Kickstarter Reward Delivery
  2. ELIA Frame demonstration events in NYC
  3. Building relationships with strategic partners
  4. Finishing the ELIA TouchPrinter
  5. Mechanical Keyboard Beta Testing
  6. Sharing our creative assets (testimonial videos and the game).