ShopLocket was founded in late 2011 by Katherine Hague and Andrew Louis and was acquired by PCH in early 2014. The HIGHLINE portfolio company started as a simple way to sell from any website and grew into a platform that helps entrepreneurs bring their products to life and into the hands of their consumers.
PCH is behind some of the biggest hardware products in market today, designing custom manufacturing solutions for everyone from promising young startups to Fortune 500 companies. Today, in addition to running ShopLocket’s ecommerce platform Katherine, Andrew and the ShopLocket team now run a number of other initiatives for PCH including TheBlueprint.com, a content resource for hardware entrepreneurs, and HardwareHackathon.org, a global series of hardware hackathons bringing together the best and brightest hardware entrepreneurs from around the world.
About Katherine Hague
Katherine is co-founder of ShopLocket, which was acquired by PCH International in January 2014. Katherine now acts as VP of The Blueprint for PCH, a site providing educational resources for the next generation of hardware innovation. Katherine was recently listed as one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women, and has also been listed as one of Canada’s top tech stars by the Financial Post and as one of the 5 women to watch in wearable technology.
Q&A with Katherine Hague
1. How did the Extreme Startups (now HIGHLINE) influence your startup journey?
Extreme Startups was truly the launchpad for ShopLocket. Extreme Startups put us in front of the mentors and connectors that we needed to take our idea to market. It also provided us with direct access to investors who supported us throughout the entire accelerator experience and who believed in our vision enough to lead our seed round a month after completing the accelerator. It was a combination of this early mentorship and funding that equipped us with the tools we needed to survive the first year and that set us on the trajectory towards product/market fit, and ultimately a successful exit.
What was the moment ShopLocket felt validated?
In January 2013, Toronto-based InteraXon (making of the Muse headband) used the ShopLocket platform to take pre-orders at CES after their successful Indiegogo campaign. In one week at CES, InteraXon did more sales than we had ever done on the platform up until that time. This is when we realized that the hardware vertical, specifically companies post-crowdfunding was where we solved the biggest pain point and were where we needed to focus our efforts.
From that time onward, we focused all of our product development, sales, and marketing on this type of user and quickly began gaining traction in the market. It was just over a year after this aha moment that ShopLocket sold to PCH.
How did you decide PCH International was the right fit?
It’s rare to find a company as large as PCH that has such an entrepreneurial mindset. In addition to that, they not only believed in what we had been doing, but they shared the same vision for what we saw coming in the future. With the resources and talent that PCH has available and with the combined vision that we both have, it seemed like the perfect marriage to tackle the hardware industry’s greatest challenges.
What are you focused on now?
Working under PCH, we are currently focusing the bulk of our efforts on both content and events for the hardware community. Right now we are putting together a hardware hackathon in Toronto that is going to combine makers of many different disciplines to allow them to go from idea to prototype in 54 hours. More details can be found on hardwarehackathon.org.
What advice do you have for new founders joining HIGHLINE?
Absorb as much information as you can. Especially as a young entrepreneur, it’s easy to throw on your blinders and move forward with an idea that might not be what the market truly needs. Get really good at iterating and at doing customer development. Also, remember that being part of HIGHLINE gives you access to both mentors and alumni network that have been through many of the challenges that you are facing. Lean on their advice, and know that you don’t always have to do it all alone.