Smart Desk King Sells $10,000,000+

Duy Huynh

In Episode #701, Nathan interviews Duy Huynh. He’s the founder of Autonomous.ai which builds smart office products to help people work smarter.

Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – Zero to One
  • What CEO do you follow? – Stewart Butterfield
  • Favorite online tool? — Google Analytics
  • How many hours of sleep do you get?— 4
  • If you could let your 20-year old self, know one thing, what would it be? – “Focus on and build something really helpful to people”

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 00:50 – Nathan introduces Duy to the show
  • 01:20 – Subscribe to Youtube to see Duy using a smart desk
  • 01:32 – Smart desk helps work smart the whole day
  • 01:48 – “We don’t care much about the money”
  • 02:02 – Autonomous’ mission is how they can help companies’ work smarter
  • 02:51 – Autonomous wants to reinvent every single item in an office
  • 03:15 – One of Autonomous’ products is the Cardboard
    • 03:30 – It is created for people who want an affordable standing desk
    • 04:05 – It sells for $19
    • 04:17 – Cardboard is a fairly new product
  • 04:42 – Autonomous was founded in 2014
  • 05:10 – Autonomous has shipped around 100K units
  • 05:16 – The best-seller is the SmartDesk
    • 05:38 – It can keep you healthy and stay active in office
  • 05:50 – Some of Nathan’s friends have bought the Smartdesk
  • 06:07 – Autonomous has raised $200K
  • 06:18 – Prior to Autonomous, Duy really liked smart products
  • 06:46 – Duy started Autonomous with his co-founders in a small apartment
  • 08:25 – The seed money has helped Duy make the prototypes
  • 09:00 – Duy has spent $100-200K on the products before raising the seed round
  • 09:09 – Duy traveled to find the best suppliers
  • 09:30 – Team size
    • 09:43 – 4 are working in the NY office
    • 09:46 – 10 in California and some in Vietnam and China
    • 10:10 – Total of 40 people
  • 10:22 – Autonomous is currently cash flow positive
  • 10:35 – Duy isn’t looking at raising another round at the moment
  • 11:00 – Monthly expenses
  • 11:40 – Autonomous is doing over $10M annually
  • 12:18 – Most of the customers are founders
  • 12:37 – Autonomous currently relies on word-of mouth
  • 12:49 – Autonomous had a Kickstarter campaign
  • 13:05 – Autonomous made $250K from their Kickstarter campaign
    • 13:20 – It was for a thousand units
  • 13:58 – Duy wanted to maintain a fair margin in the supply chain
  • 14:36 – “They pay for what they get”
  • 15:00 – Competitors’ margin
  • 15:19 – Gross profit
  • 16:04 – The second and third best-selling products are the chair and stool, respectively
  • 16:38 – Duy wouldn’t take a deal from Herman Miller at the moment
  • 16:41 – Autonomous isn’t a furniture company
  • 17:19 – On paper, Duy is the single founder but the co-founders have equity as well
  • 18:50 – The Famous Five

3 Key Points:

  1. Smart products shouldn’t just offer convenience, but make your life healthy and active too.
  2. Price your product fairly—the value of the product should match the price.
  3. Create something that will be really helpful for people.

Resources Mentioned:

  • The Top Inbox – The site Nathan uses to schedule emails to be sent later, set reminders in inbox, track opens, and follow-up with email sequences
  • Klipfolio – Track your business performance across all departments for FREE
  • Hotjar – Nathan uses Hotjar to track what you’re doing on this site. He gets a video of each user visit like where they clicked and scrolled to make the site a better experience
  • Acuity Scheduling – Nathan uses Acuity to schedule his podcast interviews and appointments
  • Host Gator– The site Nathan uses to buy his domain names and hosting for the cheapest price possible
  • Audible– Nathan uses Audible when he’s driving from Austin to San Antonio (1.5-hour drive) to listen to audio books
  • Show Notes provided by Mallard Creatives