Calvin Chu has travelled from Waterloo, Ontario to San Francisco, California to Shenzen, China all to develop his startup, Palette. What started as a fourth year design project during Calvin's Mechatronics degree at the University of Waterloo quickly grew into an international entrepreneurial pursuit.
Palette is a freeform, tactile interface that gives hands-on control of your favourite software.
Palette is a hardware platform made up of a variety of modules that lets you build a physical interface customized to your personal needs. Each module has a single physical input, like a button, dial or a slider. You snap together modules like Lego, no coding or soldering required!
With Palette you can have a tool that is personalized, increasing your experience and productivity.
I wanted to pursue the idea further, and knew that it wasn't as impossible as it sounds."
- Calvin Chu, Co-founder & CEO, Palette
Calvin took full advantage of the University of Waterloo's entrepreneurship resources; he was a student in BET 300 at the Conrad Centre and participated in the VeloCity campus program. Calvin attributes much of his success to the entrepreneurship community at Waterloo and to working with Dr. Wayne Chang, who coached him through one-on-one meetings and helped him build his network.
As Palette continued to grow, Calvin and fellow Mechatronics graduate Ashish Bidadi moved to San Francisco to further pursue their company. Calvin and Ashish share a passion for industrial design and human-machine interaction; in their roles with Palette, Calvin is responsible for the mechanical design and electronics while Ashish is focused on software and the website.
In the spring of 2013, the team applied to the prestigious HAXLR8R program (pronounced "hack-ccelerator"); Calvin and Ashish were the only Canadian startup of the 10 selected from the many applicants located around the world. The hardware accelerator program took the young Waterloo Engineering alumni to Shenzen, China, the heart of electronics manufacturing, where they have been able to test various components of their products and establish relationships with manufacturers and suppliers.
Just last week, Palette completed an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign, raising over $150,000 and exceeding both of their stretch goals. To see what all of the excitement is about, check out Palette's demo video. The first Palette Kits will ship later this year.
Hannah Furlong is an Environment and Business student at the University of Waterloo, currently on a co-op term as the Communications and Marketing Assistant at the Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre.