The Computer in Your Keyboard: Redefining Technology Production with Pentaform, with Joon-sang Lee, Co-Founder of Pentaform [Podcast #84]

In the post-pandemic world, the need to access technology is higher than ever. Whether it is for working remotely, which has risen in popularity even after the lockdowns were lifted, online education or something else, nothing can be separated from the digital sphere in our time. Technological devices, however, are not really eco-friendly to produce and have become luxurious items rather than tools for daily use. At least, that is what Joon-sang Lee, our guest in this episode and the co-founder of Pentaform Computers, says. We had a very insightful discussion about production, eco-friendly technology production and market demand.

Pentaform is revolutionising the way we look at the production of technology. Their computer within a keyboard Abacus is a much more sustainable and affordable alternative to most traditional computers whilst offering all the functionality a regular computer would. It is ready to use right out of the box and can be plugged into any monitor or TV.

The Importance of Accessibility to Tech

When we started our conversation with Joon by asking how the idea for something like this came about, he said that “Tech was essentially becoming more of a luxury rather than a tool” which is a notion they disagree with. At the core of their project is the desire to “give everyone around the world the right tools to participate in the digital economy.” 

However, the idea of creating something that will be for the benefit of people whilst being environmentally friendly is not new. So, we talked about what sets Pentaform apart from others in their quest as well as how they decided the time for a product like this was right. Timing is a crucial factor when it comes to market research. How did they validate that there was a demand for a product like this now? Joon says that it is always difficult to pinpoint the right time, however, their focus is usually on the “markets that were growing very fast but that was very much overlooked by the existing players.” 

Short-lived Hype or Long-lasting Interest?

Pentaform has gathered $350k of investment from Kickstarter. Yet, how does one decide whether a product or service gathers long-term interest to be considered a market demand? How can you know if it isn’t a temporary hype? Joon explains how their approach to market demand, especially people like his Co-Founder Sam who is the designer, differs from that of the traditional Silicon Valley. 

After that, we discussed the competitive landscape. We asked Joon why any of their competitors have created something like their product and what it tells them. Then, we talked about their production journey since they are a hardware company. Where do they produce? Why? How did the pandemic affect the process? 

Last but not least, Joon kindly shared with us the details about their sales. What is their gross margin? How much have they made so far from sales? What is their game plan going forward after Kickstarter? What kind of partnerships they are employing to raise their sales and make it easier to reach people?

All in all, Pentaform’s Abacus is a product with a very promising future. As our finishing remarks, we inquired about their next biggest challenge. If you are curious about what awaits Pentaform now or whether you can join their team, you are very welcome to listen to the episode above. 

You can also read Pentaform Presents AbacusBasic: Keyboard PC for the New Digital Age for a detailed portrait of their product.