Portable Scores – Case Study

Initially the result of a frustrated game of table tennis at a New Years party in 2006, Portable Scores is the story of how WYZGYZ got good at prototyping, design for manufacture, and hardware startups.

In 2011 WYZGYZ was started, and one of the first internal projects was the portable electronic scoreboard. A few prototypes were made based on the Arduino, using wood enclosures, with what seemed like miles of wire. These prototypes were nice, but not manufacturable in any kind of volume. It was the beginning of a lot of experimentation into different design options, from frosted acrylic, to blacked out acrylic with LCD-like segments. Circuit board manufacturing was a new foray, too.

In early 2012 the scoreboard was accepted into HAXLR8R, a 12 week hardware startup accelerator in Shenzhen, China. At this point, it made sense to separate the scoreboard from WYZGYZ into a separate entity called Portable Scores. While in China, Portable Scores learned about the manufacturing process, design for manufacturing, surface mount electronics design, and the whole world of hardware startups.

After returning from China, Portable Scores ran a Kickstarter campaign that failed miserably for a lot of reasons. It picked up a couple co-founders, but that also didn’t go so well. In early 2013, a second attempt at Kickstarter also failed. By this time Portable Scores had been trying to raise funds for a year, had developed many units that were in the field with beta testers or sold to customers, and had prototypes and complete designs for a completely manufacturable, injection molded, extremely attractive product called the DigiTally.

At the end of 2013, Portable Scores entered a zombie state, no longer producing units, no longer attempting to sell them.

While Portable Scores hasn’t made it yet, there is still hope. The product itself looks great and is ready for production when the necessary resources are available (namely a team and money).

Portable Scores has also been a tremendous growth experience, transforming WYZGYZ from software expertise to include hardware as well, which has translated into additional clients and faster time to market on subsequent products.