It All Started With a Dream…and a Watch: Hatch Duo’s Startup Story

Hatch Duo incidentally Comes To Life

As Jonathan Thai and Michael Yim, the co-founders of Hatch Duo, navigated through the streets of the San Francisco Bay Area, inspiration struck at a time when they craved to “pave their own path.” It was through this phrase that they decided to use their creativity and passion to begin crafting Aggregate Watches. Little did they know, these watches would be the fuel to eventually launch their own design firm…


Taking firsthand experiences from working at some of the top design / engineering agencies and tech companies in the Bay Area, we realized just how many people lacked the proper design and engineering resources to properly launch their great ideas. In our eyes, most overhead firms only offered design concepts for a hefty price all while disregarding design intent. Additionally, we often witnessed industrial design firms outsourcing engineering firms, thus driving up costs and extending time to market for clients.

Through these observations, we found ourselves asking: were design studios considering business economics of the clients they served? Were they truly integrating engineering from the get-go so that development times were shorter? Was engineering included as part of the brand development, so they could champion design all the way to the shelf?

Soon enough, we saw this as a market opportunity: we could pave our own path by integrating industrial design and product engineering that tailored to the fellow startup realm. We would be more nimble, and weave engineering development into the larger brand vision, and do so in such a way that our clients obtain tremendous value at lower investment amounts, especially in the Silicon Valley / Bay Area.

As a startup ourselves, we would understand certain limitations that come with building a brand from the ground up. This understanding, along with our extensive product design and E-commerce business backgrounds with Aggregate Watches, inspired us to launch our very own product design consultancy in 2018, Hatch Duo.

What’s Up With THe Name?

In the process of creating a brand name and logo, we took the concepts of the duality of design and engineering, and visualized it into our ethos: “Hatch” derives from the understanding that each client needs a starting point. Similar to when a chicken lays an egg, it eventually results in the creation of new life; or in this case, the discovery and development of a great product. Meanwhile, “Duo” pertains to the idea that it takes both of our backgrounds in industrial design and mechanical engineering in order to achieve optimal results.

To us, it is all about collaboration.

Jonathan Thai & Michael Yim, Co-Founders of Hatch Duo

Together, Hatch Duo sees itself as cultivators of clients’ ideas. Although we may possess different sets of expertise, together, we are able to combine forces to hatch any product idea to life. We see ideas as little eggs waiting to break out and fly, and hope to be the duo behind that development.

So, Who Exactly Is Hatch Duo?

Hatch Duo understands clients’ constraints and prides itself on being a “startup for startups.” Our drive is motivated by building up brands through the lens of product development; utilizing industrial design as the visionary strategy and mechanical engineering as the implementation to reality. We believe that a healthy balance of both fields are needed in order to bring any product successfully to market, and ultimately, create an innovative and sustainable experience. As creatives, we seek projects that will allow us to reach our highest potential, and most of all, challenge us.

In a way, we (designers) paint the picture and roadmap to where we think the product should go, according to our unique perspective of the world, and the people in it.

Jonathan Thai, Co-Founder of Hatch Duo

Here’s how we look at it: from a design standpoint, we have primarily been on one side of the spectrum in producing these results via industrial design, packaging, and graphic design.  A common misconception of designers is that we are here to “make objects look nice.” In reality, however, designers shape the vision, interaction, and experience of the product through a deep understanding of both the businesses’ and end-consumer’s needs. In a way, designers paint the picture and roadmap to where the product should go, according to their unique perspective of the world and the people in it.

On the contrary, engineering is a very scientific approach based on execution: behind every great product is a great engineer. For instance, a designer can visualize this awesome, utopian product that everyone on the marketing team and C-suite buy into, but ultimately, it is the engineers who have to build and make it work.

By working with one or the other, designing and engineering are very different at the core, but play in the same field of hardware and product design. Many clients come to us asking to differentiate between the two because they aren’t quite sure what the difference is, or who is doing what.

Industrial design and mechanical engineering often go hand-in-hand in early-stage product development. While designers find ways to integrate everything that makes a brand memorable and embody it into one product, engineers drive the product through execution in order to make the vision a reality. There lies the stem of many conflicts between the designer and engineer, and Hatch Duo embraces this push-and-pull.

What Makes Hatch Duo Different Compared To Other Design Firms?

How do you do it for startups with limited resources and funding, but awesome product ideas? Additionally, how do we ensure your own startups’ success? As you can see, we are pretty young. We have a lean attitude and directly serve startups. Most of our clients hope to establish a brand, ship their first product, or raise a seed round. That requires a leaner, more targeted approach with a sensitive understanding of budget. It also takes a willingness to take on risk with our clients: we view ourselves as long-time partners in the companies we collaborate with. Through flexible investment structures, we can collaborate with clients to reduce upfront costs by taking a stake in equity, revenue share, or alternative courses of action that will guarantee your product lands on shelves and in the hands of consumers.

Because we own our own product E-commerce business, we are able to understand how the product development cycle fits in with the overall business model. How can our competitors know what is best for clients if they themselves have not started a product business and charge extraordinary prices without follow through?

Designing For the Future

In the bigger picture, Hatch Duo’s competitive edge is to provide renowned “Silicon Valley quality” design for realistic and attainable pricing. Products are no longer just “objects” people use. More recently, the evolution of products has become a more holistic experience: anything from brand packaging, to user experience, and even how customers shop for products. We strive to be the ones to find ways to integrate everything that makes a brand memorable, into one experience, embodied into a product. Not only do we want to help deliver tremendous value to entrepreneurs and early-stage startups, but we aspire to be accessible through a fluid process that is precision-tailored to the startups’ needs and objectives.

We live and breathe the same type of life to the people we serve, which is why and how Hatch Duo is able to empathize with a client’s business state. Purposeful design is in our forte–we don’t feel accomplished until the products hit the shelves. All those brilliant ideas are in your head, and you don’t even know it yet. Let’s create something that can change lives. Let’s hatch awesome.

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