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A different kind of origin story

May 10, 2018

A different kind of origin story

What is it about origin stories that we find so fascinating? Steve in his garage. Phil Knight selling Nike’s out of the trunk of his car… Origin stories remind us that everything big starts small and that even Bezos used to be a mere mortal.

As we cross the milestone of shipping our first packs, we bring you an origin story of our own. Why do we exist? How? And for who? But there’s one key difference between our story and the others - you.

You’re a part of it.



Watson began as a quest to find a backpack appropriate for work, meetings, and commuting. There just wasn’t anything out there that was stylish, minimal, and efficient to use. Nowadays our work day might take us to the office, a coffee shop, a walking meeting, or an exclusive dinner. And through it all we carry a backpack. But backpacks have remained virtually un-evolved for the past 50 years - the most evolution you’ll see on those packs is a laptop sleeve… Sure, there were some successful features on current packs in the space, but the existing options were greatly under-serving this new purpose. We took the idea that this needs to evolve and took it all the way. Stripped away everything we knew about a pack a rebuilt from ground zero for a modern purpose. A first-principles pack if you will.

Cue the user research. We knew our customers were being underserved, but it was important for us to back that up with data and systematically address every pain point. We polled our community - you! We spent thousands of hours observing how people used (and tried to use) their packs as they went through their daily routines. What do people actually want to achieve with their packs on a daily basis? It’s funny but it turns out most people do the same 2-3 things! They need fast access to different items depending on if they’re at work or commuting, they need it stand up so they don’t have to lean it against various furniture all the time, and they need to feel good wearing it. Our user research actually showed that how the user feels wearing our pack is just as important as all those features. We needed to reinvent what it means to wear a pack.

We didn’t just want to make incremental improvements on these design flaws. We’re the kind of people who, if we’re going to buy something, we want it to be among the best available within my budget. It should be well designed, thoughtful, and something that will last for a long time. We don’t want to have to look for a better one in 6-months to a year. With Watson, the pursuit of fast access led us to eliminate zippers altogether and use a spring-loaded button instead. This led to a hardshell structure which enables the pack to stand-up as well. Finally we chose materials and a silhouette that felt modern, premium, and polished. The result is a whole new professional carrying experience. Our vision for the future of the everyday carry.

Finally, starting something of your own means
you get to decide what you stand for. We knew innovation was important to us, but also sustainability. We went out of our way to source sustainable materials, manufacture domestically, and create something that is long lasting. It’s not obvious from the look of our product, but it doesn’t have to be. Any company can make these efforts if it’s important to them.                                                                                                                                                                We were recently asked about AI in the future and “won’t big data be able to just combine all the best features into the ultimate pack?” Yes. It will. That’s exactly how you teach AI - show it analogous things. But we think the successful products of the future will need to combine technologies in new ways - not just optimize the existing ways. And this is work that only humans can do - so we feel good about that!                                                                                                                                              We like to think that you, our readers and customers, are our (small) big data. Learning from you and getting to know you has been our secret weapon. Last week, we finally shipped our first orders and there’s no way we could have done it without this community. The ways in which each of you push boundaries every day are the reason Watson exists. We can’t wait to meet you with the most efficient pack on the planet, so you can focus on what matters.

With gratitude,

Val + the Watson Team

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Why the wait?
We've just launched and we're a bit overwhelmed with orders at the moment! We thank you for your patience during this busy time.