Hardware is the New Software

Grand St. Reimagines Retail for Personalized Tech: Hardware Has Changed, So Should the Way It’s Sold

Hackers from the deadpool try a different approach for selling consumer electronics.
aviary3 Grand St. Reimagines Retail for Personalized Tech: Hardware Has Changed, So Should the Way Its Sold

Ms. Peyton (Photo: @msg via AmandaPeyton.com)

All that hardware-is-the-new-software talk you’ve been hearing will soon get an equally avant-garde means of distribution, courtesy of a new venture called Grand St. “We are re-thinking online electronics retail for this new era in hardware,” Grand St. cofounder Amanda Peyton, a Y Combinator alum, told Betabeat.

Between the financial model for hardware shifting–with pre-sales on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo or product development through Quirky–not to mention 3D printing and rise of the maker, “The experience of finding and buying new personal technology needs to adapt as well,” Ms. Peyton wrote on her blog yesterday, in an introduction to Grand St.

“The biggest players are the same–Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Amazon,” Ms. Peyton added. “Given all the above changes, surely this segment would have to shift.” As one of her commenters noted, working capital requirements for retail deals is a big drag on getting new hardware to the masses. Presumably Grand St.–a reference to Williamsburg, natch–wants to fix that.

Ms. Peyton, an MBA from MIT, cofounded MessageParty, a since-shuttered location app. Her two cofounders at Grand St. are Betabeat poachable Joe Lallouz and his partner-in-crime Aaron Henshaw, both developers from the dearly departed Hashable.

What exactly does the trio mean by “personal technology”? A Nike Fuelband, a Makerbot, your very own hipster cooking device? “Personal technology is anything in your life with an on button,” Ms. Peyton explained by email. “We would definitely be open to selling all three, though we are planning to focus on more independent producers in the beginning.”

Ironically, a big part of this emerging push towards hardware has been facilitated by software, Ms. Peyton explained on her blog. She elaborated on that in an email to Betabeat, pointing to, “software/hardware combos like the Jambox, which can be customized from the web, or the Lark which tracks your sleep and gives you insight via iPhone app.”

Customizing those iPhones and Android devices you can’t seem to put down will play a big role in this sector, Ms. Peyton predicted. “This creates a huge demand for the right kind of customer service that can educate consumers on these new devices.”

While the “gadget-obsessed web nerds,” go about building out Grand St., early adopters can visit the placeholder site for a chance to win cash, credit, or a donation to charity playing a game called Snake. We’re pretty sure you can beat Betabeat’s score, a big, fat “0.”

Follow Nitasha Tiku on Twitter or via RSS. ntiku@observer.com