In 2008, Zeo was a startup in the health and wellness space, with a mission to help people measure and improve their sleep. They had a patent pending technology for measuring EEG (electroencephalograms) using dry electrodes, which made it possible for them to measure sleep with a comparable level of precision to sleep studies performed in sleep labs.


When we engaged with Zeo, they were developing their first product, the Zeo Personal Sleep Coach. The hardware was more or less done. The company was in the process of ramping up a contract manufacturer in southern China to bring up their manufacturing line and start mass production. The firmware running on the device, however, was a work in progress. While the core technology was solid and well validated, the actual product requirements, user experience and V1 feature set was fluid, the feature list was too long, and engineering was running out of time to complete development and go through SQA and system validation to support the production schedule.

Our approach

We engaged with Ben Rubin, the Founder and CTO, as well as Dave Dickinson, the CEO, to review the state of the product definition. We helped the product team look at the potential feature list with a strategic perspective, putting user needs and wants first to come up with a prioritization framework. We also helped the team separate functional requirements from technical requirements and provided new templates and frameworks for product definition to make the process more efficient. We helped develop a phased project plan for firmware development with milestones that matched the hardware schedule. Lastly, we took over ownership of the overall system specification as well as the manufacturing test software specification with the objective of completing these documents and getting buy-in from all stakeholders, so that engineering can move forward quickly with development and testing.


In 2-3 months Zeo was able to force-rank the feature list to come up with the definition for a minimum viable product, created a viable development project plan for the firmware, locked down the product requirements and functional specifications and set up the team for successful execution against their production and product release timeline. The product was subsequently released in June of the following year with a solid feature set that required only minor tweaks in the years ahead.


“Elaine astounded me with her work. She brings an astute sense of organization and drive to any project – the result is speedy and insightful results and new tools to approach future problems. I highly recommend her work and would be lucky to be able to collaborate with her in the future.”

– Ben Rubin, Founder and CTO, Zeo Inc.

  • Company: Zeo
  • Product: Wearable sleep monitor with bedside display