On July 10th, we had the co-founder and CEO of Palette, Calvin Chu (Mechatronics ’13), walk attendees through the development and growth of his startup, Palette — from idea to award-winning product. Palette is the product of the Mechatronics 4th-year Design Project for which Calvin and his team envisioned a hardware peripheral that could provide better control than a standard mouse and keyboard setup. The prototypes for Palette from start to present were also on display so that attendees could get a hands-on look at how the product came to fruition. Calvin described a core challenge he faced as an engineer trying to start a business, one which many others may share:


“I knew how to build prototypes but I didn’t know how to build a company”.


He explained that the path from concept to business came with a steep learning curve, also allowing him opportunities to experience business development first-hand. Calvin also provided great insight into the entrepreneurship resources available at UW, as well as those available internationally such as the HAX accelerator, an exclusive hardware startup resource in China. Palette was one of ten companies worldwide accepted into HAX and Calvin took us through the significant design and production decisions made there that made the product what it is today.


When asked how he learned to develop the Palette brand in parallel to its product, Calvin explains one of his brand philosophies that helped turn Palette into a reputable company:


“A brand is a feeling – it’s not what you say about it; it’s what other people say about it”.

Attendees got an insightful look into how a UW student went from having an idea to running an award-winning startup full-time and had the opportunity to network and ask questions of their own. Make sure you attend our next and final event of the term, the EntSoc Mixer at the Communitech Data Hub on July 20th, for an opportunity to meet other successful entrepreneurs! Space is limited, so get your tickets early.

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