Tian as a guest speaker at the Wearable Technology Show in London, 2014
February 24, 1994
|Alma mater||Marianopolis College (attended)|
|Occupation||CEO of Neptune|
|Home town||Brossard, Quebec, Canada|
|Awards||2015 Thiel Fellowship|
Simon Tian (born February 24, 1994) is a Canadian tech entrepreneur and inventor. He is the founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of consumer electronics and wearable technology company Neptune. Born and raised in a suburb of Montreal, Canada, Tian dropped out of pre-university college at the age of 17 to start Neptune, and, as of late 2017, has raised around $6 million from private investors as well as a total of more than $2 million from crowdfunding sources alone. Tian is a 2015 Thiel Fellow, having been awarded $100,000 by PayPal co-founder and venture capitalist Peter Thiel through the Thiel Foundation, and was named one of the top 30 Quebecers under 30 by Les Affaires in 2014.
Tian was born to Chinese Canadian parents in Montreal, Quebec, in 1994. He was raised in Brossard, Quebec, a suburb of Montreal, and attended secondary school at Jean de la Mennais College, a French-speaking school in La Prairie, Quebec. Tian is fluent in English, French, and Mandarin.
Tian started Neptune in January 2013, while he was 17 and still studying at Marianopolis College, a pre-university college (CEGEP) in Westmount, Quebec. Before building a prototype or incorporating a company, Tian posted some conceptual drawings of a smartwatch, the Neptune Pine, on a website he built using Weebly, issued a press release through PRWeb announcing the product along with delivery dates, and proceeded to receive more than 20,000 orders for the device in a few weeks.
Tian then dropped out of school and traveled to China to meet with contract manufacturers to have the device developed. In November 2013, he launched a crowdfunding campaign for the Pine on Kickstarter. Within 27 hours, the campaign surpassed its funding goal of $100,000, and ultimately went on to raise more than $800,000 in 30 days.
The device started shipping by August 2014, and eventually became widely available through Best Buy and Amazon, generating around $5 million in total retail sales. It was prominently featured in the 2017 film The Fate of the Furious, the CBS TV series Extant produced by Steven Spielberg and starring Halle Berry, as well as the music video for the song Smartphones by Trey Songz. The Pine has gotten mixed reviews from the press, generally praising its extensive set of features, while criticizing its large size.
In March 2015, Tian announced the Neptune Suite through an Indiegogo campaign, raising close to $1.2 million in a month. Christopher Mims of the Wall Street Journal described the Suite as "a literal interpretation of the fact that a smartwatch, smartphone and tablet are all just different size windows on the same set of apps and services." Daniel Cooper of Engadget commented on the ambitious nature of the product vision, writing, "Technology is all about big ideas, and this one from Simon Tian will probably need its own aircraft hangar." Cliff Kuang of Wired called the Suite "a taste of what computing should be in 2025", and the Verge wrote, "the idea of putting all the brains and power of mobile computing into something attached to your body instead of in a pocket or bag is wildly attractive."
In 2017, Steve Mann, the inventor of the world's first general-purpose wearable computer as well as high-dynamic-range imaging (HDR), joined Neptune as a Chief Scientist. Mann is commonly referred to as the "father of wearable computing" by the mainstream press. As of late 2017, in addition to the total of more than $2 million raised through public crowdfunding sources, Neptune has also reportedly raised around $6 million from private investors.
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