Steve McGowan: Keyboard Product Innovation Combined With Humanistic Customer Service

June 6, 2022

Matias makes computer keyboards and sells them through distributors around the world. Our focus is on keyboard product innovation combined with humanistic customer service.

Tell us about yourself?

Edgar Matias and I founded the company over 20 years ago, after Edgar invented the Half Keyboard, an innovative keyboard technology that allows people who only have the use of one hand to touch type at close to their former two handed touch typing speed. We followed that up with other innovative keyboards that fill niches in the computer world. We wanted to shake up the world by making keyboards that improve people’s lives. I personally am a Chartered Professional Accountant, and used to work at a large corporation. The entrepreneur life is much more varied and exciting!

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Given all the supply chain issues that have occurred over the last two years, my advice to myself would be to remember that resiliency in the supply chain is arguably more important than efficiency in the supply chain, so don’t be shy about building in some protections and redundancies to keep things flowing smoothly.

What problem does your business solve?

We fill keyboard niches that the larger keyboard companies choose not to fill. For example, Apple used to make a wired aluminum keyboard that many companies loved, but discontinued it in favour of a wireless keyboard that was super slim. We created a worthy successor to this discontinued wired aluminum keyboard, and filled an important gap in the market for our customers.

Other gaps and niches we fill include: one of the world’s only remaining Dvorak keyboard made, one-handed keyboards, backlit wireless keyboards in the Apple style, the Tactile Pro Keyboard which evokes the traditional switches and clicky feel of the 1980s Apple Extended Keyboard, multi-colour backlighting in wired scissor keyboards, separated ergonomic mechanical keyboards with tenting and tilting, etc.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

With the original Half Keyboard, we were trying to solve the problem of typing with one hand while holding your Palm Pilot in the other hand. As it turned out, the Palm Pilot became obsolete a short time later with the ascendency of the BlackBerry, which later became obsolete a number of years after that when the iPhone won the smartphone wars.

However, like all entrepreneurial businesses, we are constantly innovating and pivoting. Although the Half Keyboard did not succeed as a companion for the Palm Pilot, it has been remarkably successful as an important assistive technology tool for one-handed people.

Today, assistive technology is a small part of our business, and the problems we are trying to solve mostly involve filling the gaps in the keyboard market that Apple chooses not to fill. Corporations, schools, governments, and retail consumers are all the beneficiaries of these keyboard solutions.

What is your magic sauce?

We are often one of the first companies to introduce a new keyboard technology, but paradoxically, we have also had a lot of success “saving” a keyboard technology that has been abandoned by others. When you combine that with customer service from people who care, it’s a good combination.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

We have a whole range of keyboard innovations lined up for the next 5 years. Also, after working on our own mice for the last 2 years, we will also be launching our own mice line later this year. They should be a nice complement to our keyboard lines.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

Like all entrepreneurs, challenges and issues are a daily occurrence. That being said, probably our biggest issue was the great recession of 2008-2009, where demand collapsed, financing dried up, we had to lay off staff, and had to refocus the business to survive. Obviously, we did survive, and like any challenge, what we learned from it made us stronger.

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

To learn more about Matias, check out our website at:
www.matias.ca

or our social media presence at:

Instagram:
@matiasworldwide

Facebook:
@matiasworldwide

Twitter:
@MatiasWorldwide

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