AWS Startups Blog

eero Co-founder and CTO Nate Hardison shares lessons learned and rewards for designing with security in mind

“How many of you have heard of eero, or use it in your homes actually?” Nate Hardison, eero’s co-founder and CTO of Hardware, asked. “Show of hands.”

At the AWS Loft in San Francisco, many hands went up—hands belonging to the owners of startups, small businesses, and enterprise companies. “Oh, fantastic,” said Adam Fitzgerald, of Amazon Web Services, who was interviewing Hardison at this event.

Eero, which produces the world’s first whole home WiFi system, has grown a lot since it was founded in 2014.  Its first product, the eero WiFi system, started shipping in 2016. The system, Hardison explained, consists of “a set of three identical devices known as eeros. The first one plugs into your modem and replaces your router. The other two units you get to plug in wherever you want in your house…[forming] a mesh WiFi network that blankets your whole home in seamless, reliable coverage.”

Connectivity, to Hardison, is “the electricity of the 21st century. It is the foundation upon which all these new experiences are being created. We depend on it for entertainment or communication.” Unreliable WiFi, then, can be a serious handicap. Using a fittingly electricity-based metaphor, Hardison shared that his “lightbulb moment” came when he was talking to his grandparents, whose technological savvy extends only so far as having an iPad for the sole purpose of emailing their grandchildren. “They hated that [the iPad] couldn’t connect in the far corner of their house,” he explained.

Eero makes it possible for anyone—regardless of technical ability—to set up fast, reliable WiFi throughout their entire home. Advanced encryption and security protocols also ensure that network traffic is safe, automatically, so users don’t need to bother with checking for and installing security patches on their own. Updates, to address bugs and vulnerabilities, also happen automatically over the air, without the customer having to lift a finger. All of this is important, Fitzgerald noted appreciatively, because “general customers aren’t security experts or privacy experts…[so] making intelligent choices on the behalf of your customers is sort of a critical part of making a product they can believe in or trust.”

When Fitzgerald complimented the eero’s external beauty, as well, calling it “very sleek looking, really great integration into your home, into your home décor,” Hardison acknowledged that the eero’s elegant design is part of its functionality. “We want [customers] to place it out in the open, because if they think it’s so ugly that they just want to stick it in a cupboard or under the bed, it’s actually going to impact negatively the product performance,” he explained.

Later, during the audience Q&A, someone asked where the name “eero” came from. Hardison replied that it is “actually a complete mispronunciation” of the name of Eero Saarinen, a Finnish American, mid-century modern architect. “We loved his simplistic, yet functional design, and the name itself for letters, lots of vowels. Looked super cool.”