The China trip was only supposed to last 10 days. For Konstantinos Karatsevidis, the 23-year-old CEO of a new gadget maker called Eve, it was just a quick check-in to make sure production was rolling smoothly on his latest product. Karatsevidis and the rest of the nine-person Eve team have spent the last few years building the V, a laptop-tablet hybrid in the mold of the Microsoft Surface, working in remarkable concert with a teeming community of users and fans to create the exact product they wanted. All that was left to do was make it, perfectly, tens of thousands of times in a row. Which Karatsevidis learned is harder than it looks.
The 10-day trip stretched into a month and a half, during which Karatsevidis changed his flight home to Finland six different times. "I was living in the factory, basically, with the guys from my team," Karatsevidis says. Day after grueling day, they'd sit with the workers on the assembly line, making sure every finish was applied with care and every part was connected just so. "We were just making sure everybody achieves the quality standard we want, because it's very hard to communicate to the Chinese manufacturers that we want to make a nice device," he says. Manufacturers see quality in measurables: how many times the kickstand opens before it breaks, how hot a temperature it can withstand. Karatsevidis knows users will measure quality by the texture of the fabric keyboard and the smoothness of the volume buttons.