Posts Tagged "hardware startups"

Hardware Startups: Working in Lean Startup Mode

September 28, 2017

The very heart of the Lean Startup approach focuses on the overarching goal of producing a top-quality product (or service) and delivering it at a minimal cost while providing a great customer experience.  In the business world, and particularly with hardware startups, the Lean Startup approach is synonymous with creativity, risk taking and quick acceleration.

Here we discuss three reasons why your business, at any stage, should embrace the Lean Startup method for product development.

Create order. Organization and order are fundamental pieces of the Lean Startup approach. A detailed, organized and methodical approach to product development creates order and ultimately saves hardware startups time and resources—thus adhering to the Lean Startup principals.  “Using the Lean Startup approach, companies can create order not chaos by providing tools to test a vision continuously. Lean isn’t simply about spending less money. Lean isn’t just about failing fast, failing cheap. It is about putting a process, a methodology around the development of a product. (The Lean Startup Methodology)”

hardware startupsLearn when to pivot. Entrepreneurs understand that there is no shame in missing the mark with an initial idea, as long as you learn enough to pivot to something that works. “Successful entrepreneurs have found that the extreme uncertainty of a new product or service usually requires many course corrections, or ‘pivots’ to find a successful formula. (Eric Ries, author of the Lean Startup)”

Not all ideas are going to be great right off the bat, but with customer research, market feedback and adequate product testing you can build upon your initial idea and create a product that is true to the needs of your audience.

Continuous innovation. Startups embracing this lean approach understand the importance of failing fast and learning from past missteps. Quick adaptation based on customer feedback is something that lean startups thrive on. By continuous product testing and communication with the target market, lean startups can innovate at a rapid pace to meet customer needs.

With the help of the build-measure-feedback loop, startups are constantly gleaning new information about their product market fit and learning ways to augment the design so that the optimal, and most innovative, product is achieved.

Building a product is hard work—however, with the right tools in hand, strong partnerships and a “work smarter, not harder” business approach, you can successfully bring your product to market.

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

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Top Four Hardware Startup Articles

We are delving into the archive and sharing our top four blog posts pertaining to developing, launching, and scaling a hardware startup. These articles touch on everything from the complexities of launching a hardware product to the scaling of your startup. Enjoy!

The Top 3 Challenges Between Launching & Scaling Your Hardware Startup

Each stage of launching a hardware startup comes with its own set of challenges. While the challenges are unique for each business and each industry, here we discuss the top three universal challenges we have seen arise time and again.

As you read through the two lists, you will notice a theme developing between the stages. During the launch phase, the challenges tend to focus on the startup founder and business acumen. As the hardware startup scales though, the challenges tend to focus more on the manufacturing side of the business. This is why the importance of finding the right manufacturing partner for your startup from the get-go cannot be stressed enough.

Hardware Startups: Overcoming Failure to Find Success

Building a hardware startup is hard work, and the road to success is often dotted with moments of failure, however these moments of adversity make you stronger as an entrepreneur. We tend to perceive failure as more public than success, and try our best to avoid it so as not to be embarrassed. The simple truth is—no great success was ever achieved without failure. So in order to succeed in the world of hardware startups, you must first understand that failure is just a stepping stone to greatness.

Hardware is a Perfectly Complex Mess

Early-stage hardware startups are faced with complex challenges, a flurry of information and questions, many questions. To sum it up, hardware is messy. However, with technological advances and a shift in barriers to entry, hardware has never been easier than it is today.

Technology is enhancing the ability for fast experimentation, prototype development and manufacturing. Years ago these steps in themselves took months, today 3D printing along with a plethora of other advancements means that you can test designs and prototype in days or weeks. So what exactly makes hardware complex?

Hardware Startups: Can I Patent My Invention?

A patent for your invention is useful, in that it gives you exclusive rights to the idea/product (for twenty years), allows you to license the invention and provides a strong market position. However, to obtain a patent your invention must meet certain criteria. Here are a few important questions to ask yourself in determining whether your invention is patentable.

We have all heard the saying, “hardware is hard” — however, with proper planning and experts by your side, launching your hardware startup doesn’t have to be impossible.

Do you have questions pertaining to your hardware product idea? We would love to help, send them our way at info@3d-innovations.com

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

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Hardware Startups: The Challenges of Scaling Up

September 28, 2016
3D Innovations
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Most entrepreneurs start out hitting the ground running and want to take their idea, build upon it, and scale it quickly; however, scaling hardware startups come with unique sets of challenges to consider. Growing any business has inherent obstacles and the basics must be considered, such as: funding, talent and competition—hardware startups also need to take into account additional vital aspects, such as: sourcing, manufacturing and intellectual property. Scaling is a tricky task—scale too quickly and you can get in over your head, scale too slowly and you risk losing momentum and opportunities.  Below are some common pitfalls to avoid when scaling your hardware startup.

Losing touch with your customer.

When you are growing a company it is imperative that you keep your current customers happy. These are the customers that have made it possible for you to scale your business in the first place and you don’t want to let them down with poor customer service now. It is also extremely easy to start to get “sloppy” as you introduce new product versions or product lines, and these errors will whittle away at your customer retention. The core elements of a successful business are customers and products, so even in times of growth, both should be at the front of your mind.

Manufacturer sourcing.

Manufacturing can be the Achilles heel for hardware startups. One misstep in the vetting process or in contract development with a manufacturer and your business can sink. If you don’t have experience going through the contract manufacturing sourcing process, it is critical to find advisors or consultants that have. You are going to want to embrace competition and have multiple manufacturers bidding on your project. Your meetings with manufacturers are as much about pitching to them to get them excited about your project, as it is about doing your due diligence on their facilities and experience.

Streamlining a strategy.

At the beginning, your hardware startup will have one goal in mind: To successfully develop a product and get it onto store shelves. All team members will work towards this single goal on a daily basis. As you begin scale, your strategy and goals will transform, change and multiply. The fluidity of your new goals can make it hard for founders to take their mindset from that of laser-focused product development to business high-level. As your list of goals begins to grow, your strategy will shift to taking the top three or four-high level goals and focus teams accordingly.

Scaling a business is rewarding. Taking the time now to plan and prepare for sustainable growth will serve your startup well.

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

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Startup Connector: Hardware Is Hard—Don’t Let That Deter You

April 13, 2016
3D Innovations

It’s true, hardware is hard, but the reward you get from launching a successful product makes the journey well worth it. Inventors and entrepreneurs are always looking for ways to create something different that has a real impact on society. Their brains never stop, never rest. They are always evaluating ideas and questioning ‘facts’. You can easily glance around any home or office and see the inventions that pioneers have perfected, and how these products have been integrated into our everyday lives. It is this rush and feel of accomplishment, that fuels the makers and hardware startups of the world.

StartupConnectorlogoThe path to hardware success is often bumpy, full of roadblocks and unexpected turns along the way. Founders of Startup Connector, Collin Kobayashi and Bob Nakata, know all too well the challenges facing hardware startups. “What we’ve seen is that there are a lot of products being developed, and there are different points where the companies get off track—whether it’s not having the right technical expertise, or not having the right experience, or not knowing where to go,” Kobayashi said. “The main gap that we’ve seen is that these companies can get through testing and prototyping, but really get stuck on getting their data package ready for full-scale production. One of the biggest pitfalls hardware startups run into are testing and certification requirements.”

With all of the challenges facing hardware startups, it is good to have knowledgeable and experienced professionals at your fingertips. Why not make the path to hardware startup success a little easier? This was the driving thought behind Startup Connector, a Hawaii-based manufacturing and commercialization accelerator. “Our main objective is to work with hardware development companies, to get them ready for full scale manufacturing. Getting them through the whole product development cycle, beyond prototyping to mass production.”

Advances in technology and manufacturing methods are ushering in a new wave of opportunity for hardware startups. Investors are taking notice of the hardware revolution, and helping propel the movement forward. If you have been mulling over a product idea or searching for the “right time” to focus on product development, now is your time.

Ready to partner with manufacturing and commercialization experts for your next project? Startup Connector is now accepting applications. Apply today! Getting your application in early will let us connect with you and keep you informed of the upcoming start dates.

*All quotes are from the Bytemarks Café interview conducted November 2015.

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

Startup Connector is a Manufacturing Accelerator helping companies commercialize—turning ideas into products.

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Market Testing Is Vital For Hardware Startup Success

March 21, 2016
3D Innovations

goalSuccessfully launching a product is one of the best feelings in the world—you have nurtured an idea, spent time developing it and now it is in the hands of consumers. However, as entrepreneurs know, before you get to the “launch” there are hundreds of steps in between. Market testing is one of these steps and is vital to your product’s success.

What is Market Testing?

Market testing is getting your product idea and prototype into the hands of potential buyers and asking for their feedback. The feedback provided is related to all aspects of the productprice point, functionality and overall design. You are asking for real and honest feedback to help perfect your idea and make sure everything is in place for a successful launch. The information you glean from testing your market is the most valuable out there, since these are potential buyers/clients and you want to make sure that their needs are met.

Is Market Testing Expensive?

Market testing does take time, but it doesn’t have to drain resources. While major corporations spend the big bucks on market testing, that doesn’t mean you have to. Look at your current social and business networks and start testing your product idea and prototype with these individuals. You can then expand your test market as you progress in the product development timeline.

Your time and money are extremely valuable, and can’t afford to waste them by investing them in producing a product that fails in the marketplace. The more you test your product before you produce and sell it, the more likely you are to earn the sales and profits that you desire.

Build Excitement Around Your Product Launch

Market testing is another way of building excitement about your product. We recently  worked with the Menehunes as they developed their product, pitched it at a community startup event and launched a crowdfunding campaign. However, before launching their Kickstarter page, these young entrepreneurs had the foresight to reach out to their target market, and let these potential buyers test the product and provide them with feedback. The feedback not only helped hone in on the final design, but it also connected them with some of their first Kickstarter backers. It is never too early to start building excitement around your product’s launch.

Testing your target market is one of the many steps before launch, but it is one that should not be overlooked or undervalued. Continually testing your target market can help ensure your product’s success.

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

Startup Connector is a Manufacturing Accelerator helping companies commercialize—turning ideas into products.

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Startup Connector: Hardware Startups Are Gaining Momentum

February 26, 2016
3D Innovations

Silicon Valley, and much of the startup community, has been enthralled with software for years, but the tides are turning and hardware startups are gaining momentum. Investors are taking hardware startups serious—since 2010, venture capital investment in hardware startups is up more than 30x (Tech Crunch). Venture capital investment in connected device hardware startups reached approximately $1.48 billion in 2014, more than triple the amount of two years earlier.

A New Wave Of Opportunity

3D Printing Services | Rapid Prototyping Services | 3D-innovationsAdvances in technology, coupled with hardware accelerators and incubators, are ushering in a new wave of opportunity for hardware entrepreneurs. Creating a functional prototype is no longer a hassle thanks to design software advances and 3D printing technology. Entrepreneurs are able to design and develop prototypes in a matter of days instead of months. After the prototype is complete, many of these hardware incubators and accelerators then help turn this prototype into a working, production-ready product within a matter of months.

By reducing the product development timeline, startups are able to get their idea built, tested, manufactured and on to store shelves much faster than we have ever seen before. Fitbit, Nest and GoPro are prime examples of companies that have paved the wave for hardware startups and demonstrated to investors that there is tremendous profitability in this startup segment. While distribution and manufacturing still have their inherent challenges for hardware startups, they are becoming more and more accessible.

Reaching Out To The Crowd

Hardware startups are tapping into their network and reaching out to the crowd. While crowdfunding has continued to revolutionize investing as we know it, hardware startups are reaping the benefits. A quick search on Kickstarter shows you that there are hundreds of hardware startups at any given time searching for funding. One of the most notable, The Coolest Cooler, raised $13 million (26x their funding goal) in 2014. Reaching consumers used to be a challenge, but that is no longer the case. Crowdfunding is not only helping raise capital, it is also validating ideas and build a relationship with consumers early-on.

An Exciting Future

“When building a new hardware product becomes as easy as making an iPhone app, we will have truly ushered in a golden era of innovation.” Hardware startups are playing a critical role in making the new industrial revolution a reality. As barriers to entry continue to diminish, we will begin to see more hardware startups debut and increased investor activity.

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

Startup Connector is a Manufacturing Accelerator helping companies commercialize—turning ideas into products.

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