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Deciding to develop a product and build a startup is a big undertaking and the more support you have around you, the more likely you are to succeed. Ten years ago, if you wanted to build a hardware product, moving to Silicon Valley or New York to find support seemed like the only option for success. Today this is not the case. Now more than ever entrepreneurs are building their businesses in their hometown and finding success.
It’s no secret that the cost of living in major tech hubs is astronomical and upfront costs to get your business going also come at a premium. Instead of shelling out that money for rent, put it to better use in your business to foster its growth. Less money towards the basics means that you can hire that salesman, upgrade your packaging, add a new feature—you see where we are going with this.
Chances are that if you are in a large enough city, there are other businesses out there supporting the startup community. You don’t necessarily need to find an industry specific support network, but instead a network that has the skillset your startup requires. Here in Hawaii, we provide product development support to hardware startups in a wide-range of industries. Our client, The Baby Toon, which is an innovative baby spoon designed with safety as the focus, was recently featured on the Season 11 Premiere of Shark Tank.
Cities all over the nation, and really the world, are realizing that creating a friendly startup ecosystem is good for business. Startup support might come from government programs, local universities, or corporate sponsorships—there is going to be support available, your job is to seek it out.
Through local relationships and organizations, you may gain access to anything from low-interest loans to access to venture capital that’s limited to local businesses, and opportunities to speak at local business events.
Networking is an often-overlooked aspect when you build a startup. Your network matters.
The benefit of launching your startup where you live is that you know people and have years-long relationships built with them already. You have an established community. Even if you’re not in a tech hub, you’re bound to be surrounded by business owners of some sort.
Maybe you know a local manufacturer that can help explain the manufacturing process to you and make introductions for you with their contacts. Perhaps you are neighbors with a local baker that excels at social media, and he/she is willing to give you a crash course on what you need to know to get started.
Building true connections in major tech hubs is nearly impossible. Personal relationships and real connections are hard to come by. However, this is not the case in your hometown.
Your ability to connect with local business leaders that you admire, city and state politicians, and other entrepreneurs is going to be much easier in a smaller city. Your access to people like this will help you successfully navigate the road to success as you build a startup.
The Rise of the Rest movement shows exactly what is happening to the startup landscape across the United States. Startups are interrupting large and established industries with new ideas and innovative products from smaller cities across the country. Investors are looking beyond established tech hubs for innovative startups and entrepreneurs that have the passion to succeed.
Start your new year, new decade and new business with a positive mindset and the goal to succeed. Make 2020 the year you build a startup.
If you have any questions about the product development process please send us an email at email@example.com.
Our client, FOG Safe, has seen tremendous growth this past year and their FOG Safe Drain Guards should be on everyone’s holiday cooking prep list. Their drain guard is an environmentally friendly way to responsibly dispose of cooking fats, oils and grease so that they don’t cause major environmental damage.
It is an eco-friendly, convenient and hassle-free way of disposing of used cooking fats, oils and grease after making a meal. (That pan of bacon grease can now be properly disposed of and not rinsed down the sink.) The drain guard is made of recycled materials and quickly absorbs the fats, oils and grease that you pour into it directly from your cooking pan. You then simply dispose of the entire drain guard into your trash.
The FOG Safe Drain Guard keeps harmful fats, oils and grease contaminants out of your plumbing, city sewers and the environment. When cooking fats, oils and grease build up in your pipes and city sewers, they end up clogging your plumbing and sending raw sewage back into your home, neighborhood and the local environment.
See a FOG Safe Drain Guard in action over on the FOG Safe YouTube channel.
Did you know that calls to the plumber for clogged pipes peak around the holidays? This is the time of year where people are cooking large family feasts and sending items they shouldn’t down the kitchen sink drain—looking at you turkey drippings.
According to Home Advisor, the average cost for hiring a plumber is $310.
One way to ensure a clog free holiday season is by properly disposing of all fats, oils and grease after cooking a meal.
FOG Safe Drain Guards can be found in a number of retail locations in Hawaii as well as throughout the United States.
In Hawaii you can find FOG Safe Drain Guards at: Times Supermarkets, City Mill, Simply Organized, KTA Super Stores, Hardware Hawaii, Big Save Markets and Purchasing Hui of Hawaii.
FOG Safe Drain Guards are now in 90, and still growing, ACE Hardware locations throughout the United States.
Learn more about the ways in which we have assisted FOG Safe during their product development journey.
Interested in learning more about FOG Safe? Head on over to their website.
STEM education is a popular education topic and it’s making great strides in schools across the globe. Our 3D Academy team has seen first-hand the positive impact STEM education has on children of all ages. Students that are exposed to STEM subjects early-on are learning much more than just science, technology, engineering and math—they are learning critical thinking skills, design thinking and team collaboration to name a few. Below we are sharing more STEM education facts.
We have a passion for STEM education and wanted to share some of our most popular STEM related blog posts with you.
Our client, The Baby Toon, was featured on the Season 11 Premiere of Shark Tank and was able to successfully secure a deal with Lori Greiner. Inventor of The Baby Toon, Cassidy Crowley (age 10), and her family have been on this startup journey for three years now and watching it culminate with a deal on Shark Tank was certainly a highlight for them and us. We had a chance to talk with Cassidy and her mom, Lori, to discuss the entire experience and share their favorite memories with us.
A quick glance inside of a STEM focused classroom will show a range of design possibilities to the same question posed by the teacher. Students love to think critically and use their creativity—much like entrepreneurs. Getting hands-on and designing a solution is what entrepreneurs do best.
STEM education is more than four subjects, it’s a mindset. The skills taught in STEM classes can be used in any career field—especially, entrepreneurship.
Technological advancements coupled with vocal industry proponents, have successfully transformed the way STEM education is taught. This is great news, because the long-term benefits of STEM are profound on students’ future career success—whether in a STEM field, or not.
STEM teaches valuable life skills. Technology is transforming the landscape of our lives—in today’s global marketplace there is no substitute for a strong STEM education background as you enter the workforce. In this post we discuss STEM education facts about the benefits of the curriculum outside of the classroom.
Our 3D Academy is your STEM education partner. We specialize in developing and integrating industry technologies with STEM education and can build custom programs for your classroom or school. We understand that closing the STEM skills gap takes effort from both academia and professionals in the field, and we are happy to work with schools to bring hands-on and project-based opportunities to students.
The Crowley family came to us with the idea for The Baby Toon. Their daughter, Cassidy (age 7), had come up with the idea and the design for the Honolulu District Science and Engineering Fair.
“I was instructed to identify a problem. When I went home, I noticed that my mom always got scared when my baby sister put the back of a long, hard, plastic spoon in her mouth. I didn’t want anything to happen to her and I didn’t like seeing my mom so worried, so I came up with… The Baby Toon!”
We worked with the Crowley family on finding the optimal design for The Baby Toon, we used 3D printing to test prototypes and worked with their manufacturing partner on the molding. The Baby Toon also holds a patent, in which we were able to assist as well.
3D Innovations was efficient, current with technology during the design and engineering process, and aware of staying within our financial budget. Our family was not only educated and received expert advice through the process, but we gained a friend who we enjoyed working with.
-Lori Crowley, The BabyToon
The Baby Toon is a safer option for a baby spoon that eliminates the long sharp design of a traditional spoon. It is made of soft FDA grade silicone with rounded corners and edges (gentle on the baby’s gums) and it’s BPA/PPA free. Babies can also teethe on this soft spoon as well. The Baby Toon is easy for babies and parents to hold with a short neck that protects babies from choking. It also works great for big sisters or brothers to assist with feedings.
The Crowley family was notified recently that they would be on the Season Premiere of Shark Tank and below is their daughters’ reaction to the news!
Head on over to the Case Study section of our website to see a range of products where we have worked closely on many aspects of the product development and helped entrepreneurs launch their businesses.
When it comes to hardware product development the road to success is often winding and full of bumps and roadblocks, rarely is it linear. Navigating these unforeseen challenges can be overwhelming for many first-time entrepreneurs. To share some guidance, we have compiled a few of our top blog posts related to the early stages of hardware product development.
Coming up with a hardware product idea is exhilarating—knowing that you have an idea that will help not only yourself, but an entire segment of the population, is the very definition of exciting. So now you have an idea, but you aren’t exactly sure what to do next.
When it comes to product design, creativity can really make a difference in the success of a product. First time entrepreneurs can get caught up in the idea that their original idea is the best idea, however this is not always the case. There are many reasons that your product may shift during product design—it is not efficient for manufacturing, timing is off, it’s too difficult for customers to use, it doesn’t have a solid consumer base. There are numerous factors that can change a product, and that is okay. It is okay to end up with a product that is different than your original idea, because the goal is success.
Patents, copyrights and trademarks are all forms of intellectual property. For the purpose of this piece, patents — particularly design patents and utility patents — will be the focus of the conversation. While all three types of IP are indeed essential for success, hardware-focused products rely heavily on patents. Often times, proper patent protection can mean the difference between success and failure for a hardware startup.
In today’s connected world, these major tech hubs are becoming less and less appealing for entrepreneurs just setting out with their startup. It’s no secret that the cost of living in major tech hubs is astronomical and upfront costs to get your business going also come at a premium. So if you are an entrepreneur looking into hardware product development and starting a business, but have no desire to pick-up and move, below are a few ideas on how you can successfully launch your hardware startup from your home city.
Product development partners are a great way to team up with knowledgeable experts that can help make your product idea a reality. A hardware product development partner can work with you from product idea through manufacturing and can assist in a wide variety of ways. Here we share a few suggestions on questions to ask potential product development firm partners.
Have additional hardware product development questions? Send us an email, firstname.lastname@example.org
Our 3D Academy is a huge proponent of hands-on project-based learning to bring innovation and new teaching techniques into the classroom. Here at 3D Academy, we believe that as the landscape of the work environment changes to meet global demands, so should the way we teach in the classroom. Introducing innovation into a classroom can help students turn their passion into future careers. Below are five ways to help students develop an innovation mindset and build important life-long skills.
To help students cultivate an innovation mindset, first you must show them what one looks like. This mindset focuses on critical thinking and asking “why”. While, it is easy to apply this mindset to STEM subjects, it can, and should, be applied to every subject. Think about all the times you are reading material and ask yourself “why”—Why is that? Why did this happen? Now, let your students see you asking these questions and encourage them to do the same.
Curiosity leads to finding answers together as a team. Critical thinking and team building are both valuable skills in any workplace environment.
Instead of problem-solving, teachers can help students look at the world by finding gaps to fill using problem-finding. Problem-finding is equivalent to problem discovery. Teachers can use problem-finding as part of a more significant problem process that can include problem-shaping and problem-solving all together. Problem-finding requires an intellectual and imaginative vision to seek out what might be missing or should be added to something important. Using this strategy, teachers can provide students with the opportunity to think deeply, ask critical questions and apply creative ways to solve problems. (Forbes)
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” -Thomas Edison
Students need to experience failure to learn. In her 2017 paper “Learning from Errors,” psychologist Janet Metcalfe states that avoiding and ignoring mistakes at school is the classic rule in American classrooms. When we don’t let students fail, we are most likely holding back not only individual student growth, but we are also holding back the entire education system. (Forbes)
Give your students a real-world problem to solve and see where their creativity and problem-solving skills take them. Let them fail and try again. This resiliency is imperative in all aspects of life.
Technology is making leaps and bounds—3D Printing, 3D CAD, Augmented Reality/ Virtual Reality, Programming, all promote learning and engage students. These technologies have a ‘wow factor’ with students since they are not things they see every day. With our 3D Academy, we have seen how it really motivates and engages students to learn. Students who may otherwise not be actively engaged in the classroom, suddenly light up and want to participate when a new and exciting technology is introduced.
Students need to see real-world examples of people in a range of careers to know what is possible for them. It is hard to imagine a career as a product designer, engineer, nurse, marine biologist, etc. if you have never met one and are not quite sure what their daily work lives look like. Invite professionals in various stages of their careers to talk to your students. Entrepreneurship is often something that intrigues students, so call up an entrepreneur and let them talk to your students about their winding path to success.
Cultivating an innovation mindset is fun for both teachers and students. It is inviting a different teaching approach into the classroom and allows students to engage with material in a more hands-on way.
Interested in a personalized hands-on approach to STEM education in your classroom or school? Send us an email at email@example.com so we can talk about your program needs and how our 3D Academy can assist you.
When it comes to product design, creativity can really make a difference in the success of a product. First time entrepreneurs can get caught up in the idea that their original idea is the best idea, however this is not always the case. In a recent article we read on Entrepreneur, 8 Funny and Relatable Experiences That All Entrepreneurs Go Through, their third point really stood out to us: “Your end product is very different from the idea you started with”. Time and again we have seen this—the final product is not the exact original product idea.
There are many reasons that your product may shift during product design—it is not efficient for manufacturing, timing is off, it’s too difficult for customers to use, it doesn’t have a solid consumer base. There are numerous factors that can change a product, and that is okay. It is okay to end up with a product that is different than your original idea, because the goal is success. You want to launch a product that resonates with consumers and successfully launches your startup.
To harness your creativity and be open to where product design can take you. If you are working with a product development firm, be open to design ideas. There are new manufacturing methods and design technologies available today that might be just what your product needs to take it to that next level.
Two technologies that will help you during the product design phase are:
3D design will give you a feel for your product before it is even in your hands. You will be able to see your product in 3D and test your design to validate it all before you have a physical object to hold.
3D printing technology allows you to design and develop a product that breaks the confines of traditional design. Complex designs that break traditional constraints are now manufacturable thanks to this innovative technology.
Depending on the size of your product, your first physical prototype might be 3D printed. This technology will let you design, refine and re-print your product until you land on a final design.
When it comes to product design, think outside the box—way outside the box. Don’t get in your own way and stifle your creativity. With the technology available today, you are able to let your design imagination run wild, and the craziest part is that what you imagine can actually be made.
Have additional product development questions? Send us an email, firstname.lastname@example.org
Product development partners are a great way to team up with knowledgeable experts that can help make your product idea a reality. Often, entrepreneurs don’t have all the skills or knowledge necessary to bring their product to market on their own—this is where a product development firm can help. Product development partners can work with you from product idea through manufacturing and can assist in a wide variety of ways. Below are a few suggestions on questions to ask potential product development firm partners.
Potential product development partners will most likely not have built your exact project before, however they should have relevant experience. You want to know that they have experience and knowledge in this space. You don’t necessarily need a partner that has worked solely in this space, because you want to have a product development partner that thinks “outside the box” and is focused on new and innovative design methods.
Working with a single product development firm through product manufacturing is going to streamline the entire development process. You want a firm that can handle prototyping, functional prototyping, testing, product analysis, design documentation, intellectual property support, and manufacturing expertise. Each of these areas requires extensive experience and knowledge.
In addition, having a single point of contact at the firm means that you can build a comfortable working relationship with your development partner, minimize frustrations and get all of your questions answered in a timely manner.
3D printing is a very popular prototyping technology that is widely used. You can print initial prototypes in hours, refine the design and print again until you reach a final design. However, that doesn’t mean that it is the best technology for your project. See what other types of prototyping capabilities they have and if those match with what you had in mind.
Manufacturing can be quite challenging, and you want a partner that has experience in this area along with good working relationships with manufacturers. Whether you decide to manufacture internationally or domestically, product development partners should be able to help guide you through this process and offer assistance.
In addition, be sure to check out past client reviews of any potential product development partners. You want a product development partner that will be with you every step of the way and cheering you on as you launch your product into the marketplace.
Have additional product development questions? Send us an email, email@example.com
3D printing technology, also referred to as additive manufacturing, allows you to explore design possibilities without typical design constraints. This means that new shapes and figures that are not easily manufactured, or that are impossible to manufacture with traditional manufacturing methods, are now within the realm of possibility. Complex geometries, quick turnaround times and customization are a few of the main reasons that 3D printing has risen to popularity among a number of top industries: aerospace, automobile, dentistry and medical industries have all embraced additive manufacturing technology.
If you are wondering if 3D printing could benefit your project or business, here are a few points to consider:
One of the primary advantages of 3D printing is that you can break traditional manufacturing barriers with your product design. With 3D printing technology, complex geometries, internal features and built-in interlocking objects with no assembly required are all possible. With these additional design capabilities, additive manufacturing creates new product design opportunities.
Customization is the “sweet spot” for additive manufacturing. If you need a one-off customized part, 3D printing will most likely provide you with the quickest turnaround and best cost efficiency—depending on size of course.
3D printing isn’t quite at the mass manufacturing scale yet, but it can certainly help with small batch manufacturing. If you need just a few parts or pieces for a project, 3D printing can certainly be of assistance.
Additive manufacturing is an excellent option for initial prototypes. You can get a physical prototype in hours, refine the design and print again. It will take a few iterations to get it just how you are imagining it. Startups all over the globe are now turning towards additive manufacturing technology at various stages of product development—low cost and quick turnaround times make it ideal for budget-conscious hardware startups.
The additive manufacturing industry is continuing to grow and mature. Metal 3D printing, increased productivity and material selection are all areas that have seen rapid growth in recent years. Businesses of all sizes can benefit from the technology and take advantage of what it has to offer.
Have additional questions about 3D printing for your product or business? Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we are happy to answer your questions.
3D Innovations is hosting a summer intern through the STEMworks Internship program. We are thrilled to have Joanne as part of our team. She is currently attending Moanalua High School and we just know that she destined for great things. Take a minute to get to know her through this short Q&A.
Q: What sparked your passion for engineering?
A: I’ve always liked to build things. Last year, I had the opportunity to participate in the Innovation and Imagination Design Challenge and I designed and built a lamp with my team. That experience made me realize that I really enjoy seeing a project go from an idea to something real and tangible. It also made me realize that I liked designing and putting things together.
Q: What future career do you see yourself in?
A: Currently, I’m undecided because I like the medical profession and I like engineering.
Q: What are your favorite hobbies?
A: In my spare time I LOVE to catch up on some sleep and surf the internet.
Q: What inspires you?
A: My older sister, Jeanna, and my HOSA State Advisor, Mrs. Toyama, inspire me. They’re both very confident and skilled individuals and I hope to make them proud.
Q: What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?
A: I was digging through my old photos on my phone and I found a video clip of my two friends testing whether or not their phones were waterproof. They both dunked their phones into the nearby pool where we were studying for chemistry finals. I think maybe the stress of finals made us a little delirious. Don’t worry, the phones survived, and our final exams went smoothly!
Please feel free to reach out to us, email@example.com, if you have words of encouragement or wisdom to pass along to Joanne.