I was lucky enough to attend @marcbarros's Hardware Workshop SF 2014. I can’t say enough how valuable the content was, how giving all the advisors were, and how excellent all our peers are. If you’re a first time founder you need to get to one of these. In the mean time, check out my notes (ripped from twitter with links intact) from my #hardwareworkshop tweets over the 2 day period.
10:14 First up, pitching the media with Vijay from
10:19 Outlets like exclusive images/assets (sized correctly for their site)
10:19 Dont pitch editor in chief, google around and find the guy on your beat
10:30 Get assets video/pitch out to press a 1-2 months before, not day of week before - they’re busy
10:31 Dont just spam, have a dialog - reach out and build a relationship that isn’t always asking for something
10:33 Product Reviews: Show up with product in person if possible, or have them open it while you’re on the phone
10:37 Review your own product first. Fix the flaws. Then start with kinder press outlets, get their feedback and adapt
11:12 China only if: High qty(10k+), need labor, most components from there, standard processes can tolerate logistics
11:21 RFQ a manufacturing partner when you have an ‘80%’ prototype some changes but nothing major
12:33 Are you building a lifestyle, work for yourself, no exit, or venture backed with obligation for excise (30x) return?
12:34 Ventures dont buy commodity, august isnt a lock company, its selling identity services
12:36 Challenges: #1 Hiring -across board esp EE’s Embedded designers. #2 Manufacturing
14:06 VCs often invest PRE crowd funding. Even If you have a $1M plus you still only have 33% chance of funding
14:43 Minimum funding to deliver consumer electronic product is looking like 2.5million
14:46 The big kids are now spending 300-500K on their crowdfunding campaigns
15:08 Now: What startups need to know about patent law by
15:11 Startups dont get patents to enforce against competitors -3-5 years and costs millions
15:11 Startups dont get patents to prevent patenting by someone else - costs ~40k! just disclose so they cant patent.
15:13 Startups don’t get patents to generate licensing revenue - thats a different business model (see triple damages)
15:20 Startups get patents to: stimulate investment or acquisition
15:20 Startups get patents to: deter patent infringement lawsuits
15:20 Startups get patents to: increase leverage over a partner (see JDA’s)
15:26 In US you can file within 1 yr after public disclosure.
15:26 What is public disclosure? Sales, media coverage is disclosure. Showing to vcs, beta testing not.
15:50 “Our clients allocate ~5%(up to 10) of a round for IP protection”
15:53 Your savvy investor may be excited if you’re sued by patent troll?!
15:53 It costs 5mil to win, need 2x for profit (10m), awards are 10% so you were just valued at over 100million
16:04 Last today: Jon Carver and Brian Lee from
@highway1io Electrical and mechanical prototyping
16:06 “Hardware is a waterfall model” (shock! horror!)
16:24 Resist integrated prototypes until the end - prototype modules, and only include the features you want to test
16:42 Provide testers many options, they’re bad at just critiquing single option
16:42 Dont just jump into raspi/arduin/etc. look for dev kits from mfg;s that already do what you want
16:54 Everytime design product, designing 2. Second is for manufacturer to test. How to collect that data?
10:13 Cost reduction curves - They’re meeting some other trends/vendors needs, not yours, can misalign
10:13 Competitive pressure — think of it as an advantage. Differentiate.
10:30 Your Roadmap tells a story - visual.
11:09 Need to tour a factory to know if theyre in control or not. How operators look, the equipment, if there are instructions
11:11 Factories ask for forgiveness not permission
11:11 Plan.Do.Check.Act. Or Please Don’t Change Anything
11:15 Incoming inspection verification means they’ll check the count. Need to stress if you want them to verify anything else
11:23 Avoiding Asian holidays given, but don’t schedule builds 2 weeks either side of holidays either.
11:24 Versioning - NEED configuration management tool for
BOM and drawings. (Not Google, can’t access)
11:31 Communication challenging. Understand audience. Dont write long emails. Yelling doesnt help. Need feet on the ground.
11:32 Recurring checkins-everything is good until its not. They want to figure it out themselves until they run out of time
11:43 For resources for factory inspection/review. Dragon, amrep, use google.
11:50 Factories have no time for quoting right now in run up to xmas. Same thing happens in spring around March.
11:52 Distribution, logistis an and packout B2B services can really help free up capital for sales, etc
12:01 Now: Andre Neumann-Loreck on Build Ops (Team)
12:17 What is ops? Very broad - Procurement, test, quality, logistics, fulfillment, more.
12:22 We’re going to talk about master scheduling(inventory), commodity(supplier) mgmt, manufacturing engineering
12:34 Hiring should lag business, but only by a little bit.
Wait to see where you experience pain and hire.
12:36 If missing schedule because components late, maybe materials manager. if yields are bad, maybe need mfgr engineer
14:03 Back from lunch: Rachael Stefanussen and
14:10 Hardware is tangible branding
4:12 Design and development as consumer advocacy
14:13 Not enough to ask question of demographic anymore ( Male/24/Seoul) but rather artistic, calm, slow to anger…
14:18 Don’t drown in data. Research, test. etc, but let empathy guide you to actionable decisions.
15:10 All numbers, just the numbers - disclaimer, not the word of god
15:10 2 founders (hacker, dealmaker)
15:11 8 Employees to scale: (ME, EE, firmware, design/ux, front end, backend, ops, sales)
15:11 50:50 wrong way to divide equity
15:12 2-5 % equity for first hire, next 10 divy 10%, 20 divy
15:14 110 slides in this deck. Uh oh.
15:27 3-10 % equity to key hire, 7-10% hired ceo, 4 years to vest, 10% option pool(min), 3 board members
15:27 6 months product development, 1 prototype per week, >30 customers until validation, 70 magic Net Promoter Score (NPS)
15:27 500 K to hire a top tier design firm (IEDO, Frog), 100K tier 2 firms, 10-50k consultant
15:49 $3.5k per person per week to send someone to china
15:49 $6.5K (simple) injection tooling China, $15k in US
15:53 5% loss rate on line (you eat it)
15:54 .50 1 color cardboard retail box, $5-15 apple style box, don’t forget $1-5 for master carton packaging,
15:54 4 weeks and $2k ship across ocean, 10x that for air
15:56 12-20 % amazon’s margin depending on category, 30-35% best buy, 35-50% Apple
#hardwareworkshop founder on Hardware MVP
( minimum viable product )
16:38 Customer journey interviews: forget your solution, find what do people do TODAY. first question how->why->what
16:40 Find out what customer does before, during, after, map out key interactions, brainstorm solutions.
16:44 Filter solutions on cost and ability to execute. MVP will solve one. Company will solve all eventually