Kickstarter is Debt

Kickstarter is Debt

Hardware startups struggle to manage their cash. It’s common to pay for large expenses (like tooling and inventory) 9–12 months prior to selling your product. This is why pre-order campaigns have been transformational to the hardware ecosystem: they can solve the cash flow crunch of the first production run...Continue Reading→

Hardware By The Numbers (Manufacturing)

Hardware By The Numbers (Manufacturing)

Contrary to popular belief, manufacturing is not that hard if you know what you’re doing. However, If you’ve never done it before, it’s pretty much impossible. The single best thing you can do to ensure success in manufacturing is to work with someone that knows what they’re doing...Continue Reading→

Hardware By The Numbers (Financing)

Hardware By The Numbers (Financing)

We get lots of questions from founders about raising money. Many assume they need to raise venture funding even though it’s often a poor fit with their business. The traditional consumer electronics model (selling physical products for money) is tough to profit from unless you achieve extremely large scale...Continue Reading→

Hardware By The Numbers (Prototyping)

Hardware By The Numbers (Prototyping)

Building products that delight users is the only way to build a great hardware company. Period. Unlike software, building prototypes for hardware products often is the long pole in the tent during product development. Knowing what and how to prototype can help you build a better product, in less time and using less capital...Continue Reading→

The 3 Business Models That Matter for Connected Hardware Startups

The 3 Business Models That Matter for Connected Hardware Startups

Hardware has changed. It used to be that a “hardware business” sold widgets made in China at a 30% gross margin. These widgets were protected with patents, manufactured by the millions, and replaced by new and better widgets 18 months later...Continue Reading→

Speed Can Kill: The Importance of Process for Hardware Companies

Speed Can Kill: The Importance of Process for Hardware Companies

One of the more popular cliches of the startup world is the immortal Zuckerberg’s “move fast and break things.” Even though Facebook has since changed its motto, speed is currency in Silicon Valley. Entrepreneurs constantly promote their agility with phrases like “I built this in a weekend” or “we push five releases per day.”...Continue Reading→

Dear Packaging, I Hate You

Dear Packaging, I Hate You

Few people hate packaging more than I do. There are the obvious reasons: environmental unfriendliness, messy cleanup, and the sometimes unfathomable difficulty of opening the thing. These are mere tactical annoyances. Something much scarier has been happening to packaging over the past few years: It’s gotten really nice...Continue Reading→

Keurig accidentally created the perfect business model for hardware startups

 Keurig accidentally created the perfect business model for hardware startups

It’s no secret that investors don’t like hardware businesses. Despite the eternal frustration of startup founders, investor distaste in physical product businesses is actually entirely logical. It’s nearly impossible to build a venture-scale business by selling dumb plastic parts...Continue Reading→

Hardware By The Numbers (Retail)

Hardware By The Numbers (Retail)

Despite the rise in direct sales and online retailers like Amazon, the vast majority of consumer hardware products are still sold through traditional big-box retail. Dealing with retailers is an exceptionally painful process. These numbers will help set expectations of how retailers work when you’re a small startup with a single product SKU...Continue Reading→

No, You Can't Manufacture That Like Apple Does

No, You Can't Manufacture That Like Apple Does

Startups and big companies differ in a lot of ways. When it comes to hardware, the gulf between the two is massive. Early-stage startups are painfully under-financed. This lack of capital makes manufacturing one of the most critically dangerous periods in a young company’s life. One tiny mistake in a design, tool, or QC process and BAM, you’re out of business...Continue Reading→