By: Hardware Massive

When I first read articles about how “hardware is hard”, I felt a little bit scared about the industry I was getting into. Understanding some of the issues first timers face when launching a product made me rethink how to support our community of makers from a non-technical perspective.

After many conversations with entrepreneurs building their hardware project, I realised there might be many differences in terms of product, market and consumers, however many other similarities can be considered a common path between startups. And when it comes to the ups and downs of a startup journey, external support may turn this entire experience less hard, depending on when you decide to get support and how willing you are to accept external help.

We can trace parallels between the challenges hardware startups face and a roller coaster experience: in some moments you might be cheerful and excited to reach the top, as in others you’ll be exhausted and stressed after going all the way down.

When riding the hardware startup roller coaster for the first time, most entrepreneurs might be terrified thinking about the hardware startup journey –  and some crazy ones will dive into it anyway. Depending on who you decide to partner with, you’ll see your journey from a different perspective. I hope this step by step can encourage more startups to reach out for qualified support at each step, and learn how important the process is – not only the final results. Buckle your seats and let’s enjoy the journey together!

1) The Way: Why and where do you want to go now?
So you’ve arrived at this great amusement park called startup ecosystem, and many others seem to have arrived earlier than you. This makes you even more desperate to start working on something right away! Your mind is blowing by all possibilities you’re about the enjoy with the goal to “make the world a better place!”

There’s so much going on that you don’t even know where to start from! As you watch the reactions from entrepreneurs around you, in a mixture of euphoria and fear, you observe comments about a few of them getting funded, while others complain about failures. In the end, what calls your attention is the positive voice of the ones who kept smiling, excited to point out how amazing their life is and how much they’ve learnt so far!

Before immersing into this deep experience and you start working on a new product, find a shady spot and think about your motivations.

Where do you want to head now? Considering why you came up with this idea, are you trying to solve a real problem? And does it make sense to build a physical product as part of your solution? (as time goes by, keep those questions in mind)

Also, be honest about your expectations and how willing you are to spend a significant part of your life as a startup entrepreneur. As the DIY movement spread all over the world and set a lower entry level for new inventions to take shape – with 3D printers and laser cutters accessible to different hubs, many startups have been created without a clear value proposition, and that’s what how you can differentiate yourself from hobbyists. What defines a startup is the mindset, since the beginning!

Who should join you from the start: Co-Founders, Family & Friends.

2) Immersion: Are you ready?
You could skip the line of market immersion, taking the shortcut that leads to the entrance gate, as many others have been trying do, although this won’t save you time or money – it’s going to make you even more tired, as queueing is mandatory for the rollercoaster of hardware startups. You should reach the same basic milestones: learn, build, measure. If you skip any part of the process, you might have to step back and start it over anyway: it’s hard to continue the way without some basic iterations done in-house.

All efforts to develop IoT devices can bring effective innovation to the world – and it’s great to see a clear mission driving entrepreneurship. Although ideas need some initial execution and we know that as a hardware entrepreneur, you’re excited to make it happen soon.

Prior to starting your hard work, check if your ticket is still valid today!

Benchmarking should be a continuous activity – by the time you start building something, others might have launched their own solution. Use all the tools you can to track recent industry updates and get involved with stakeholders who know what’s not available yet.

Research other products available in the market that solve the same problem and study not only the good cases but also what’s not working so well. A good exercise would be mapping the potential players who’d be interested to launch something similar to your product.