Launching a brand new hardware product is often a lengthy and complicated task. Although hardware development was often considered difficult, individuals and small companies are now better able to develop such products than ever before.
It’s natural to feel like you’re losing ground when developing your product.
Here are some tips for designing new products, whether you’re an entrepreneur, an inventor, or a new startup business owner.
Keep it simple
Optimizing your product will help you get it to market on time without breaking the bank.
Hardware startups are prone to various obstacles and setbacks stemming from product complexity!
Even as an entrepreneur or engineer, it can be difficult to fully understand the meaning of specific product features. In many cases, small features can make a big difference to the cost and timeline of your project.
It can be difficult to predict the future consequences of certain decisions you make about your product.
Asking a primary developer to simplify your product can lead to a conflict of interest. Their earnings grow as the complexity of your product increases.
It may be best to work directly with independent experts when streamlining your product. They can help you better understand the long-term effects of any initial product decisions you make.
Strategy for new product development
If you want to manage product development and properly assess the quality of the work done, you will probably need the help of a technical consultant. This is usually true regardless of the strategy you intend to follow.
Such an advisor can help you with technical decisions and guide your core developers. Most professional advisors should understand the entire development process, from idea to market. There is tremendous value in having someone like this on your team, regardless of whether you are an experienced engineer.
Make the product yourself
It is very rare that one person has all the necessary skills to develop an electronic product from scratch.
However, the more independent you are in developing your product, the more money you will save. For this reason, it helps to do as much development as your skill set allows. Of course, it’s also important to be aware of your own limitations. If your skills are below average in certain areas, but you still try to do the work yourself, you risk the possibility of developing an imperfect product.
Delaying your product development while taking time to learn new skills will slow down your product launch. Bring in experts to help you in areas where you lack knowledge, but make sure you always have a say in all decisions related to your product.
Collaborate with tech-savvy co-founders
Starting a hardware development business with a co-founder who has technical skills is definitely a wise choice. If possible, at least one of the founders you’re starting your startup with should have product development experience. In this way, the development of your products can be properly managed from top to bottom.
If you are looking for venture capital from experienced investors, working with the right co-founders is absolutely essential. A startup is much more likely to succeed when it is backed by a team of founders rather than a solo entrepreneur.
For most hardware companies, the ideal founding team would consist of a hardware engineer, a programmer, and a marketer.
It may sound like bringing in more co-founders is the perfect solution to your problems, but it can also come with some risks. Assembling the right team of co-founders is not only time-consuming, but also quite difficult. Thus, building the perfect team could end up consuming a lot of valuable time that could otherwise be used for product development.
Ideally, your co-founders should complement your skills. It is also important to enjoy being close to each other. Since you will likely have to work together for an extended period of time, it is essential that you are compatible.
The main disadvantage of co-founders is that it reduces your equity in the company. The founders of the organization usually share equal shares. Be prepared to give up a large percentage of your business before taking on additional co-founders.
Outsource work to freelance engineers
Hiring freelance engineers is a good way to fill any technical gaps in your team.
It may be necessary to hire many engineers with different skills because most products require the work of multiple engineers to develop. Ultimately, the founding team member will be responsible for managing the projects these freelancers will work on.
Make sure you hire an electrician familiar with the type of electronics your product needs. Not all electrical engineers have experience in circuit design due to the large scale of the industry.
If you hire a 3D designer, they must be familiar with injection molding; otherwise you will probably end up with a prototype that cannot be mass produced.
Contract with a development company
For start-ups, it is usually best to avoid large design firms, as such firms charge astronomical rates for new product development.
Even if you can afford to have your product developed by a large development firm, it is a good idea to save on such costs and save those funds for other uses.
Fortunately, many smaller, lesser-known design agencies will develop your product for a much more affordable price. The cost of hiring these smaller firms is usually close to the cost of hiring freelancers. However, you can benefit from greater oversight and a higher degree of quality assurance.
Even if you hire a design firm to help, it’s important to remember that you should never be limited to sitting on the sidelines while someone else takes care of your product development.
In order to understand the development of your products and the various designs that are being made, you need to be at least somewhat involved in the development process.
Join forces with the manufacturer
Another option is to partner with a manufacturer based overseas who already makes products similar to yours.
Manufacturers with large production capacities have their own engineering and development departments. If you find a company that already makes a similar product, you may be able to broker a deal that could save you a lot of time in terms of engineering, product development, prototyping, and even manufacturing.
This approach allows you to reduce initial development costs. However, manufacturers will amortize these costs, meaning they will charge more per unit of product. You will have to slowly reimburse the manufacturers for the development costs incurred by them.
The main risk of this approach is that everything related to your product will be merged under one company.
The company you are working with will certainly be pushing for a manufacturing deal, at least until their costs are recouped. However, it will be almost impossible to switch to a cheaper manufacturing option even if your production volume increases.
It is also important to consider the fact that most manufacturers will likely prefer to own the intellectual property rights to your product either in whole or in part.