Hi, friends! My name Andrew, I’m a founder of Sit&Fit hardware startup which my team developing already more than 5 months. And today I want to tell you the story behind this project and about fuckups that we made, so you don’t make the same stupid mistakes that we do)
Before we start this project, I had no experience in hardware startups or even in hardware, but had much experience in IT and software development. So I thought that developing of hardware will be mostly the same. How I was wrong)
So the first problem that hit us was the lack of expertise(while we think that we have it). In our team, we have a guy who is a guru of electronics and had some experience in mechanics. So when he said that prototype will be ready in two weeks, I acted as a regular project manager just multiple his two weeks by 3. This was a mistake, but not so big that I’ve made after this. I started the conversation with investors and give them the date when the prototype will be ready. And of course, we didn’t make it in time and lost investor.
Even simple things can be hard to make good working. So before start a hardware startup, you will need to get people with good expertise in all areas that you need. So good networking is a big plus (it always a plus).
R&D can take from a week to many years. So before building a timeline and negotiate with investors/partners, you should make the working prototype and understood how you will build and produce it in a large volume. Or at least understood what resources you will need to make it.
The second problem that we got was the length of iteration. Due to problems with quality of manufacturing of some parts and waiting other parts from China our iteration length increased from two weeks to two month.
In hardware developing iteration can be much longer. To lower the risks, costs and development time you should start manufacturing and assembling only when you strongly convinced that you developed part/device will work. Good expertise in area will help you with this.
To lower costs of developing, we were buying cheap materials and parts, and that was a bad decision, cause it increased R&D time in a twice. This may work for electronics, but will not work for mechanics.
Don’t try to save money buying cheap parts, when you are making your prototype, cause this will increase the time of R&D. Your main target here is to develop working prototype in the shortest amount of time and present it to investors and publicity.
No one will take you in account without prototype to show.
And at the end when we, at last, got our prototype we understood that we need totally rebuild it)
So if measure the hardness of startups I would give this order(first the simplest):
- Business startups
- Software startups (mobile)
- Software startups (web)
- Hardware startups (electronics)
- Hardware startups (mechanics)
- Hardware startups (space)
And the last thing that you should know — developing of hardware projects is not cheap, so you need to be prepared for this.
If you have some questions, feel free to ask in comments here.
PS: Here are few things about our project:
Sit&Fit — is a under-desk stepper trainer for people who have the lack of physical activity in their life, but have no time for fitness clubs or gyms. This device giving them a possibility to workout during their work while they sit at the tables. Here is how our prototype looks like(green thing under the table):