Hardware startups have the potential to change lifestyles and how consumers interact with their environment. However, there’s a long journey between developing an innovative idea and becoming a household name.
When it comes to creating a successful hardware startup, the early stages are everything. Here’s some helpful advice for early-stage hardware startups to help them get through the tough part.
Take a Lean Approach
There’s a distinct difference between the American startup philosophy and the Latin American startup philosophy. Startups in the USA tend to scale up quickly, getting as many investors as possible— in other words, they go big or go home. In most cases, they end up going home with less than they started with.
Conversely, Latin American founders lack the same funding and resources as their northern counterparts. As such, they’ve developed a strong bootstrapping culture that shifts the focus away from investment opportunities and toward slow, sustainable growth.
For industrial product design startups to be successful, they should take a page from Latin American entrepreneur culture. Take a lean approach to development, focusing on affordable resources and self-funding before reaching out to investors. This approach keeps the core business in control and allows for sustainable growth.
Build a Great Team and Network
You may have heard this quote before: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” The same logic applies to a hardware startup.
The key to long-term success is building a killer team and a supportive network. Give careful consideration to the people you want to bring aboard during the early stages. They should have skills that contribute to the project as well as values aligned with the company culture.
Network with people in the industry. Learn from people who have done it before and connect with others who are going through it now. You never know what you might learn from your peers.
Keep Prototypes Simple
Don’t let the idea of perfection breed inaction. Initial prototypes should be rough and simple. It’s not uncommon to have two raw prototypes: one that shows how your hardware works and one that shows how it will look when completed.
The idea is to get your prototypes out quickly and efficiently so that you can validate your idea. Keep in mind that this is your first draft— the final product will look a lot different.
Hardware Startups Test and Test Again
Another benefit of keeping prototypes simple is that you have room to improve and grow. Consider your initial prototype the alpha test, which leads to a more detailed beta test.
Your alpha test will be practically primordial and will showcase a concept rather than a finished product. Your beta will be more functional and provide an opportunity to show the initial testers what you have to offer.
Learn and Adapt
As an entrepreneur, regardless of your industry, you should always be open to learning more and applying that knowledge in a meaningful way. In other words, adapt or face extinction.
There will always be room for improvement, both in your product and your process. By keeping these core lessons in mind, your early-stage hardware startup has the potential to grow into something amazing.