Access to cheaper electronics, more prototyping tools, the knowledge disseminated by the maker movement and an obsession with connectivity is transforming everyday devices from locks to jewelry. Plus, given the ability to take those cheaply made prototypes and then find a market and funding via crowdfunding platforms like Indiegogo or Kickstarter, there’s a good chance your crazy niche product might actually find a home.
But not everyone has the experience soldering or knows how to build a prototype than can be manufactured. And sure, there are labs and incubators out there ready to help. But before you start buying boards in bulk, check out our How We Built It program at Structure Connect on Oct. 21 and 22, where we’ll have the people who’ve helped build some of today’s most exciting hardware companies discuss what they’ve learned along the way.
Each of the following speakers will be giving a presentation at the event and most of them will be onstage at the end of the second day to take questions from the audience about their experiences. Because our event is all about the internet of things, and we fundamentally believe that there is room for innovation that rivals the innovation we saw at the beginning of the web or even at the beginning of the app store model, we’re doing as much as we can to help people bring their ideas to fruition.
Along with the How We Built it program, we also have a program for super early stage products and ideas called Garage@Connect where founders, researchers and really anyone can apply to show off their idea during one day of the event. They’ll get a tabletop and a free ticket, so check out the application form and fill it out. Already we have speakers who are responsible for buying products at major retailers like Lowes and Staples as well as the CEOs of iControl, SmartThings and IFTTT.
And if you haven’t gotten far enough to apply for that program, register for the show to see how founders from LIFX, Nomad, Ringly, Marvell’s Kinoma Create, August and Livescribe have managed to get from idea to product. Here’s what you’ll learn.
Prototyping: When Marvell wanted to serve the maker market, it knew it needed a product that would help them create hardware. So the Kinoma Create was born. The lessons Peter Hoddie learned about prototyping new devices, iterative design and making hard choices will apply to entrepreneurs trying to build their first device.
Fundraising: LIFX started out with two guys and an idea before going on to raise $1.3 million in six days on Kickstarter and later, a $12 million round. CEO Phil Bosua (pictured top) will explain how a connected bulb became the foundation of a company.
The first 5,000 units: This is where the prototype meets the real world. When it comes to many of today’s connected devices it’s also where old-school objects meet tech. Christina Mercando, the CEO of Ringly, will recall how she had to get on a plane, fire her partners and educate an old-line industry about technology to make her first production run.
Scaling up: Maybe you did your first production run in China, or maybe not. But after the hard work of that first run is out of the way, lucky startups will need to think bigger. Brian Hahn, co-founder of Nomad, will explain how to think about scaling up, supply chains and the economics of big manufacturing as applied to his companies charging products.
Building for openness and an eye for design: Before you ship, you have to put your new device into a box, an aluminum case or some kind of packaging. Jason Johnson CEO of August will discuss how his company thought about the process and how it is building a lock that will work with many platforms.
Selling your product: You have built prototypes, raised money and even shipped your baby. But do you know how to get your product into stores and what to look for in negotiating deals? Gilles Bouchard, the CEO of Livescribe can tell you what you need to know.