During our existence, we have helped dozens of startups launch, and we still communicate with some of their founders. We’ve seen how mistakes are made (and we made them ourselves), how success comes, and how good startups fail. All my experience was collected in this article in the form short tips to help you start a hardware startup.
To back up our experience with real-life cases, we talked to several startup founders and took valuable comments from them. it Maxim Getman , startup founder Foodger which helps to optimize the process of buying and consuming food, and Anton Galyashinsky who created the multivisor Wider , which makes it easier to work with content in different fields of activity.
For your convenience, we have divided the tips into several categories according to the launch stages. So, let’s not pull the cat for …, in short, let’s go.
Start with a problem
A brilliant idea was born to solve a problem. And not vice versa. This is obvious, but not easy at all. If you have an idea that able to help people , you are on the right track. For example, startup Forceemotion made caring for loved ones easier. Foodger has figured out how to simplify grocery shopping and food preparation. If you first thought about how to make money, and then started looking for an idea, then you can’t cook porridge with you. Not without exceptions, of course, but still.
Ukrainian startup Forceemotion
Talk to friends and acquaintances
During the development phase of an idea, the easiest way to test demand is chat with friends and acquaintances … There is always a chance that the problem you are trying to solve is not that big and people are not willing to pay money to solve it. Do not be afraid to drain the idea, for the most part, people are too lazy to do something themselves. Therefore, the likelihood that someone will steal your idea is negligible.
Simplify instead of complicating
A product that solves one problem well is better than one that somehow solves several problems at once. At the stage of launching a startup focus on one function and implement it well … After your product becomes popular, you can think about expanding the functionality. Otherwise, the device may turn out to be too complex, the value of which will be difficult to convey to the target audience.
Here’s what Maxim Getman, founder of the Foodger startup, has to say about the search for an idea:
“We started with a problem we faced ourselves. I was living in a hostel at that time, and I realized that when I am not at home, I don’t know what products I have and how many are left. Sometimes I had to go to the store additionally. I talked to my classmate and realized that I was not the only one with such a problem. And we decided to do something that would help solve this problem. ”
Ukrainian startup PetCube
Don’t bloat the staff
In fact, opinions differ on this score. Someone thinks that the optimal number of people in a team is 8, someone successfully launched with a team of 2 people. What can be said for sure, at the launch stage, take on the team only those people who
nosebleed very much needed. If you are not sure that you will be able to load a specialist to the full with important tasks, it is better to wait for the time being.
Trust only paper
There is an opinion that it is better not to do business with friends. However, the world is full of stories when startups were started by two good friends or former colleagues. We believe that it is possible and necessary to work with friends, however relationships are best written on paper. Because friendship is friendship, and lunch is on schedule.
Delegate whatever you can
Startup founders are often so inspired by their idea that they literally want to do everything themselves. The aspiration is good, but it always hurts the business. Because the task of the founders is organize work and think about development. For everything else, there is
MasterCard specialists who (if they are really specialists in their field) will do their job faster and better.
Maxim Getman tells about the team and the distribution of responsibilities:
“We have two people in the main team. The only thing we didn’t do ourselves was content generation, i.e. Photo and video. We hired professionals for this. ”
Anton Galyashinsky tells why you can work with friends:
“Initially there were three of us in the team: me, my friend and my wife’s brother. They say that it is better not to do business with friends. However, in my opinion, it is important to find people who do not just want to make money, but put their soul into it. It helps a lot in critical moments. ”
Ukrainian startup Branto
The faster the better
We strongly advise against wobbling long before creating the first prototype. The faster you make it, the spend less money. At this stage, you shouldn’t even think about Industrial Design … The task of the first prototype is to test the functionality, demand and performance of the idea.
The bigger, the better
The more people see, touch, and test your prototype, the more feedback you’ll get. And this is one of the most valuable things that you have at this stage. Real feedback and constructive criticism will help modify your device before going to market … Don’t be surprised if there are really a lot of bugs and improvements. The sooner you know about them, the better.
Anton Galyashinsky, co-founder of the Wider Multivision LLC startup, talks about the creation of the first prototype:
“We built the first prototype with our own hands. Of course, everything did not go as smoothly as we would like, but after the first presentation, we realized that there is a demand and it makes sense to make a device that will be sold all over the world ”.
Maxim Getman tells why the prototype is important:
“Looking back, I understand that I would fix one thing. We needed to create more prototypes so that we could give them away for testing. That way we would get a lot more feedback. ”
Ukrainian startup IBlazr
Investment search and budget
Plan your budget in advance
Obvious advice, which for some reason is ignored by many. Planning is saving money. That’s all 🙂
Don’t try to skimp on quality
Things you can’t save on when starting a hardware startup: industrial design and production … This will have a detrimental effect on the quality of the product, and then even the most ingenious marketer will not be able to help you. Unfortunately, we know what we’re talking about. About every 6 startup founders come to us with a design that is hard to look at, easy to forget and impossible to produce. Bad design always has to be redone , and this, logically, is an extra cost.
Try more than you need to
The most popular platform for finding investments all over the world and in Ukraine is Kickstarter. It is difficult to get there, but the percentage of successful projects there is higher than on other sites. but you shouldn’t be limited to one resource , there are many other good places to try your luck. In one of the articles, we did a complete overview of crowdfunding sites, accelerators and incubators for startups. You can get acquainted with it by link …
Ukrainian startup LaMetric
Search for contractors
Don’t work with freelancers
We talk about it a lot, constantly and to everyone. The reason we hate freelancers isn’t because we feel competitive. And what about freelancers always have to finish and almost always redo … A freelancer, no matter how good a specialist he is, works alone, which means that you are depriving your product of many other specialists who can help fix mistakes. And this is a marketer, technologist, designer, materials scientist who will make the product marketable, convenient, functional, and, most importantly, reduce the production cost, while leaving the quality at a high level.
For heaven’s sake, don’t skimp
It’s a good idea to charge good industrial design studios two to three times more money for design development than freelancers. A team of specialists stands behind this, which will do everything perfectly and ensure the success of the product. That’s why choose famous studios with experience , not a luxury, but a necessity.
Value your customers
Your first clients, even potential ones, are the most valuable thing you have. They are the ones build a reputation and become the first fans of the brand. Don’t skimp on tech support and don’t ignore criticism and feedback. Be honest and open and people will love you.
Make a plan and revise it constantly
It is better to draw up a promotion plan at the stage of forming an idea. But this does not mean at all that you need to strictly adhere to it. Let me tell you a secret: even the most seasoned marketer will not give you a 100% guarantee that this or that promotion channel will work. You will have to track the effectiveness of your actions and constantly adjust the strategy. This is the right approach that will ultimately give you an idea of what works for your product and industry.
Ukrainian startup Ecoisme
Learn to inspire people or find someone who already knows how
Just a good, even a brilliant product, you will not surprise anyone. The emotional side of the issue is no less important. When promoting a product that is unknown to anyone, you will have to talk a lot about it, inspiring and “infecting” people with emotions … If this succeeds, then your brand will turn into a religion, and users themselves will recommend it to friends and acquaintances.
Your reputation is one of the most valuable things you have. When starting a startup, you are more likely to be wrong. Don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes. and fix them.
Try all channels
Don’t trust anyone who tells you, “This channel is down.” Marketing laws are changing at a breakneck pace, and what didn’t work yesterday may work today. The main thing is to approach everything wisely and analyze the results of your work continuously.
At KLONA, we hope these little tips will help you avoid mistakes and launch a successful startup. And if you need help with development of industrial design or serial production – contact us. We have accumulated a wealth of experience in this area and know how to create a commercially successful device.