By Eli Sinaiko
Taking an idea, no matter how great, and making it tangible is no easy process. This is doubly true for hardware entrepreneurs. As the saying goes, “Hardware is Hard.” Fortunately, the revolutionary crowdfunding website IndieGoGo created and published a 15-page ‘Hardware Handbook’ in November 2013. The purpose of the Handbook is to aid entrepreneurs in the successful optimization and manufacture of hardware products.
While hardware entrepreneurship has become significantly easier in the last 10 years because of advances in 3-D printing technology, achieving success and profitability is still an extremely complex and tricky task. IndieGoGo’s little-known handbook represents a roadmap for inexperienced entrepreneurs to use to build a campaign around their own hardware product. The Hardware Handbook, which can be downloaded for free here, offers a concise guide to developing a hardware idea to manufacture.
Is creating a hardware startup tougher than creating a software startup? Inference and intuition show the answer to be a resounding ‘Yes!’ Hardware startups inherently deal with more logistical variables and barriers than software ventures. The ability to create a product or service within a portable, digital environment is a distinct advantage over a physical object or device. That is not to say being a software entrepreneur is smooth sailing. The process of creating any startup from the ground-up is extremely difficult. Yet some entrepreneurs still choose hardware as the medium of expressing their ideas and visions.
One aspect of hardware entrepreneurship that’s come a long way is crowdfunding. Sites like IndieGoGo which has risen swiftly in popularity in 2011, provide individuals a way to showcase their hardware to impress and attract individual investors. Individuals viewing the online crowdfunding campaign page can choose whether they want to donate in return for a unit of the product when the device is made. This way, crucial seed funding is distributed far more widely across many investors than the conventional method of relying on a few sources for venture capital. It’s no surprise then that the Hardware Handbook relies on a crowd-based model to secure funding.
Crowdfunding is a beautiful idea. It gives entrepreneurs freedom to create without from a single or a few heavy investors while rewarding the individuals who invested with a return for the risk they took. Aspiring hardware entrepreneurs will look more and more to crowds to fund their products and innovations. For the experienced, inexperienced, and the simply interested, the Hardware Handbook is a resource worth checking out.