August 12th East Bay Hardware Startup’s Event Recap


On Aug 13th, The East Bay Hardware Startup group held its first Hardware Massive event for its at NextSpace Berkeley. Around 50 hardwarians came to network and hear CEO Colin Owen from Sparse talk about the trials of a bootstrapped hardware startup. His company Sparse produces lighting systems for bikes.

Colin began his presentation by giving us an overview about himself and his background as a teacher in industrial design. Then he spoke about how he came up with his idea for a bike lighting system and took us from how we designed it to delivering it to his first customers.

“Startups don’t work” was the most profound statement of the night. He emphasized how as a hardware startup you need to connect all the links in the chain from getting funding to dealing with end customers and how all of these take time and are critical to building a viable hardware startup. He also had great insights and key takeaways from crowdfunding his product. Colin OwenHe stated, “You get the early validation of your product and great customer feedback on what people want”  Early backers can help you make some decisions like finding out that 90% of his customers wanted the black model bicycle light, which tells you most of your target audience likes black. This is return makes your manufacturing plan easier and knowing how many SKU’s you need. Inventory is a cash killer and anything sitting in inventory you are not selling is money just evaporating.

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During demo time, many cool products lit people’s eyes. One product is a new delivery and payment system that can replace the obsolete newspaper boxes on the streets. It seems very convenient to just pay on your phone instead of putting in 6 quarters into those boxes. We also had OpenBike. A connected bike platform that controls all of the onboard electronics that many bikes have like electronic shifting, suspension and onboard sensors. The platform will power all the devices with just one battery and will charge by simply having you peddle. Really cool stuff.

If you missed the presentation or are interested in more information, we will be posting a video of the presentation shortly, and will send out Colin’s slides on our Slideshare account. Please keep an eye out for it!

Thank you, NextSpace Berkeley for hosting us and Berkeley Sourcing Group for providing food and beer!

Each month, Hardware Massive puts on these events to allow hardware entrepreneurs to network, make valuable connections and hear a hardware industry expert speak about an interesting topic or problem that hardware startups might have.

Hardware Massive platform is sponsored by Berkeley Sourcing group and it allows everyone in the hardware startup ecosystem to connect, learn and collaborate at local chapter events all around the world. Then you can continue those conversations online after the event via our online platform. Its meets LinkedIn.

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