What Makes a Successful Hardware Project?

What Makes a Successful Hardware Project?
Ayah Bdeir, founder and CEO, littleBits, at the Hardware Innovation Workshop.

“Hardware is hard” is a frequent refrain at the Hardware Innovation Workshop. That’s one reason why the audience is here — to identify the land mines on the way from idea to product.

But it’s also helpful, and encouraging, to focus on successful initiatives, and ask their founders to reflect on why they’ve succeeded.

David Lang, co-founder of OpenROV and author of Zero to Maker, told the audience, “There’s a lot of power in having fun and inviting people to be part of it.”

Ayah Bdeir, founder and CEO, littleBits shared how she has launched a global company.

“It’s not about opening a new market. It’s about creating universal objects, building a global supply chain, and designing a platform rather than a product,” she said.

Maxim Lubovsky, of Formlabs, referenced a common theme at the conference: the importance of design.

“The first person we brought into the company was an industrial designer. Everyone says make design a priority, but that’s easy to say.”

Creating community was an important factor in a successful hardware launch, according to the panelists.

“Tone is really important,” said David Lang. “Always be inviting people in.”

Dulcie Madden, co-founder and CEO, Rest Devices, said that rapid prototyping was a key to her company’s success: “We probably went through a hundred different designs,” she told the audience.

Madden said its also important to focus on usability.

“Our baby monitor needed to keep working even if a baby poops or pees on it,” she said.

But the most important factor in success, David Lang said, is starting. He quoted Arduino’s Massimo Banzi, from a talk Massimo gave two years earlier in this very room.

“Don’t let not knowing what you are doing stop you from getting started,” he said.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

DC Denison is the co-editor of The Maker Pro Newsletter, which covers the intersection of makers and business. That means hardware startups, new products, and market trends.

DC manages customer stories at Acquia, the digital experience company.

View more articles by DC Denison