How We Built a Hardware Product28 Aug 2014 - The Hardware Series
You should know that we actually haven’t shipped a hardware product yet. But I’m hopeful.
Our plan is to build a software and hardware integrated product. We think the experience will be unique and exhilarating. From what I hear you might be interested in following along with us.
This series should give you as close a look as I can offer. We’ll go through product design, rapid prototyping, and all of the ins and outs of our outsourcing. (For example, how the heck did you find a manufacturer overseas?) We’ll talk about our business plans and how we are pricing and marketing the product.
Let’s start with why we’re building an integrated hardware product, and not just software. Especially since we’re all software engineers.1
As software engineers we have a frequent problem: people bug us. Not in the sense that we don’t like them, more in the sense that they interrupt us and keep us from accomplishing our work. Interruptions are awful. There are clever graphics and comics that illustrate this well.
We’ve all tried to convince people to leave us alone while deep in programming. When you saw The Social Network (only once, right?) you all thought the same thing when you heard the term “wired In”, right?
Back in 2012 Garrett Gee posted a picture of a Steve Jobs quote to Dribbble. The quote looks gorgeous on the wall. But if you read through the comments, everyone wants to know: “Where did you get that sign!?” Same questions on another Instagram post.
It turns out he had them custom made. And man do I want one. So, I have set out to have one custom made for myself. It seems to take a lot of research (we’ll talk about this), and there are indeed many places that do acrylic signs with LED lighting. We’ve started with a couple basic prototypes. They look similar to Garrett’s; after all he was the inspiration.
Now, with a sign in my hands the potential is even more obvious. I want to make them wireless. I want to make them automatic. I want to make them broadcast to my team over the internet. And so now it’s a real project, and (hopefully) a very real company.
I am just as excited about using the sign (and app) as I am about the experience of building the product. We’ll post updates here as they happen, hopefully once a week. We’re publishing here long before we know the outcomes. Who knows where this road will take us, but for now we’re planning on covering:
- How we come up with the idea, and prove the concept
- What we learn trying to get prototypes
- How we find our first overseas manufacturer
- Who can help us with our technical prototypes
- The branding process and pre-marketing
- The product design process
- How we work with HomeKit and iBeacon
- The process of finding a packaging supplier
- How we manage quality testing
- What we learn about mass (hopefully) shipping
- And likely a number of other things
- In fact, if you have an idea of what we might share, please let us know
We’ve already been through how we came up with the idea. We’ll write soon about what we’ve done to prove the concept, and how it has evolved soon.
These posts won’t be a series of bull built on the glory of finding a why. The why is simple: fun. This isn’t about making entrepreneurship look elegant or glamorous. It’s a side project for us, and we’re just enjoying ourselves.
Let me know if you have any thoughts and questions, or anything in particular you’d like to hear about. You can follow via RSS, or Twitter. If you’d like weekly updates via email subscribe here.
Alright, you win. Andrew does have an educational background in hardware engineering. And he is very excited to build a HomeKit accessory, and we are very excited to have an in-house electrical engineer. That said, even Andrew works full time as a Mac and iOS app developer. ↩