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5 problems you will face as a Hardware Product Development Start-Up

If you have decided to do a hardware company(Like develop a new hardware product), what are the things that you will face?

1- You will need to have tons of patience

It was the year 2011 and month of August, I was just back from our college industrial visit ( to Goa :P). I took a one month permission from my boss at a company i was working part time(Amar Group). I told him that i wanted to make a dosa making machine and would be needing to use some of the tools in the manucturing department for a period of one month. I was full of passion and brought along Sudeep with me to double speed the work. I was damn sure that 1 month was too too much and could finish the ordeal in a matter of 10-15 days.

You will not believe me that it was not until March of 2012 (6 months) that we did not get our first dosa from the Dosa Machine.So take it for granted that you are not on  a date when you are out with a product company. You will need to have patience. It took us 6 months to get one perfect dosa and 12 more months to make 100 continuous dosas.

2- Undwindling passion

What if I told you that the dish you are cooking will be ready after 700-1000 days, does it sound like a plan? Your hardware product is a cooking story that will take you at least 1000 days before you can serve it to some one.

If you are able to maintain the same passion on the 365th day as on your day-1 then kudos, you have the balls to runs product company.

3- Frustrations will be common, so get used to them

Be prepared to hear bad news always. The number of external variants in your hardware company is 10X of that in a non hardware company. These are the variants totally out of your control. A traffic jam somewhere, power cut in another part of your town, government changing the Copper import export rates and many factors. You are more dependent on external factors while you run a hardware product company. You will never achieve that ZEN like stature. Expect things to go bonkers every now and then. Even the best planning will not keep you from trouble. Expect frustrating times.

4- You will be dealing with people without soft skills 

It is not a software company that you will be sending mails, with perfectly laid down words and terms and conditions. It is often an illiterate guy, wearing greased shirt under a dim light and filthy factory you have to deal with. You will often see them dis-respecting schedules, they would not take calls, they will not understand the word disruption or innovation. You are not even considered their customer to be true. An automobile company always gives them 100 times the order you are standing with.

So to get work done from them, you need to be good to them, talk to them about their kids, buy them chai and literally chato-fy them to get your work running. They will do your work only when they like your work, not for the money. But the silver lining is that once they love your work, you cannot find a more friendly vendor. He will be your extended family.

5- You will hear more criticism than encouragement

The first 10-15 days with your vendor, fabricator, your shed owner, tea walla etc would be the honeymoon period, then starts the war. They will not understand why you are changing the design so many times, nor the thoughts behind your development cycle.  There will be more discouraging words than encouraging ones. Im not saying that in other start-ups you won’t find discouragement, but the scale here is high. It is because you are no more in Virtual world, you are in reality. People can see every nook and crook of your product. Your product is naked and is standing there!

So dear friend, product development is a world full of thorns. Not a cakewalk, not easy, it is not a fancy place to be in. It involves loads of sweat, arguments, dis-appointments, enemies and frustrations. If you are prepared to take the leap, take it for the love of seeing your dream come true. Its only your love and passion for the product you are making that will keep you running your product development cycle.

If running a start up is like running a marathon, running a product based company is a double marathon.

Do it JUST FOR THE LOVE OF IT! I would make up with another write up about 10 benefits of starting a hardware company :)





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