Five months after announcing the effort, Kickstarter and its partners have launched a dedicated “Hardware Studio” for hardware startups.
Kickstarter partnered with Avnet (a technology distributor) and Dragon Innovation (which provides services and support for manufacturing firms) on the effort, which provides instruction and tools to fledgling hardware firms.
“For most creators, the transition from gaining support for an idea with a handful of prototypes to producing a product at scale is challenging,” read a note on the Hardware Studio’s blog. “While it’s impossible to anticipate everything that might slow down, creators who have a manufacturing plan in place before their campaigns are better equipped to address issues that might arise. Having seen so many creators go through this, we’ve identified some common challenges.”
Like software, hardware is all about the details. Failing to engineer something precisely can result in device failure, which can easily doom a company. Kickstarter believes that the tools it offers through its Toolkit, including articles and live-streams from experts, can help relative hardware newbies through the intricacies of the creation process.
Dragon Innovation’s contribution to this hub is a “Product Planner” software suite, which allows startups to estimate the true costs of production. (Of course, signing up for the service also puts you in the company’s sales funnel; this isn’t wholly altruistic.)
Once everything is fully online, Hardware Studio will offer live-streams in a number of categories, including planning, pre-production, manufacturing, fulfillment, and launch. The site’s articles hub will cover those subject areas, as well, although at this early stage there’s relatively little content. (For those very new to hardware, there’s a useful ‘Manufacturing Terms for Hardware Creators’ piece.)
Even if you have no intention of signing up for the services offered via the Studio, these articles and live-streams could provide a useful resource if you intend on building hardware. For many creators, any help is welcome: manufacturing is a notoriously tough business that has decimated untold numbers of promising startups. Even highly funded and well-publicized firms can crash and burn; look at what happened to MakerBot, for example.
In light of that, some instruction about everything from supply-chain management to tool use couldn’t hurt. Kickstarter hopes its efforts will produce the next great manufacturing firm. Could that unicorn be yours?