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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

Bench Talk


Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics

How To Start A Hardware Startup Marcel Consée

“Little particles of inspiration sleet through the universe all the time traveling through the densest matter in the same way that a neutrino passes through a candyfloss haystack, and most of them miss.” –from Terry Pratchett’s book, Sourcery

Is this the beginning of a game-changing application?
Image: Is this the beginning of a game-changing application?

A one-inspiration particle hit: The game-changing, industry-revolutionizing idea that won’t just make you rich but solve most of today’s first-world problems as well as many of those of other worlds. And it’s neither a smartphone app nor another social network. It’s… Oh, that’s bad…. It requires special hardware. Even if you don’t know much about electronics, there’s one thing you do know: Hardware design is difficult and expensive, and it takes a lot of time.

Luckily, you are living in the 21st century, when easily configurable electronic boards, open source hardware, YouTube tutorials, and user-friendly component distributors like Mouser are available, as are 3-D printers, “maker spaces,“ and peer-to-peer communities like Hardware Pioneers. The latter brings together true beginners with various founders of hardware startup companies who offer sound advice. How does one start the next game-changing hardware application?

Remain Enthusiastic

This is very crucial, especially when you start with naught. Convincing established companies and investors that your idea is feasible and profitable requires stamina to overcome the many challenges ahead. Hardware and software challenges are perhaps expected, but the business side can be terrifying. Passion for your project is going to help.

Do It Now

Or someone else will. Get started and get your hands dirty. And don’t be afraid of asking for help and making big decisions; there are people out there who answer all kinds of questions. Even professional contract manufacturers, especially in China, are accessible today; their design specialists may help you without payment up front.

Be Patient

That’s hard when you’re passionate about your idea. However, there will be delays. It will likely take a few—or many—attempts until you get your design right, and every step of a manufacturing process, even for small volumes, can be delayed for any number of reasons.

Focus On What Your Hardware Solves

Inspiration doesn’t often trigger a single, identifiable invention but a larger array of possibilities that are exciting to explore. But at least initially, focus on what issues your hardware solves because identifiable solutions are what will make your design marketable. From a business point of view: Is anybody out there going to pay for your solution?

Use Open Source Opportunities

There’s a wide range of well-documented, affordable hardware platforms with huge ecosystems out there, including Beagleboard, Arduino, and Raspberry Pi. Maker spaces and Fabrication Labs (FabLabs) in almost every town make it easy to create individual mechanical parts and to differentiate the product.

Access Mouser’s Extensive Technical Content

Mouser distributes electronic components from more than 600 of the world’s leading manufacturers, which affords us a broad and deep perspective on the electronics industry. We share this unique perspective through a variety of resources online:

So what are you waiting for? The next big hardware application is just around the corner and has your name on it!

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As Technical Content Specialist, Marcel is the internal contact person for technical questions in Mouser’s EMEA marketing team. Originally a physicist, he used to work as editor for special-interest magazines in electronics. In real life, he’s juggling two kids with too many chromosomes, a  penchant for electronic gadgets and a fondness of books and beer. Until now, none has dropped.

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