By Eva Yoo
“Hardware innovation used to be very linear. It was hugely dependant on the rate of technical discovery, such as phones getting smaller or faster,” Duncan Turner, General Partner& Program Director of HAX said. “However, hardware innovation no longer linear, thanks to IoT innovations.”
For example, the merchant services aggregator and mobile payments company Square is a simple product that brought in huge impact in the industry. The data that the device could aggregate from the users proved as a valuable information to the industry. “Product ecosystem innovation is now important as much as technical discovery,” Duncan said.
He said, now when HAX look at a new hardware, they put it in a quadrant of ‘technology’ and ‘ecosystem’ to see where it corresponds to. For example, a Smart watch for diagnosis of disease can be vertical for the medical industry and robotics can be horizontal, since it can be used for many other different industries. “Product ecosystem innovation is now important as much as technical discovery,” Duncan said.
He gave some examples with how he divides the current projects into different categories. “Interestingly, those which rely on little technical innovation or ecosystem innovation can still be incredibly financially successful, but rely on business model innovation to achieve commoditization, such as Xiaomi’s Mi band.” “On the other hand, hardwares with high technology and strong vertical require huge amounts of investment and longer lead times, but potentially unlock new markets like Google car and Boston Dynamics. These may not be led by one company, but a number of companies.”
Duncan said the sweet spot for early stage hardware startups is between those two categories. “The hardware with unique technology and positioned ecosystem is where you have companies that are able to grow fairly organically.”
Advices On Hardware Launch’s Four Steps
Many know that Shenzhen can be the best place to start your hardware company and once done, launching the product to innovators and early adopters through KickStarter and Indiegogo. However, Duncan gave some tips about what to consider when forming the team and making a prototype.
First, when building a team who can create something new, now having maker and hustler is not enough. “Nowadays needs one more expert in the team whose background is in deep mathematics, science or medical background to help the product position certain vertical,” Duncan said. “To give an example with Apple, Steve Jobs started Apple with a team consisted of maker, Steve Woziniak and hustler, himself. However, would need one more industry expert if Apple were a hardware company at this time.”
Second, when creating a pre-production prototype, it’s important to get polished quickly, where Duncan introduced few startups in HAX’s portfolio that help just that, such as Particle (hardware and software tools to build prototype), Makeblock (aluminum version of Lego mindstorms) and Meet the Kast (claims to be the fastest 3D printer).
Lastly, Duncan stressed the importance of embracing Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) to build a product. “The future of HW is ‘a truly intelligent device everywhere’. The key to achieve this is by making things connected, providing advanced sensing, embedding computing.”
Source:: HAX Now Draws Quadrant of ‘Technology’ And ‘Ecosystem’ To Mark Your Hardware Product