by Jia-Jheng Yeh
Being a Maker out of interest is one thing, but what are the things to take into account if your projects are to be mass-produced? What are the ups and downs in the process? This article will shed light on the key to mass-producing projects by Makers.
Making good use of open-source hardware to build product prototypes
In fact, the threshold for putting ideas into practice is not high, as long as you make good use of open-source hardware that you can buy and touch, and even modify, regarding its firmware. There are development boards such as Arduino, Ameba, ESP8266, Raspberry Pi, ARM mbed, BeagleBone, etc. You can build different modules for different performances intended. In this way, you can test the module to see if it works and adjust the specs accordingly. Once the prototype is ready to be produced and sold in the market, there are 4 methods to be adopted as follows:
- Apply for patent
- Use fundraising platforms
- Join acceleration programs to receive training
- Participate in domestic and foreign competitions in development as well as apply for government subsidies
From these starting points, Makers can seek opportunities and funds, which serve as the stepping stone for companies to enter the market and stay in business.
Turning the needs of investors into the funds for mass production
Angel investors invest out of interest or the chance to gain reputation, so they focus on the development team, product potential, or a startup’s contribution to society, etc. Venture capital or acceleration programs, on the other hand, aims at making profits through investment or buying a company’s stock share, so they pay attention to return on investment and whether the connections of people and resources of a company are able to facilitate development. Regular companies invest based on their own purpose of investments and expected outcomes.
For this reason, the potential of the team, external cooperation, patents and technology, and the development direction of companies are all factors that affect investors’ decision.
Know your supply chain and build better cooperation
The production process includes: construction, design verification, small-scale trial production, mass production, and shipment. One thing to be noted when startups select a partner is to find companies that meet their needs. Some manufacturers are high-tech on the outside, but actually low-tech on the inside, where they often turn out to be rather conservative and refrain from trying new things. Before confirming partnership, startups can have the manufacturers explain their quality control system, testing equipment, production line planning, and details of equipment with examples. The next is to make sure the manufacturers have organization and departments that are well functioning. Know the ways to file complaints and negotiate strategies for cooperation. By doing so, the cooperation between the two parties can be smoother and well-rounded.
At present, more and more Makers want to mass produce their projects, but there is still a long way to go before that can happen. It is recommended that startup companies can make good use of resources such as open-source hardware, Maker spaces, desktop tools for production, acceleration programs, crowdfunding, and so on. However, Makers need to be cautious and take all factors into account during the process.