Supporting the Tech Maker Community

by Mike Hunter

The Hardware Studio, launched last month, is a new initiative designed to help hardware makers design products and plan ahead for manufacturing before they launch on Kickstarter. It is a collaboration among Kickstarter PBC, the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects, Dragon Innovation, a leading provider of manufacturing software and know-how, and Avnet, a leading global technology distributor.

The Hardware Studio is comprised of two elements: the Hardware Studio Toolkit, a community site where designers can participate in tutorials and live webinars with industry experts before launching their Kickstarter projects, and Hardware Studio Connection, a more selective program that will give makers access to hands-on support from Avnet and Dragon engineers as well as discounts on components and services.

“The commoditization of technology has given makers unprecedented access to the tools they need to create innovative and exciting products,” says Bob Merriman, Avnet’s business development manager. “The makers of today are creating the products we’re all going to love tomorrow. However, finding reputable partners, making tangible progress in hardware development, or simply knowing what to do next, can be very difficult for makers. Avnet understands that bringing a hardware product to market is not an easy task. Avnet’s resources and access to vast amounts of technology make Avnet a great partner for makers in the hardware space.”

Describing Avnet’s support in the maker/startup space as multi-faceted, Merriman points to Avnet’s acquisition of Hackster.io to support open source hardware creators, and launch of the MakerSource.io community to help startups find the resources they need to get to market. “Avnet understands that supporting the maker community requires a holistic approach because the journey from maker to market can be so unique.”

Additionally, Merriman notes, “Early decisions cast very long shadows in the hardware world. It sounds very cliché, but too many makers/Creators don’t know what they don’t know and end up going down a path they think is correct, only to learn that a costly (or time-consuming) mistake was made at some point in the past.”

To help Creators avoid those pitfalls, Avnet will offer services through the Hardware Studio Connection to help prepare for the early stages of product development. Avnet will provide qualifying Creators access to design services, BOM optimization, and help with creating a prototype if one does not exist yet. After that, design for manufacturing (or DFM) services are available. Once the product is ready for manufacturing, Dragon Innovation specializes in helping early-stage companies navigate the difficult journey of “one to many” (i.e. moving from prototype to production).

Avnet also addresses the funding aspect. Explaining that qualified Creators will receive quotes for the services they need, Merriman notes also that Avnet provides an option for qualified Creators who do not have funding. “As part of Hardware Studio Connection, Avnet and Dragon Innovation will quote the work needed to get a product from its current state through production. A timeline for each service, all the way up to delivery of the product, will also be provided. This will allow Creators to get a realistic estimate of the costs and timeline required to build and deliver their product. Creators can then use that information in their campaigns to tell their backers how much their product will cost and when they expect to ship.”

Says Merriman, “Hardware Studio Connection was created to be more than a collection of services; it is designed to tailor service offerings to the specific needs of Creators because Creators have varying levels of progress. There is no point too early, or too late, for Creators to engage with Hardware Studio.”

 

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