Top 25 Websites, Tools and Resources for Hardware Startups
Challenges are sure to follow when an entrepreneur jumps into the world of hardware production but the right tools will help your startup succeed.
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Life isn't easy for entrepreneurs. Taking the path less traveled always makes for a challenging experience. This is even more true for hardware startups with real, physical products. You need all of the help you can get to succeed.
There are countless online resources for software startups but not as many for hardware startups. So if you want some help with your hardware product be sure to explore the 25 resources below that are especially useful for hardware startups.
1. Dragon Innovation
Once you have a prototype developed, and have received a few real orders, the next step is to begin setting up higher volume manufacturing. Dragon Innovation helps entrepreneurs take their hardware product from prototype to full manufacturing. Their blog is loaded with excellent articles on hardware manufacturing.
2. Predictable Designs
Predictable Designs helps entrepreneurs take their hardware product from concept to prototype. They provide low-cost custom cost reports to help you understand all of the costs required to take your product to market. They also offer development plans, circuit designs, and engineering support/consulting plans. Their blog is full of information and advice for hardware startups, and discusses everything from product development to manufacturing.
Disclaimer! Predictable Designs was founded by the author.
Bolt is a venture capital firm that specializes in funding hardware startups. They invest between $100k to $500k in startups innovating at the intersection of hardware and software. Startups developing hardware products with a recurring software component model are preferred. The Bolt blog provides some excellent articles with valuable information for entrepreneurs.
Upverter is a web-based tool for designing electronic circuits and printed circuit boards. Their focus is providing an intuitive interface while providing features to prevent many common design mistakes. The Upverter blog discusses everything from hardware design to pricing a new hardware product.
5. Steve Blank
Steve Blank has founded or worked in eight startups, four of which have gone public. The majority of these were hardware startups. His website is loaded to maximum capacity with fantastic information for those creating new hardware products.
EEVBlog (Electronics Engineering Video Blog) is a very popular Australian blog and YouTube channel aimed at electronics engineers, hobbyists, inventors, hackers and makers. The content could be considered a mix of detailed equipment reviews, crazy antics, and strong opinions.
7. Circuit Hub
Circuit Hub helps hardware startups scale their manufacturing from 1 to 10,000 units at the press of a button. These are volumes generally too low for off-shore manufacturing, so Circuit Hub is a good intermediate volume manufacturing solution. Their blog includes articles discussing a wide variety of topics for hardware startups.
Hackster is an online community for hardware startups and hackers. Members post all of the technical details about their hardware project to help others learn and to get valuable feedback from the Hackster community. Hackster also provides great blog content including interviews with various people involved in hardware development.
9. Bald Engineer
If you want to learn more about electronics design then definitely check out this website. Bald Engineer is a really helpful resource for those just getting started in electronics design. Non-technical founders should work to gain some understanding of electronics design and this is a great place to start.
10. Hardware Startup IO
Hardware Startup IO is a blog aggregator site specifically for hardware startups. They compile and share lots of awesome articles on hardware from a wide variety of sources.
11 Don Debelak
Don Debelak is a marketing guru that has written several books on bringing new physical products to market. His website is an excellent resource of very practical information covering topics such as marketing, distribution channels, and sales. Don has been an invaluable resource for me personally over the years.
12. Creative Connectivity
Creative Connectivity is a blog that focuses on the various aspects and applications of wireless connectivity. This blog can sometimes be more technical than the previously listed resources but it has some really helpful content for those developing wireless hardware products.
AdaFruit is an open-source hardware company that designs and manufactures various electronics products, development kits, and accessories. They also provide various learning resources, including written tutorials, videos for beginners, and a live online video electronics show.
Sparkfun is an open-source electronics retailer that produces various development kits and electronic modules aimed at electronic DIY'ers. They also provide design files for all of the products they manufacture.
Fictiv simplifies the process of getting 3D printed prototypes for any custom shaped plastic pieces required for your product. Fictiv intelligently routes production to available machines in their network of vetted vendors. The results: faster parts, fair prices, and focused innovation.
DipTrace is a suite of programs for designing electronics . Not only is DipTrace powerful, but it's also affordable and incredibly intuitive to use making it a great option for both beginners and experienced engineers.
17. Sunstone Circuits
Sunstone Circuits produces the Printed Circuit Board (PCB) required for prototyping any electronic product. The PCB is what holds and connects all of the various electronic components. They offer high quality boards and great customer service.
18. Screaming Circuits
After producing the Printed Circuit Board for a hardware product, the next step is soldering all of the electronic components on to the board. This is the service offered by Screaming Circuits. I've worked with both Sunstone Circuits and Screaming Circuits and have always received high quality boards and fantastic customer service.
Foundr is a digital magazine for startups that is especially targeted to young entrepreneurs. It contains a wealth of information on starting and growing a new company. They do a lot of interviews with successful entrepreneurs to help you learn from their mistakes and successes.
20. Proto Labs
Proto Labs offers production services for the plastic parts of your product. Their services include both 3D printing and CNC milling for prototype level quantities. Once you are ready to progress to producing thousands of units they also offer low-cost injection molds.
The further you take your product's development on your own the more you'll save on engineering costs. There are several development kits available now that are designed to be used by tech-savvy people who aren't necessarily engineers. The most common is Arduino which sells for as low as $20.
Do you have questions about how to develop, manufacture, market, or sell your product? Would you like to have real experts answer your questions for free? Then Quora is the resource for you. Quora is a question and answer website where you can get feedback from experts in a huge variety of fields.
Crowdfunding has helped fund many hardware startups. Although there may be multiple crowdfunding sites out there, none can compare to Kickstarter. For example, in 2012 a startup named Pebble Technology was able to raise $10.3 million dollars for their first generation smart watch. In 2015, they went on to raise over $20 million dollars for their second generation smart watch.
Digi-Key is one of the largest distributors of electronic components in North America. They carry just about any electronic component imaginable. Not only are they a potential vendor for supplying your parts but they are an excellent resource for component pricing information.
Alibaba is a Chinese e-commerce company that offers a huge selection of components available from various manufacturers and vendors. It's a great place to find stock components but also to network with Asian manufacturers to produce custom parts.
So what are your favorite websites, tools and resources for hardware startups? Please share them by commenting below.