Developing a hardware prototype is one of the most valuable stages for hardware startups.
Well, for any startup really.
And that’s for a couple reasons.
#1 – you see your product come to life.
#2 – you learn extremely valuable insight about how your product could be used, how it holds up through wear and tear, and how it can be improved.
But maybe your hardware startup is still in the early prototype stages.
Maybe you’re pressed for cash and you don’t have the time and resources to ship out a final product.
So instead of trying to raise investor funds or talking to ma and pop about loaning you some money, how about selling your functional prototype.
Prepping your hardware prototype to sell
Don’t get me wrong, selling your hardware prototype will likely be a difficult task.
But the majority of those who tackle this, are those who are able to speed up their Learn, Measure, Build Feedback Loops.
On top of that, they’re able to make a few hundred bucks in the process.
Hell, maybe even a couple thousand.
But let’s talk about this.
Why sell your prototype..
Most startups are able to make a few hardware prototypes at most.
There’s at least 2, however.
One for the lab and one for the customer.
Now, for example, let’s say you only have one prototype, and you’re jamming away at make it super beautiful and super high tech.
But for what reason?
You don’t know if your customer agrees with your changes.
You don’t know if those new features you added are even what your customer needs or wants.
And that’s because that one prototype is in your lab.
When in fact, it should be in the hands of your customer.
Don’t take it from me though.
“Unlike most jobs that most people have in this world, in entrepreneurship if you don’t know who the customer is, you literally don’t know what quality means. So you say you’re making the product better. But I beg to differ.”
And this makes sense, right?
You should be nodding (-;
So other than understanding your customer and their idea of quality, you’re able to manage expectations of both your startup and your customers.
Set expectation goals accordingly..
And what I mean by that is this:
If you plan on selling your hardware prototype that has been iterated a hundred times over and has seen every possible upgrade then your beta testers are going to have high expectations.
This can actually put you at a standstill because you didn’t leave enough room for improvement.
Rather than doing that, why not sell a new hardware prototype at each major iteration?
Start at the beginning and work your way up.
Doing so, you’re 10x more likely to gather honest feedback, after all, people are paying you.
That’s because your buyers are people who spent their hard earned cash to test out your product.
If it doesn’t solve their problems, meet their expectations or just doesn’t work, then they’re going to tell you!
By selling at each major iteration, you’re able to do the following:
- Control expectation
- Gather honest feedback in a reasonable sized chunk
- Collect small payments
- Iterate over feedback loops with real data
Not everyone wants to buy a product that isn’t complete yet.
So right off the bat, the people who do buy your product are those who probably know your brand, and trust you.
On top of this, you know that you’re heading in the right direction.
Put your ego in the ground
Okay, that sounded a little rude.
But look, a lot of people are afraid that customers won’t perceive their product the way they do.
And that means that once they’re faced with rejection they fuel their ego by making every design tweak and every feature upgrade they can possibly make.
Because they think that’s what the customer wants.
Put all that in the ground.
Listen to your customer.
Your product isn’t for your ego.
It’s for your customer.
Make the changes that they want. Not the changes that you think they will want.
Now, to wrap up short, I want to leave you guys with my all time favorite quote by Syed Balkhi, the guy behind WP Beginner, and OptinMonster.
“Never start a business just to make money. Start a business to make a difference.”