We often receive requests from entrepreneurs in search of a company to help with their prototype development.
Due to our business model prototyping without a mass production order behind it is not something that we help with.
But not to worry, there are some companies who can help to solve this issue.
I have prepared a list of the best service providers in this field who can assist with prototyping and more.
However, before you take a look at the list, it's worth keeping a few things in mind.
The success of your project: Who is that depending on?
Just relying on the service providers out there to move forward with your hardware device idea is not an option.
In hardware just like in any business, if you are the founder, the co-founder or the director of the company, you should consider that the chance of success of the project mostly depends on YOU.
- YOU participate to create, carry, serve and communicate the vision of the company.
- YOU make the accuracy of your vision take shape not only in daily execution but also in your company culture.
- YOU, together with the other executives, drive the ship that takes the team closer to the shared dream.
There are a lot of responsibilities and a series of challenges that you will encounter on your journey.
Do you have to be an expert with Hardware to make your vision a reality?
When Zak Homuth introduces Lean Electronics in the ‘learn’ section of Upverter, he addresses this:
"You don’t need an Electronics Engineering degree to build the next great hardware company, only a basic understanding of electronics and a problem that needs to be solved."
Understand that even if you are not an electronic engineer, you or at least someone in your HW team should be able to apprehend the crucial matters involved in your project.
The one with the best understanding on a given topic is the one who can deal with the experts to solve the hardest problems on the path to success.
In the end, what matters the most is a determination that remains intact all along the way. Determination is one of the core conditions that will drive you to find the right partners.
List of some of the best partners for your hardware project
When it’s not at your doorstep, great assistance can be found just a few clicks away.
With the list below you should be able to get that essential help that is required in the field you are not an expert in:
Makerspaces are the perfect places to start with a hardware device idea.
Not only will you get access to tools and manufacturing equipment, but you will also share a space with makers and HW experts who can advise you on designing, prototyping or manufacturing.
Check the three links below to find the closest Makerspace around you:
- The Maker Map -> this one has been very helpful to find the closest Maker related space around my place.
- List of all the Hackerspaces -> wherever you are around the globe you can find something not too far from you. However the list is not up to date (at the time of writing this article).
- Makerspace Directory -> There is no map on this one. Scroll down the page to see the list and check for your location. This list is not as complete as the other two.
In case you are not sure how and where to start with making a prototype, or if you simply want to get something in hand fastly for user testing or presentation try these out:
- Tempos Automation -> You will need your CAD to work with them. Submit the CAD online and that's it! They will prepare the electronic part of your prototype. Perfect to design, they will build your PCB without you having to move away from your laptop. They deliver in 3 to 15 days.
- ProtoLabs -> They are perfect for custom prototypes and low-volume production parts made of silicone, plastic, metal or magnesium. They can help you with 3D printing, CNC prototyping and injection molding. In summary, this company can help prototyping the case of your device design and some of its components.
- Plethora -> Parts of the Hardware Device is their specialty. An additional service is a software that allows you to receive tester and customer feedback.
3. Hardware Accelerator
Once you have your prototype, these are the kind of doors you should knock at:
- Highway1 -> Occupying a beautiful building near the water in SF, H1 is the property of PCH, a well-known production and logistics facilitation company.
- Bolt -> located in SF and Boston. The YC partnered with them for their own HW accelerator program. Their program is 4 months long including 10 days in Shenzhen which is too short to learn much, but can be an eye-opener nonetheless.
- HAX -> My personal favorite. The largest and first HW accelerator. They are based in Shenzhen in order to get things done faster. I have a soft spot for them too as we are in the same city and Hatch's founder, Ben, is a mentor there.
4. Manufacturing partner
Once you are done with your Prototype, the iterative loop for user testing and found some financial support and mentors thanks to a great accelerator or because you are a good hustler what are you suppose to do?
The time has come for mass manufacturing:
- PCH -> Strong in accessory production and some hardware. Used by many Tier 1’s. Large client base.
- HATCH -> That's us! (Danzel, tell them with that video clip). For Custom Android Device Manufacturing you are at the right place. HATCH specializes in hardware development since 2006.
Nb. HATCH only accommodates 4-5 clients per year.
Hope this helps :)
Now go to make it happen!
Lionel Beilin @ Hatch
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