Hardware Heroes Conference Part 1 Highlights

If you missed the Hardware Heroes Conference in Hong Kong during our Startup Launchpad show, don’t worry. The videos will be up on YouTube soon. In the meantime, take a look at these highlights from some of our notable speakers at the first half of the conference that took place from October 12th to the 14th.

Day 1

Atin Batra, Q Venture Partners
The Life and Times of a Hardware Founder

•Be able to clearly communicate the added value your product and company brings to the market, because it’s the only way to get investors and customers interested

•”Friends, family and fools” will be your primary source of revenue early on, but be sure they know the risks. People want to believe in you, but if they lose money without knowing the risks of investing in your company, it can create bad blood.

•Don’t accept funding just for the money. Make sure a venture capitalist can help your company and is a good fit. Fundraising is ultimately about making your vision a reality.


Jessie Lam, Head of Finance, Brinc.io
Common Mistakes Startups Make While Fundraising

•Build a business, not a product. Have a plan beyond your first product to avoid being a one-hit wonder and move quickly onto the next thing.

•Have a financial plan. Startups often go under because of poor financial planning. Talk to factories, do your research and know your costs.

•When first raising funds, be the scrappy startup talking to friends, family and anyone willing to listen. Ask them what they’d be willing to pay for the product you want to build.

•Crowdfunding is marketing, not real funding, but use it when the company is ready to scale to grow brand awareness.

•If you’re getting funding from venture capital, know what kind of control you’re giving up. VCs are all about exits and their business model relies on finding the next unicorn.


Day 2

Daryl Chan, senior consultant at Why Innovation!
Lessons from Lean Startup, Design Thinking and Agile: Is faster always better?

•“No matter how you do things… the key behind product design and development is how quickly we learn.”

•Startups need empathy for users, which means making sure you’re designing what your customer wants rather than just assuming. You must be able to quickly validate whether an idea works.

•The agile workflow is important because it emphasizes and collaboration across teams to improve design and development.

•Though speed is important, a startup must have a product strategy. Samsung is faster than Apple, but Apple captures 83 percent of smartphone profits. Product strategy and vision is key.


Humayun Rashid, managing director at Xavor
Designing Meaningful Smart Products: Digital Transformation Strategies for Hardware Startups

•The fundamental change in the startup world today is digital technologies in everyday products.

•It’s not enough to just make a product “smart.” A product and brand must have meaning for it to stick. Startups can help create this meaning, but customers ultimately decide.

•There is still a lot of opportunity in smart hardware. Digital tech in everyday products can save people a lot of money over time. Ask people what they would be willing to pay for such a product.

•No one can do everything. Work with people with different experiences and areas of expertise.

•Design research is key. Companies need products that are desirable. Build a lot of prototypes and engage with users. Building a new product is only worth it if you come up with something amazing that will delight customers.


James Sung, Zocus Strategic Marketing
What Are the Common Mistakes that Startups Make in Product Design & Development?

•To create a successful product, startups must properly position a product in the market.

•Packing is very important. If a product is cheap enough, the packaging might cost more than the product, but it’s important to give customers the right impression.

•The easier it is for consumers to understand the product, the more likely they will buy it.

•It’s easier to get funding if you don’t hide your ideas. Don’t worry about copycats because market positioning is more important.


Eddie Tsai, Fung Group
Internet of Stupid Things: Learning from the 1st generation of consumer IoT products

•Making an everyday item connected does not necessarily make it smart. Many devices like connected trash cans and salt dispensers do not improve anything.

•Products should be desirable and meet a consumer need.

•Skiing and snowboarding accessories were a problem because people don’t always want to listen to music when going down a slope and cold is bad for batteries. Consumers value this as a social activity, though, and smart products that tap into connecting users with friends on the slopes are more valuable.


Kyle Ellicott, Co-Founder of ReadWrite ReadWrite Labs
Developing Products That Customers Want to Buy and Continue To Use

•There’s a lot of excitement when first developing a product, but too often founders forget to learn from their customers to make their products better.

•If a product doesn’t solve a real-world problem, people will stop using it. A third of wearables are abandoned by users.

•The evolution of Apple products from 1998 to present day shows how the company listened to customers and improved products over time.

•Use data from users, listen to feedback and test everything.

•User experience matters above all. Products should be easy to use and there must be a reason to use it.

•Build some kind of empathy into a product to help customers connect with it in a unique way and want to keep using it.


Day 3

Brian Garvin, managing director of B. Garvin Sourcing
Best Practices of Manufacturing in China

•Don’t hope that a manufacturer knows what you want. Walk away knowing everything has been clearly communicated.

•Contracts in China mean something now. China takes intellectual property seriously know, so have a good, bilingual contract.

•Have a roadmap. Know how your product will be made from initial concept to design to manufacturing.

•Finding the right supplier means doing due diligence. Manufacturers should have references and bank accounts in their own name. You should also make sure a supplier can make exactly what you want in the quantities you need.

•Specificity is key. Communicating precisely what you want in quality and materials using industry standards will affect the final product.


Stephane Boivin, CEO of Pivot88
The Future of Supplier Collaboration In Quality Compliance

•Quality control is an industry-wide issue and it’s getting more difficult as the speed of the supply chain increases.
Real-time supply chain management is important to avoid getting poor quality products.

•Collaborate with suppliers, don’t police them. Policing a supplier at every step is too difficult. Find a reliable supplier and move from a leadership model to a collaborative one.


Bruce Kurtz, head of marketing at Makers Origin
How to Successfully Market your Maker Products

•You can try to define who you are, but ultimately the market will decide. Startups should listen to what users are saying about them and their products.

•Create a user profile so you know who you’re marketing to. This will also help ensure consistent messaging.

•Have a pricing plan and think about how you will iterate to produce improve the next version of the product.

•Consider all possible marketing channels for product promotion and brand building. Use analytics tools and consider the return on investment.

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