Welcome to Prototype 2 Production

"Hardware is hard."

Marc Andreessen

If you're an engineer, aspiring entrepreneur, tech blog reader, avid DIY-er, or anything in between, you've probably heard or read this phrase before. I've even said it out loud in a real life conversation. Frankly, I'd take it one step farther than Mr. Andreessen and suggest that everyone who have owned anything from a smartphone to an electric toothbrush has held monuments of human will over the tirelessly subversive forces of chaos and disorder (and dust).

Hardware is, regrettably, quite hard; most experienced product designers, engineers, and production managers I know wear their experience like a badge of pride, and revel in trading "war stories" of hardware gone wrong like old veterans comparing battle scars. As they should--executing on even a simple piece of hardware requires a tremendous breadth of skills and experience, and even then things rarely go according to plan.

That being said, the mission of this shiny new blog is not to wax endlessly on the perils of hardware, or to lecture on why it so frequently goes wrong. It's to convince you that, although bringing a product from concept to reality is difficult, you can do it. As one of several authors on this blog, my hope is to provide you with targeted commentary and (hopefully) useful tools to make the process of bringing a product from prototype to production a little bit easier and a lot less intimidating.

 

Cool! Who are you guys?

We're a bunch of guys and gals from a company called Spark IO. So far we've run 3 Kickstarter campaigns (1 failure, 2 successes), built our supply chain from zero to operational, and shipped more than 50,000 units of product. Throughout our journey from prototype to product we’ve made mistakes, hit delays, discovered surprises (not always the good kind), and learned an incredible amount. Although a couple years of building a hardware startup doesn't mean we've learned everything, we're always always eager to compare notes. With this blog, we're hoping to do just that--share some of our knowledge, take deep dives into useful manufacturing processes, and even ask some of our friends in the industry to share their two cents.

 

Why Proto2Prod?

We think technology is amazing, and becoming more so by the day. With the rapidly improving tools that are available to hardware designers, a concept can exist as an idea in one moment and as a thing you can hold and touch days or even hours later. In weeks, it can become refined and beautiful, and in months it can exist in multitudes. At Spark we love building quick and dirty prototypes, but have never been prouder than the moment a customer complimented our first finished product, a thing that wouldn't exist without months of deliberate effort, for the first time.

Scaling a concept from prototype to production can be difficult, but also incredibly rewarding. It's a lot easier if you don't have to figure it all out yourself though, so we put together this blog to share some tips and experiences we picked up along the way.

If you have question, feedback, or topics you'd like us to cover, please drop a line at proto2prod@spark.io