Now that Puls8.io is live, it allows me to delve into a whole range of topics and issues that you may also encounter once your business goes ‘live’. Almost daily I stumble on an issue that could be written about. A lot of those ideas get wrapped up into a single blog post but we’re into the 15th post and thankfully I have enough material to look ahead for the next 3 months.
However before we start steaming ahead, I want to first take the opportunity for us to critically break down Puls8.io based on the ideas we have discussed in the blog thus far. I’ve said many times how important the ‘I have an idea’ is and this and the next article measure Puls8 against those principles. If I fail to apply them to my own business what hope do I have in helping out others?
So what is the problem statement? ‘Early stage hardware development is harder, slower and more expensive than software development’. This is in many ways obvious, the ability to test and iterate is definitely easier with a software based business. Also accelerators and incubators are focused on software startups. Hardware is only really interesting to them once you’ve completed the ‘hard’ work and have a full working prototype going and can prove a business model.
So there is an opportunity in what we call the ‘pre-development’ phase. Especially in the consumer domain. Let me share with you the entire development process:
There is a lot here and I do not want to go through all the points now. But please focus yourself on the problem identification (i.e. ‘i have an idea’ phase). We believe (at the moment) people can and want to do this part themselves or at most with a little guidance. We are aiming to solve the other parts of Stage 1 – the nitty gritty work that can be time consuming if not done correctly. Maybe it’s now worth sharing the ‘mission statement’:
‘Puls8 is a product development firm that aims to tackle the demands for early stage hardware startups/individuals. We are the first people to contact and focus on working with you. We believe that people are the heart of a startup.
Our methodology focuses on the need to iterate rapidly in building an innovative product that people love. We understand that hardware product design can be a daunting task and believe our approach is ideal to develop, prototype and test ideas. We aim to delay the need of major funding (i.e. Kickstarter and VCs) by using our expertise to provide a sustainable and lower cost solution.
Building your product with Puls8 will help you develop a fit for purpose product that is the beginning of future success. Your idea is our mission.’
A few things to wrap up this part of the discussion. One is the need to focus on a small part to get going. We could cover more ground but we choose not to. We think helping in the ‘proof of concept’ solves the ‘harder’ part of the problem statement. The ‘slower’ part is difficult to articulate. Our process will definitely help us with speed plus our experience (in this case my co-founder) will be very important. Lastly how do we keep costs down? Focus on cheaper and more standardised materials will be important. Plus in this phase we do a lot of the work ourselves; by not outsourcing we save a lot. Remember at this stage we are not sure if the idea is even worth pursuing. So be objective!
I have to admit and say we didn’t do this part properly. One reason for that was we didn’t know about it! We were not specific enough in our personas and in retrospect it would have been a very useful thing to have. I’ll explain what we did do. We identified two types of clients:
- ‘New startups’ (one/two persons) committed to an idea. Studied programming and software development but lack mechanical, electrical and design skills. Their background is mid twenties, out of university 3-5 years.
- ‘Individuals’ who have an idea and want to find out if it’s even possible. These people have graduated with a good degree in a variety of subjects (likely technical) and are working for a larger corporation for 5-10 years. They lack the time to investigate their idea due to their work commitments. Most likely they would outsource the whole prototyping to us while inputting on the creative side to see if if a viable business could be built.
As you can see, not really specific enough. We have not gone into detail about the interests of the clients, their habits and what makes them tick. I do think we had a good place to start and later on we did look into the habits side. But it was not so useful – we did this too late in the process. The real value lies in doing this very early on and letting it help you shape your business focus. Something to ensure our clients do in their research.
We have over run in this post. Do you think my approach to ‘the problem’ has been sensible and logical? Are there things that I’ve missed, not looked into enough? Next time I will go through the business’ major assumptions as well as some thoughts on the site construction.