Every entrepreneur’s business brings its own unique challenges – and few startups are more challenging than those that create physical hardware products.
The good news is that a few websites provide excellent resources for hardware startups. Below are 10 of my favorite websites that offer resources and advice for entrepreneurs creating new hardware products:
The venture capital firm Bolt provides funding specifically for hardware startups – particularly those that are looking for $100,000 to $500,000 in capital, and that are working with a recurring software component model. You’ll also find a wealth of helpful articles on the Bolt blog.
If you're working on a hardware prototype – or want to get started on one – Predictable Designs will help you turn your concept into a manufacturable product. And unlike most design firms, they offer fixed, published pricing instead of open-ended hourly billing. That’s a huge benefit when you’re working on a limited budget.
Whether you’re just getting started in hardware development, or looking to expand your skills, AdaFruit offers open-source hardware to suit just about every need. They sell a wide variety of electronics, development kits, and accessories – and their website also offers a library of tutorials, articles, and even a live video show targeted at hardware developers like you.
Sparkfun is another provider of open-source electronics kits. They cater to every type of hardware geek, from amateur tinkerers to serious entrepreneurs. They even provide design files for every product on their website.
Every electronic hardware project requires schematics and a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) layout– and that’s exactly what Upverter specializes in. Their simple interface makes the design process easy from start to finish. You’ll also want to check out their blog, which offers all kinds of hardware-related tips.
Got a functional prototype? Ready to scale up to volume manufacturing? Dragon Innovation is here to help you. They’ve got all the resources you need to help you scale up and manufacture your product in high volumes in Asia. Don't even think about jumping into offshore manufacturing without the help of someone that has done it before.
DipTrace is a suite of programs for developing PCBs and circuit schematics. DipTrace is perfect for beginners and experts alike. It's an affordable, easy-to-use tool that outperforms many of its more expensive competitors. It's what I use almost exclusively.
Sunstone Circuits creates high quality PCBs, and backs them up with solid customer service. I’ve always had excellent experiences at Sunstone. If you have any questions about PCB prototyping then check out their very helpful live chat function.
Once you've had the PCBs manufactured the next step is soldering on all of the components. This is where Screaming Circuits excels. They’ll accurately assemble your boards providing you with a professional quality finished product. I’ve had nothing but great experiences with their service and I use them on nearly all of the products I design.
10. Proto Labs
Does your product need custom plastic parts? Proto Labs will produce them for you. They offer 3D printing, CNC machining, and even low-volume injection molding.