We live in fantastic times, as you all know. The era in which we are in has been opened by a generation of pioneers, particularly in the 70s, which made the computer electronics enter a new innovation paradigm based on computation power.
By now you may be picturing several legends of technology, including Steve Wozniak and his hackings of blueboxes, or the man who hired the very same Woz a few years earlier…Nolan Bushnell, the creator of Pong and founder of Atari, started a new era which would lead to an explosion of personal computation devices – first video games and then computers. During those times, companies were bootstrapping with just 500 dollars. Thousands of units were sold including the Apple1, before raising venture capital money. It started with tinkering, and with the massive influx of money, several giants came to life…
It’s No wonder VCs threw money to hardware companies – they were making a huge amount of money!
The giants became bigger, thanks to the effect of scaling , signaling the end of the tinkerers era . A few tried of course to go on, raise capital between 25-75 million, and after several failures, there was no backing, and enthusiasm waned . This was the start of the 15 year desert for consumer electronics startups… up until most of those got stuck with the innovator’s dilemma, and slowly but surely opportunities opened up again… thanks to a connected world, Moore’s law and the optimization of the supply chain… opening a window to a new breed of pioneers. This new breed of people crazy enough to be attracted to hardware started popping up in the last 10 years.
This occurred because technology has evolved to a point where computing power is not a concern anymore, except for extremely complex projects in robotics. Sensors entered the market, and Arduino helped wrap electronics in an open framework – ideal for tinkering. All that? Dirt cheap. Which is why communities formed with open source being the new mantra for these DYIers
Prototyping has also been disrupted by the entry of 3D printing and maker shops are on the rise.
Fulfillment, Collaboration, Sourcing, Financing…all have been impacted to various degrees. Essentially, what happened in software in the 90s – think about the LAMP stack – is now happening to hardware, while manufacturing got tremendously better in terms of time, quality and reliability.
But this time, it’s really different: there is no industry spared by the makers, which are now posing serious threats to long time established giants. For a long time hardware was about computers only, but these days just about everything is getting challenged. …so let’s build hardware startups wooohooo! how hard is it really? Well it’s still damn hard considering you have to make miracles. Same old challenges, only it requires a lot less money than before. One of the main challenges Haxlr8tr specializes in is how to manufacture in China.
With China, everything is available immediately – or at your door within 24 hours, be it an electronic part, a mold or a new PCB.