Office Hours is a blog series from Dragon Innovation’s CEO, Scott Miller, where he talks about travel, hardware, legos–because who doesn’t love legos–and everything in-between.
It’s been an incredible month since we launched the first wave of projects on Dragon’s new Hardware-focused crowdfunding platform. During this time, we’ve grown from an established consulting company into a consumer facing web startup. It became clear to me how different these worlds are when Thos (VP of Product) and I were recently looking at a cool 3D printing website. Simultaneously our reaction was, “Wow – that is so awesome!” The only difference was that I was reacting to the robot and Thos was reacting to the website.
It’s an amazing journey and we’ve learned a lot. The wisdom of our friend, Jim Lynch (inventor of Lego Mindstorms), “you gotta build it to build it” was yet again validated. As with the products on our platform, testing out a new product in public is both exhilarating and terrifying. You put yourself out there, warts and all. It was incredibly rewarding to see how well the platform was received and learn more about areas that worked well, and things that needed another coat of paint.
We reaffirmed the critical importance of the up front planning process. When a company comes to us to launch a campaign, they are connected with Bill, our VP of Engineering, who dives into an in-depth BOM, DFM, and Manufacturing strategy review. Based on the results (which can take anywhere from one day to two weeks), the company either moves forward or is given suggestions on how to address any items that could affect their success. Things that prevent a company from launching include incomplete product design, an incomplete Bill of Materials, non DFM’d design (which results in excessive fixed costs such as tooling), and low gross margins that make it nearly impossible to cover the fixed costs. Often times, Bill will work directly with the entrepreneurs to actually help them redesign their product. The teams can make the necessary adjustments – a process that can take days to weeks – and then the campaign preparation moves forward.
We are deep in the planning phase with the next batch of really cool projects launching at the end of October. And while we know there is much work and growth that needs to happen, we can come away from this first month with the confidence that we have laid the foundation for a platform that is truly for Makers. The best is yet to come.