Companies or individuals accepted into the Hardware Studio Connection (HSC) program gain increased access to the experts at Avnet and Dragon Innovation. Additionally, HSC acceptance comes with discounts for online orders through Avnet, longer free use of Dragon’s Product Planner, and complimentary consultations with representatives from Avnet and Dragon to review your product, troubleshoot issues, and help to design a plan to bring your product to its next development stage.
The HSC application is designed to gather information about a team, their goals, and their current product stage. To help you optimize your application, we’d like to share insights as to what makes a good fit.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD APPLICATION?
Creators who will most solidly benefit from the HSC program are those whose “hardware” has electronic hardware components (sensors, LEDs, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, MCUs, etc), as the HSC program is geared towards advising creators about electrical design, BOM optimization, prototyping, factory selection, DFM, etc.
The HSC application form is designed to give us a realistic overview of the current state of your product, and an informed list of your current challenges you face. This isn’t the place to paint a rosy picture of where you will be in ten years; transparency is key at this early stage, so we know if we can help you or not.
Cost of Goods Sold
Perhaps the single most important question in the application, we want to know about the product’s anticipated cost of goods sold (COGS)—COGS are everything! Listing that you plan to use every technology under the sun (LED, MCU, Bluetooth, MEMs sensors, wireless charging, etc.) and then stating your anticipated COGS for the product are less than $20 is a big red flag. It shows you have not invested enough time and effort into understanding the product—specifically the tradeoffs between features and pricing.
While it’s nearly impossible to nail down your COGS to the penny at an early stage, strong applications have a realistic sense of the relative cost to create their product. After all, it’s difficult to determine reward prices on your Kickstarter campaign if you don’t know what it will cost to make the product!
No man or woman is an island… but sometimes you have to start out that way. If you are a solo founder, all is not lost! However, you should have a solid plan for how you are going to handle everything that comes with launching a hardware product on your own. Think carefully about the experience you have, the accomplishments that make you uniquely positioned to get a product to production on your own, and how you will leverage external resources to accomplish what you, personally, cannot.
Conversely, if you have a team and/or co-founders, it’s not an automatic hall pass. You should still explain what makes your team unique, well-positioned, and well-balanced to get through production.
It helps, but you don’t have to have raised money outside of Kickstarter—or even plan to raise outside of Kickstarter—to participate in HSC. That said, it’s important to understand that hardware can be expensive. If you don’t have money, you should have a plan. Hint: “Raise a million dollars on Kickstarter” is not a good plan. HSC offers some discounted and free services, but manufacturing physical products without planning for costs for any external firms, contractors, or vendors is almost impossible. While you can defer these costs by way of your Kickstarter campaign, remember that hardware products have to be designed, optimized, built, and shipped, all of which cost money, as do the regulatory requirements and certifications you’ll need to ensure your product complies with all laws and regulations. If you plan to cover these costs via funds raised through Kickstarter, you’ll need to adjust your price points to be higher.
Be clear about what you have accomplished to date, your goals for the future, and how long it will it take you to get there. It’s perfectly okay (maybe even preferable) for HSC applicants to have delivery date targets many, many months out. HSC is designed to help ensure successful product build and delivery via Kickstarter, and that process can take time. If we have 18 months to work with you, that’s much preferable for us than an unrealistic timeline anticipating shipping products to your backers 6 months from the date you apply. Having a realistic timeline communicates that some thought and planning have gone into the product.
HSC applications tell a short story about a product. Good HSC applications tell a story with logical continuity. As you read through the categories above, think through your answers, and ask yourself if they make sense. Do your estimated COGS align with the technology in your product, and allow for profit margins? Does your timeline match your current stage of product development? Being accepted into the HSC program is less about having a finished product, and more about telling a cohesive story and having a sound plan.
If you have a hardware product, are planning a launch on Kickstarter, and believe you are ready for the HSC program, apply today!