News By Clara Lu — Date 03.13.2019

Mitte brings you Hardware nation – an event celebrating everything hardware

Building hardware companies: distribution, launch, and traction!

Before diving into the complexities of launching and distributing a hardware product, let’s all agree on this universal truth: Hardware is hard. While many have succeeded in letting their fantastic products see the light of day, most never make it.

The journey is complex and there are multiple scenarios at play between designing, engineering, manufacturing, and leading a product to market. In other words: There is a lot more beyond the product that contributes to its success.

Very few companies hold all the cards necessary for success. These brands deliver a quality product, secure retail placement, and build a solid business around its product.

The good news is that the growing amount of innovation and knowledge in this space has been providing entrepreneurs with more options in terms of launching and distributing their products. It’s not easy, but no longer a seemingly insurmountable challenge like before.

When it comes to distributing a product, many hardware startups first define product pricing and packaging, pick their offline channel partners, negotiate kickbacks and margins, and push it into the market with heavy advertising – while hoping that it would create enough demand. Retail ruled. By depending on this playbook, they were able to bridge the gap and meet their goals.

However, this success comes with serious risks. Most hardware founders are very likely going to be out of their depths as a new entrepreneur on the scene, and distributors, retailers, and logistics providers can be sharks eating into their margins.

The world today is different.

Entrepreneurs now have unlimited strategies and approaches to launch their brand, providing different ways to help them avoid catastrophic mistakes and gain early access to customers. We are able to test hypotheses early on, de-risk our ventures significantly, gather early feedback from potential users, and loop insights continuously into the business model design.

There’s no question that these new online channels such as Kickstarter, Amazon Launchpad, Alibaba, and more, have cracked hardware launch and distribution wide open. They have levelled the playing field and lowered barriers for new hardware founders to enter the ring. In addition, the distribution strategy for today’s seed stage consumer startups often involves direct (online) sales. Even ten years ago, launching a new electronic gadget or appliance required massive cash, time, and manpower on hand. These options have turned that on its head, providing opportunities to scale fast in terms of distribution while offering tightly integrated marketing and logistics solutions. Besides allowing product creators to leverage on pricing flexibility, new online channels reduce the risk associated with traditional distribution channels and place more control in the hands of the founders.

With a Cambrian explosion of new hardware products in the last five years, companies often have to pioneer new ways of distribution amid all this noise. Should you use conventional distribution channels or go direct? How much will you need to spend on marketing and customer acquisition?

To answer these questions, join us at Hardware nation – Building hardware companies: distribution, launch, and traction! Organized in collaboration with Samsung NEXT, an innovation group within Samsung that builds, grows, and scales great ideas wherever organizations or entrepreneurs are in their life cycle, Hardware nation explores the challenges in building and running hardware businesses.

Join us to learn firsthand from experts and leaders in the industry with a wealth of insights on how they have built, tested, and refined distribution strategies for different hardware products. They include presentation from the following brands:

Mathieu Caudal, Co-founder and Growth at unu

Mathieu Caudal holds a Master of Science in Electronic and Information Technology from the Institut National des Sciences Appliquees (INSA) and the Technical University Munich. He has always been interested in business, trade, and technology. Before joining unu, he worked in the mobility sector for MAN Trucks and Volvo – gaining insights into the development and key trends in the mobility industry. As unu’s COO, Mathieu is focusing on the global competitiveness, the strategic growth and the operational excellence of the company. He takes care of projects in the areas of manufacturing, supply chain management and innovation, and organisation development.

Alexis Houssou, Co-founder and President of Hardware Club

Former entrepreneur and financier, Alexis started Hardware Club in 2015 with a mission to support the best hardware startups worldwide using collaboration and network effects. Through its unique $30M community-based fund, Hardware Club invests in hardware startups in Europe and in the US at seed stage. Alexis took part in launching several novel initiatives like the Hello Tomorrow Summit and the accelerator The Family. He also sits on the boards of companies including Remedee Labs, Reach Robotics, Aryballe and Keecker. Passionate about how tech can create impact on communities, Alexis regularly mentors startups in various programs including Techstars and StartupBootCamp.

Karan Sarin, Co-founder and CMO of Mitte

Karan has held leading positions in several startups related to consumer hardware and ecommerce platforms such as OnePlus and Flipkart. He is a entrepreneur who started an ecommerce company in 2011, which together with his previous experiences, gives him outstanding expertise in generating consumer demand, developing brand, and setting up sales and distribution models.

Heather Corcoran, Outreach Lead at Kickstarter

Heather Corcoran leads outreach for Kickstarter in the UK and Europe, with a focus on the Design & Technology communities. Based in London, she works closely with product designers, hardware startups, innovators and makers across Europe and Asia who use Kickstarter to bring new projects to life.

These entrepreneurs and community activists will share how:

  • You can test your product, value proposition, pricing, and customer acquisition strategies, early on by launching on crowdfunding platforms with the help of social media ads with minimal budget.
  • Next to traditional retail channels, you have online channels such as Amazon Launchpad, Alibaba, Etsy, or Zalando, with opportunities to scale fast in terms of distribution while offering tightly integrated marketing and logistics solutions.
  • Most importantly, how the option to sell directly to consumers instead of relying on a distribution partner has become very viable and relevant to us. It gives you direct access to your users, and allows for more flexibility in the way you structure your business model (eg. subscription-based or hybrid)

Yes, hardware is hard, but maybe a better quote is, “Hardware is harder”. It is harder than building a software app, but it’s not insurmountable. Today, effective support structures with innovative distribution and launch channels exist to enable different entrepreneurs to deliver a consumer price point hardware product within 12 months from start to finish with only seed stage investment capital required. Learn all about distribution, launch, and traction at Hardware nation.

Join us at #HardwareNation, RSVP here.

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