“What does your startup do?” Twenty minutes later I’ve lost interest and still don’t know why they do. A serious problem with most startups is that those involved with them are so afraid they might leave something out that they have forgotten how to be concise. So my advice: “Hey Startups! Be Concise!“
Truth is it feels great to hit a home run, but if you are trying to always knock it out of the ballpark you are going to have a lot of strikes. In working with a lot of people trying to come up with ideas for new products, it seems like we focus too much up front on trying to hatch a unicorn, and not enough on just having something that works. “Everyone wants to find the next great idea, what is wrong with just a good idea?” explores this and gives some examples of how trying to just solve a problem ended up being disruptive.
It sounds counterintuitive, but it is one of those positions where you sometimes have take a different path to end up where you should. I “Why medical startups should not focus on patients” in order to in the end, deliver better products and better outcome to their patients. I’ve observed too many good ideas fail because the creators are not paying attention to the people who will pay for and deploy the solution.
At some point it’s time to get real. “It’s time for Arizona startups to grow up” looks at how we need to stop focusing on getting ready for success and start achieving it. We were pleased to be the first article in AZBigMedia.com‘s new “Silicon Desert Insider” blog shares my thoughts on how its time for some tough love. Brought to you by AZ Business Magazine, it focuses on the technology side of business in the Phoenix area.
It seems like the trend these days is for large companies to not do R&D in house. Instead the let StartUps develop innovation and then buy it when the market proves it out. I had to ask myself “Is acquiring disruptive innovation good for everyone?” I don’t think it is and explain why in this week’s blog post.
If you spend time in the Southwest startup community you here a lot of complaining about not enough seed money. In “The startup ecosystem cries of despair: ‘There’s no seed money‘” I share my perspective that tight markets make for smarter investments.
Innovation has become almost a magic word, and in the startup world innovators are given demi-god status. We like to think that there are people out there who just come up with ideas that change the world. Reality is that we kind of overkill the whole thing and “It’s time to stop putting innovation on a pedestal, and praise getting stuff done.” Channeling a little Andy Rooney on this one.
We had a lot of fun while learning a lot during the first ever Perfect Pitch competition at PADT. This is an event where startup mentors get up and pitch the same fictitious company. During that process, we learned a few things that are useful for anyone trying to fundraise for a startup or those who mentor companies. “Pitching a startup well: What I learned while competing for the Unicorn Cup” highlights those lessons.
The teams are set, the judges have confirmed. Details on the fake company has been shared. It is time to see how the professionals pitch a tech startup. The area’s best startup incubators and accelerators are facing off in this head to head competition to take home the awesome Unicorn Cup and bragging rights.
The teams are:
Thomas Schumann and Patti DuBois from CEI
Nate Mortenson from Tallwave
Wiley Larson from ASU
Lauren McDannel and John Johnson from Seed Spot
Our distinguished panel of judges consists of
Rebel Brown of Cognoscenti
Carine Dieudé of Altima Business Solutions
Jim Goulka of ATI
Christie Kerner of ASU
David McCaleb of ATI
Perfect Pitch is a contest where teams present the same fictitious technology startup company. A group of expert judges will determine who gave the best pitch. The event is part of PADT’s Nerdtoberfest celebration of engineering and manufacturing in Arizona, and takes place from 4:30-6:00 on Thursday, October 27th at our Tempe offices.
Everyone is invited! We will have an overflow area set up if we get more than can fit in our seminar room where you can watch live. We will also be streaming the event live to the world (watch this blog and social media for the link).
At barqk!, we deploy the latest cloud based machine learning and big data algorithms to convert your dog’s barking into words on your mobile device so that you can understand your pet’s needs, if they are sick, and be made aware of danger.
Dog owners face significant problems communicating with their pets. Although you can train a dog to obey commands, the dog cannot tell it’s owners what it needs or wants. This leads to significant stress for the owner and may lead to death when the animal cannot communicate an obvious and present danger.
Barqk! has created a cloud connected wearable device for dogs that records their barking and uses machine learning and big data algorithms to convert dog-speak into human-speak. The translated words are sent via text or through our app to the owner’s phone. Initially the owners provide feedback to the network, and the responses of all owners to every dog’s bark are collected as big data then fed through our proprietary algorithms that use Bessel functions and advanced machine learning approximations to develop a consensus on what a given bark means. Over time a translation for each dog will be developed and we expect 87% accuracy.
Getting a new product manufactured is one of those critical steps that new companies often assume is just a matter of finding a vendor and outsourcing it. In “Getting your product made: 6 suggestions for outsourcing the manufacturing of your product” I go over some suggestions on how to make this critical step a success.
People around the country are starting to recognize that Arizona is a great place to grow tech startups. Right now our big advantages is low cost but we can do more. In “Being the lower cost option is just the start – 5 ways we can make Arizona a preferred place for growing startups” I suggest five things we can focus on as a community to make that happen.
A successful startup is often the result of how the leadership performs. In most cases the ideal CEO doesn’t exist, and if you dig down you usually find that the company is being led by two people who compliment each other. In “For every Woz, you need a Jobs” I look at one of the most famous, and successful such partnering and share some other examples and how to recognize and promote the ideal pairing.
The May/June 2016 of AZ Business Magazine focuses on innovation and technology business in Arizona. This includes our contribution to the discussion “Large tech companies are critical to a startup community.” In this article I make a case for remembering the big guys out there that train, spawn, fund, and even buy the startups that are out there.
PADT talks a lot about synergy as a key strength and a key element of the value we provide to our customers. Our three departments, Manufacturing, Services, and Sales, are in constant communication, always leveraging one another’s expertise to solve problems. Strong internal relationships — a consequence of being under the same roof — precipitate easy and abundant information and resource sharing. Communication, paradigm, alignment, synergy: clear as day.
But what does any of that mean?
When a PADT product development customer meets us for the first time, he or she may be shown a slide that looks like this:
Strong bilateral communication among the Product Development, 3D Printing, and Analysis groups means that the project is enriched by contributions from experts across several fields, multiplying the value we add in the development process. For instance, the product will likely someday run into a sticky problem without a clear solution. PADT can attack it from multiple angles, such as design adjustment, finite element analysis (FEA) optimization, and the iterative testing of 3D printed prototypes.
Ok, but still: what does any of that mean?
A longtime customer of PADT’s product development group recently ran into an urgent problem without a clear path to a solution. Their manufacturing partner called them and said that a particular subassembly in their design will cost three times more than expected, which would raise the price of the product above the maximum the market would bear. PADT was presented with the problem: how do we reduce the subassembly cost by 66% while maintaining overall performance, and how do we confidently select a solution in under a week?
PADT’s three engineering groups jumped in to help.
The Product Development group held a brainstorming session and came out with two adjustments to bring overall cost down. First, the subassembly of three bonded unique steel parts would be replaced by a single injection molded plastic part. This change reduces component cost to within the target, but also significantly reduces the final assembly’s structural integrity.
Secondly, a plastic stiffener truss was added between components to mitigate the reduction in overall stiffness. This change adds a little assembly cost, but also significantly increases the final assembly’s structural integrity, which had been weakened by the first change.
The Analysis group conducted a series of FEA simulations, first to determine the increased bending under load and second to select a material to balance the conflicting requirements for stiffness, strength, and cost. After multiple simulation iterations, it was determined that Product Development had selected a permissible path forward and that a glass-filled polypropylene provides the best combination of the three parameters.
The 3D Printing group then printed the new design for qualitative “look and feel” testing and quantitative force/deflection study. The group was able to closely match the properties of the selected material from their collection of printable filaments and top-shelf industrial printers, reproducing even the fine details — subtle fillets, radii — that boost strength but are missed with lower quality printers. Through prototype tests, it was determined that Analysis selected an appropriate material and Product Development selected an appropriate design.
In the end, PADT was able to confidently select a solution to the customer’s unique cost problem in under a week. Thanks to the synergy of three groups — Product Development, Analysis, and 3D Printing — the customer was able to stay on schedule and enter the market at a relevant price.
So how can PADT help my product?
PADT’s system for delivering services is a textbook example of synergy in action, and it represents a uniquely effective solution to your company’s product problems. Whether you’re in concept design or high-volume production, PADT will tailor-make a solution that fits your budget, schedule, and technical requirements.
Give us a call at 1–800–293-PADT or email email@example.com.