Lessons learned growing an OSHW startup Brent Picasso Autosport Labs
Autosport Labs History  in a Nutshell 2003 – I developed a programmable ignition controller for my race car Thought it wou...
What is Megajolt <ul>A programmable, crank-fired ignition system <ul><li>Designed to replace old-school mechanical distrib...
Improves engine power, tunability and smoothness </li></ul></ul>
Typical Users
New Stuff <ul><li>Race Capture </li><ul><li>Data Acquisition System </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Interceptor </li><ul><li>Smart ...
Lessons
What To Do? Combine your passion with your skills If this seems obvious, remember...
No Niche is Too Small <ul><li>Megajolt seemed unlikely to be popular </li><ul><li>Required major mechanical surgery to eng...
Specialization leads to enthusiastic and focused community </li></ul>
Be Scrappy and Resourceful <ul><li>Bootstrap your operation </li><ul><li>Resist buying new </li></ul><li>Research and pati...
Build out the manufacturing capability you find interesting. Outsource the rest </li></ul></ul>
Manufacturing Capacity <ul><li>Equipment we  gradually  acquired in various states of disrepair </li><ul><li>Pick and Plac...
Reflow Oven
Drag Solder Machine
Stencil Printer
CNC Solder Paste Dispenser
Mini CNC Mill </li></ul></ul>
Design for Agility <ul><li>Minimize being vulnerable to your supply chain </li><ul><li>Watch out for supply shortages
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Lessons Learned Growing an Open Source Hardware startup

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May 2011 Presentation at Dorkbot Seattle discussing lessons learned building Autosport Labs

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Lessons Learned Growing an Open Source Hardware startup

  1. 1. Lessons learned growing an OSHW startup Brent Picasso Autosport Labs
  2. 2. Autosport Labs History in a Nutshell 2003 – I developed a programmable ignition controller for my race car Thought it would be a fun project – Called “Megajolt Lite Jr” 2004 - Socialized design with other enthusiasts – Interest piqued 2005 - Started selling programmed chips & circuit boards to users Moved operations into spare room 2006 - Graduated to kits Moved Operations to our Garage 2006 – 2007 Moved to fully assembled units Mid 2008 - Developed RaceCapture Data Acquisition System (in beta) 2008 – Acquired Manufacturing capability 2010 - Moved Operations to Commercial space (aka “Lab”) Today
  3. 3. What is Megajolt <ul>A programmable, crank-fired ignition system <ul><li>Designed to replace old-school mechanical distributors
  4. 4. Improves engine power, tunability and smoothness </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Typical Users
  6. 6. New Stuff <ul><li>Race Capture </li><ul><li>Data Acquisition System </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Interceptor </li><ul><li>Smart and Flexible Engine Control </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Megajolt/2 </li><ul><li>Next Generation Ignition Control </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Lessons
  8. 8. What To Do? Combine your passion with your skills If this seems obvious, remember...
  9. 9. No Niche is Too Small <ul><li>Megajolt seemed unlikely to be popular </li><ul><li>Required major mechanical surgery to engine! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Yet, still: </li><ul><li>3000+ users in 25 countries </li></ul><li>No matter how esoteric, you'll be found!
  10. 10. Specialization leads to enthusiastic and focused community </li></ul>
  11. 11. Be Scrappy and Resourceful <ul><li>Bootstrap your operation </li><ul><li>Resist buying new </li></ul><li>Research and patiently wait for equipment deals </li><ul><li>Then jump on them! </li></ul><li>Be OK starting out with modest digs </li><ul><li>Don't be ashamed of calling your garage your 'Lab'
  12. 12. Build out the manufacturing capability you find interesting. Outsource the rest </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Manufacturing Capacity <ul><li>Equipment we gradually acquired in various states of disrepair </li><ul><li>Pick and Place Machine
  14. 14. Reflow Oven
  15. 15. Drag Solder Machine
  16. 16. Stencil Printer
  17. 17. CNC Solder Paste Dispenser
  18. 18. Mini CNC Mill </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Design for Agility <ul><li>Minimize being vulnerable to your supply chain </li><ul><li>Watch out for supply shortages
  20. 20. Re-design before you're caught with your pants down </li></ul></ul>-> -> Obsoleted Processor Obsoleted Processor ??
  21. 21. Picking a Name <ul><li>Pick something domain specific </li><ul><li>Not product / project specific </li></ul></ul>MyKickAssIgnitionController.com vs AutosportLabs.com <ul><ul><li>Gotta have 'em all! </li><ul><li>.com/org/net - twitter – facebook </li></ul><li>Pick something easy to spell phonetically </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Some Name Advice <ul><li>Marketing Gurus sez: Don't name things with “Lite” and “Jr.” </li></ul>Oh Well :)
  23. 23. Idea Tangents <ul><li>Projects will have a life of their own </li><ul><li>And breathe life into other projects </li></ul></ul>Example: RaceCapture project led to these ideas: <ul><ul><li>Embedded Scripting -> Stamp-Sized ARM module
  24. 24. Tweeting Race Car -> low cost race car telemetry
  25. 25. Ruggedized Dev Board -> 'Hard'uino Arduino clone </li></ul><li>Let it flow- don't white-knuckle grip a rigid outcome for your ideas
  26. 26. Most Important – As with software, release early and iterate. Don't strive for perfection. </li><ul><li>Something we are still mastering... </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Open yourself to contribution <ul><li>Your peers are your network – they generate business and ideas </li><ul><li>Example: Biz Lead from twitter community led to Aluminum enclosure redesign </li></ul></ul>Old Enclosure New Enclosure
  28. 28. Marketing <ul><li>Traditional media advertising is dead </li><ul><li>But you should dabble in google adwords
  29. 29. We spent $500x2 on magazine advertising </li><ul><li>Worst money ever spent </li></ul></ul><li>Instead </li><ul><li>Tweet. Facebook. Blog. Make videos
  30. 30. Ask your community... anything
  31. 31. Put yourself out there- be transparent and relatable
  32. 32. Create a culture around your company that is durable and impossible to commoditize </li></ul></ul>
  33. 33. Open Source – Community Supported <ul><li>Be one of your users </li><ul><li>we get racers / enthusiasts because we are racers / enthusiasts </li></ul><li>Non-traditional business model plays to your advantage </li><ul><li>Your community will come to your defense </li></ul><li>Building the business can be as fun as developing the projects! </li></ul>
  34. 34. On New Ideas <ul><li>Sometimes ideas bubble up that don't fit your vertical
  35. 35. If the pressure is high enough, provide it relief with a parallel business
  36. 36. MakerBug – spinoff coming 2011 </li><ul><li>Open Source Hardware
  37. 37. for fun and education </li></ul></ul>
  38. 38. Fin! Questions? Contact Information: Brent Picasso [email_address] twitter.com/AutosportLabs

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