Excellent points here! The recent proliferation of hardware start-ups is both exciting and worrisome to me. I read an interesting case on a new hardware “accelerator” in Boston called Bolt (https://www.bolt.io). Bolt helps companies progress from an idea to a prototype to a product on hundreds of shelves. Historically, any company hoping to manufacture hardware had to be well known, established and have a lot of money. A common refrain within the tech industry was and still is “hardware is hard” because it quite frankly is. Many high profile companies have failed, in part because they weren’t able to navigate the complex world of manufacturing and supply chain management. Thanks to companies like Bolt, this is no longer the case (or as much of the case) today. While this may seem wonderful at first glance, I can’t help but wonder if it’s not and if we are just tampering with the principles of natural selection. As the cost of starting a hardware businesses has fallen, the number of hardware businesses has risen. As the opportunities in this industry have risen the risk profile of the businesses within this industry have risen as well. This, in turn, implies that the number of hardware startup failures will rise as well. This rise in hardware failures is precisely why I feel a sense of trepidation about the changes taking place in this industry and also why the points you’ve mentioned are incredibly relevant ones. Thank you for sharing!
I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment Enke. Sometimes when things feel right you just have to go for it, regardless of popular opinion. The important thing here is that you’re KNOWINGLY defying conventional wisdom and accepting all the risks that come with doing so, rather than naively doing so and being unaware of the risks that follow suit.
You’ve raised an interesting question, a question that I’ve asked myself a few times while working on my startup and a question that I think almost every other entrepreneur asks him or herself at some point. I think the three questions you’ve asked your readership to answer are good ones, but I’d caution you and other entrepreneurs to look more deeply at a few of these areas before leaving your baby for the following reasons:
1. Just because your passionate about your company’s mission doesn’t mean you’ll be passionate about all the work required to fulfill that mission. I’m passionate about the mission of my startup, but this summer I lost a lot of fervor for it for a few weeks and dreaded going into work. It wasn’t because I was over the company, but rather because I was unexcited about the arduous, but important task that I was working on, web development. These rough weeks working on the site taught me that in startups there are lot of peaks and pits. Thus the question to ask yourself is whether you have lost the passion for your mission or your project. If it’s the former, then this is absolutely a red flag.
2. You will often be trying to keep your head above the water and feel like you’re hitting a wall. Entrepreneurs have to be generalists and that’s not always easy. Before working on my company’s website this summer, I didn’t even know what a domain was (embarrassing ..I know). I felt way under qualified to be talking to different companies about API’s and other technical issues we were looking to address, but I picked it up eventually. Thus, I think it would behoove readers to think about the tasks required of them and determine whether they are competent enough to either complete or learn how to complete them. If they don’t think they’ll be able to do either then I’d agree that it’s probably time to recuse oneself.