When hardware kickstarters actually ship

I felt a great disturbance in the force. It was as if a million backers cried out in joy and were suddenly fulfilled.

You used to be able rely on certain things in life; death, taxes and hardware kickstarters would never ship, or at least be years late. Something strange happened recently however... one actually did.

Mine actually. I've thought a lot about what was different about KoalaSafe and here 3 buzzfeed style thoughts:

  1. Don't design hardware.

    OK, so that's a strange thing for a 'hardware' Kickstarer to say, but there's a lot to be said for using generic components. Our prototypes were on Raspberry PI's and our production hardware uses an already manufactured board with OpenWRT and our own software.

    There were lots of times we thought about the cool stuff we could do with custom hardware. But well, it's hard. If you can avoid it, go generic, at least to start.

  2. Do you really need that custom injection mould?

    Of course we'd love a plastic Koala mould with glowing eyes, but for v1? Not necessary. We started with this:

    Koala mould

    We had an industrial design relative come up with:

    Industrial design

    And settled on branding the existing case. Not as sexy, but deliverable! The value in our product is in the software, not the blinking Koala Eyes... but oh how I would love those blinking eyes...

  3. Find the right partner

    So you're making something? Welcome to China. Life is different here. Business is different here. Everything is different here. Finding the right partner is crucial. We probably had 20 abortive conversations with potential partners in China.

    Sometimes English was the barrier, other times it was responsiveness, other times it was... differring views... on what was really "open" software vs reverse engineered network drivers.

    In the end, you have to know you can do business with someone. Our partners responded to emails promptly, could Skype well in English and even ran their own kickstarter!

    Now for the minor detail of what our backers think of their shiny new family-friendly routers and apps!

    Order now