Startup developing a hardware product


Productizing means bringing a new product, service or feature from an idea to a commercial product. Even something seemingly simple, say a shovel, needs countless steps from the first sketch to a shop.

The Moodmetric Ring is an embedded system, i.e. an equipment guided by an in-built computer, in this case a processor. It has required the development of the measurement system, the ´computer´ and the software guiding the measurement. All this is a significant amount of work in addition to building up the hardware of chosen components.

When a product, new version or feature is developed inside an existing organization, the resources are in place: you have the hardware development department, software/embedded software development department, prototype production line and a test laboratory filled with equipment specific for the needs of the particular industry.

In a startup there is normally nothing at all, just an idea. How is a complex development work possible?

The most important thing is the team: everyone should be top-tier and know absolutely the latest of relevant technology. There are no bosses or internal audits, all issues need to be discovered and managed within the team. For a product like the Moodmetric ring the knowledge of signal processing, biosensor technology, algorithm development and software development have been in great hands, which has enabled a leap that is hard to believe even when seeing it happening next to me.

There need to be third parties involved, small electronics and manufacturing shops for prototyping and development. A good network of local SME tech industry is always needed when starting of development of any device. Due to our backgrounds in engineering and manufacturing, this has been well covered.

The most important thing nro 2 is the customer. Which in the beginning is not yet there. The search for the customer needs to being at the same time as the idea of a product first crosses the inventor´s mind. Where, who? A startup likes often to keep the invention secret as long as possible, which certainly is wise. But without a customer feedback, the product will not hit it.

We found the initial customers very early. Then we found more customers, totally different demographic and market. And more.. This is maybe the most confusing time period: you develop the product, you make prototypes, you ask the customer opinions and all the time you are insecure are you heading to the right market. We just had to continue and take decisions on the way until we felt this is getting right.
A very important concept is the minimum viable product Eric Ries: The Lean Startup. This is the first concept to test with a real user, and does not have to look like the final product at all. Ours was like this:









For an architect an MVP can be a cardboard box and for a computer game developer a sketch. Just to test the initial idea and start collecting feedback from early on.

We have all worked in big organizations and it is very refreshing to develop a product in a startup mode. Again, no bosses, no internal audits, no bureaucracy (except for what you decide to implement), nothing formal, only the common objective and total freedom around it. When things are getting ready and there are more people and parties around, the freedom gradually gets less. Suddenly a startup realizes being a big organization and someone asks you to report your workhours in the ‘system’.

Moodmetric has decided to stay lean and follow the teachings of Vincit. Quoting their CEO Mikko Kuitunen: “When the headcount goes over 30, the people still remain intelligent enough to decide whether they need to buy a pencil or not.”