2017 Challenges for hardware startups

A new year, a new set of challenges for hardware startups. Yet many challenges hardware startups face are universal.

We spoke to 54 hardware startups at our Oct. 2016 Startup Launchpad show to better understand the areas for growth for hardware startups in the upcoming year and to highlight the common challenges many are dealing with as a reminder that no startup is alone in the difficulties they face.

Distribution and market entry and expansion were considered to be the biggest challenges for startups, with 41 percent of those surveyed citing it as a top priority.

Marketing was the third biggest challenge among startups, with 24 percent of startups calling it a major priority for them this year. Particularly, many were most concerned about clearly conveying the value and functionality of their products.

19 percent of startups said hardware improvement,feature expansion and R&D were another key challenge facing them in 2017.

Feature improvement & customer service
Many startups said their biggest goal and challenge was to build on available product features and expand customer service to their users.

3 N Half Ltd. said they plan to better distinguish their heart rate monitor from other health monitors in the industry. Jarvish said it plans to develop software upgrades for its smart motorcycle helmet.

ChooseBlocks said they planned to invent new product models for their smart watches that incorporate SIM cards and other function-expanding technology.

Nanoleaf also said it plans to closely monitor customer demand and continue to enhance its current product offerings and potentially develop new product models.

Shenzhen Pilot labs technologies Co. said they intend to further strengthen Moorebot’s A.I. and grow its voice and facial recognition abilities.

Finding ways to build on existing features may be challenging, but by continuing to innovate, these startups will ensure they remain competitive and best serve their target customer’s needs.

Production, distribution & new market entry
Coming up with the right manufacturing processes, finding quality manufacturers and honing distribution networks are all sizable obstacles hardware startups face.

iVo Techologies said they would be looking for new partners in manufacturing for the creation of their MOODBOX smart speakers.

SoundBrenner said they similarly are looking for production partners to combine the hardware and software manufacturing supply chain.

Go Key Co. Ltd. said it has ambitions to expand its distribution network and overseas manufacturing to better meet the challenge of efficiently delivering products to their backers and customers.

Spin-R Limited hopes to expand its distribution network as well in the upcoming year for its Tittle light.

Finding ways to enhance manufacturing so it’s more efficient and expanding distribution can be challenging, but by enhancing manufacturing and distribution, theses startups will be able to more effectively make their products and get them out through their distributors into the hands of consumers.

Marketing & competing products
Marketing is another key area that startups can often neglect but is essential for distinguishing products in a saturated marketplace and for communicating value to consumers.

Jing Feng Digital Technology plans to develop more effective promotion for its Portable Car Music Server. GPD Technology Co. also plans to create new marketing promotions to highlight the unique functions of its handheld PC. XS International Business Co. said it also planned to launch new marketing highlighting the different uses of its smart projectors for potential buyers.

Adult toy-maker MysteryVibe expressed a desire to further saturate the Asian marketplace with their specially-designed vibrators for discretion and customized usage. Sonic Dutch Korea also hoped to expand its patents and market distribution in China.

U-GYM said they plan to further differentiate their electronic pulse muscle stimulator from other health technology in the industry and highlight its numerous functions for consumers through marketing.

Scarlet Tech said one of their big challenges for the year would be to clearly communicate the worth of their wireless LED display for consumers compared to competing products.

Finding the right messaging and clearly explaining features in a way that communicates their value to consumers while clearly outshining competitors can require significant market and consumer research, but in the end the investment of time by these startups will be paid off in more satisfied customers, more sales and a bigger bottom line for these startups.

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