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How Modern Manufacturing Can Help Product-Driven Startups

Startup businesses that revolve around products have a lot of challenges when it comes to manufacturing. Naturally, it’s difficult to determine how much inventory is needed, and it can be expensive to produce that inventory. Then again, before a startup even gets to these particular challenges though, it also has to get through the design process as efficiently and affordably as possible. 

Each business is different, and there’s no universal way to address all of these challenges without issue. However, numerous modern manufacturing methods have at least made various stages of the product development process simpler for today’s startups. Here, we’ll get into some of the specifics. 

Collaborative Design Tools

Today, a lot of startups operate in unconventional working environments. They might launch without office space, for instance; they might have contributors or even founders located in different cities thousands of miles away from one another. These conditions can be inconvenient when it comes to getting a product off the ground. However, a variety of workplace collaboration tools have largely solved the problem. Creative Blog did an excellent job of compiling some of those tools in a single write-up, listing Slack, Asana, Google Keep, Podio, and Mural, among others. These services are not identical, but by and large they exist to facilitate communication and file sharing, track projects where everyone involved can see (and edit), and manage general task progress. Any given program might suit a given startup’s needs best, but it’s safe to say that any effort to design a product can be helped along by these collaborative tools. 

Advanced Product Engineering

Once upon a time, the process of actually engineering a product tended to begin with a crude, handmade prototype. Of course, that wasn’t always the case, but we all know the image of a scrappy startup founder doing some amateur engineering to rig up a functioning prototype. Today, at least in a lot of cases, this doesn’t have to be the case — in large part because advanced, machine-driven product engineering methods have gotten more useful. There’s a fairly comprehensive outline of the methods we’re talking about published by Fictiv , specifically detailing CNC machining, 3D printing, injection molding, and urethane casting. These methods differ in their respective approaches, but they share a capability to engineer products to the exact specifications provided by digital designs. They can also do so very quickly (sometimes in just 24 hours), and without exorbitant costs — making them excellent options for startups seeking prototypes and tweaking product designs. 

AI & IoT In Manufacturing

Not long ago, we posted a profile of Lincode Labs , a startup that was founded in 2017. As was written there, the company “uses artificial intelligence and industrial IoT solutions to increase the profitability of companies” in various sectors. And while other startups may not directly be taking advantage of these changes, they are still, in some cases, reaping the benefits. Simply put, as AI and the IoT are more broadly implemented in manufacturing processes, wait times on product delivery are shortening, and costs at least have the potential to drop. So, while a new startup launching a first product may not have the means to put its own AI- or IoT-driven manufacturing into practice, it may still benefit from the impact of these technologies. 

It’s still a very complex and challenging process to launch a product line as a startup founder. And again, every business will have its own hurdles to clear. Because of these shifts in modern manufacturing though, newer and smaller companies have more ways to get their first products off the ground.

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