Finding your product-market fit in the rapidly advancing technology industry requires constant research and investment to remain ahead of the competition. From running a pilot project and validating your product, to certifying your device and complying with local laws and regulations, entrepreneurs must be ready to grow and evolve when they enter the tech marketplace.
Last week, RIC Centre and Arrow Electronics hosted the fourth installment of Driving Dreams 2019, an event series that brings together experts in software, hardware, and product development to network with tech entrepreneurs who are embarking on their commercialization journey.
During this latest workshop, industry professionals discussed some of the most pressing topics around product-market fit in the world of Internet of Things (IoT).
Multiprotocol Wireless Solutions
Silicon Labs’ Raman Sharma and John Rosse opened the event with a presentation on the company’s multiprotocol wireless connectivity solutions that provide customers with design flexibility.
During design development, Sharma and Rosse reminded the audience that industry professionals in the field of IoT should always be thinking about security. Educate yourself on the supplier and technology you choose to work with to avoid compromising on both the security and performance of your device.
Businesses across many markets, such as industrial, motor control, and health and fitness, can benefit from versatile IoT solutions.
Compliance and Certification for Wireless Technology
Our afternoon keynote speaker Jandrew Gonzales, key account manager at Nemko, plunged into a discussion focusing on certification and compliance. Throughout his presentation, Gonzales highlighted some of the potential regulatory hurdles that product developers may face once they find their product-market fit.
Although Gonzales noted that certification and compliance does not often receive much attention and exposure, this process is vital for designers who are trying to get their device out to market. For entrepreneurs, Gonzales reinforced the fact that all devices must comply with the local regulations of where you plan to sell your device.
“Most electronic devices in markets must comply with local laws and regulations. Every country and region has their own set of people that monitor this known as an AHJ, or Authority Having Jurisdiction,” Gonzales explained.
Gonzales described four AHJs that establish and enforce the rules and regulations for electronic devices in North America: Innovation and Science Economic Development (ISED), Electrical Safety Authority (ESA), Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Businesses should become familiar with the regulatory standards for each region, as they often vary by country. For example, regulatory compliance in Europe is governed by the European Union and they have created the CE scheme that devices must comply to, explained Gonzales.
After satisfying these procedures, devices must be labelled with specific marks and symbols that correspond with each country’s regulation code and act as proof of certification.
Alongside abiding to local laws, IoT device manufacturers will also have to complete EMC testing, product safety certification (such as fire safety, battery testing, and bodily harm testing), and wireless radio certification.
Developers should address the compliance and certification stage right at the beginning of their product development journey to accelerate their time-to-market.
Breaking into the IoT Industry
To close out the event, Pam Banks, Executive Director at RIC Centre, moderated a panel of industry experts that included Edgar Sotter, senior director at Systems with Intelligence, Jandrew Gonzales, key account manager at Nemko, Barry Papoff, Chief Operating Officer at ARCX, and John Rosse, distribution business manager at Silicon Labs. The panelists shared their thoughts on the challenges associated with finding product-market fit and entering a legacy market.
As the key to beginning a sustainable business often lies in the first product sale, Banks began the conversation by asking the panelists how entrepreneurs can obtain their first customer.
For Rosse, many of the successful customers he encounters have become prosperous because they had created a plan for execution. “Once your plan is in place, you have people taking care of different aspects in terms of monetizing the product, distribution, and manufacturing. Then you find an avenue that allows you flexibility to take that initial idea and move right or left with it,” Rosse explained. “And that means choosing the right supplier, choosing the person that can give you that flexibility. Companies that I found that were successful, go with a plan and also think about how they can move it forward down the road.”
Although agreeing with Rosse, Sotter also believes that first product sales can come out of building relationships with potential customers. He recommends finding a champion in the industry, attending entrepreneurial meetups and events, and asking those around you who else they may know. “You’ll be surprised how many people you have the potential to know, if you just ask,” Sotter said.
When discussing product development and validation, Papoff reminds the audience that this stage isn’t about revenue, but rather about proving your ROI and gaining some market credibility. “When you talk to people working in product development, they always say ‘tape it, Velcro it, nail it.’ Try it, if it works, make it a little more stable, then level it up.”
By understanding the customer’s problems and what they’re willing to pay for a solution, businesses can gain traction and successfully break into the IoT industry. Researching certifications, building networks within the tech community, and articulating a clear value and ROI can help entrepreneurs to continue progressing in the competitive IoT tech market.
Our Driving Dreams Series Continues
The next installment is September 19th, 2019. Register to learn how to select components and solutions for hardware design & how to understand “DFX”