A Startup for Startups

by Mitch Bossart, Industry Writer for GoEngineer

Ever been bored with your job?

Boredom often begets internal arguments: “You have nothing to complain about! You work for a great company, in a great job. This feeling will go away soon enough.”

But the feeling stays.

Your best ideas are often shot down. You remain unchallenged. You feel underutilized.

RadicandLack of fulfillment at work was enough for Greg Kress, founder and CEO of Radicand, to leave the corporate world and start his own company.

“I knew a lot of smart people working on boring projects in big companies,” says Kress. “I was inspired to do something different, and I wanted to have my hand in shaping the real world at large.”

Kress saw an unaddressed need facing hardware startups in Silicon Valley; the ecosystem there is very well developed for software startups—often all you need is a laptop and an idea.

But hardware development is different.Radicand1

You need space. You need capital equipment, which is often physically large and expensive. You need design and engineering expertise. And, you need compelling demos and prototypes that motivate investors to jump on board.

Moving from Napkin Sketch to Product

Radicand’s passion is helping entrepreneurs make the transition from idea to product, and accelerating the rate at which ideas get out into the world. That’s one of the primary reasons why Kress started the company: “I wanted to build a community of hardware entrepreneurs who share resources among themselves, thereby encouraging more people to take an idea and run with it.”Collaboration for Startups

When a potential client approaches Radicand, they want to know what it will take to develop their idea into a real product.

“You need to provide accurate projections, which is always tricky with ‘first of a kind’ products,” says Kress. “Our customers have limited resources or they’re trying to raise funding—some are putting their whole life savings on the line.”

For product design and development, the company relies on SOLIDWORKS from GoEngineer, a local engineering and manufacturing technology reseller that also supplies training and support. “The technical guys from GoEngineer regularly host free SOLIDWORKS events in the shop, which everyone in the Radicand community really appreciates,” say Kress. “Most of our community members and vendors use SOLIDWORKS. It makes working together on projects a lot easier.”

Making the Ordinary Extraordinary

One of Radicand’s clients, Nebia, closed its Kickstarter campaign, exceeding its goal by several million dollars.

The Nebia Shower is a product that was 5 years in the making. A typical 8-minute shower uses 20 gallons of water; the Nebia Shower uses just 6 gallons of water. That’s a 70% savings in water per shower.

Radicand3“The initial prototypes were cobbled together from all different kinds of off-the-shelf bits and pieces—some versions looked like something off the International Space Station,” laughs Kress. But the technology works. “After the second meeting we had with Nebia, I actually jumped in the shower to try it.”

Kress knew the product was a winner.

Nebia gave Radicand 7 weeks to create a functioning prototype that would compel bloggers and investors to actually get in their showers and try it.

That meant the design needed to be sleek and irresistible.

Radicand4.jpg“We were coming up with ideas and testing them out, iterating mainly through physical prototyping,” says Kress. Fast vendor turnaround times had to be the norm, and the process was all the easier with SOLIDWORKS, since everyone in the supply chain was utilizing the software.

The Radicand team met its deadline, and the fund-raising and awareness campaign was a huge success for Nebia.

Delivering More Ideas to the World                         

The numbers of people interested in investing in hardware startups is growing—consider Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus Rift and Google’s acquisition of Nest. And Radicand itself has quadrupled in size over the past year with an additional office recently opened in San Francisco.

Radicand5“I love building things,” enthuses Kress. “I love getting to see things work for the first time—solving challenging problems. I love the team that we have. You just stand around these tables watching amazing things happen in an unbelievable amount of time.”

Kress continues: “I think that’s one of the biggest benefits of just being in this space. You get to see what other people are struggling with and ask them how they’re solving their problems. That kind of intangible value of the community is really huge.”Radicand6

Buckminster Fuller talked about how the world is really a machine that we’ve designed for ourselves to live in, and there are so many ways to improve it,” says Kress. “That’s always inspired me—that you can use technology and scientific thinking to actually bring about positive change in the world.”

 

 

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