Top 5 Things to Look For When Selecting Manufacturing Partners
So, you just successfully raised a round of funding on Kickstarter (or Indiegogo), validating your genius invention.
After a brief 10 minutes of celebration, the reality of “this is just the beginning” finally hits you! Your real task lies ahead. It is now your job to bring that ingenious invention to life and mass produce to deliver it to the hands of your backers.
What should you do? How do you proceed? Who do you call?
Fear not, the InnoVart Design team just so happened to have gone through that exact experience ourselves. After our successful fundraising on Kickstarter, the team had our fair share of exploring and negotiation to find the ideal manufacturing partners.
Below are our top 5 guidelines for selecting the perfect manufacturing partner.
#1 Referral Source
This one is a no-brainer, but it’s still often overlooked by most. When starting out on the path of finding the right manufacturers, it’s always best to start with your own network. Start by asking close friends on social networks (Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin). Referrals by trustworthy sources can help you save time on looking through thousands of companies on Google. They can also help weed out some of the good companies from the bad.
#2 Know The Company
After getting a list of names from people you know, it’s time to do some research. Start by doing research on the company. Check to see if it’s a 1) one-stop shop: one that handles hardware, firmware, mechanical design, sourcing, tooling, and distribution all in-house. Or, is it a specialty shop that focuses on one area and partners with other companies to do the rest. Furthermore, ask your friends to share their experience and to list the pros and cons of working with the manufacturers. The more information you get at the early stage, the better it is in helping make the decisions for how you should proceed.
#3 Can They Scale?
Given that we are in the hardware space, understanding numbers is very important. When it comes to manufacturing, you are looking to anticipate the number of supply to your demand. You need to find a manufacturer who is flexible in meeting your needs to scale. Check to see how many locations this company has. How long has the company been in business? What is their overall manufacturing timeline? How big is there team? What you are looking for is whether the company is capable of meeting your product creation and delivery needs.
#4 Ask A Lot of Questions
After doing all the research and having a better understanding of the potential manufacturers, it’s time to do some actual outreach. Reach out to the manufacturers and ask them to share a portfolio of past clients or similar clients in your specific industry. Request samples of previous works or specific materials. Ask them questions about the manufacturing process: What’s the timeline from beginning to end? How does the company check for quality assurance? What are some contingency plans regarding delays and unexpected fallbacks? Who owns the ownership of the R&D? Finally, ask for a detailed quote with specific line item breakdown. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t just settle with one company at first.
#5 Culture Fit
We can get super technical and drop a number of words that you will only find in manufacturing dictionaries, but all of that can be taught and learned along the way. The MOST important element of selecting the right manufacturing partner comes down to the culture fit. Once you have the top 3-5 finalists selected, go visit the shops in person. Take a tour of the facility. Spend some time with the team. Not just the management team, meet the folks who will potentially be working on your project on a daily basis. Get to know their work ethic and personality. At the end of the day, keep in mind whoever you select as your final partner, you will be working with a company for the entire duration of the project. With that being said, select the partner that you will comfortable working with and someone that aligns with your company vision and culture. As the saying goes, birds of a feather flock together.
These are summaries from our own learning as we continue to bring CarWink to life. For those who are interested in learning more about manufacturing, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Our team would be happy to chat and share more information with you.