I wanted to share this cool infographic from the Arena Blog - 5 ways you can prepare your business to scale. This seems to be focusing mostly on how you can prepare as a hardware company (product data, operations/engineering focused) but I think it's a nice check list for anyone involved with bringing a product to market.

 

http://blog.arenasolutions.com/wp-content/plugins/autothumb/image.php?src=/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/scaling3.png&aoe=1&q=100&w=698&h=1304&hash=5ff7063544a908dcd4235c68c0dce2c8

One of the biggest stressors of putting together a protoype (in my  eyes) is finding all the parts you need, getting the datasheets, etc,  etc, and building that first draft of the BOM. If it's at least easy to  find the parts you're looking for, with information on multiple  distributors, it makes the job a bit easier.

 

To that end, I want to share a new tool I have caught wind of, as part of my work at Arena Solutions. It's called Octopart,and essentially it's a search engine for electronic parts. It has a Google-like interface, and is really easy to use.

 

Andres  and Sam, who studied physics together at Brown, then pursued PhDs in  astroparticle physics and plasma physics respectively, are the founders  of Octopart—and  I was lucky enough to talk to them about how they came up with the  idea. I also got some great advice about scaling, the startup mentality,  and - - if you're looking for work - - some ideas for getting a job at  Octopart.

 

I  think the success of Octopart shows that electronic component  distributors are realizing that distribution is no longer the problem - -  it's finding the parts that you want, and being able to compare parts  across a variety of distributors. In some ways, it seems like the market  is demanding consolidation, and the ability to find/get what they want  in one place, and with less hassle. I think Octopart is actually on the  right track to solving this problem. What do you think? Will we ever  have one-stop-shopping for electrical components?

 

To learn more about Octopart

 

apple_ipad_23.jpgWe just launched PartsList--a free application to help engineers document their designs, so everyone around here has design on the brain.

 

Design is always a fun topic for discussion, because everyone has strong opinions when it comes to design.

 

Some people are on one end of the spectrum, and think that "design" is what works, what is functional—how it looks is in service to what it does. In other words, if something does what it was designed to do, then it is beautiful, because performance is beautiful.

 

 

Others say, design equals aesthetics. Design is more like a skin. It’s superficial, yet it’s extremely important, because people make decisions to use a product on their emotions. In this context, design is about sucking people into a frame of mind that is heavily influenced by the visual.

 

 

I feel that when it comes to manufacturing, functionality trumps aesthetics every time. (Unless you're Apple.) And this attitude is really reflected in the tools created for manufacturers.

 

As someone in the manufacturing software business, I personally feel that manufacturing software often supports functionality in its design, but tends to leave aesthetics and “user-friendliness” far behind. While it does what you need it to do, a lot of the products out there are often limited in scope, difficult to navigate and inflexible—especially when you are used to using some of the fancy products designed for marketing and sales.

 

Speaking from my experience at Arena, we’ve tried to integrate design into the world of manufacturing software, and we sometimes find ourselves alone in thinking this is important. Perhaps we think a little differently because our founders had a background of product design and engineering, but we believe that design makes a huge difference in the amount of customer value—particularly when you’re dealing with a complex domain.

 

 

 

 

But is this a pointless endeavor? Especially because, when it comes to design, everybody’s right and everybody’s wrong. Do you think functionality is improved by aesthetics, or do you think the two are unrelated? Is aesthetic design in manufacturing software matter just a “nice-to-have” feature, or is it a critical part of creating a usable product?