#027 - Rapid prototyping - a platform and its essential tools, with Finbarr Watterson of Fictiv, USA


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By Balint Horvath, Balint Horvath: Entrepreneur, and Innovation Specialist. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

I’ve recently interviewed Finbarr Watterson, Hardware Community Evangelist at Fictiv, from the Bay Area, USA. His company is all into helping you iterate on your early product versions faster and with high quality.

Fin has been entrenched in the manufacturing industry for over 5 years living in both Shenzhen, China and the San Francisco Bay Area. He works closely with the hardware community to create content and events that help engineers and designers to build better hardware.

Fictiv is a pretty interesting company - I wish they were also outside the Bay Area. They provide very short lead-times for orders for parts that are 3D printed or CNC-machined.

We discussed many topics in this interview, their vision, mission, some examples of hardware startups, such as Lockitron’s mistake in the early phase they learned from, their experience with validating their product with customers and how they scaled production from manufacturing a few units to mass-manufacturing in China. We discussed Fictiv’s business model, their services related to rapid prototyping that makes them different from their competitors, how they bootstrapped their company using an MVP or Minimum Viable Product. This interview reminds me of some of the topics discussed in episode 7 with Radu Diaconescu of Swie.io which works with a similar business model and episode 23 with Jacob Rothman of Platform88 when we talked about manufacturing consumer products in China.

Enjoy this episode. The highlights can be seen below.

Raw transcript is available at: https://www.thehardwareentrepreneur.com

Show highlights can be seen below:

  • The vision and mission of Fictiv - [3:10]
  • Finbarr’s role as hardware evangelist and Fictiv’s core business - [3:34]
  • What’s the value proposition of the company? – [6:35]
  • The frustration that drives innovation – the story of the company’s MVP [8:35]
  • Their business model and what it has to do with Airbnb - [11:37]
  • Considerations on Design for Manufacturing - [16:44]
  • Who are their competitors and how are they different? - [17:53]
  • Stages of financing the company - [20:25]
  • Mistakes that Finbarr made after he joined the company, which he learned from - [21:08]
  • Manufacturing in the U.S. vs China: Minimum Order Quantity, inventory, iterations - [23:44]
  • Going from small-scale production in the US to mass-manufacturing in China - [27:02]
  • Examples of companies which went from prototyping in the US to mass manufacturing in China - [29:34]
  • If you could time travel and go back in time, what notes would you give yourself? – [30:33]
  • Which book had the biggest impact on his career? – [31:25]
  • An Iron Man habit – [31:49]
  • What kind of cultural differences Finbarr had to overcome during his career? – [33:08]
  • What is the best way to reach Finbarr? – [35:05]

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