All hardware founders should be B2B entrepreneurs, even if they're selling B2C products

I've touched on this several times throughout the meetings with our fund LPs that I thought I put it down on paper as a reminder to our founders:

All hardware founders should be B2B entrepreneurs, even if they’re selling B2C products

We all heard about the story of the nerdy early years of Facebook when the team just locked themselves in their Menlo Park office and coded night and day. Today many lean startups in the software/mobile B2C space still pride themselves for doing that. The nerdy picture of intelligent, no-bullshit and sarcastic engineers working night and day to disrupt the world is best glorified in the hit TV series « Silicon Valley » produced by HBO.

The general feeling is that if you're working on B2C products, you don't have to interact with too many adults other than your investors or potentially your acquirers.

This is definitely not the case in the hardware space. The reason is very simple: to deliver a product to the consumers, the hardware entrepreneurs have to work with suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, stores, logistics partners, etc.

Locking oneself in a garage, even with a 240 IQ, won't get these things done.

This is why I argue that all hardware founders should be B2B entrepreneurs. In addition to familiarity with lean growth strategy, they should also be able to work with business partners in a professional way. They don't need to know everything but they have to be willing to learn and evolve.

And note that you could not outsource these efforts. Working with business partners to deliver B2C products to the hand of passionate consumers is the core part of your business as a hardware startup. After Series A you might be able to hire a VP Operation to help run these partnerships, but never never should you outsource it completely to 3rd-party consultants or brokers.

 

The importance of having an operational expert in your team – even at an early stage

My talk at TechInAsia Tokyo 2016