Presentation on theme: "IEEE AICN National Workshop Nov. 4, 2000, Waltham, MA Selling Hardware, Not Vaporware Or How I got here from there Tom Freehill www.ectmicro.com."— Presentation transcript:
IEEE AICN National Workshop Nov. 4, 2000, Waltham, MA Selling Hardware, Not Vaporware Or How I got here from there Tom Freehill www.ectmicro.com
Background Back to school at 30 Navy Lab –Original plan was 5 years and then off on my own. –$3M hybrid lab all to myself made me forget –Saw the writing on the wall in early 90s and started making plans. –1997 lab closed
First Year 6 months severance pay 3-4 months finishing up Navy projects (via a contractor). Original plan – circuit design for hybrid and MCM technologies. The reality factor – there was no market –Only work was for captive manufacturers.
Re-inventing the Company Background included a lot of novel packaging schemes needed to meet R&D project requirements, including hands on. Concurrent engineering was a big buzz word. ECM was to become a 1 man concurrent engineering company.
Rationale Biggest complaint heard was that consultants didnt deliver hardware. There are people out there with good ideas and $$, but they dont have the expertise or manpower to develop them. I didnt want to go back to work for somebody else.
Business Charter Ideal client has an idea, but no expertise to implement it (or overloaded). –They dont want paper, they want working hardware. I do not market to government (kind of). –The work I do get, comes looking for me. –SBIRs – too much paperwork. Partner with someone who has the knack
Milestones Joined CCN/ got listing in National Database (IEEE-USA). Established ties with my board fab and assembly houses (valuable). Built up credit history for company. Discovered what marketing strategies dont work. Re-learned microcontroller programming.
Marketing Registration on various websites only thing that has worked. Booths at trade shows, brochures, mailings, etc. – useless to date. Government marketing – if I will be in the area, I send an email to a select group that Im buying lunch. –Reminder that Im alive and well
Proposals Short and Sweet. Define the requirements in your words. –Make sure were all on the same page. Brief description of proposed design. –Enough to convince them you know what youre doing, not enough for them to go elsewhere. Cost and schedule.
Cost and Schedule Prices are firm, fixed and non-negotiable. –If client knows what they want, you should know how much $$ to do work. –On firm/ fixed, the supplier is assuming all of the risk; only the supplier can determine what that risk is worth. Schedules are firm/ fixed. –Everybody wants it yesterday, if you promise what you cant deliver, youre mud.
Resources First name basis with fab and assembly houses. –Has come in handy on more than 1 occasion. Retired ET is my VP Mechanical Eng. –Minimal direction and the price is right Outsource for other expertise as needed. I work cheap ($100/wk – take home).
Networks Originally joined CCN hoping to get work. Now, it is to decide who to farm work out to. –Nothing worse than having to turn down work, whether overloaded, or some portions are outside my expertise. –Have begun partnering with some members of CCN.
Latest Scheme Engineering enrollments are down and not likely to improve. Start-ups are usually looking to put together a multi-disciplinary engineering department, but no one to fill it and big $$. Enter the Virtual Engineering Dept. –You are VP Engineering
Virtual VP Charge an annual retainer to be on call. –First x # of hours are free for fire drills and proposals. –New projects are firm/fixed. As VP, you hire and fire as needed. –Call on Network expertise, as needed. 3-4 companies maximum.
The Future Virtual Engineering Department for 3 or 4 small start-ups. - will require partnering or out-sourcing. Become a supplier of my hardware designs. –recursive income Continue broadening areas of expertise or change direction of company.
The Moral(s) Think hardware –Ideas are nice, working hardware sells. Think Virtual Engineering Department. –Network, partner, plan. Think networking –Potential employees, employers, partners.
Addenda Pay your bills early –on-time isnt good enough. Your market is a moving target –Look where things are headed. –Dont be shy about re-inventing the company. Hire a competent accountant –Unless your expertise is accounting software development – forget it!