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Video & 7 Lessons from Connecting to Manufacturers Workshop at A/D/O

August 31, 2017

Futureworks Incubator’s Connecting to Manufacturers Workshop at A/D/O from SecondMuse on Vimeo.

Futureworks Incubator’s recent workshop at A/D/O in Greenpoint focused on connecting to manufacturers, brokering deals and negotiating pricing. The Connecting to Manufacturing discussion was led by Voodoo Manufacturing Cofounder Jonathan Schwartz, Boyce Technologies’ Tom Powell, RockPaperRobot Founder Jessica Banks, PENSA Cofounder Marco Perry, PlayDate Founder Kevin Li and NYCEDC’s Stacey Weismiller.

One gem in particular: Work with manufacturers who are transparent about their limitations, lead times and production costs.

We’ve shared the most important takeaways here, a video of the workshop as well as photos from the event. A big thank you to our facilitators and to A/D/O’s Ben Scheim. Futureworks Incubator is an NYCEDC initiative that’s designed and run by collaboration agency SecondMuse. Sign up for future workshops here, and join Futureworks on Instagram and Twitter.

Seven lessons on connecting to manufacturers

  1. Always know who the point person will be for quality assurance, and always have one person who is overseeing each step of the production process. This will make it easier to troubleshoot when things inevitably break down. – Marco Perry
  2. Consider your supply chain early in the design process. Design your product knowing who will be able to own each step of production, and what their lead times will be. This will make operations strategy and troubleshooting easier in the long run – Kevin Li
  3. Work with manufacturers who are willing to be transparent about their limitations, lead times, and production costs. You also want someone who is accessible, who can be reached during an emergency – Jessica Banks
  4. Be resourceful when searching for suppliers. When I would visit manufacturers, I used to write down and Google the names of the suppliers whose vehicles were in the parking lot. Flip a chair (or any other object) upside down, and often you’ll learn who made it – Stacey Weismiller
  5. Find a manufacturer whose’ production capabilities best fit your product design, but also be willing to adapt your design to the production capabilities of the manufacturer. Good partnership with a manufacturer begins with flexibility and proactive problem solving. – Tom Powell
  6. A sign of a good manufacturing partner is when they ask many thoughtful questions. This demonstrates that they understand and are interested in what you are trying to accomplish. Many manufacturers will over promise, telling you what you want to hear – Jonathan Schwartz
  7. Someone that is pushing towards a product and towards success looks better to manufacturers than someone with their hand out. – Tom

Favorite Resources:
Trade Shows
Society for Mechanical Engineers
Fab Tech
MD&M East

Supplier Sourcing
Thomasnet.com
MFG.com
Makers Row

Large Suppliers
JABIL
TATA
Foxconn

Customs Data
Piers
Import Genius
DataMyne

Finding Manufacturers
How to Find a Factory to Manufacture Your Product (with quote from Marco Perry!)

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Video & 9 Lessons from Understanding Users: Testing Products & Prototyping Workshop at BF+DA

Futureworks Incubator’s Understanding Users Workshop at BF+DA from SecondMuse on Vimeo.

Futureworks Incubator’s recent workshop at Pratt Institute’s Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator focused on understanding users, testing products and prototyping. Led by Anna Mancusi of the New York Times, Brynna Tucker of Brooklyn Public Library, Leigh Christie of Misty West and Abigail Edgecliffe-Johnson of Incubator company Raceya, the workshop produced great lessons and resources.

One gem in particular: A study by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers found that 50% of programming time is preventable with better research, and that product fixes are 100% more expensive after launch than when it is still in development.

We’ve shared the most important takeaways here, a video from the workshop as well as photos from the event. A big thank you to our facilitators and to BF+DA Director Deb Johnson. Futureworks Incubator is an NYCEDC initiative that’s designed and run by collaboration agency SecondMuse. Sign up for future workshops here, and join Futureworks on Instagram and Twitter.

Nine lessons on testing your product

  1. Your product is about your user. Suspend all of your own assumptions, and meet them in their context.
  2. The entry point to understanding users is understanding their culture. From there you’ll learn what their needs are and you’ll be able to create a product that is accessible and intuitive to them. – Abigail Edgecliff-Johnson
  3. When interviewing a user, let the conversation flow. Ask them open-ended questions, allow them to go on tangents, and see where they land. It’s all about what they’re saying, not what you say. You should be listening more than you are talking. – Brynna Tucker
  4. Make sure your prototype is interactive and test-friendly. The more realistic your prototype, the more accurately you can observe user behaviour during testing – Anna Mancusi
  5. Be willing to let your product go. Let users get their hands on it, let them break it! Put your product in front of as many people as possible, as early as possible. Especially target people who don’t care what you think. They’ll give you the most honest feedback. – Abigail
  6. Get feedback early so you can make key interactions or pivots before you go to market. This will save you precious time and money in the long run. A study by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers found that 50% of programming time is preventable with better research, and that product fixes are 100% more expensive after launch than when it is still in development. – Anna
  7. User feedback doesn’t go away when you have a hit product, in fact it becomes more important. You begin to understand how many different user groups there are and all the different features they want. – Leigh Christie
  8. Be extremely focused on user retention. Don’t abandon a profitable user group. If your user core group loves your product, change it slowly and subtly if it all. If you have another group of users that is interested in seeing major product changes, just create a new product for them. – Leigh
  9. Create loving feedback loops. Cherish and reward loyal users. Give the opportunities to tell their story or talk about why they love your product via social media. –  Leigh

Additional Resources:
Frameworks for Understanding Users
Circular Design Guide by Ellen MacArthur Foundation and IDEO
The Decision Making Unit by Bill Autlet at MIT

Empathy Mapping
Three Creativity Challenges by IDEO
How to Run an Empathy Mapping Workshop by Harry Brignull
Net Promoter Score to measure a company’s willingness to promote your product

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Video: Futureworks Incubator Product to Market Summit at Kickstarter

July 27, 2017

NYCEDC Futureworks Incubator Product to Market Summit at Kickstarter on Vimeo.

As part of the Futureworks Incubator, we hosted more than 30 startups at Kickstarter for an all-day summit. After breakfast, our early-stage companies presented to Mentors in a rapid succession of two-minute pitches. Then, they went round-robin to gain deeper insight from Mentors into how to improve their product-to-market journey. The summit closed out with Kickstarter’s Zach Dunham and industrial-design consultant Spencer Wright sharing best practices for running a crowdfunding campaign. Dunham and Wright’s The Public Radio went 4.5x over their goal with the support of more than 1,000 backers.

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VIDEO: Futureworks Incubator manufacturing discussion at Futureworks Shops A/D/O in Greenpoint

June 8, 2017

NYCEDC Futureworks Incubator Manufacturing Discussion at A/D/O from SecondMuse on Vimeo.

Futureworks Incubator supports and champions the growth of 45 startups, and we’ll welcome another 30 entrepreneurs later this summer. We’re passionate about sharing all the resources we create and capture with the wider community. As part of that mission, we’ve shared the panel discussion from the Futureworks Incubator launch at Futureworks Shop A/D/O. Listen as RockPaperRobot, Thimble, WearWorks, StrongArm, Dog Parker and BotFactory share their experiences and most valuable lessons from starting a manufacturing company in New York City. All of our panelists are alumni of New York’s Next Top Makers, the predecessor of Futureworks Incubator. Also, learn more about Futureworks Shops and join us on Twitter and Instagram.

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Futureworks Incubator launches with 13 Manufacture & Scale startups

May 24, 2017

On Wednesday, May 17, we launched NYCEDC’s .Incubator with a kickoff event at A/D/O in Greenpoint. The Incubator champions and supports the growth of 45 hardware startups across NYC and builds on the success of the New York’s Next Top Makers program. From smart basketballs to underwater drones, the city’s entrepreneurs are creating a new manufacturing ecosystem, and we’re bringing them all together. Below are the 13 growth-stage startups in our Manufacture & Scale cohort. Over the next nine months, we’ll be working closely with each team to help them produce locally, recruit talent, streamline operations, tell their stories and raise capital.

Futureworks Incubator is designed and run by global innovation agency SecondMuse and Chelsea-based Imagination in Space. Get to know the companies below as well as the 32 Market Validation companies which we broke out into these two posts. Join the Futureworks community to learn about subsidized production and contract manufacturing opportunities through Futureworks Shops. Or, follow along on Instagram and Twitter.

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Futureworks Incubator launches with 32 Market Validation startups (Here’s 1-16)

On Wednesday, May 17, we launched NYCEDC’s Futureworks Incubator with a kickoff event at A/D/O in Greenpoint. The Incubator champions and supports the growth of hardware startups across NYC and builds on the success of the New York’s Next Top Makers program. Below are 16 of the startups in our Market Validation cohort. From ELIA Life, creating a new language for the blind, to Bonbouton’s smart shoe sensors, these companies are tackling internationally relevant problems through NYC manufacturing innovation. Over the next nine months, we’ll be working closely with each team to help them produce locally, recruit talent, streamline operations, tell their stories and set them up to raise capital.

Futureworks Incubator is designed and run by global innovation agency SecondMuse and Chelsea-based Imagination in Space. Get to know the companies below as well as the 13 Manufacture & Scale companies and the additional 16 Market Validation startups. Join the Futureworks community to learn about subsidized production and contract manufacturing opportunities through Futureworks Shops. Or, follow along on Instagram and Twitter.

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Futureworks Incubator launches with 32 Market Validation startups (Here’s 17-32)

On Wednesday, May 17, we launched NYCEDC’s Futureworks Incubator with a kickoff event at A/D/O in Greenpoint. The Incubator champions and supports the growth of hardware startups across NYC and builds on the success of the New York’s Next Top Makers program. Below are 16 of the 32 startups in our Market Validation cohort. From Active Hands’ assistive rehabilitation equipment to Secco’s insta-cleaning technology, NYC-based companies are focused on improving quality of life. Over the next nine months, we’ll be working closely with each team to help them produce locally, recruit talent, streamline operations, tell their stories and set them up to raise capital.

Futureworks Incubator is designed and run by global innovation agency SecondMuse and Chelsea-based Imagination in Space. Get to know the companies below as well as the 13 Manufacture & Scale startups and the additional 16 Market Validation companies. Join the Futureworks community to learn about subsidized production and contract manufacturing opportunities through Futureworks Shops. Or, follow along on Instagram and Twitter.

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The growing ecosystem of Futureworks Incubator partners

April 18, 2017

Building a successful hardware or advanced manufacturing company is hard. But so are most worthwhile endeavors. Like, say, perfecting homemade bread. Just ask Dan Barber, the award-winning Blue Hill founder who shares how an early, doughy, failure inspired him to perfect his craft. Even more compelling is Barber’s attention to cultivating a holistic ecosystem. To make the Blue Hill Farm hay better, he introduced cows; to spread fertilizer, he introduced chickens; to trim the encroaching forest, he introduced goats. And to build a farm-to-table-movement, he used this ecosystem to build an all-natural, sustainable farm to go along with his Greenwich Village and Tarrytown restaurants.

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Futureworks Incubator Mentors from Adam Winski to Zach Dunham

April 10, 2017

Now that applications for Futureworks Incubator are closed, we get to welcome our community of Mentors. From designing for manufacturing to marketing and storytelling to financial modeling, our Mentors will help companies grow here in NYC. Last night, we got together at Alley NYC in Chelsea to strategize how to make the program incredible. A big thanks to Alley and to our partners The Bronx Beer Hall.

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Futureworks Incubator applications open through April 10!

February 22, 2017

Over the past few years, we’ve run New York’s Next Top Makers to champion and support the growth of hardware startups here in NYC. We worked with brands like PCB:NG, BotFactory, smart dog house creator DogParker, advocates for and protectors of Industrial Athletes StrongArm Technologies, the wearable tech company Bonbouton and more. Through working with incredible startups (like those mentioned above) we’ve had our finger on the pulse of the city’s advanced manufacturing community and bore witness to New York’s ecosystem growing in every direction.

Today, we launch the application for Futureworks Incubator (formerly known as Next Top Makers), which will help grow hardware and advanced manufacturing startups and entrepreneurs from idea to market to scale stage across all five boroughs. Do you have a hardware product idea? Are you looking to scale production and connect with local NYC supply chains? Are you still figuring out who is your target market? Whether you’re prototyping the next breakthrough innovation or fixing a problem that affects your daily life, preparing for crowdfunding or recently closed a Series A, Futureworks Incubator is for you.

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