Ep 43 – On Hardware Startups and How to Win at Crowdfunding – with Shinya Shimizu

Shinya Shimizu

Starting a hardware company has so much more constraints than with software. You need a lot of capital upfront, and your first prototype might take months. That’s the reason why many such companies have relied upon crowdsourcing to kickstart their project.

To talk about it, I was pleased to discuss with Shinya Shimizu, founder of a hardware startup called AgIC. His company’s mission is to embed electronics into everything on the planet with printed electronics technology. AgIC leverages a silver conductive ink technology that allows them to print circuits on demand, with no size limit on flexible and light surfaces. Applications are many, from advanced posters for advertising to under-floor heating.

Shinya initially launched a kickstarted campaign with a finding goal of $30,000. Eventually, he was able to raise some $80,000 from over 900 backers. We discuss about the best practices that he could observe and that in his opinion led to that success. I’m also asking Shinya about the common mistakes that he could observe from other campaigns and how can someone makes his campaign stand out from the thousand others.

We also discuss about Japan’s strength in hardware companies. As I keep repeating in my podcast, I’m more often impressed by hardware companies in Japan than those doing software. From new material companies, like Spiber, to 3D printing companies, like Kabuku, there are countless examples of disruptive companies in the hardware field. Why is Japan so much stronger in hardware than software? Shinya shares with us his take on the question.

Questions: What are you favorite hardware companies that would deserve to be better known? Have you ever thought doin a crowdfunding campaign? (reply in the comments)

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  • (0:24) AgIC presentation
  • (3:40) Pivot from B2C to B2B
  • (5:09) From advertising to floor-heating
  • (10:37) Competition landscape
  • (14:37) Materials constraints
  • (16:54) On Japan’s hardware strength
  • (22:55) How accessible is it to do hardware
  • (24:29) Gap between academia and business
  • (29:09) Winning at Crowdfunding
  • (41:09) Quick-fire questions

Thanks for listening!

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