New product start ups: deciding between employing full resources or working with a manufacturing, engineering and design specialist

start up manufacturersI have worked closely with start up companies for a number of years. There are really only three vital elements to a successful start up.

One is access to funding by either using your own money or cash sought through a variety of providers, or both.

You need to have the right mentality from the very start of your journey. This means a complete focus on cost, delivery and customer experience.

The third element you need is a delivery plan. You need access to the right skills, management, commercial and technical, because investors and potential investors will want to make sure that there is adequate ability within the start up to get the product into the hands of your customers. Don’t expect investors to be as excited about your product as you are; they will want to see a return on their investment. Start ups that are able to demonstrate a credible delivery plan will instil a sense of confidence in their investors, who will then be far more likely to invest.

Delivery skills

It is possible to do the manufacturing yourself, hiring the workforce, buying the equipment and other infrastructure. But ask yourself, how much value does this addto the business balanced against the investment it would require?

An alternative is to outsource that operation, but there will still need to be engineering and manufacturing experience integrated into the business. And start ups are product not process focused. Start ups just want their product to reach the market in the shortest possible time; winning early turnover, satisfying investors and moving from survival mode to planning for growth.

There is another way. As well as being very cost-efficient and flexible, it gives start ups extra control over their product and business strategy.


Engaging a design and manufacturing expert

hiring design and manufacturing expertWorking alongside an experienced design and manufacturing specialist prevents you from over-engineering your design and ensures it is fit for market.

Working with their recommended manufacturing supplier, the specialist should have experience of a wide range of manufacturing oriented disciplines to accommodate the diversity of design, materials, components and production volume expectations you have for your product. Design for manufacture experience should also be a selection criteria. This is a particularly powerful weapon against over-engineered and therefore costly hard to produce design concepts. This is something I discussed in detail in my blog on building design into manfacturing.  Organisations such as OpenWater also provide real-life business skills that can save you a lot of money and effort, while having a vast expertise in things such as product standards, regulatory requirements and quality assurance processes.

One of the biggest reasons start ups fail is that everything takes much longer than expected and they run out of money or miss the market window. When you engage a design and manufacturing expert, they work very differently. They will analyse the design and make sure a product is fit-for-market and fit for manufacture.


manufacturing consultancyImportantly, companies like OpenWater bring all their manufacturing experience and expertise to bear, ensuring that the transition from prototype to volume production is a seamless one. This allows more time for the start up to dedicate efforts to sales and marketing, while continuing to focus its core development team on further innovation or range extensions. No two businesses are the same, just as no two products will require the same approach to manufacturing, but developing a credible delivery plan with the right expertise will, for both you and your investors, help to ensure success and be extremely cost effective at the same time.

For more information on how a consultancy like ours can help your start up to succeed, please get in touch by contacting us directly, or by leaving a comment below!

Nick Shelley

Nick Shelley is a consultant with over 30 years of experience, who advises on all aspects of manufacturing, including design, materials, processes, work flow and engineering.

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