How to Develop a Hardware MVP

Hardware prototype of the Dio speaker

You have a great idea about a hardware device that can solve a problem that many people have, but you don’t have the budget or the expertise required to build the product – so where do you start?

This is a common problem that a lot of hardware startup founders have: lack of resources to test out their hypothesis. Whether it is not having enough time, money, or talent – entrepreneurs often have to be creative and learn to be scrappy with the limited resources they have to build their product.

The key to achieve product market fit as a startup is to run many lean experiments, apply the learnings, and rapidly iterate the product development cycle. However, it is harder to be lean when you are building a physical hardware product. Building hardware is a more complex process than software development, and you can’t just release a new software update to fix a hardware problem. Therefore, knowing how to build a good hardware MVP (minimum viable product) is essential to a hardware startup’s success.

We spoke with Akarsh Vinod, founder of Dio, to learn about how he developed his hardware MVP. Dio makes simple and affordable multi-room speakers that aim to make listening to audio easy and convenient.

An important part of building a successful hardware MVP is finding the right partner to help prototype and manufacture the product. Akarsh shared a few tips from his experience as a hardware startup founder on choosing a good manufacturer:

1. Know what external partners can bring to the table

Just like how tools like Sahara Cloud can allow you to prototype without investing in hardware or systems engineers, external partners like manufacturers and design firms have equipment and expertise that can take you quickly from prototype to market-ready products with low investment.

When looking for an external partner to help with developing your MVP, it’s important to understand what areas of expertise you need and what each partner can bring to the table. If you have knowledge about the consumer market but lack the technical experience of designing the product, then you need to find a partner who can compliment your skillset.

2. Have conversations with multiple potential partners

One way to understand what you need in a partner is to conduct extensive research and have a good baseline knowledge of the components required to build your product. Before deciding on which manufacturer to go with, make sure to do your research and talk to multiple product design firms and manufacturing partners. Experts in the industry and other startup founders in the same space can also provide helpful recommendations and advice during your search for the right partner.

Choosing the wrong partner can be very costly for a lean startup, so having multiple conversations with potential partners can help you make better decisions. For example, hiring an individual design consultant has a different set of pros and cons compared to using a large manufacturing firm. Knowing what you need and the tradeoffs you are willing to make would help make these conversations more insightful, and ultimately help you make an informed decision on which partner to go with for building your first MVP.

3. Utilize virtual prototypes to build your MVP

Virtual prototypes are especially useful for hardware startups because being able to digitally test your prototype before manufacturing the physical product can help save hundreds and thousands of dollars. Utilizing a virtual prototyping platform like Sahara Cloud enables you to test out different processors and boards to optimize your electronic design before mass production. Having knowledge of how the different components work with your design before building the physical product also provides you more information on potential issues to watch out for.

If you are a hardware startup founder who wants to start virtually prototyping your product, sign up here and the Sahara Cloud team will get in touch with you!

If you want to get in touch with Dio, feel free to reach out to Akarsh at

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