What should be the makeup of a HW startup team?

Certainly the composition of a team will differ depending on product and market, but what’s a good rough guideline for the kinds of people that should comprise a HW startup team aiming to ship a solid product in large quantities?

How many HW engineers, SW engineers, business, operations, marketing specialists, etc?

You need an intuitive person and a logical person. You will fight and you must disagree and come to a common ground or you will make just another fancy product that doesnt work, or a great working product that looks awful and no one wants to buy. Worse than all of the above is a team of pure gearheads, they will make the most expensive possible product and over perfect it to the point that it will never get anywhere or if it does will cost too much to compete with.

Michael Armani
Founder, CEO @ M3D Inc.

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I think that the most important thing to focus on when forming your team is that they thoroughly know your user and are extremely passionate about what you’re working on. Even if they don’t know how to do certain things, they’ll figure it out if they care a lot about the user and the product. I also think that there’s no ideal team size for any type of organization. It all depends on what you’re trying to achieve and at what speed.

Wish you the best in forming your team!

Depends on the product and the stage of your startup. My rule of thumb is to not outsource anything you consider core to your product (and its future updates). I had previously outsourced things like mechanical engineering, firmware development and app development. Simply for cost reasons and because we couldn’t find the right talent at the time. Depending on your product this may be flawed as you and your company will be held hostage to an outside party that is not sitting in your office and that you have little control over. The quality will often also not be on par with what you can deliver in-house.

Early on, I’d recommend to have at least a business co-founder who understands operations, planning, and perhaps UX/UI. Then you will want 1-3 technical co-founders who can manage the hardware and the software engineering (if applicable) of the product. Now the amount of these and whether they need to be co-founders depends on the complexity of your product.

Things like branding (and to some extend graphic design), website, industrial design, accounting, you can but needn’t do in-house in my opinion. For these I believe it’s better to hire agencies that can come in and work closely with you.

With more funding, I’d of course increase the development team wherever you see the greatest bottlenecks within your founding team.

Later on when you get closer to sales you will want to hire some more business and support staff to help you with the marketing and sales of the product.

Martin Kessler @kesslerhk
CMO @ Ambi Labs