Designing and creating an electronic device or system might seem expensive, cumbersome and actually out of reach - but only if you don't know where to look for opportunities in the first place. Check out a small guide and a collection of hints on where to take your first steps.
Electronics - good and cheap ways might be deceptive
Smart use of funds without outsourcing outside the continent or across the ocean can only happen when we get those funds. Let's start with practices that are not worth grasping without forethought. In an era of globalization and the development of auction sites, contacting several or even a dozen design companies for a bid or tender for a custom electronics project may seem like a good idea. If we take this direction, then the next logical step would seem to be to bid on several/more than a dozen contractors for custom production and choose the best one. However, practice shows that in reality this is not as plain as it seems. Main reason? A split.
Splitting up a project in this way is a sure recipe for long delays. This is especially the case if one does not have experience in managing electronics’ design companies. The risk of miscommunication and finger-pointing is very high. For example, a designer in Europe will find that the Chinese manufacturer has completely misrepresented his concept. This is just a telegraphic shortcut and the tip of the iceberg - then we find out that a German camera module costs three times as much as a custom-designed electronic module of equivalent quality from China, or that the specification is sparse and written in broken English, all of which raises further difficulties.
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Kickstarter is, fortunately, a tool more and more commonly associated, but still shrouded in a fog of mystery. The principle of its operation is quite simple. Each project developer sets a goal and a deadline for funding his project. If the recipients like the project, they can then pledge money to make it happen. If the project succeeds in reaching its financial goal, the credit cards of all backers are charged after a period of time. Regarding concerns about niche appeal, we respond with numbers: by November 2022, more than 21.5 million people had pledged financial support to any of the more than 574,000 projects launched on Kickstarter. This is a community that values creativity and innovation. And at the time of writing this article there are 1,535 projects in the "DIY electronics" category.
Free Electrons 2023 program is the world's largest open initiative aimed at bringing wonderful energy innovations to life. Selected startups will work with leading energy companies in a series of modules taking place physically and digitally around the world. The program provides startups with an accelerated path to grow and develop their companies, implement pilot solutions and facilitate investment opportunities. At the same time, it's a pathway to larger projects and generally a good trend to seek out similar initiatives online - and your project doesn't have to be energy-related. However, the program's creators know that startups have the flexibility, fresh ideas and cutting-edge knowledge, but might lack the experience and resources to build, test and implement their solutions in a "cost-effective way." By working together, both startups and utilities can complement each other and create mutually beneficial results and solutions.
Business events and expos
Contrary to popular belief, these are not just fairs where we can find some tech curiosities or spend an enjoyable afternoon. They are, above all, places where many make lucrative industry contacts - local or international - that just pay off in the future. The booths of entrepreneurs and startups showcase both tried and tested solutions that are present on the market, as well as innovative ones that albo seek for a funding. The opportunity to exchange experiences and contacts is priceless - the only condition is to actually visit the booths attentively, focus on the lectures and ask open questions, which the presenters are happy to answer. An example? The ongoing Intermasz (Poznań International Fair) in Poland, an event at the time of writing this article, which will also be held in 2024, or Ecommerce Berlin Expo taking place in February with over 9000 active participants so far. Depending on what you're looking for, these are places where you can get investors, partners or customers. It’s just a place to be.
Government programs and startup platforms
Global trend of increasing numbers of such initiatives is encouraging. This may vary depending on the country. Many of them include subsidies for the purchase of electronic equipment for the benefit of people with disabilities, programs aimed at low-income or grants mirroring the academic structures. These programs allow people to train, participate in networking and make new contacts, develop businesses and get a hold on market positions. It is good practice to regularly visit government websites, ministry sub-sites and your local public administration authorities that publish information about support for startups and ways to get funding under transparent conditions. Many of these are conducted at the territorial level such as counties, districts, regions and so on, depending on the administrative division.
Other sources of funding your business
The most commonly associated ones are usually mentioned, although without taking into account the scale of the funds we are counting on. Of course, they involve external conditions that must be met - all of them, no exceptions. Just don’t get discouraged too soon. These may include:
- grants from labor offices and similar public service institutions that bring employers and employees together,
- business start-up loans,
- European Union grants for your own business,
- loans, credits and guarantees,
- financing from the development funds,
- business incubators.
Creating a business plan is usually the first thing to think about at the time. For many, it is the first step that verifies the whole sense of an idea by identifying opportunities, risks and possibilities .Factors to keep in mind are the form of collateral for reimbursement, an expert calculation of costs, sources of funding for the business and, above all, the amount of money needed for the startup. Usually the offers of national banks and similar parties may prove interesting - even if, for whatever reason, we do not nourish the desire to seek funds in agreement with financial institutions and state-owned companies, a comparison of the conditions and opportunities hidden in such alternatives should not escape our attention.