A guest post from Ron Justin, co-founder of GroupGets
Back in May, a new collaboration between SparkFun and GroupGets called GetSparked kicked off as a new approach to getting your passion projects to market. GetSparked presents an opportunity to get your product on SparkFun’s catalog after a successful group buy campaign on GroupGets. Starting with GetSparked for new product introduction (NPI) is a low risk (and zero cost) way to get early market feedback on the demand for and utility of your product before you commit to higher volume production. As 2018 comes to a close, let’s take a look what worked, what didn’t, and what’s ahead for GetSparked.
After about 7 months of the program I think that it’s just now hitting its stride and is poised to grow in 2019. One product has already made its way from GroupGets to the SparkFun catalog and another one has a good shot. There are 10 new GetSparked candidates on GroupGets now with various levels of backing and a handful that have failed which is very OK in our book. It’s generally better and cheaper to “fail faster” than to drag things out with a product that doesn’t have market potential.
So what worked? The tiny Nerdonic Exen Mini 32-bit Cortex M0+ Arduino-compatible microcontroller development board was the first GetSparked entry on GroupGets to fund (2 rounds in fact). It’s friendly price, low target unit count, and low technical barrier of entry made it a no-brainer to easily get backers who almost all bought multiple units. After they shipped, we were cleared to make the intro to SparkFun for them, which was the fun part for us. We’ll see what happens next in 2019…
Another product that completed the full journey to the SparkFun catalog was SparkFun’s own Spectral Triad spectroscopy sensor. The board features an innovative array of three spectral sensors paired with on-board illumination LEDs to give experimenters everything needed to make spectroscopic measurements with one compact “Qwiic” connect board. Hats off to SparkFun for “eating their own dog food” (as the saying goes) and using GetSparked to market validate their own new product. The Spectral Triad started as a “SparkX” product hence it debuted on GroupGets as a black PCB but now sits on the SparkFun shelf in classic red after funding over 50 units.
Following up on the Triad’s success, SparkFun is back again with a new campaign on GroupGets for The Prototype Hardware Alternate Reality Puzzle (HARP). This is a creative board calling for intrepid backers ready for an adventure. If you liked DEF CON 26’s badge or wish you had one, The Prototype HARP might be for you.
Another notable active GetSparked campaign is the I2S Mezzanine from the 96Boards Community Mezzanine Initiative. This board is a no-compromise audio development board designed to connect to a huge range of existing platforms from the 96Boards catalog. We’re excited to see an organic community of open source hardware enthusiasts using GetSparked to try and make their hard work more available and accessible to others. After working with this group for a few months now I can say that they are worthy of your support and this campaign could certainly use it. Step up and be a sponsor of this special initiative. We’d all regret it if it went away and these types of ecosystems can save you a lot of time for more sophisticated product development needs.
Yet another active GetSparked campaign that deserves some attention comes from Holybro in the Pixhawk 4 Mini QV250 Complete Kit (above). The kit not only looks really fun to build but it’s a great way to get started with the Pixhawk 4 Mini autopilot system for smaller DIY quadcopters and drones.
While there are a few more active GetSparked campaigns that we could highlight, let’s quickly talk about the F-word. A failed GetSparked attempt does not prevent you from tweaking your product and messaging and coming back to try again. We in fact encourage that. Sometimes the marketing effort or timing is off or the price point and features just aren’t quite good enough to get backers to vote with their dollars. Don’t be discouraged when that happens. If you believed in your product enough to have made it, chances are that others will too but you you must find the right balance between features, user experience, and price. Another recommendation that we have to new entrants is to not get hung up on margin on GroupGets. Breaking even is a win if it means getting your product in actual customer hands to see how well it’s received before you go to high volume production. Focus on getting your product right before trying to maximize margin.
I’d like to close with if you’ve been on the sideline with a passion project that you’d like to get into the hands of customers, now is a good time to think about getting in the game with GetSparked. The collaboration already has a couple of wins and that number will certainly grown in 2019 as both GroupGets and Sparkfun remain committed to its success. Don’t wait, get started now!