Arrow Engineering Experts Talk Certification

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This year, Arrow awarded flash funding to four Indiegogo campaigns, each of which received a share of $1 million. Flash funding is one of the exciting benefits that entrepreneurs have access to when they join the Arrow Certification program, in partnership with Indiegogo. As you consider applying for the program, which also offers product savings, design resources and guidance from Arrow engineers, you may be wondering, “How do I get started?”

As Arrow Engineers who work with Indiegogo campaigns on the path to Arrow Certification, Max Pichugin, Paul Ferrari, Rolando Rubalcava, and Keaton Andersen are more than qualified to answer that question. With combined experience in embedded systems, memory products, storage devices, FPGAs, and video and digital applications, these Arrow engineers regularly address the most complex technical problems Indiegogo campaigners face throughout the certification process. Today, I sat down with these Arrow engineers to find out what it takes to get Arrow Certified.

Kristen: Thanks very much for speaking with us today. To start out, I think everyone wants to know what it is that makes for a successful product – could you tell us a bit about that?

Max: Typically, it’s preparation. Basically they got to the point where they’ve got a working prototype, and they can show the world, “Hey, we’ve got this product and it works.” Prior to the actual launch, they’ve put a lot of work into building that prototype. A lot of products you might see are only in the concept stage, and maybe people are less excited about these campaigns. Users want to actually see how the product works, not just read about it. Having a prototype is important if you want to eventually have a successful end-product.

Paul: As I see it, I do think preparation is important, but I’ve also noticed – and I hate to say this because I’m an engineer – but the marketing and presentation are really critical. I’ve seen some really good ideas out there that, as Max said, have got zero traction. And when you watch their videos – and almost everyone uses a video to introduce their product – the quality isn’t there. Not everyone has an eye for that, but Indiegogo has a lot of resources to help these entrepreneurs make their campaigns more appealing, so a lot of times I’ll point campaigners in that direction. That’s really critical for the backing portion, and when you’ve got more backers, you’ll have an easier time building an end-product.

Kristen: What sort of resources do you see campaigners lacking throughout the certification process?

Keaton: Going off of what you guys have said, I would say that a campaign is most successful when the campaigners admit they need help. So for example, you might have a doctor who has a great idea for a medical device that the industry really needs – they know the field, they know everything about it. But they may not be a designer and they may not be a marketer. This program allows them to get that design and marketing support through Arrow and Indiegogo. You just have to do what you’re good at and say “I’m not so good at these portions, and this is where I need help.”

Rolando: From my perspective, you have to have a very cool and innovative product that isn’t necessarily a me-too product. You want awareness about your product. There needs to be a lot of hype and traffic surrounding the product. You should have a polished Indiegogo campaign to get your investors excited about your product so they’ll create more hype about it in their own circles.

Kristen: What are some good examples you’ve seen of an effective cool factor?

Max: From my perspective, coolness of a product is something that’s useful, something that solves a certain problem. So let’s look at the Matrix watch. It’s a smart watch powered by body heat, so you don’t have to charge it. If it’s low on battery and you want to charge it? You can run around the block and you’ve got power again. That’s a differentiating feature, and it solves a problem. That makes the product cool.

Paul: One thing that I think is kind of cool is that with a program like the one through Arrow and Indiegogo is that it breaks the cycle where you have larger companies deciding what is available in the consumer market. Typically, a corporation decides what features a product is going to have. But here, you’ve got the end user like a dentist or doctor designing what they need, and they’re making it.

Kristen: That’s a great point. So, to wrap things up, what would be your overall advice for getting Arrow Certified?

Keaton: If I had advice on getting certified, it would be to be flexible throughout the process. If you’re willing to work with the Arrow engineers and if you come in with an attitude of “I want to have an open discussion on how to make improvements to my product,” then we can do a lot more for you. People who keep an open mind are more likely to come up with innovative improvements. We want to help you look at your product with a new set of eyes and make it the best it can be.

Rolando: Yes – have an open mind, be malleable, and be open to change and innovation. A lot of campaigners say “world’s first” or “world’s best,” but they have to be able to say why their product really is the best and know what sets it apart.

Paul: And talk to us early. The sooner you come in, there’s a lot more we can help you with. And that’s ultimately the goal of certification. We work with the best companies in the world, the best suppliers. I’ve seen a lot of guys with modules from companies that aren’t so good. That’s okay for a prototype, but you don’t want to go to production with it. We can steer you towards the best solutions out there so you can be completely ready for manufacture.

Max: On that note, since you’ll probably be making some updates to your BOM, it’s a good idea to do some comparative research on part cost so you have all the necessary information before starting the development and production process. That ties into preparation and making sure you’re aware of all the logistics of starting your campaign.

Kristen: Great points, all of you. Again, thank you for your time and insight into the certification process. It’s really valuable to anyone wanting to work with Arrow and Indiegogo and go through the Arrow Certification program.

Max, Paul, Rolando, and Keaton are all applications engineers with Arrow who work extensively with Indiegogo campaigns looking to get Arrow Certified. If certification is an objective of yours too, I hope you can draw on their advice and observations to help you along the way. We at Arrow look forward to seeing how your product will add to the next tech revolution.

To learn more about the partnership between Arrow and Indiegogo, click here.

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