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Not Really Here: Manus VR Talks Episode 3

Manus VR’s Bob Vlemmix tells a tale about being at a startup company, and the struggles you might face.

Today I would like to give some more insight on how it is to be a hardware company and a startup. Let me start by saying that I don’t want to use this opportunity for ‘wailing and complaining’, but to give you more insight on how it is to be a hardware company and at the same time a startup. That being said, let the wailing commence!

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Our company is nearing its two year mark and that is amazing. We’ve been working hard on developing our gloves, setting up production for the engineering samples, create long lasting partnerships with developers and so much more. For some reason people seem to have the idea that this isn’t hard and say that they can do it better. Whenever we had an interview and it was published the comments were pretty much always the same: “I can make that myself” or “I was sort of made something like this, how can this be hard?” That was pretty much the reason why I stopped reading comments. What I always would like to answer is; how are you going to mass produce a prototype? Because let’s be honest, thanks to hardware like Arduino, anyone can create a prototype nowadays. But how are you going to bring it to the market? How are you going to set-up a line that can be mass produced? How will you handle the logistics and shipping of your prototype? These are just the starting questions, where I even haven’t begun about a team or funding.

“Alright Bob, we get it. It isn’t easy to run a startup. Now what’s your point?” Most people seem to underestimate how hard it is to get a product ready for developers, early adopters and eventually the consumer. There are times that I have underestimated how hard a task might be, but that’s why it’s good to work with a team. Also don’t be discouraged when I say that it’s hard to work a company up from the ground; it’s an amazing challenge and every time we reach a new milestone you know it isn’t for nothing. Though I do want to say something about the notion that ‘you should just start a company if you have a good idea’. Frankly I find that one quite dangerous; you have no clue how many times people have ‘reinvented’ the wheel and think they have something completely new. It’s important do to your homework and take time to research your idea. Be honest towards yourself and ask critical questions as “who would use this?” Also be watchful of what family and friends, as they might want to protect you and not give an honest answer. If you have done your research and are really convinced your idea works, go and find others who you think would suit your team. If you can convince them and they want to team up you’re on the right path. Keep in mind that some might not be convinced and will shoot your idea down; don’t argue with them, because it’s only lost energy. As a wise man once said; Greatness itself: the best revenge.

Ron Swanson

If you go down this path it won’t be easy and there is no guarantee that your idea/product/service will be successful. Currently the rate of startups that become successful after following an accelerator program is one out of ten. Don’t expect to be swimming in money just yet, stories of acquisition are amazing such as the Facebook deal with Oculus, but they are still rare. I guess if you’re still reading by now you’re just as foolhardy (or foolish but who can tell the difference?) like me. And that’s the spirit! The road is long and hard, it’s hard to take in and you’ll have to swallow a lot. Opening yourself up to this is will be very rewarding and an amazing experience!

My advice on startups: Do you homework and make sure your idea/product/service is really something that people need. If you are truly convinced that you have something great then go for it. Find other people who want to team up with you and share a common vision. This journey will consume most of your time and energy and you don’t have any insurance of success. If you are willing to go all-in on this gamble then go for it. Because if you succeed and are happy with what you do; you’re a winner in my book.

For now I’ll end my story here. If you would like to hear more of my experiences and advice just let me know in the comments, or send an email to bobvlemmix(at)manus-vr.com.

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