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Makers and Hardware Startups Connect Online

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It’s hard to miss the fact that the world of hardware startups is red-hot right now, especially if you’ve been reading our blog. The recent SXSW Interactive conference, which historically focuses on social media and consumer software, had an enormous influx of hardware startups this year—including several Arena customers—as noted by the New York Times, Inc. and Bloomberg.

In some ways, it’s easier than ever for product designers to prototype and develop new hardware. As these articles highlight, revolutionary tools like crowdfunding and 3D printing open new paths to production for makers of all kinds. Yet many of the challenges of product development still remain.

A handful of new tools have arisen to connect product developers, hardware hackers, and makers. Existing web communities like Quora and Reddit are increasingly becoming places where these innovators can share ideas, resources, and support. The Hardware Startups section of Reddit is a terrific collection of news and resources for hardware makers.

The challenge of identifying and aggregating reliable suppliers is one of many manufacturers face at all stages of production. A maker’s success in this key area alone can drive success or failure of their launch. Oftentimes many use the Arena starter-kit in the form of PartsList. This initial ‘sandbox’ allows the user to clip, import, or create parts, particularly useful during ideation. After the adoption of BOMControl, Arena PLM customers may additionally use PartSaver to connect directly to supplier catalogs. Additionally, The Maker Map is a new open-source map tool to help makers find suppliers, fabricators, distributors, or other makers to connect with. It’s just getting started, but the founders hope it will prove a valuable community-maintained resource.

Where else do you meet up with other makers and manufacturers online? Let us know in the comments section.