It seems we are in a perpetual waiting game for the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) to become a reality. Despite this wait, if the IoT is realized in a way that all the electronic devices we use today—and maybe some that haven’t been invented yet— are be able to communicate in a vast network, it could enable an optimization of resources that will be such a game-changer that noted economic and social theorist, Jeremy Rikfin, has suggested that it will represent the next industrial revolution.
While such a network is beginning to take shape, what remains to be done to make it a fully-realized reality represents such a vast engineering challenge that it will likely exceed the cumulative capabilities of all the tech giants and will require the input of some innovative engineers and entrepreneurs to develop new solutions.
Aware of this new paradigm for innovation, Indiegogo, the global platform for entrepreneurs to realize their concepts, and Arrow Electronics, a global distributor of electronic components and computer products, have joined forces to make it easier for engineers and would-be entrepreneurs to create the innovations that will enable the IoT.
The partnership involves Arrow combining its design and production platform with Indiegogo’s crowdfunding engine. This combination will make it possible for qualified Indiegogo entrepreneurs to gain direct access to Arrow’s design tools, engineering experts, prototype services, manufacturing support and even supply chain management—a package of benefits that Arrow has valued at $500,000.
The qualification process for the Indiegogo campaigns will involve Arrow evaluating their technical feasibility, manufacturability and overall impact. Pretty much the kind of scrutiny an entrepreneur might expect from any angel investor who was thinking of investing in an early-stage technology. The difference would be that there would not only be money involved, but also technical guidance and know-how added to the equation.
“This is a completely new model of social funding, innovation and production in the technology and IoT space,” said Matt Anderson, Arrow’s chief digital officer, in a press release. “Crowdfunding has never before been integrated into a fully scaled innovation platform like this that spans collaborative online design, prototype support, production and supply chain management. The Arrow-Indiegogo collaboration will enable successfully crowdfunded companies to scale faster than ever before to bring their products to market.”
In addition to the design support package, Arrow will be sweeting the deal for qualified entrepreneurs with discounts on bill of materials and technology-design software.
And, if the new company has concerns about marketing its new technology in the myriad options available in the IoT, Arrow will be featuring the technology on its website and its technology-focused media network.
This last marketing part of the package seems to address what is often overlooked in technology innovation: the business side of commercializing a technology. When an engineer develops a solution to an issue that needs to be addressed in the IoT, they are not only competing to develop the best technology but are also looking a way to get that solution to market.
While a broad marketing platform is not the only concern for an engineer embarking into the world of entrepreneurship, it is certainly one that many overlook and any help in getting the word out may make the difference.