Elisa Pasquali20 years of experience in High Tech Engineering

M.Eng EECS Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1998)
B.Sc. EE Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1997)

20 years of industry experience in High Tech including Silicon Valley and Europe (Switzerland, UK, France, Germany) in roles ranging from design engineer through project/product management and team leader.

Founder and managing partner, Ilyrion (www.ilyrion.com) an Engineering Management consultancy.

Recent Answers

In my opinion it is quite simple, really. Do not build a product. Build a solution to a problem. There's a huge difference! People don't buy gadgets, they buy something that solves a problem for them. So:

1. Figure out what problem needs solving
2. Build something that solves that problem in an easy-to-use way
3. Tell people about your solution
and Bonus:
4. Sell accessories and accoutrements to enhance the solution with your solution as the centerpiece purchase.

As for the specifics of how to choose technologies, how to manufacture, how to product develop, I can give you hours and hours and hours of advice on those. You just need to tell me what exactly you want to find out about. ;)

I would say no. Giving equity means you give a part of your company to someone. Hence, you give a little bit of control of your company to someone.

If it were me, I'd give equity only to people whose engagement is vital to the future of my company. Namely, people I want to see in my company for the long term (i.e. use equity as a retention measure) and whose contributions are key to the well-being and functioning of my company (aka, not for people who can be easily replaced or whose job can be easily given to someone else).

If cash for payment is a problem, I suggest you find other ways to finance your design work. Call me if you need some ideas for that.

I wish you much success and fun developing your brand!

Depends on how connected you are, but what I would do in your place would be to simply ask around my network of friends or old coworkers for a mechanical engineer and a hardware engineer (that's pretty much the minimal team you need).

Basically, find some friends and develop this together. I would not recommend you outsource a prototype. You'll spend oodles and oodles of money on simply trying to get your idea across to people working for money on multiple projects.

What you really want is a few people so enthusiastic about your product that they'll want to develop it because they are passionate about it and think it is cool. You compensate them generously (for instance, by offering them appropriate compensation or equity in your company/business), and work together and launch your business together.

Or you could go the route of trying to outsource everything but spend several years trying to get a product to your spec just in the back and forth and clarifying misunderstandings with the money that goes with it. By the time you get it out ready for sale it might not even be a cool product anymore or such a hot seller. The only way I'd go this route is if I had already done all the design work and only needed someone to build it for me and if it could be done in the span of a few months.

But if you can find people in your network that you can actually talk to, it would be much simpler.

You're a software guy, don't you know any HW and MechE friends from university or previous jobs you could contact?


There's a popular misconception in a lot of startup technology entrepeneurs in thinking that the IP (the code, the idea, even the list of customers) is what is of value or what makes the product.

It isn't.

What makes a customer buy your product over someone else's product is not that your product is unique, or can't be copied, or that they can't find the solution somewhere else...

It is that your product solves the problem in a way that is easy to use and most importantly: pleasant to use.

Basically, people want a product that implements a solution to a problem they have in the most painless way possible.

Hence, if you think about it, it is not your code or the idea of what your product does what is valuable. It is the execution of that idea.

Even so, I understand your concern of people simply reproducing your code and basically not paying you for it.

How do you plan on distributing your code? If you distribute your product's software as an executable or as code already flashed into your hardware board PCB or whatever the likelihood someone will take the time to decompile your code into something meaningful is minimal.

So to make a long story short: if you don't distribute the source code, the chances of someone copying your code is minimal because the effort of reverse-engineering your code is quite surely much more than simply writing the software from scratch for themselves.

So my advice to you is: develop your product without worrying about copy-cats. If you offer superior support, ease of use, and a general great user experience it is THIS what will give you the market edge. Remember, your software is not your product. It is a component of your product. And your product is not what gives your company value. Your solutions as a whole provide value for the customer, and the people you hire are what create value for your company.

Let me know if you'd like to chat more about this, I have oodles and oodles of real-life examples to tell you about!

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