Working on a hardware start-up product in Europe. We have found some clients in the US and Canada. The product has a wifi chip and some custom electronics. Trying to figure out how we can get FCC certification and if we need it in the first place.
I would talk to the team at http://efabless.com Really helpful guys and they can get you an IC prototype for $100 - $10,000
They've built a lot of the smartphone IC's you see in mobile products today. If you're dealing with FCC part 15, give me a shout and I can help you navigate a bit.
This is hard to answer without knowing exactly what you are doing (or what your product does) and how you are planning to proceed. You probably want to check out:
1. Compliance for radio transmission: FCC compliance (US) and IC compliance (Industry Canada) - Check FCC part 15 and 18 and ICES-003. The good news is wifi is license exempt so as I understand it's not as onerous a process to certify the equipment. Also, the manufacturer of the chip will sometimes pay for this if you ask (at least if you tell them that's what you were expecting), or it may have already been done if the chip is used in other things. Depends on your situation.
2. Compliance with Safety standards: CSA (Canadian Standards Association), and UL (cUL for Canada). Unless you are manufacturing yourselves, I would recommend trying to get your contract manufacturer to give you a quote for them to do this make sure it's a well defined scope. This will give you a good info starting point.
I spent a lot of time learning about certification of telecom hardware (licensed spectrum, so a bit different), as we were importing new equipment from Japan to Canada for a telecommunications network. From my experience, you can work to figure what standards you need to comply with and what certification you need and then work directly with CSA, UL, IC and the FCC, but this can take a lot of time. It is much easier and faster to hire a compliance company to do the work (that's what we did in the end - from my experience Nemko are great to work with). I would recommend searching for certification bodies or conformity assessment bodies. Here is a good list from Industry Canada to start your search:
The good news is that it's not particularly difficult, it's just time consuming for a startup.
Good luck with it :)