How Fictiv is making hardware manufacturing more like building software • TechCrunch

By enabling companies to focus on their core competencies

in the past Over the years, we’ve spoken with hundreds of hardware startups, and there’s one phrase that keeps popping up in nearly every interview: “supply chains.”

They were always important to people shipping physical products, but the resulting pandemic and international logistics chaos created a pain point for moving products from factories to warehouses, then to stores and consumers. What did Current.

At this year’s CES in Las Vegas, some of TechCrunch’s founders seemed optimistic, saying some of the supply chain crisis was on the way to being resolved, while others scoffed at the suggestion that it was all behind us. . . We decided to find out what his status was.

I spoke to supply chain experts Fictiv to find out if the light at the end of the tunnel is daylight or the headlights of an oncoming train. If anyone knows what’s going on, it’s Fictiv CEO Dave Evans. He has been operating a manufacturing platform for over a decade. Previously, he was part of the Advanced Manufacturing Group at the World Economic Forum and was a lead hardware engineer at Ford. We spoke to Evans about the status quo and the near future of hardware manufacturing, seen through the lens of startups.

“The main problem for early-stage startups is that it’s really hard to get someone to care. You might care about your product, but no one else does because you’re too small. Suppliers will ask if you have Volume. Why would they work with you if you don’t?” Evans said, pointing out that relationships with whoever your supplier base is are extremely important. He noted that you need to be right-sized for your suppliers. If you are too young, they don’t want to deal with you. But this is also a problem if you are too big.

“When I was at Ford, you know, there were a lot of big suppliers, but they only do $10 million a year. At Ford, we never worked with them, because there was too much risk.

I asked Evans if the supply chain crisis was finally in the rearview mirror. While he was laughing, he had a simple answer: no.

“Is it over? I would say, frankly, no. I think we’ve moved from a conversation about ‘if’ to a conversation about ‘when.’ are also kind of on the cusp of it,” he said, adding that while the pandemic was a huge impact, supply chain resilience itself has long been a conversation among his colleagues. “We can go back to 2019 and talk about trade wars. We can go back to 2020 and talk about pandemics, the Suez Canal, we have shipping delays and massive global warming in Europe. We can talk about conflicts. We can talk about the recession and all the things that affect global trade and supply chains.

However, the major change that occurred during the pandemic was that supply chain disruption began to appear in the lives of people who were not supply chain professionals. Average consumers suddenly couldn’t buy the kind of ketchup they wanted, or the new car they were excited about was delayed, or they needed the right equipment at the hardware store to renovate their homes. could not find it.

For businesses, pre-pandemic disruptions were largely invisible, something a chief supply chain officer would take care of. It went from a functional, practical problem that drove one part of the business to a management problem that the whole team suddenly started caring about. Suddenly, everyone had to figure out why there were shipping delays, holes in financial statements and board questions.

Dave Evans, CEO at Factio. Image credits: Fictitious.

“I think what it’s doing is forcing companies to rethink and modernize their supply chain strategies, compared to if we went back three, four years ago,” Evans said. People didn’t really care when they left.” “Before Amazon, there wasn’t as much pressure to ship in two days, but now supply chain is a critical business function for anyone who ships a physical good. And I think we’re probably going to demand that change. are at or near the peak of

Let’s take a look at how hardware startups can think about risk in their products and supply chains and learn how to think about resilience.

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