Mathilde Berchon talks open source hardware for devs

Writing for the EETimes, founder Mathilde Berchon offers some valuable advice to startups using open source hardware.

“The open-hardware movement started with prototyping tools. Building together tools that everyone can use is at the core of the movement,” Berchon explains.

“For a hardware entrepreneur, there are now plenty of them to use for creating your prototype- microcontrollers, sensors, machines and associated software are all available for you to use at very affordable cost. Massive communities of inventors/entrepreneurs just like you develop their products while contributing to each other’s success.”

According to Berchin, open hardware is essentially a trade-off between having access to great resources and giving back to the community.

“Access to open-source prototyping tools will quickly make you realize that you can also leverage a full community of skilled enthusiasts who are able to tell you what you do wrong and how to directly improve your product,” she continues.

“In exchange for their help, you give them the right to use, modify and sell your product under the same license (if you decide so). Because you are the one behind the project, you are also the one who sees the big picture, who knows how everything works. With open hardware comes great responsibility – you have to be in charge.”

Berchin also notes that utilizing open hardware can help with marketing efforts, specifically for building a successful brand. In addition, she recommends that startups respect customers and backers, learn from their users and make products affordable.

Arduino, Adafruit, SparkFun [and] Makey Makey are all very strong brands,” she adds.

“They are associated with strong values and ethics. They are watching over their behavior as well as the community is.”

As a final thought, Berchin shares a quote originating from a 2012 3D printing blog post penned by Brook Drumm, founder and CEO of Printrbot.

“For the record, Printrbot will always be an open-source company. Only time will tell if that’s a good idea or not. It may help distinguish us from the competition, or we may die trying,” writes Drumm.

“We have already played a small part in pushing the 3D printing forward and there is much more to do. I’d rather die with a legacy behind us that stretched as far and wide as the open-sourced information can spread than to be driven by fear and hold tightly to every last dollar we can squeeze from the market with closed hardware.”

The full text of Mathilde Berchon’s article titled “Hardware Startups: Don’t be Scared, Share!” can be read on EETimes here.

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