Start manufacturing in 5 steps for Kickstarter Campaigns

We’ve got Kickstarter funding, now, how to start manufacturing our products? You have already done a lot of work and you have a look-alike and (hopefully) work-alike prototype and have also raised money on Kickstarter or another crowdfunding site. Congratulations!

Tuson Ong

January 4, 2022

We’ve got Kickstarter funding, now, how to start manufacturing our products?

You have already done a lot of work and you have a look-alike and (hopefully) work-alike prototype and have also raised money on Kickstarter or another crowdfunding site. Congratulations!

That’s a nice form of market validation, and it helps meet your financial needs.

If your product is very new and relatively complex, having the first prototype is only a small part of the work on the road to getting a first mass-produced batch on the market. As I wrote before, it often takes much longer than expected.


1. Review your design based on DFM (Design for Manufacturing) principles

This is typically a review of your design by someone who knows how Chinese manufacturers tend to make this type of product.

(Ideally, that would have been done before any prototype was made and used for commercial purposes, but later is better than never.)

This review might point to the need for changing some of the materials or fabrication/assembly methods.

Some of the most frequent benefits are making processing easy, simplifying the product in order to avoid potential points of failure, ensuring components can be sourced locally if possible… In the end, it often means lower costs AND better quality & reliability AND fewer delays / shorter lead times.

We have suggested this step to some companies that went straight into mass production and had to make the painful decision of changing a material at a time when it proved quite expensive to them. Don’t be in that situation.

2. Identifying & vetting some suppliers (components, assembler)

Your product got a good reception in the marketplace. You are planning to manufacture at least 2 or 3 batches of the current version, right? In that case, reduce your risks and work with the right people from the start.

A risk here is to work with cheap suppliers — for example, you buy a metal flask and you buy from a small factory in the Yongkang area in Zhejiang. Things look easy at the start, but you will probably get into numerous issues with them.

Another very serious mistake we have seen is engineers who procured components on TaoBao (China’s local Amazon) for making prototypes, and who kept using the same parts for mass production. A 20% defect rate is going to hurt your project significantly… Don’t do that.

3. Certification(s)

Have you researched what certifications your new product will be subject to? For example, your electronic product might need to be FCC and/or UL certified for selling on the USA market.

4. Get tooling prepared and signed off

If your product has a custom-designed casing, a mold (e.g. for the plastic injection or the aluminum die casting) will have to be prepared. Again, it is not cheap and not fast.

In many cases, some important non-recurring engineering is needed to reduce risks and cut total costs. For example, fixtures to make assembly easier, go/no-go gages for stopping parts out of a critical spec, an automated packaging line, and so on and so forth. The higher the projected volume, the more time and money you’ll want to spend here. 

5. Get testing stations prepared and signed off

This is similar to point 6. You might need custom-developed testing stations to catch defective units, and this is especially common for electronic products.

Don’t go to the next step until this is ready, at least on a rudimentary level.

6. Pilot run before production launch

Make sure the pilot run is not skipped – most Chinese manufacturers hate to do a setup and provide a lot of engineering & management attention for a very small quantity, and yet it is a very important step for new products.

ALWAYS REMEMBER, CHINESE MANUFACTURERS TEND TO PUSH YOU TO SKIP IMPORTANT STEPS BECAUSE THEY WANT TO REDUCE THEIR WORKLOAD AND COLLECT PAYMENT EARLIER… AND BECAUSE, IN GENERAL, THEY ARE TAKING RISKS WITH THE CUSTOMER’S MONEY!

In >95% of cases, major issues will be detected and will need to be addressed: inconsistent component quality, a process that is not capable of sticking to spec, a checking gage that doesn’t detect certain issues…


Projects on PledgeBox

The Original SPAWN Action Figure & Comic Remastered (2020)

TODD MCFARLANE joins forces with Kickstarter to deliver an updated version of the original SPAWN action figure & comic (from 1995).

Mina the Hollower

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GENKI: Waveform Earphones for Nintendo Switch and PS5

Connect & Stream 2 Audio Sources at Once. Enjoy Low Latency Gaming. Dual Hybrid Drivers for Immersive Sound. aptX Adaptive Smart Case.