Pinoccio - Building an Open Hardware Company, Year 1

Short Form
Scheduled: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 from 1:30 – 2:15pm


From starting an open-hardware business, to designing user-centric products, to running a successful crowdfunding campaign, to managing manufacturing and fulfillment. There are lots of unknowns. We'll cover all the gory details of how we started Pinoccio, including lucky breaks and silly mistakes.


Pinoccio Year 1 – From Prototype to Product

We’d like to use the story of our company’s first year as a way to explain how we approach product development. Both of us come from the Web industry, and have software development practices ingrained in us. These practices include: Agile Development (emphasizes rapid cycles of testing and iteration), Lean Startup (emphasizes defining a Minimal Viable Product as soon as possible and testing it on real customers), and user-centered design (frames product decisions from the point-of-view of the customer’s behavioral requirements).

These are questions that we faced during Year 1, and we’d like to discuss how we went about answering them:

- Is this a project, or a product?
- How do you go from prototype to finding audience?
- How do you gain insights around your audience’s needs, motivations, and goals?
- How do you let those insights guide your product decisions?
- How do you define what features your product has?
- Once we felt we had good product/market fit, were we clearly communicating the benefits of Pinoccio to our potential customers?

Pinoccio began as a “scratch your own itch” project. Eric was having a really hard time bridging hardware to the Web in his own personal projects. We had a gut feeling that others were wrestling with the same problem, but we wanted to validate this hypothesis first, before pursuing this idea as a business. We conducted interviews at workshops and conferences (including Make’s 2012 Hardware Innovator’s Workshop). Later, we used our crowd-funding campaign to further refine the product and test how clearly we were communicating it to the customer.

Speaking experience

We spoke at last year's Open Source Bridge, and are slated to speak at this year's MAKE Hardware Innovation Workshop in May.


  • Sal team

    Sally Carson



    I’m the Co-founder and Design Nerd for Pinoccio — a complete hardware + software ecosystem for building the Internet of Things.

  • Headshot bw sq


    Eric’s the co-founder of Pinoccio, tiny wireless hardware for makers.

    His background is in writing software, but he has a soft spot for open-source hardware. Regardless of the tools, his passion lies in breaking open old, stagnant industries. Eric is a TechStars NYC alum with a ton of startup experience. He’s into hacking pretty much anything he can get his hands on: music, the environment, the brain, and the agora.