The Business of Hardware Product Development
Spencer Wright got his first job as a product manager for "robot doors" - a complex system of high-end doors that can be eletronically controlled to open, close, and reposition themselves, effectively turning glass houses into beach pavilions.
For any budding builder-type (or New York City native), a construction job in the Hamptons sounds like a dream job, but for Wright it was wrong. In his words, "It's pretty easy to create complexity and create hard problems if you want to, rather than starting with something that's just really, really hard to begin with. Then every way you turn you come up against something."
And so Spencer left robot doors behind in search of simpler and simpler products to work on.
Adhering to his own mantra, "don't add any more features," his expansive career in product manufacturing may have reached its pinnacle with The Public Radio, a co-creation with his longtime friend Zach Dunham.
The product management of The Public Radio has been purely an exercise in restraint. It doesn't even have a tuning knob and affords customers just one customization: you get to pick the single station it will be tuned to when you order it.
It's from the very workbench in Brooklyn where Wright and Dunham manufactured so many small batches of TPR that 100 PM sat down with Spencer to contemplate the business of hardware product development.
These days, Spencer Wright identifies a little bit more as "manufacturing guy at large" than product manager, and it's precisely that space between that's at the heart of this conversation.
Also in this episode:
- Understanding supply chain and working well with suppliers
- Why productifying operating systems matters in manufacturing
- Perfecting product through small batch production