Getting Started

The documents in the "beginner" section are meant to help you bootstrap the right culture from the get-go. A modest investment now will help you grow into the right processes as you need them. You'll also lay the groundwork for a world-class org without adding much overhead.

Too Much Process: the Only Thing Worse than No Process

Everything about an emergent hardware startup is nuts. Of course we want coordinated, two-week dev sprints, test-driven development systems, formal design, production-revision control, CMS release process, signed firmware binaries built from CI, test/burn-in jigs, BOM management, build planning and parts/inventory control!

But who the hell is going to do all this work? We have a house-on-fire problem with the current design. We're still pre-PMF and the founders don't agree on how to navigate out of it. Money (lack of it) is a constant stressor. No one is sleeping enough. Every week, and sometimes every day, seems like a heroic struggle just to get the damned demo to work, or to engage people in the idea. And despite tons of great feedback, not a single person has actually paid us anything for our great idea.

And this is how it should be! You have one goal only: get something working enough so that someone will pay you for it before you run out of money. Until you have a live PoC and relatively clear concept validation, no one on the microbus should ever work on: "going pro," "cms-ready," "big reveal," "costed-BOM," "opening experience," or anything even remotely related to "production operations."

Adopt CPI as your Garage Culture - You'll Build a World-Class Org

We see a middle ground between "going pro" and "trainwreck city." Start with a kernel of continuous process improvement, and you'll capture the hard-won lessons as you go and only invest in process where you actually need it. Moreover, CPI/Kaizen is the hallmark of a great organization whether your sales are $1 or $100B.

It requires a little bit of setup and some leadership discipline, but the small investment is worth it as it will save a huge amount of time and heartache in the long-run. It will also help you grow a world class organization that produces stable, reliable products. No matter how big you get, your product will never be done, your team will never be perfect, and your process will always contain execution risks. CPI/Kaizen puts striving to improve at the center of your culture, and from that you organically capture the hard-won lessons as you learn them. And you'll build a culture that forever wants to be a little more efficient, reliable, delightful, robust and better. The incumbents in your space will generally be the opposite, and the fact that your org can delight when the incumbents cannot will be a powerful competitive edge.

So if your startup hasn't formalized a process, and you think of yourself as someday "going pro" then start with the following list, and you will find that you can grow into everything that you need: