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Making Prototypes as a Career

Thread starter #1
Hi there,

I've been in engineering school for 3 years now and I'm planning on starting my own business once I'm done (probably a two/three years after I'm done)

I've had manufacturing and design internships and so far my favorite has been making prototypes for a consumer products company ( I'm in this internship until Jan 20). Some of the projects you guys helped me to make, were the reason I got the latter internship and I'm so grateful for that. So I figure I'll ask you for advice once more because it has worked pretty well for me on the past :happy:

I really like variety at work -and everywhere else. Having different projects really keeps my work from feeling like work. I'm currently in charge of the technical aspects of the products the guys at my company come up with (they are all industrial designers, I'm in ME). I really like electronics and I'm having so much fun making custom circuits (very very humble ones) in order to make a functional prototype. I've offered to make prototypes for this company once I'm gone and I think it will work so I'm thinking about prototyping as a career because there is so much about it that I love. I know it is kind of early to make such a consequential decision, but if I end up not liking it I can easily drop it and do something else. I also like business books a lot and I listen 2 or 3 startup/business audio-books a week (novels are for before bed only), but I've been always entrepreneurial.

So here is my list of questions and I do not expect you to answer all, but this is what it is in my head now:
  • What do you call this type of business?
  • Are business like this in the US? Should I work on one of them to learn? (Probably Yes to both)
  • How do you charge for a service like this?
  • How do I find my niche? Should I narrow the scope of my services?
  • How do I find clients?
I have more questions but are kind of vague, so I wait until I define them a bit more.

Thanks in advance for your comments,
Happy new year to all!

Matienzo
 

audioguru

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
#2
My career was designing and making custom audio prototypes. Only one of my many prototypes was sent to a manufacturer and tens of thousands of copies were made and sold. The sales department of the companies I worked for made the bids on tenders for special audio projects then I was asked how much money I could make it for, usually the price did not matter since the customers wanted the projects and had lots of money. My government wanted a high fidelity PA and intercom system in airports and I was the only one who could do it.

Nowadays a prototype engineer simply makes a simulation of a project on a computer.
 

spec

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
#3
Hi there,

I've been in engineering school for 3 years now and I'm planning on starting my own business once I'm done (probably a two/three years after I'm done)

I've had manufacturing and design internships and so far my favorite has been making prototypes for a consumer products company ( I'm in this internship until Jan 20). Some of the projects you guys helped me to make, were the reason I got the latter internship and I'm so grateful for that. So I figure I'll ask you for advice once more because it has worked pretty well for me on the past :happy:

I really like variety at work -and everywhere else. Having different projects really keeps my work from feeling like work. I'm currently in charge of the technical aspects of the products the guys at my company come up with (they are all industrial designers, I'm in ME). I really like electronics and I'm having so much fun making custom circuits (very very humble ones) in order to make a functional prototype. I've offered to make prototypes for this company once I'm gone and I think it will work so I'm thinking about prototyping as a career because there is so much about it that I love. I know it is kind of early to make such a consequential decision, but if I end up not liking it I can easily drop it and do something else. I also like business books a lot and I listen 2 or 3 startup/business audio-books a week (novels are for before bed only), but I've been always entrepreneurial.

So here is my list of questions and I do not expect you to answer all, but this is what it is in my head now:
  • What do you call this type of business?
  • Are business like this in the US? Should I work on one of them to learn? (Probably Yes to both)
  • How do you charge for a service like this?
  • How do I find my niche? Should I narrow the scope of my services?
  • How do I find clients?
I have more questions but are kind of vague, so I wait until I define them a bit more.

Thanks in advance for your comments,
Happy new year to all!

Matienzo
Hi Matienzo,

a prosperous 2017 to you too.:)

Do you know what, I like your enthusiasm and drive, but on the practical side I very much like that fact that you would like to start your own business and are informed/learning about business.

At this stage of your career, I wold advise that you get some experience by working for a suitable company that will give you work that will be helpful. And yes, you cannot possibly be an expert in the whole field of electronics and computers, but it is essential to be an expert in a particular field: audio, digital, power, power supplies, RF... This gives you great confidence to tackle other areas and if you are working in design and development every new job will inevitably involve learning something completely new.

I hate to say this, but unless you are a junior designer it is unlikely that you will be doing design work, more like meetings, contracts, specifications, etc.

Also, remember the adage, 'Invention is 2% inspiration an 98% perspiration' (I would say 100% perspiration). A prime example of this is in Chemistry.

It is very important to decide what you want:

(1) Enjoy yourself
(2) Have a good job, security, and a good salary
(3) Be filthy rich

The three are mutually exclusive, except for (3) where you can enjoy yourself (depending on what you find enjoyable) and be filthy rich. There are many examples of this: Bill Gates, Donald Trump, Alan Sugar...

And with the advent of the internet and the global business market, there is no reason why anyone should not be filthy rich.:cool:

One possible approach is to do serious home electronics and have a proper job.

Just my view- please do not let me put you off.

spec
 
Last edited:

ericgibbs

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
#4
hi Matienzo,
Your Thread title is a little vague.
Do you mean producing a working model/prototype from a clients specification document.?
or
creating a product idea yourself and making a working model/prototype for demonstration to prospective manufacturing clients.?

Eric
I have a fair working experience of what you are considering doing.
http://www.electro-tech-online.com/members/ericgibbs.55450/
Information menu.
 

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