Prepare yourself for an onslaught of small, clever, software driven hardware projects because former members of the iRobot team have just started Dragon Innovation, a manufacturing services and crowdfunding firm that will help small makers go from garage to factory.
Co-founded by Scott N. Miller and Herman Pang, the group has decades of experience in hardware design and manufacturing. Miller worked on the functional prototype of the Roomba and then led the team to ramp up production and sales. He supervised the building of 3 million Roomba units. Pang worked on Hasbro’s FurReal friends and then helped build the Far East office of iRobot with Miller.
The company isn’t just another incubator. The plan is to run a crowdfunding platform that allows users to get funded and then work with DI to produce their hardware to scale.
“Dragon Innovation’s crowdfunding platform is exclusively focused on hardware and allows a broader category within Hardware than some other sites including Pet Tech, Home Security, and Home Health,” said Miller.
The company raised its round from Flybridge Capital Partners and Foundry Group as well as the Box Group.
DI will use its experienced team to make sure products actually get delivered, a breath of fresh air for anyone who has waited for months for a gizmo.
“Dragon takes on detailed vetting of each team and project, so that if the funding threshold is met, the team will deliver on the promise to its backers. This step ensures real people with real products are behind each project,” said Miller. “Furthermore, Dragon’s network of service providers, investors and experts in relevant fields is another differentiator.”
“In the old days, firms would spend millions of dollars over the course of multiple years in stealth mode, then have a big product launch backed by a significant market spend to drive demand,” he said. “In some cases, this went well, and the product sold. In others, it did not.”
The company is launching its crowdfunding system later this year.
DI’s goal is to capitalize on this trend of small, agile hardware manufacturers that can create cool products and, at the same time, raise awareness of the issues with hardware manufacturing. But bringing their expertise to bear on the big problems, maybe they can prevent another Ouya?