80/20 or 20/80?

You hear a lot of talk about the 80 / 20 Rule these days. Spend 20% of the effort and get 80% of the results. What a great concept. This has driven the whole Agile movement—get something that’s close and get it out there.  Works (may be, but that’s out
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Leadtime Do’s & Don’ts

Here at Zebulon Solutions, we often see our customers making the same common mistakes over and over again when it comes to considering lead time. Whether you’re in the prototype phase or going into production, lead time is a HUGE factor as to whether or not you can save time
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11 Things to Keep in Mind When Qualifying a Contract Manufacturer

Designing a product for manufacturing can be daunting enough, but locating and qualifying the right contract manufacturer . . . well, it’s certainly no walk on the manufacturing floor! However, it’s an essential part of the productization process. We’ve created a list of 11 items that we believe are crucial
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Shipping products

It’s been a good week–we’ve shipped first articles on two new designs to customers. One is a consumer IoT widget and the other is a solar lighting product for Africa, so very diverse. Still work to do on productizing both, but always cause for a minor calibration when the cardboard
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Losing sleep about manufacturing startup risk

Startups talk a lot about risk: risk of not getting funding, risk of not making a splash on social media, risk of not landing that big order. But I hear a lot less worrying about the risks of execution once funding is wrapped up, once orders start pouring in.  Some
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Consultants vs. Contractors

Ah, the two C words of the Services world. Alike, but not. Not exactly as violent a confrontation as say Piranhas vs. Tourists (or Services vs. Products), but in today’s freelance economy, it’s important to know the differences. The simple answer is: Consultants advise, Contractors do. Perhaps not unsurprisingly, the
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Happy Birthday Zebulon Solutions!

Yup, it’s been seven years to the day since we started Zebulon Solutions in an unfurnished, unfinished loft above a coffee roaster in Berthoud, Colorado. The bathroom was outside, we had particleboard flooring, a metal roof and no air conditioning.  We used to hold meetings only in the mornings in
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Services vs. Products

True, it’s not exactly Trolls vs. Martians, but there are actually huge differences between a Services business and a Product business.  I just realized this weekend that I’ve been running various Services businesses for almost exactly twenty years now, but I still think of myself as a Products guy, probably
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Happy Holidays and all that Jazz–2015

We’ve got snow on the ground and orders in backlog. Not to mention test units in the thermal chamber, PCBAs being assembled, and solar panels out in the sun (at least today). And did I mention big piles of snow in the parking lot?  The holidays are upon us once
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Getting the Concept Right

Concept design sounds easy, right? A bunch of engineers, sitting around, brainstorming. Although the concept phase sounds as simple as sitting down and spouting off ideas, it’s much more time and thought consuming. Creating a product from start to finish is an all-around labor intensive process, and the concept phase
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