174: Agile Product Development Process for Hardware Startups

174: Agile Product Development & Additive Manufacturing

May 4, 2023

With Jon Hirschtick, Co-Founder of Solidworks & Onshape

Hosted by Kevin Mako, President of MAKO Design + Invent

174: Agile Product Development & Additive Manufacturing
174: Agile Product Development & Additive Manufacturing

Jon Hirschtick, the Co-Founder of both Solidworks and Onshape, has been building these platforms for 42 years. His software has been widely used to design more physical consumer products than any other software in the world. Onshape alone has amassed a user base of over 3 million designers on its CAD software platform. In this session, Jon will share valuable insights with inventors, startups, and small manufacturers on the importance of agile product development for hardware startups. He will also delve into the role of additive manufacturing in facilitating agile development and how modern tools are streamlining the process of bringing products to market faster, with better quality and continuous iterative improvements.

Today you will hear us talk about:

  • The Saga of Solidworks and Onshape!
  • Jon learned early on the importance of customer service.
  • How to embrace Agile design principles?
  • Approach hardware development with an Agile process similar to software.
  • Breaking down the design process into sprints, with each resulting in a new product.
  • Agile product development allows for the execution of daily stand-up meetings.
  • Check out the Agile Manifesto online!
  • Jon is releasing a whitepaper on Agile product development!
  • The Liveworks conference is happening on May 15-18.
  • 4 reasons for the relevance of Agile today: the convergence of software and hardware, a workforce naturally inclined towards Agile thinking, the constantly evolving world, and the availability of Agile tools.
  • Innovative and high-quality products are increasingly being produced by startups or by large companies adopting a startup mindset.
  • There are a ton of novel tools that facilitate the agile product development process by facilitating real-time collaboration.
  • Additive manufacturing is evolving at a rapid pace!
  • 3D printing conventions are an effective way to explore new possibilities.
  • Modern software is fast, reliable, and innovative.
  • What are the main issues with file versioning and history?
  • Cloud-native technology is key to modern CAD design tools!
  • Real-time collaboration with edit history is now possible on any device and from anywhere.
  • Softwares can now maintain clear traceable rigour and feature logging, which is vital when moving from prototyping to small-scale and large-scale manufacturing.


  • 3:00 – What’s happening in the product development world around additive manufacturing, agile design, and the tools that are enabling these improvements?
  • 3:20 – The tools that are making easier, faster, better quality, more innovative physical consumer product development
  • 3:30 – How hardware startups get their invention ideas out to the real market.
  • 3:40 – Agile development is the new process for hardware product development
  • 3:50 – Hardware development is starting to mimic software development.
  • 3:55 – Working in short sprints of development micro-steps.
  • 4:40 – A whitepaper is being released from Jon Hirschtick and Steven Eppinger of MIT on agile development in the hardware industry.
  • 4:55 – LiveWorx conference coming up May 15-18 in Boston.
  • 5:00 – 4 reasons why agile is coming now to hardware development: Software is more and more becoming.  The new design workforce is naturally agile and real-time collaborative.  The world is changing quickly.  And finally, the tools are now here for agile hardware design and development for physical consumer products.
  • 6:30 – Nobody can plan for a year, you have to be nimble in your plans to adjust according to current business needs.
  • 7:15 – All these advantages of agile are so powerful in helping hardware startups have a number of advantages.
  • 7:50 – Today, the “cool” product development is startups, not big corporations.  Big companies want to work like hardware startup design teams now, and it used to be the other way around.
  • 9:15 – Startups are mostly starting to adopt the agile framework now so that they can quickly design, engineer, prototype, then break the prototype, and repeat the cycle to quickly get to market with the best learnings along the way.
  • 9:30 – Agile development not only allows you to learn quickly from your design mistakes but also allows you to learn collaboratively from various stakeholders including the original inventor, potential customers, investors, etc.
  • 10:00 – Hardwire agile, unlike software agile, is that you do need to create a high-quality version of your first product, just not with as many features, as there are no bug patches in hardware once the product leaves the factory.
  • 11:30 – Additive manufacturing has been rapidly improving to allow a lot more prototyping and short-run manufacturing possibilities.
  • 12:20 – Additive can be used for prototypes, fixtures, tooling, manufacturing rigs, test rigs, and then of course, actual manufacturing of end-user parts.
  • 13:00 – There are more tools than ever to build prototypes of new products that closely mimic the actual production units than ever before.
  • 13:20 – Advanced prototyping techniques allow you to heavily de-risk your manufacturing.
  • 14:00 – For testing, you want to ensure you are doing both engineering testing but also stakeholder testing to validate the product before going into full production.
  • 14:10 – Crowdfunding can be such a powerful market validation tool just using a final pre-production prototype.
  • 14:20 – When you’re doing really good design and prototyping, you can go to market or to investors with a product that is both well tested from an engineering perspective, but also very reliably able to go into manufacturing shortly thereafter.
  • 14:40 – Additive manufacturing is one of the tools to enable agile product development.
  • 15:15 – Onshape is connecting the dots between concept design, product engineering, prototyping, short-run manufacturing, and full-scale production.
  • 15:45 – Hardware product designers want to be innovative and fast with their design work.
  • 17:00 – Cloud native is the future of all development software
  • 20:00 – Speed, freedom, and rigor in your design process through product CAD design software.
  • 22:50 – Startups are becoming more and more the leaders of new hardware development in the industry.
  • 23:00 – Big corporate is spending less money on inventing their own products, and spending more money on acquiring the next hot hardware startup.


Jon Hirschtick Links:

LinkedIn | LiveWorx 2023 | Onshape

The Product Startup Podcast Links:
Instagram | LinkedIn | Facebook Page | Facebook Group | Pinterest | Twitter | YouTube

PTC Links:
Onshape | Creo

Mako Design Links:
YouTube | Instagram | LinkedIn | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

Kevin Mako Links:
Instagram | LinkedIn | Quora | Facebook | Twitter

Partner: PTC’s best-in-class software solutions Onshape: The only cloud-native product development platform that delivers full-featured computer-aided design (CAD), integrated product data management (PDM) and enterprise analytics in a single system, and Creo: 3D CAD solution that provides designers with the most innovative tools to build better products faster, such as generative design, additive manufacturing, real-time simulation, IIoT, and augmented reality.