189: Leveraging Your Hardware Product Business Team's Power

189: The Power of Your Team in Building Hardware Innovations

August 17, 2023

With Paul McEnroe, Developer of UPC Barcodes

Hosted by Kevin Mako, President of MAKO Design + Invent

189: The Power of Your Team in Building Hardware Innovations

Paul McEnroe is the creator, developer, and leader behind UPC barcodes for IBM. The work he did is still the standard over 50 years later on almost all products worldwide. Since then, he has served as the Head of Engineering and President for various hardware companies, as well as a member of various boards and educational institutions. Today, Paul is going to share some valuable knowledge for inventors, startups, and small manufacturers on the type of team you need to build for your hardware product, how to manage that team, and how to ensure smooth communication so that your team can make sure your new hardware product is a big success.

Today you will hear us talk about:

  • When you see someone who has a huge part of the market, and they aren’t doing it well, you know there is lots of opportunity for new innovation.
  • Innovation and execution does not happen overnight, it can take years to get it built, then to market, then to scale.
  • The power of team in building a new hardware product is exceptional.
  • Ensure you have a great technical team in building a hardware product, especially as a hardware.
  • Have experience in fields that you do not have yourself.
  • What do you want to do with your product, and how does that bring about a team?
  • Each team member can not be focusing just on themselves, they need to recognize the power of the whole.
  • What do you want others to do?
  • Communicate openly in both directions.
  • Individual Skills, Whole goal, and communication.
  • You have your people, the designers and engineers in the shop,
  • Explain it in simple terms to people who have the money or are buying the product.
  • To improve your business communication among your team, learn some of the skills of a college debate team.
  • Put your mind in the place of the person you are communicating with, not just your own perspective.
  • Ensure that everyone on your team is in full understanding.
  • Help out the quieter people in the room, as their insight is potentially just as important.
  • Make yourself, as the leader, as available as can be.
  • If someone comes up with an issue, do not let it bubble up, especially interpersonal issues.

Episode Highlights

  • 4:50 – All inventors should pursue their dreams.
  • 5:00 – It wasn’t something overnight (took over 4 years to get selected).
  • 5:50 – You need to have a team member who is an expert in technology or someone who knows how to access that expertise. You have to be aware of what exists that could best produce the product.
  • 6:30 – You have to get people working together. It isn’t about each individual task but the whole product that is pulled together.
  • 6:45 – You have to be willing to not do everything yourself and, instead, contract work out where necessary.
  • 7:10 – Remind people what the end goal is.
  • 8:15 – You have to know what you can do. Be familiar with the technology.
  • 8:25 – You have to be able to explain your product in simple terms to investors and audiences. Communication is vital to your success.
  • 10:10 – The University Debate Team – The best skill to learn is how to communicate and understand all perspectives.
  • 11:16 – It is really important for you to put your own mind in the place of the person you’re talking to.
  • 12:25 – “You might have Einstein in the room.” As a leader, you must be able to ensure that you are extracting value from every person in the room, and making the quieter voices feel comfortable to speak out.
  • 14:03 – You have to make yourself totally available to your team.
  • 14:55 – Check out Paul’s memoir “The Barcode,” which includes the original code from 1971!

Paul McEnroe Links:

LinkedIn | Book

The Product Startup Podcast Links:


Instagram | LinkedIn | Facebook Page | Facebook Group | Pinterest | Twitter | YouTube

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.

Producer: MAKO Design + Invent is the original firm providing world-class consumer product development services tailored to startups, small manufacturers, and inventors. Simply put, we are the leading one-stop shop for developing your physical product from idea to store shelves, all in a high-quality, cost-effective, and timely manner. We operate as one powerhouse 30-person product design team spread across 4 offices to serve you (Austin, Miami, San Francisco, & Toronto). We have full-stack in-house industrial design, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, patent referral, prototyping, and manufacturing services. To assist our startup and inventor clients, in addition to above, we help with business strategy, product strategy, marketing, and sales/distribution for all consumer product categories.