When the global semiconductor shortage hit the automotive industry, only one company persevered. While most firms like BMW and Daimler were struggling to meet their demand, Tesla rewrote its software and substituted an alternative chip, an unbelievably dedicated feat that took weeks to complete. 

Tesla’s quick-to-think dedication is what sets it apart from other companies and exemplifies a “thinking like a startup” culture. With frequent delays in the supply chain, many companies are looking for ways to move as quickly and creatively as startups. 

Co-founder of Onshape Jon Hirschtick interviewed managing director of Dragon Ventures Scott Miller to learn how companies scale amid the hundreds of supply chain issues in his new webinar series, “Think Like a Startup", which can be watched on-demand on LinkedIn and YouTube. 

Optimizing Design for Supply Chain

Miller comes from a background in mechanical engineering where he worked as the Vice President of Engineering for iRobot. In 2020, he started Dragon Ventures to help companies in their journey from prototype to mass production.

While working as an advisor for innovative companies, he saw that even with a great product, most companies were struggling to find the right manufacturer to meet their needs. With the fallout from the pandemic, shortages of essential parts have made it even more difficult for companies to manufacture their products quickly. 

Miller’s biggest advice to companies struggling with the supply chain was to plan ahead. 

“Make sure parts are available before you do the design,” he said. “Today the paradigm is flipped, so make sure you can get chips before you start designing.”

Conducting research on which suppliers are being affected by supply chain problems prior to product development can help companies shorten their lead times and get their product to market quicker. 

The Perfect Marriage: Maker and Manufacturer

Finding and communicating with that perfect manufacturer or supplier can be incredibly difficult. Miller also helps companies decide if they will work with on-shore or off-shore manufacturers, and how much they should source from each factory. 

“Getting a great manufacturing partner is the most important decision. I think about it like a marriage,” he said. “If you have a great partner, you can do anything. Unfortunately, if you don’t have a great partner, it’s very hard to succeed.” 

In order to ensure that a strong marriage is built between manufacturer and maker, Miller recommended looking local first. He explained that being able to drive down the road, speak the same language, and work together easily is automatically a plus in a manufacturing relationship. 

However, Miller has also had experience working with great partners overseas in China, Vietnam, and Malaysia. When a manufacturing partner can’t be local, Miller recommends looking to see if the manufacturer has built similar products to your product and then evaluating cost, quality, and schedule. 

More ‘Think Like a Startup’ Content

Hirschtick and Miller
In order to find out more information about Miller’s experience with supply chain management, the differences between American and Chinese supply chain operations, setting up manufacturing capabilities for new product lines and scaling from prototype to production, listen to the full webinar on LinkedIn.

To stay up to date with future “Think Like a Startup” webinars, follow Onshape on LinkedIn. Webinars are broadcasted live, and listeners have the opportunity to ask Jon Hirschtick and his guests questions in real-time. 

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