Startup Playbook Podcast Episode 6: Developing Hardware

Chris Eheim sheepishly knocked on the door of Switzerland’s most famous soccer coach. When the door opened, Eheim tried to explain why he needed to retrieve a drone that had just crash landed into his neighbor’s backyard: it was a prototype for the security product he and Alex Pachikov had been testing.

Eheim and Pachikov are the founders of Sunflower Labs, which builds home security systems. The multi-component systems comprise of sensors (which they call “sunflowers”), drones (“bees”), and drone docking stations (“hives”). Each component requires exhaustive hardware product development testing and iterating, processes which have given the founders a wealth of knowledge about building hardware products successfully.

The soccer coach whose backyard the Sunflower Labs drone had crashed into was surprisingly unbothered by the disturbance. Instead, he gave a motivational pep talk—as any good coach would—encouraging the development of the security tech and expressing excitement for what it could do.

It was a moment of confirmation that what Pachikov and Eheim were building was something people wanted, though they already knew that they were solving a real problem; it was a problem with which they were intimately familiar. Working on something that solves a problem you fully understand is one of their key tips in building great hardware products.

In the new episode of the Startup Playbook podcast series, Eheim and Pachikov share the story of building Sunflower Labs, along with advice for product development and entrepreneurship in general. As a bonus: an anecdote involving a pink smoke bomb.

In sharing the story of how they built their hardware product, they provide tips—like the need for tireless testing—that apply to any entrepreneurial endeavor. Listen to the episode on iTunesSoundCloud, or wherever you get your podcasts.