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How our Hardware team builds products in a community

All-handsEngineering
4 min read
How our Hardware team builds products in a community
Nadiim Nafei
April 10th, 2019

Good product development requires a whole lot of collaboration across teams – and external parties. But how? We spill the beans on our Hardware Community project

Last October, we shared our insight on the arduous journey to developing a new product in our article, How we made Airtame 2.

The work that goes into developing a new product is not always obvious, even when the Product teams who develop the products are sitting a few steps away from Sales and Marketing. It takes the motivation of the teams working with product development to create that awareness within their own company.

To help our company better understand the product development process, our Hardware team initiated the Hardware Community project.

The Hardware Community project aims to reinforce Airtame’s strong culture so that our work processes reflect our solid social ties. The project aims to create more transparency and, more importantly, to help the company as a whole identify with the new hardware products we develop as we continue to grow.

Better together

Like in many tech companies, fostering strong work relationships between product teams and user-facing teams takes constant work.

We don’t mean to brag, but we at Airtame have strong social relationships between our teams. This didn’t happen on its own. It took a conscious effort from our founding team early on to create an open culture that encourages cross-team collaboration.

We believe it is vital for every one of our employees to understand the Airtame product from all aspects. It is not unheard of to have someone from the Product team or Marketing team jump into the customer chat support to experience the challenges our users might face firsthand. In fact, we wrote a piece on our all-hands support program last year.

The value this creates for our customers cannot be underestimated. When everyone in the company has a deep understanding of our products and how they’re created and used, it makes it possible for us to create a truly user-friendly solution.

How does the Hardware Community project achieve this alignment within our team? By holding internal info sessions that dive deeper into existing and upcoming products and their features, they give Sales and Customer Success teams a new perspective of our products, which brings huge value to our users.

For example, the Hardware Community project has held talks on topics such as Airtame’s mechanical construction or the form factor of Airtame 2. It helped clear up any confusion around our new Airtame 2 product.

Talks like these give the Sales and Customer Success teams a chance to share their insights from their daily interactions with users. Our software developers, who are part of the Product team but on the software side, join in to share their ideas on performance testing and ideas for optimization.

By combining our product-facing and user-facing knowledge, we make the best product we possibly can.

This project goes beyond the doors at Airtame. The Hardware Community project also aims to build stronger relationships with the external product development community.

The Airtame team collaborating as part of the Hardware community project

Learning from the best

Our team is no doubt talented and passionate about product development. Part of being at the top of your game, however, is finding industry leaders to consult with. This is vital to our research and development on any project, for instance, when we worked on our RSDB WiFi chip for the Airtame 2 with our supplier, Cypress.

An important reason why we reach out to the experts in the product development community is not just to learn from the best. Knowledge sharing is a two-way street, so of course, as part of the community project, our hardware team plans on sharing their learnings publicly.

 The Airtame team getting expertise from a genie as part of the hardware community project

Giving back to the hardware community

As our team grows and learns, we want to share our learnings with our community.  Writing pieces that showcase product development is a nice start, but we also want to meet our community face to face.

We have already hosted two events since the project was initiated.

Our first event was a talk on sustainability at Herningsholm HTX/HHX upper secondary school in Herning. We had the chance to talk about the ways Airtame develops with sustainability in mind, such as our sustainable packaging, product optimization to minimize waste, and logistics and supply chain improvements to name a few topics.

The Hardware community project allows the Airtame team to reach out to students and likeminded product people

We most recently hosted a student visit from Aalborg University’s Department of Architecture, Design, and Media Technology at our new Copenhagen HQ in March. Students from the Industrial Design program came to tour our office, hear how we do user research and hardware development, and got hands-on in a workshop on product interaction.

The Hardware Community project has more exciting events planned in the coming year, so keep an ear to the ground for more news!

Would you like to talk about collaborating on an event in the future? Reach out to us and be sure to mention the Hardware Community project!
Nadiim Nafei
I design, tinker, test and often break (physical) hardware - from time to time I build something useful. Daydreaming about going into space, conquering Pluto with an army of cats.

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