Choose individuals if:
- You already know a few experienced and available people who have agreed to work with you on this – or you know someone who can easily introduce you to those people.
- You are on a shoestring budget. A group of individuals with the same experience will be charged at a premium if they are with a product design firm (which offers benefits in terms of scale and tribal knowledge).
- You have time to hire the right people and to develop the team so it becomes a well oiled machine.
- The hardware is the protectible core of your company and you want to build up your own core competence and retain creative control.
Choose a product design firm if:
- You are new to product development and do not have a vast network of technical talent you can tap into – it will take you a long time to hire a new team.
- You are adequately funded. Each engineering iteration can cost five to six figures depending on complexity.
- You are in a tearing hurry. Product design firms typically can get the job done faster, because their staff is highly experienced, the team has experience working together, and they probably already have connections to the suppliers of key components required for building the first set of looks-like, works-like prototypes.
- Your focus is not hardware. If you are really a big-data, analytics, and algorithms based platform play which requires a device to be the vehicle to deliver value, the hardware is not actually the core of your company’s existence. Outsourcing the first iteration may make sense, so you can have the in-house team focus on software and algorithm development.