How We Do It

“We can make tomorrow better than today.”
Green Shoe Garage’s Guiding Principle

Our “Secret Sauce” Design Workflow

There have been a lot of design paradigms over the years. As you search for a design partner you will be peppered with terms like Agile development, SCRUM, Lean manufacturing philosophy, Six Sigma quality management, human-centered design, design thinking, kanban, and perhaps even a dash of the good old traditional systems engineering mindset. Some design firms treat these like religions while others dismiss them as nothing more than buzzwords. We believe there are valuable insights in each of these concepts and employ the best of each in a homebrewed design and engineering workflow. Our goal is to build products for our clients that are built tough, easy to use, user maintainable, and cost-effective.

What is our design workflow? Glad you asked! The steps we employ on many of our projects include:

  1. Figuring Out What You Want:   Functional analysis, requirements development, “ideation”, rapid prototyping.
  2. Exploring Potential Solutions: Conceptual analysis and design; feasibility studies, prototypes/mockups. top-level system architecture.
  3. Refining the Big Picture: Proofs-of-concept, iterative design/test loop, short-duration builds.
  4. Design the Solution: Detailed design and engineering; build your Bill of Materials (BOM), refine the design to be manufacturable and sustainable.
  5. Build the Solution: Leverage our in-house fab lab to manufacture as much as possible in-house. We also work with our global partners to fabricate assemblies and components that require more complex industrial tooling. We then do the final assembly of the looks-like/works-like prototype. Prepare final Design for Manufacturing (DfM) documentation; BOM, CAD packages.
  6. Test the Tech: Unit testing and integration testing; verification of technology, design, and engineering; validate failure modes analysis.
  7. Test the Product: Validate the solution, user acceptance testing, life testing in real-world environments. and system optimization based on feedback.
  8. Hack and Harden: Assess any cyber and physical vulnerabilities that can be potentially exploited and design/implement solutions.
  9. Prepare for Manufacturing: Low-volume manufacturing to help refine the BOM, Cost of Goods Sold (COGS), M/ECAD packages, source code.

Our Design Ethos

To achieve our goals of fast, efficient design we also employ other design and engineering strategies such as:

  • Modular design strategy, reconfigurable products.
  • Maximize re-use of already available open-source hardware and software. Even when we use proprietary components, we ensure that anything built atop of a closed platform is kept open-sourced. We also use only software tools that are FOSS or have maker friendly versions.
  • The agile development process, code/build a little, and then test a little.  Keep iterating fast.
  • Heavy client engagement and communication throughout the process.  Our clients are team members, not customers.
  • Data-Driven. Analytic Hierarchy Process-based trade studies and decision-making support.
  • Document early, document often.

Empowering Our Clients…

We take pride in our belief in the validity of the open-source movement and as such we realize their importance by what we provide our clients.  All designs give you access to the following:

  • Feasibility studies, specifications, and evaluation reports
  • Schematic / PCB / Gerber files
  • CAD design and fabrication files of all mechanical components
  • Bill of Materials (BOM)
  • Software/firmware source code
  • Working prototypes
  • Project documentation and final assembly instructions
  • Video tutorial and professional product photography
  • Technical and artistic illustrations
  • License to use for commercial purposes included

…By Putting Clients First

We want to help as many budding entrepreneurs as possible. So we offer a variety of project funding structures to suit your needs and budgets:

  • Online consultation can be arranged through a variety of services. Initial 30-minute consultations can be had with one of our lead engineers for as low as $100. This tiny investment can help you understand the feasibility of your idea before spending tens of thousands of dollars in materials and design services.
  • Fixed Price or Time and Materials project.  Depending on the complexity of your requirements we can negotiate a contract to deliver a product to you on time and within budget.
    • Fixed Price:  Establish a fixed price upfront, 50% due at project start.  And an additional 25% due at the final design review.  Remainder due after final deliverables accepted. Projects with considerable upfront materials cost may require additional negotiation.
    • Time and Materials:  Depending on complexity we will negotiate an hourly rate and contract ceiling prior to starting of work.  The project will be invoiced monthly based on work completed in the previous month. As a rule of thumb for your planning purposes, we charge $275/hour to $400/hour for engineering/design and security-related work.  $175/hour to $250/hour for review only work. Historically our engineering/design efforts require the following levels of effort, on average: 40 to 80 hours of effort over 2 to 3 months. Security work requiring 10 to 40 hours of effort over 2 weeks. Review efforts requiring 5 to 40 hours of efforts over a week.
  • Retainer:  If you are looking to establish a long-term standing business relationship you can retain our services via a retainer fee that we charge monthly.  The retainer fee is applied to any costs incurred during the month.  Costs incurred that exceed retainer fee will be handled based on a pre-negotiated arrangement established prior to first retainer payment.

Vitruvius’ Principles for Good Architecture
Firmatis (Durability): Must stand up robustly, remain in good condition.
Utilitas (Utility): It should be useful, function well for the people using it.
Venustatis (Beauty): It should delight people and raise their spirits.