People often say that building a hardware company is like “playing on hard mode”. Building a hardware company during a global pandemic, with the unpredictability of supply chains and markets, is harder than hard. Trying to penetrate the phone market in particular – where only a few players own almost all the market share – is REALLY hard.
In today’s episode we chat with Carl Pei, founder of Nothing. Between Nothing and previously co-founding OnePlus, Carl has twice managed to do what many others have failed to do. Nothing has sold over 1m units and built a team of over 400. In this episode, Carl chats with us about why he’s at it again, what it takes to successfully build hardware, and how he thinks about making technology fun again.
02:11 – The hardware market
02:53 – Breaking into the phone market
05:19 – Securing factories and stakeholders
07:39 – Differentiating products
10:32 – Hardware design
11:53 – Strengthening software proposition
16:04 – Table stakes
17:49 – Marketing and Youtube
19:34 – Underestimating the value chain
21:50 – Manufacturing
23:27 – Supply chain
26:05 – Remote work
27:36 – The future of hardware
30:45 – Breakthrough hardware
32:35 – Making tech fun again
The a16z Podcast discusses the most important ideas within technology with the people building it. Each episode aims to put listeners ahead of the curve, covering topics like AI, energy, genomics, space, and more.