113: The Future of Hardware, Manufacturing Startups, and Industrial Policy with Nick Pinkston

What does the future hold for hardware manufacturing? We welcome back Nick Pinkston, CEO and Founder of Volition, for round two of a special three-part episode where we dig into all things hardware manufacturing.

In this episode, Nick explores the world of hardware startups, VC investment, and the future of the industry. He also breaks down his thoughts on rising trends like 3D printing and AI, and explains which manufacturing tech he’s most excited about.

We also hear his thoughts and experiences on navigating U.S. industrial policies and what he thinks is missing from the wider manufacturing community. Check out part one and stay tuned for part three, coming soon!


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3 Quick Things from this Episode

  1. The investor base in hardware and manufacturing is improving and catching up to the software sector.
  2. Supply chain issues during COVID highlighted to many just how important physical manufacturing is.
  3. The hardware/manufacturing community is getting bigger, but we’re still missing those clear voices in the industry that can pull everyone together like we have in the software space.

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Tweetable Quotes

  • “The horrible situation of COVID has shown everyone that the physical world [of manufacturing] actually matters.”
  • “Everyone thinks 3D printing is going to replace stuff. I don’t think that’s true at all. I think the traditional processes will be with us forever. We just need to put computing inside of them.”
  • “Everyone’s going for high performance first. And I think that’s because all these technologies start off really expensive. So you better have a really good use case for some performance improvement, as opposed to a cost improvement. I also think that VCs have a bias towards performance because it’s cool.”

Please Scroll Down for Recommended Resources from this Episode

Do you want to connect with other leaders that are moving the needle in manufacturing everyday? Then make sure to join us in the Manufacturing Happy Hour Industry Community on LinkedIn.

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What We Discuss with Nick

  • Why hardware startups are more difficult to get off the ground
  • Why the investor base in hardware is improving
  • What we learned about hardware and physical goods during COVID
  • The manufacturing tech Nick’s most excited about
  • Nick’s thoughts on additive manufacturing and AI
  • How investors are changing the way they back manufacturing companies
  • What’s missing from the wider manufacturing community?
  • The regions leading the way in manufacturing
  • The effect of industrial policy on manufacturing

Recommended Resources

  • Volition, one of the largest marketplaces for industrial components
  • The Interval, a cocktail bar in San Francisco and home of The Long Now Foundation

Connect with Nick and Volition

LinkedIn | Twitter | Volition