From Shenzhen Bay to San Francisco Bay

We bring Shenzhen right in front of you

As you may already know, we opened up US operations in the bay area. From MakerCon and MakerFaire, every time we talk about opening up an office here, people seem to contemplate on the thought of a Chinese manufacturer opening up shop in the US. Isn’t it usually the other way around? Why are we bringing manufacturing here? This post hopes to answer some questions about why we are here, and some FAQ about our US operations.

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Manufacturing is hard and Shenzhen is far away

Shenzhen is becoming the hardware capital (Read more here and here). There has been a hardware renaissance in silicon valley in the past 5 years and a slew of hardware incubators are jumping into the space. Yet every single one of those companies need to fly half way around the world as soon as they move into the stage of prototyping and scale manufacturing. Some resort to incubators in exchange for the sense of security. Yet very few team can camp out there forever, and end up having to deal with small team spreading across geographic locations and time difference. At almost every panel discussion at every hardware conference, this question of ‘how to deal with China manufacturers’ is brought up again and again. Obviously this is a huge pain point, and we hope that us being here can make things easier a little bit.

No one else is better at small quantity agile manufacturing

The way we see it, there are two groups of people who would mainly need hardware prototyping service — makers and hardware entrepreneurs. Many people like to interchange these two words, but their intention and conviction is in fact quite different (topic for another day). But they share one thing in common — they need to figure out the painful process of manufacturing.

Our team in Shenzhen recently has been playing around with the idea of making 100 pieces of hardware in 1 day. They are doing one experiment ever week and continuously pushing the level of complexity of the product. Ideally, we want to be able to make something like a mobile phone in one day. Besides the ambitious goals, the reason why we are able to achieve it is exactly because of the manufacturing knowledge we accumulated. Since coming here to the bay area, we have found out that the manufacturing knowledge that we have accumulated in Shenzhen for the past 7 years isextremely rare and valuable in the US. We want to bring that know-how of agility and manufacturability to makers here.

Innovate with China

Eventually, we want to set up a facility where you can work side by side with manufacturing specialists, see the iterations of your prototype being done here in the US. We want to work with the community here to turn making and manufacturing easier. And we also want to change people’s impression about Shenzhen and Chinese manufacturers a little bit. You CAN innovate with us.


Q: How are we different from hardware incubators and maker spaces?

Many people confuse us with hardware incubators and maker spaces. The answer is simple, we are neither. We usually charge on a fee for service basis (but sometimes we help out makers in the community in various ways). The difference here is that, you don’t have to be a hardware startup with a business plan of a billion dollar market to come and work with Seeed. We work with people who want to make 200 units of his own hacking project for wedding guests; or people who want to share sth with his friends and family for Christmas. Of course, we also help many kickstarter teams who later turns out to be extremely successful. But whether to scale up or not is completely your choice.

As to maker space, we want to work with community evangelists in the bay area in whatever way possible. We want to bring that perspective of manufacturability to workshops, hackathons, and help bridge that gap between US and China. (Please reach out to [email protected] if you want to work together to tell the story better). As to our own manufacturing facility, we will have regular open house and workshop days but you are always welcomed to show us your demo.

Q: What does Seeed US do?

At this point, we are opening up the facility for less than 100 pieces prototyping service. Please send your Gerber, BOM and requirement to [email protected] to receive a quote. With the manufacturing perspective embedded from the very beginning of product development stage, your product would be able to scale up to thousands of units easily in our Shenzhen office.

We are building out our team here rapidly. If you are interested in joining us, please write to me as well.

Let me know what questions you have, I’ll keep adding on to the list of FAQs. But most importantly, let’s make something together.

Pictures from Seeed US Opening Party.

Team of Seeder at US Office opening party

Our lovely host Tim West

About Author


May 2015