Hardware, Software & the Internet of Things
June 23–25, 2015 • San Francisco, CA

One year to production: Manufacturing a smart device for 100k

Julia Ko (SurePod Corporation)
2:55pm–3:35pm Wednesday, 06/24/2015
Get It Made
Location: Fire House
Average rating: ****.
(4.33, 9 ratings)
Slides:   1-PPTX 

Prerequisite Knowledge

Basic understanding of manufacturing cycle and processes.


The IoT market is expected to be bigger than the social media wave, and generate revenues exceeding 7.1 trillion by 2020. SurePod is an IoT device, delivering concierge and emergency services over the cellular network.

If you are intending to build and manufacture electronics overseas, you must be aware of the processes of Shenzhen electronics factories, and be prepared for tackling the challenges of taking a prototype to production.

So how exactly can you build and manufacture an IoT product on a startup budget? What’s it like manufacturing in Shenzhen, without Samsung’s or Apple’s economies of scale? How do you take a prototype to production with contract manufacturers?

In this presentation, Julia Ko will focus specifically on taking a prototype to production with contract manufacturers in Shenzhen as a Silicon Valley startup. This presentation will also highlight tools for negotiating with contract manufacturers on pricing, on-time delivery performance, and differences in quality standards.

Photo of Julia Ko

Julia Ko

SurePod Corporation

Julia is a serial entrepreneur and has built two startups from the ground up, with one successful exit. At 19, noticing new trends of Asian foods on the West Coast, Julia founded and grew a food manufacturing company with multiple offices and retail operations in the Midwest. She formed partnerships with national grocery chains like Whole Foods, Dierbergs Markets, Straub’s, and Compass Group, generating $1 million in revenue within 18 months, with a successful exit at age 22.

Wanting a more dynamic and impactful industry, Julia sold the business after three years and attended UCLA on a Recognition Scholarship. She is currently finishing a BSc in economics from the University of London.

Most recently, Julia bootstrapped SurePod for 100k, a mini cellphone, working with engineering and several contract manufacturers in Shenzhen. She created, negotiated, and managed the supply chain both locally and overseas. Additionally, she managed the Big Four carrier relationships in the US and helped build the dealer network.