Interview08

  • Braveridge Co., Ltd., CEO

Braveridge Co., Ltd.: Outline

Situated in Fukuoka, Braveridge is an ODM/OEM firm involved in the development right through to mass production of IoT devices. We spoke to CEO, Tsuyoshi Yoshida about Braveridge, a company that serves as a refuge for IoT device startups, providing business support to over 100 businesses a year.

ODM firm located in Fukuoka helping startups “bring ideas to life”

Braveridge was founded in 2006 in Fukuoka prefecture with a collection of people with a background in manufacturing. I was involved in design at Panasonic and based on the experience and know-how I gained during that time, we have diverged into a range of business areas, including ODM and OEM and the development and manufacture of our own products, etc. Our business primarily revolves around ODM. This is service where we help transform ideas that are brought to us into designs and prototypes and get them ready for mass production. In recent years, more and more startups are coming to us for advice, with approximately 100 business approaching us each year. We can offer advice on a broad range of products, anything from robots to wireless telecommunications devices. We are currently receiving a large number of inquiries about wireless products and modules. This is mainly due to the fact that our mainstay business was originally ODM work for wireless products and the manufacture of our own product line and the increased demand for wireless products by startups due to the recent IoT trend.

Startups that come to us for advice can be largely divided into two patterns. They are businesses that come to us with a concept of what they want to make or businesses that bring us a prototype they want to take to mass production. In the case of either pattern, it is necessary to transform a concept into a product design or review the product design in preparation for mass production and it appears there are not that many businesses that can offer these services as a one-stop solution. There are even startups who come to us already having tried to approach factories in places like Shenzhen, China where things have not gone to plan and are on their last legs. I have seen such startups and honestly, I only wish that they had come to us earlier. This was also one of the driving factors behind our participation in the Startup Factory.

  • Head office factory in Susenji. This is the primary place of business for sales and design staff.

  • Poster inside head office. The concept is “Bringing ideas to life”

A combination of close communication between design and production and a domestic and international supply chain enables Braveridge to produce products in Fukuoka cheaper than China

One of the strengths of Braveridge is the close collaboration between design and production. Our primary business operations are based in our head office in Susenji and another factory in Itoshima, approximately 20 minutes away by car. While the sales and design staff push ahead with design work based on the needs of the customer at head office, product designers also visit the factory to see how the product will be made and to make improvements to the design. This process cannot be achieved unless the factory is located close by. This is currently a problem faced by the entire manufacturing industry in Japan. With production departments being relocated overseas, there is less opportunity for designers to set foot in the factories. Most of our designers have experienced this to some extent. Their design skill has a greater impact on production costs than the difference in labor costs when outsourcing production overseas.

  • Itoshima Factory newly constructed in 2017

  • 10 individual products can be mass produced at the same time at the Itoshima Factory

  • The design team make their own tools at the factory. This is key to enhancing production efficiency.

We rely on a domestic and international supply chain for the procurement and fabrication of necessary components. We have built a supply chain over many years and over 500 projects and this is put to work to provide optimum solutions based on the needs of the customer. Further, our Itoshima Factory is located adjacent the Experimental Center for Social System Technologies testing facility, providing an inexpensive and advanced testing environment to help speed up product development. The Experimental Center for Social System Technologies is the kind of facility where people will travel from Tokyo and stay for periods of up to a week to test their products. It is rare to have such a testing facility within walking distance from your factory. Taking total advantage of this environment, we have established the framework enabling us to mass produce products cheaper than China.

  • Stockyard of components procured from both Japan and overseas. Parts needed for mass production each day are transported to the production line on the 2nd floor.

  • Anechoic chamber at the Experimental Center for Social System Technologies. This chambers enables the accurate measurement/observation of radio wave properties.

  • Break testing equipment to test load tolerance, such as heat and vibration, etc. There are only several such facilities in Japan open to general businesses.

Providing prompt services to startups through the Startup Factory

We implemented three main initiatives as part of the Startup Factory; 1. Installed the latest 3D printer; 2. Launched the StartUP Open Office; and 3. Streamlined the startup consultation process. With the installation of the latest 3D printer, we have drastically reduced the pre-prototype process that precedes the design phase (from 2 weeks to 2 days). When taking on work for a large corporation accustomed to the manufacturing process, all we need is a drawing to get things going. However with inexperienced startups, it is difficult to get an idea of the finished product from drawings alone, meaning we cannot proceed with design with a sense of assurance. Using the latest 3D printer, not only can we get an idea of what the finished product will look like, but can also use it to produce samples to present to customers and investors and this is something that startups see as advantageous.

We have also opened a co-working space in the form of the StartUP Open Office near the factory (inside the Experimental Center for Social System Technologies). A large number of startups know little about the manufacturing process. Where possible we take them on a tour of the production facilities. Meetings, etc. are held upon completion of the tour and ideas are immediately translated into design, creating an environment to speed up the entire process. Further, to date, the responsibility of introducing startups to the manufacturing process was limited to certain individuals. However, we have strengthened our internal framework, preparing manuals so that this work can be performed by any member of our staff.

  • Production samples from the 3D printer. Not only can customers use these to confirm product specifications, they also boast sufficient quality to be used as working samples.

  • StartUP Open Office established inside the Experimental Center for Social System Technologies adjacent the factory. This space is open to customers who come to tour the production facilities.

We hope to work together with startups to bring their ideas to life in our role as manufacturing professionals

Braveridge is all about bringing ideas to life. While there are a variety of ways to achieve this, based on our diverse experience and results, I believe we have what it takes to offer sound advice and help out the majority of startups. I would like to invite all startups with innovative ideas to come to see us.

They can do what they do best and leave all the manufacturing to Braveridge. We see ourselves as professionals and we have also gone through the same process of creating products as a startup. More than simply a business partnership, we want to share the joy of working together to bring your ideas to life and getting your product to the stage of mass production. And as a supplier that shares the same hopes and dreams, we hope to further expand our network. We invite manufacturers from Fukuoka, Kyushu and all over Japan to come and work together with Braveridge. Just so you know, the plot of land adjacent ours is still vacant if anyone is interested! (laughs)

  • The Startup Factory team at the entrance to the Itoshima Factory. From left Tanaka, Yoshida and Takeuchi