Startup develops educational electronics


What this chip does is allow a micro-controller to reverse currents in a circuit. Reversing currents in a circuit is a critical function, because it allows motors to move forward and backward. Courtesy Forbes Technical

A startup company that produces electronic modules with a focus on improving the “how-to” experience for consumers is getting a boost from a Grand Rapids-based entrepreneurial incubator.

Start Garden, the $15 million seed fund located at 50 Louis St., selected Forbes Technical LLC for a $5,000 investment for its line of simplified electronic modules as part of its weekly funding program for entrepreneurs.

Forbes Technical produces streamlined electronic modules that can be used by professionals and enthusiasts alike, while providing an educational experience. Weston Forbes, founder of Forbes Technical, said the first product the start-up company is looking to launch is the DC Motor Drive module, which can be used in small engineering projects and robotics.

“What this chip does is allow a micro-controller to reverse currents in a circuit. Reversing currents in a circuit is a critical function, because it allows motors to move forward and backward,” said Forbes. “The module contains all of the wiring needed on the chip, so the beginner electronics enthusiast only needs to hook it up to his/her micro-controller.”

The line of electronic modules not only is designed in a simplified manner to reduce the amount of complexities and confusion for users, but also includes a user manual, schematics, datasheets and example code to educate the beginner enthusiast.

“We stand apart from our competitors by focusing on the education of our customers. When you buy a product from one of our competitors, the majority of the time you receive a module bubble wrapped and that is all,” said Forbes. “You are left to your own devices to figure out how it works. Our products eliminate all this trouble for the consumer and turn a negative experience into a learning opportunity.”

With an emphasis on educational learning and a target market of student consumers, Forbes said the idea for the electronics and robotics company resulted after personal experience in the engineering program at Grand Valley State University. As part of his final project, Forbes developed his own motor driver to put in a robot that needed to follow specific programming after seeing how complex and expensive other motors were.

“I realized the potential of this market and decided to start my own business,” said Forbes. “Part of Forbes Technical marketing strategy is to get into engineering colleges and convince them to recommend our product. With our emphasis on education we are a better solution for students.”

In response to receiving financial support from Start Garden, Forbes said the team is extremely grateful for the organization’s belief in the startup company.

“Start Garden’s funding has provided all the necessary capital to get our business running,” said Forbes. “Winning the investment and community support also has a profound effect on us personally. It is great to know that there are people out there that believe in our goals; it serves to motivate us even more.”

The initial $5,000 investment made by Start Garden will go toward funding 1,000 DC Motor Drivers and packaging. With product design and testing completed for the circuit, Forbes said the team is working on revisions and finding a suitable supplier.

After introducing the DC Motor Drivers to the consumer market, the team will work on expanding its product line through internal development and submission made by engineers and inventors. Another growth strategy involves market expansion; after targeting students Forbes Technical hopes to eventually expand its online presence.

“Students are a renewing and profitable market. Every year there will be new students who need my product,” said Forbes. “Our secondary market will be hobbyist groups and Internet-based tinkerers. As our user base grows we will expand our online presence to match demand. Our long-term goal is to have a fully developed line of electronic modules for students and hobbyists.”

The team at Forbes Technical is comprised of Goran Purkovic, who manages the majority of business operations, and Forbes, who focuses on the engineering and design processes.

After a couple of months, the team from Forbes Technical will have several minutes to present the status of the company and how funds were used in front of a live audience at the Start Garden facility in Grand Rapids. During the Update Night event, the team may be eligible to additional funding provided by Start Garden based on the electronics and robotics company’s desirability, feasibility and viability.

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