that we’ve made it to their short list. In our experience, OEMs per-
form their due diligence with regard to qualifying supplier candi-
dates prior to contact. They research us electronically and narrow
down the selections based on core competency and ability to meet
Once that initial contact is made, Jarvis sees the process as
going both ways.
“We interview each other to see if there is a good match,” he
said. “We have our own internal qualification process where we
strive to qualify the OEM. It doesn’t do either party any good if
the demands and core competencies don’t match; and it can cost
both companies time and money, so it’s critical that both the OEM
and the vendor are open and clear. If we don’t feel good about the
match, then we have to refuse the project. We say‘no’ to many
more projects than we say‘yes’to for that reason.”
As for the project engagement itself, Jarvis noted that“one of
the first things we do right up front is execute non-disclosure
agreements (NDA), because the most important and critical part
of our process is confidentiality. Until that NDA is signed, the con-
versation is very generic.
“From that opening generic discussion, we can establish that
this device is a fit—it’s in the right industry space, it’s in the right
FEATURE: Vendor Evaluation, Part II
market, we know that to make that device will require high-end
mechanics, electronics, fluidics, optics which are core competen-
cies for us. Then it makes sense to execute an NDA so we can talk
specifics. At that point, we have discovered their level of compe-
tence and knowledge in their own requirements.“
One of BIT’s first questions is: How are you going to make it
through the financial jungle of product development and execute
it to market success? Jarvis said that typically is the leanest area of
a start-up company.
“The scientist who has a really brilliant solution may not have
the marketing or financial wherewithal to get to the end result. It’s
a hard reality. Sometimes the best ideas die on the table because
those two areas—marketing and financial—aren’t there,” he said.
Providing a great customer experience“starts with the match-
up and qualifications,”he said.“We try to get the match right, then
if we’re the right company, it falls into place. We have to agree on
the words‘fair’and‘value’as they apply to price because there’s a
budget in mind which drives the entire project. The hard reality is
that if the number doesn’t fit the solutions within their model, we
don’t get the project.”
Jarvis added: “We try to establish not only a technology match,
but very early on, a reasonable expectation of value. Not necessarily
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