Mission Statement

Leveraging technology to make engineers' lives easier.

Our Philosophy

Today's highly-skilled technical teams are being asked to do more with less. They are asked to churn out one incredible product after another--all on shrinking budgets and with tighter deadlines. In this environment you barely have time to breathe, let alone take the time to develop the tools and infrastructure to do your job more effectively. The result is a tangle of 'enterprise' solutions that are designed and marketed to upper managers who never actually use the products!

Engineers have created the incredible technologies that make everyones' lives easier and make the world work. At Collaborate i/o we think it's time to take some of those incredible technologies and use them to build solutions that make engineers' lives easier. Designed by engineers for engineers. That's what we are passionate about!

Our Story

Here's how it all started--straight from our founder:

I was put in charge of figuring out how to build a critical subassembly with 384 small pins made from a precious metal soldered to a PCBA. The tip of each of the pins had to be positioned to a precise tolerance. Importantly, 384 pins meant 384 opportunities to mess things up. A special coating was required to protect solder joints because the product was used in a wet environment. But the special coating had to be applied such that the solder joints were completely coated while the tips of the pins (just millimeters away) were uncoated. If these technical requirements weren't tough enough, we were trying to release the product on an accelerated schedule direct to a contract manufacturer (CM) in SE Asia.

During the prototype phase meeting these technical requirements was very challenging, but by working closely with local suppliers we were able to achieve our goals. But how do you set up this manufacturing process with an CM in SE Asia? Needless to say, this wasn't a standard part where all you had to do was send a document package. So I tried the standard approach:
  • Weekly conference calls to discuss problems.
  • Had some video calls using a webcam. Holding parts up to the laptop and asking if they could see certain features.
  • Scheduled trips for technicians from CM to visit our site and for me to visit their site.

I soon realized this approach was expensive, time-consuming and ultimately ineffective!

What was different between how working with local vendors vs. the overseas CM, both of whom were technically proficient? After careful thought and observation I realized there were two key differences:
  • Seeing the part in great detail is critical to understanding
  • People constantly look at different things

Simply seeing the part in detail made a world of difference. After describing something over the phone, when I showed up with the actual part the response was universally an excited "ohhh, that's what you were talking about."

During the conversations, people would often be constantly looking at different things. If I was talking about problems with the pin positioning, at first they would also look at the pins. But then, they'd start looking at other areas and other things. At first this confused me; was I boring them? were they confused and not sure what I meant by pins? but then I realized they were doing it because they had an idea.

For example, while I was focused on how the soldering technique was causing a problem with the pin positioning, a thought bubbled up in the mind of the person I was talking to: maybe the real problem was the way the PCBA was mounted.... or maybe we could redesign the PCBA support frame to reduce the need for precisely positioning each pin. That is textbook collaboration, one-person has blinders on and someone looking at it with new eyes is able to come up with a new, better approach. Great teamwork and great engineering! It never would have happened if just one person ran the show without giving others room to explore.

Enabling others to see exactly what they need to see to attack a technical problem is the key that unlocks several benefits:
  • People are engaged in real-time
  • Ends the "stop-and-go" of email pictures and phone calls that kills collaboration
  • People don't get bored and tune-out
  • People can explore their own ideas

I realized this was a huge problem being encountered by thousands of engineers everyday and that I could solve it. I could design a system that simulates being on-site and allows you to tackle tough technical problems from thousands of miles away.

Contact Us

Tel: (415) 658-5087
Email: info@collaborate.io

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