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Local manufacturing meets startup innovation: How Adam Rodrigues and FORGE make connections

Modern Industrialist Podcast

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The episode:

In this episode of the Modern Industrialist Podcast, we delve into the crucial support system for startups navigating the transition from prototype to market-ready product. Our guest, Adam Rodrigues of FORGE, a nonprofit with offices across CT and MA, shares his journey and the mission of FORGE to connect innovators with local manufacturing resources. With a rich background in supply chain operations, Adam brings invaluable insights into the challenges startups face and how strategic collaborations can significantly impact their journey toward commercialization.

FORGE stands as a pivotal bridge between the worlds of innovation and manufacturing, offering startups the guidance needed to make informed decisions before committing significant resources. Adam's experiences and the success stories facilitated by FORGE underscore the significance of local expertise, strategic partnerships, and the vital support systems that help bridge the gap from concept to commercial success. Tune in to uncover the pathways to innovation and the collaborative efforts driving the future of manufacturing and startup success.


The podcast:

Presented by TXI, The Modern Industrialist Podcast is for technology-focused manufacturing and logistics leaders looking to gain a competitive edge with Industry 4.0 transformation. Join our host Jason Hehman as he brings together experts from companies blazing the path for the IIoT revolution. Topics range from advice to success stories, use cases, solutions, and more.

The expert:

Adam Rodrigues is a seasoned supply chain and operations professional with over 15 years of experience in the manufacturing sector. Starting his career on the shop floor as a machine operator, Adam's relentless drive and innovative thinking propelled him through the ranks, leading him to significant roles such as an operations manager and a buyer in the Supply Chain division of Lenox. His journey took a pivotal turn when he joined FORGE, an organization dedicated to supporting startups with physical products from prototype to commercialization. As Vice President of FORGE, Adam has played a crucial role in identifying and nurturing strategic collaborations and partnerships, thereby amplifying FORGE's mission and impact.

Podcast Host: Jason Hehman, Industry 4.0 Vertical Lead and Client Partner at TXI

Co-host: Matt Reich, Lead Software Engineer at TXI

Guest: Adam Rodrigues, Vice President of FORGE

Book a meeting with Jason

Summary and themes explored in this episode:

Introduction to the Episode:

  • The episode discusses the importance of making informed decisions early in the startup journey, particularly for those with physical prototypes, to prevent potentially ending the company.

  • The guest, Adam Rodrigues from Forge, a non-profit in Massachusetts, shares insights on navigating the journey from prototype to commercialization for startups and innovative companies, focusing on scaling manufacturing and sourcing supply chains locally.

Adam Rodrigues's Background:

  • Started his career in manufacturing as a machine operator at Lennox, moving up to shop floor manager and then into supply chain and procurement.

  • His experiences in manufacturing and a manufacturing accelerator program led him to Forge, where he focuses on connecting startups with manufacturers to bring physical prototypes to market.

  • Rodrigues emphasizes the universality of manufacturing principles across different industries and the importance of connecting innovators with experienced manufacturers.

Forge's Mission and Impact:

  • Forge aims to bridge the gap between startups with physical products and the manufacturing industry, facilitating the transition from concept to market.

  • The organization provides critical support by offering upfront education to startups, preparing them for engagement with the supply chain, and connecting them with local manufacturers for prototyping and production.

Startup Challenges and Solutions:

  • Startups with physical products face unique challenges, including managing costs, understanding manufacturing processes, and navigating the product development lifecycle.

  • Forge helps startups avoid common pitfalls by connecting them with experienced manufacturers for design feedback, material optimization, and production advice, thereby reducing the risk of costly errors.

Success Stories and Forge's Role:

  • Rodrigues shares a success story of QuickChord, a military company that developed a tangle-free paracord device, illustrating the transformative impact of connecting startups with the right manufacturing partners.

  • Forge's role in facilitating these connections emphasizes the importance of local manufacturing and the potential for startups to innovate and scale effectively.

Manufacturing Partnerships and Expansion:

  • Forge works with manufacturers to open them up to new opportunities with startups, highlighting the mutual benefits of these collaborations.

  • The discussion also touches on Forge's potential for expansion beyond Massachusetts and Connecticut, emphasizing the organization's mission to support innovation and manufacturing nationwide.

Conclusion and Takeaways:

  • The episode concludes with reflections on the value of public-private partnerships, the challenges of manufacturing in the US, and the critical role organizations like Forge play in supporting the ecosystem of startups and manufacturers.

  • Adam Rodrigues's insights offer valuable lessons for startups, manufacturers, and stakeholders in the innovation space, underscoring the importance of collaboration, education, and strategic partnerships in driving industrial innovation.

  • Reflections on the conversation with Zachary Peña and the lessons for industry professionals.

  • The significance of strategic sourcing and procurement in driving industrial innovation.

Published by Jason Hehman , Patrick Turley in podcasts

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