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72 SMT007 MAGAZINE I JANUARY 2019 Baker: The most direct example is that engi- neers can see right away whether an item is in stock or not, and how much it costs at various distributors. If it's not in stock, we'll recom- mend one they can use with similar specifica- tions and functionality, and even give them the CAD files. Johnson: The traditional way to specify parts is by performance characteristics, but now you have supply chain availability to consider. It seems like your customers can now shop for the functionality of a part appropriate for a particular design. Are these the dynamics you're seeing from your customers? Baker: Definitely. Since we have built up a large database of vendor specifications, we can make recommendations for similar parts. If we see that the one that the engineer wanted to use (or maybe even currently is being used in a product that's being updated) is obsolete, we'll recommend one that is in stock that has spec- ifications. This is a win-win, because no one likes to rework their design and have to scram- ble to find a substitute part. Johnson: As a broker between the designers and the manufacturers, does your community have discussions about parts availability or counterfeit parts? If so, how do you communicate availability issues to your users and are you actively doing anything to identify counterfeit parts? Baker: Yes, it's definitely a concern for our community. Since we promote distributors to our community, it's important that, we only work with authorized distributors. Since this is such a huge problem for engineers, we made the conscious decision to only work with trusted, authorized distributors. In the supply chain, we find ourselves in an interesting position because we're engaging at this pivotal point where engineers are making their design decisions. Engineers look to us to make sure the components they choose are going to be right for their designs and that we'll only link them to trusted sources. We now sell components directly from their websites. Getting components directly from the manu- facturers is another way that engineers can guarantee they are ordering are legitimate. Johnson: You're involved in the conversation between the designers and the distributors who sell the parts in a way that hasn't been done before. It seems like distributors could positively respond to you or see you as a disruptor. How would you describe the relationship between you and the distributor? Baker: We have a very collaborative and complementary relationship with distributors. Our website is a place to discover and design- in components, but ultimately, we're refer- ring designers to distributors to buy. If you visit one of these distributors' warehouses, it's absolutely incredible the logistics that go into what they do. It would be very hard for any company, except maybe Amazon, to disrupt these companies. Overall, we want to help engineers discover components and design boards. We also want to connect people to the various places in the supply chain and help break down barriers without replacing anything that already exists. We're not looking to replace anyone's busi- ness. We're a new type of business model that hasn't existed before. We've invented our own niche that provides value to the vendors we work with and the distributors, which is why we're seeing traction. Johnson: Does it seem like the majority of your users are active in accessing your database? Baker: Yes, we have a very active user base. This is a win-win, because no one likes to rework their design and have to scramble to find a substitute part.

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