We caught up with Mitch from Hackvana in Shenzhen, China. Mitch has spent the last year and a half sourcing parts in the giant Huaqiangbei electronics wholesale market. His goal is to harness the resources in Shenzhen for hardware hackers around the world.
Like many hackers, Mitch was annoyed by how much time it takes to source parts for a project. But unlike most of us, he decided to do something about it. Mitch moved to Shenzhen a year and a half ago in a bid to establish a connection between hackers across the world with the largest electronics market in the universe.
If you want a direct line to the producers of electronics parts, Shenzhen is the place to be. Most of the world’s electronics are assembled within a 30 miles of Shenzhen.
Huaqiangbei wholesale markets act as a meeting place for producers of electronics components and the producers of consumer electronics. In physical space there are opportunities to develop business relationships that would be more difficult online.
For people looking to source parts this is the place to be. If you speak Chinese and build good relationship with sellers, you can get good quality stuff at wholesale prices – even for low quantities. Mitch wants to take care of that part for you. Send Hackvana a list of parts for your project, and they’ll go around and find the best deals.
Currently though, Hackvana is still in the process of development. They’re concentrating on providing inexpensive PCBs and solder paste stencil services with first rate, native English speaking customer service. Soon quality solder paste, kept in temperature controlled conditions, will also be added to the lineup.
Mitch’s advice to anyone wanting to come and source stuff in Shenzhen is to learn the language. There are many seconds and fake items in the market, and relationships are needed to help navigate the pitfalls. Its about impossible to establish those relationships without a good command of the language. Being introduced to sellers by someone they respect is also very good for your “market reputation”. Hackvana thanks Eric Pan at Seeed Studio for introducing him to their quality contacts.
If you’re only visiting market for one day, Mitch suggests the SEG building is the best to visit. It has 10 floors of electronics crammed into it. As you up the floors, you also climb the value chain. The first floor is only components and basic parts. As you go higher you find cables and assembled boards. Further up you find completed products like computers and projectors.
We’ve sent the latest Bus Pirate to Hackvana for PCBs and solder paste stencils, more on that soon. A huge thanks to Mitch at Hackvana for the interview and sharing his time in the market.
See our Geek Tour of Huaqiangbei electronics market from April 2012.