How We Became an ODM

Blue Clover Devices was formed in 2003 as Blue Clover Design, LLC. We wanted to be a design house but we didn’t know what product to make, not to mention how to sell it. We were young and dumb, but fortunately we knew it. Suffice it to say, our business plan was pretty straightforward:

1) Design a product and try to sell it

2) Design another product and try to sell it

3) Reevaluate the situation

Without getting into the nitty-gritty details, our first product was a soil moisture meter network with sensors reporting measurements back to a handheld console. It was an IoT product but at the time we called them “smart wireless products.” Unfortunately, it didn’t get off the ground.

The second product was a low-cost sensor activated LED drawer light we called, “SensaLite.” That didn’t work out, either.

So we reevaluated. We put our name up on a shingle and offered our design prowess to the world at large, which got us inquiries, RFQs, and, eventually, clients. Our first real client was a startup in New York, for whom we did a cracking good job designing a wireless stroller computer. This also would have been an IoT product if it had launched today instead of 2005. The client got orders from Amazon and Target and won a design award, so it came time for us to go into production.

We were operating mainly out of Shenzhen at the time, so they looked to us to manufacture the product even though we had never done so before (which they knew). From our contacts, we eventually found an MP3 player factory that was willing to take our order. It was not a pleasant experience. Not to belabor it, but quality management in a place that simply had no control mechanisms turned out to be one of those “death by a thousand cuts” scenarios. But this was not a unique experience—we ran into this in several subsequent factories. It seemed to be an iron rule that big factories did not want our orders and small factories were essentially incompetent.

This left us with only one path: opening our own factory. We moved into a modest workshop in the outskirts of Shenzhen in 2007 and dubbed it “Cloverfield.” Ever since, we have sought to organically improve its efficiency without forgetting that design is what got us where we are in the first place. Now we use the name “Blue Clover Devices” to reflect our ODM business model, and we have since moved to a 4000 sq m (~40,000 sq ft) facility to keep up with client demand.

Our factory is still very small by Shenzhen standards, but we see this as an asset. We like to keep the water level low so we can see the rocks. About half of our 148 employees are in Operations and the other half do DevFlow, NPIFlow, and corporate functions. We are lean, agile and efficient, or as we like to put it: “Small Team, Big Results.”

We are BCD, THE IoT ODM. Call 415-521-1553 or visit us at

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