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Building hardware is tough, rewarding, and immensely exciting for all those involved.

But it’s mostly tough. Even the most successful of hardware companies have struggled with the realities of producing physical products. Consider the issues that faced smartwatch maker Pebble, for instance, which took many extra months to get into customers’ hands, or Jawbone, which suspended production if its Up fitness band last year after widespread complaints from owners.

This has been said a billion times already, but it’s called hardware for a reason. It’s hard.

Still, while running hardware companies is rarely easy, a bunch of them are still doing pretty well. And some of these companies are run by people who have no formal expertise in hardware at all, which is as tough to pull off as you might expect.

Here are a few of the software guys helping to build the next batch of hardware giants.

Our upcoming DevBeat conference, Nov. 12-Nov. 13 in San Francisco, will have a lot more on hardware development. It’s a hands-on developer event packed with master classes, presentations, Q&As — and a hardware makeathon — all aimed at boosting your code skills, security knowledge, hardware hacking, and career development. Register now.

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