Where The Hardware Accelerators Are

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It is finally here –The Hardware Accelerators List.

I am always asked — Are Hardware Accelerators in NYC, SF, or UK? Boston? Who should I contact? What is their website? Do they allow dogs or cats? How much equity do they take? Will they want my first-born child in exchange for said equity? How much money do they give? The list goes on and on. Now you can click on their website link and find out everything you wanted to know and more.

The following is a list I compiled of all the Hardware Accelerators I know of. If you know of more please contact me so I can add them to the list.

Oh and if there are any errors let me know too.

Location Name URL
Any Springboard http://sb.co/accelerator/
Berlin Hardware.co http://hardware.co/
Boston Bolt https://bolt.io/
Denmark Danish Tech Challenge – Scion DTU http://www.sciondtu.com/network-innovation/dtc/
Estonia BuildIt http://buildit.ee/
Honolulu XLR8UH http://www.xlr8uh.com/program.html
Italy Industrio http://www.industrio.co/
Korea SparkLabs http://www.sparklabs.co.kr/kr/html/home.html
London EcoMachines Incubator http://www.ecomachinesincubator.com/
New York City JFE http://jfenetwork.com/accelerator-ny/
New York City NYCEDC Next Top Maker https://www.nexttopmakers.com/
New York City R/GA http://rgaaccelerator.com/connecteddevices/
New York City Zahn Center http://www.zahncenternyc.com/
Ohio Launch House http://www.launchhouse.com/lhx/
Pittsburg AlphaLab / AlphaLab Gear http://www.alphalabgear.org/
Rhode Island Betaspring http://betaspring.com/
San Francisco Highway1 http://highway1.io/
San Francisco Lemnos Labs http://lemnoslabs.com/
San Francisco Nike Fuel Labs http://www.nikefuellab.com/
San Francisco YC for Hardware http://blog.ycombinator.com/yc-for-hardware
San Francisco, China Haxlr8r http://www.haxlr8r.com/
Taiwan TMI http://tmi.vc/investment/hardware-acceleration-service/

 

Photo credit: Scott Woods-Fehr / Foter /CC BY

Kickstarter project spent $3.5M to finish a working prototype—and ended in disaster | Ars Technica

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The “Designs” are complete, patents filed, component suppliers selected, the manufacturing process is defined, the CM [contract manufacturer] chosen so all we need is your support in this project as we size the first myIDkey production run and ship product in September 2013. Please make a pledge and receive your myIDkey!

So the product was ready to go directly to manufacturing…What happened? They over promised and promising more until they ran out of money. I see this happen so many times I could cry. I mean really!!!! This product was very promising. The idea solid. The problem; stop adding features and making changes. JUST STOP!!!!

Feature creep is an easy pit to fall into, but you must resist the temptation to change your product after you have made commitments. Also don’t change your product unless you really have to do so. It will cause delays. Have you ever played the board game Monopoly? Think of it this way if you change something, add something then you do not pass go, do not collect $200 and you have to start at the beginning.

Here is an example. Lets say I want to change a button. You might say well that is not a big deal…right? However after you select the first button you had to work it into your PCB design, industrial design, package design, and your manufacturing plan. When you select a new part you have to go back and work through all those plans you before did again. What happens if the button just does not fit the enclosure right, then industrial design must take place. Then what if you try to get the button in the MOQ and price you can afford, then find out it is a strange type of button that is not common in the market. In that case you will have very long lead times and may not get the part at all. You must ask yourself some business questions (not technological questions):

  1. Is this going to bring added value to the market by adding this feature?
  2. Will this increase the revenue I hope to get for my product in a substantial way to justify the effort?
  3. Will I be able to meet my deliverable commitments, for sales, marketing and volume?

If any of these are no, do not add the feature. Wait till version 2.0 to reconsider it.

via Kickstarter project spent $3.5M to finish a working prototype—and ended in disaster | Ars Technica.

The 17th NY Hardware Meetup At the New Microsoft Space In Times Square

Hardware Meetup Organizer Haytham Elhawary
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This month the meet up was at the new Microsoft corporate looking space. It was funny I walked in and thought about the times I worked at IBM. The space was huge. I would say that this space was at least three times the size when compared to the space at eBay. It was a welcomed relief not to be packed in like sardines.

Tom Kennedy (EnergyHub & Refactory) and Stephan von Muelhen (EnergyHub)

Tom Kennedy (EnergyHub & Refactory) and Stephan von Muelhen (EnergyHub)

At this event we had two groups presenting. Tom Kennedy and Stephan von Muelhen first talked about their experiences at EnergyHub and what they learned a long the way about the manufacturing experience. They had some great pearls of wisdom that I totally agree with.

Tom Kennedy (EnergyHub & Refactory) and Stephan von Muelhen (EnergyHub)

Tom Kennedy (EnergyHub & Refactory) and Stephan von Muelhen (EnergyHub)

The line from one of their slides said it best for me, “Process is product”. There are a lot of details that need taken care of when you are manufacturing a product. There a thousand things that can go wrong at any given time. Developing a great product means that you know the process from end to end. I can’t tell you how many times I talk with startups that refuse to embrace what needs doing from start to finish. “Embrace The Horror”. This does means that you have an understanding of what needs to get done and realize that there are things that will come up that you may not of thought of. Actually for startups it is not a matter of if, but when it will happen. Since most startups are new to manufacturing and process in general.

Tom Kennedy (EnergyHub & Refactory) and Stephan von Muelhen (EnergyHub)

Tom Kennedy (EnergyHub & Refactory) and Stephan von Muelhen (EnergyHub)

Tom Kennedy introduced us to his next venture called ReFactory. So, in a nutshell, ReFactory wants to make the PCB/PCBA development and manufacturing process easy. They have many services ranging from design consulting to real PCBA. One main point is that the work is done in the USA in Brooklyn, New York.

Christina Mercando, founder of Ringly Presents

Christina Mercando, founder of Ringly Presents

The next presenter was the fab Christina Mercando, founder of Ringly. I have to say that the product is great looking. It looks high end and wearable. Men’s version? It was great to hear her prospective on bringing a fashionable product to market. I have talked to people who have studied this and they say we are at the infancy of this. I think that Ringly has done some great execution. There are many obstacles to get a product like this to market such as look, electronics and battery size. It just can’t be to big and the battery must last for most of the day. The radios have to penetrate the casing for charging and for Bluetooth. It seems they have solved these problems. The ring is big, but it goes with the styling. Congrats on the great execution.

That was the last presentation. Another one was schedule, but they called to cancel.

Check it out. I have more pictures of the event below. Sorry for the low light conditions, but you should make out the slides and the speakers ok. I did my best to caption the images and make adjustments to the images. Enjoy.

A Process and a Plan

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What does it mean to have a process and sticking to it? A repeatable business process or a process that works for what you are working on is like finding gold. I have been talking with startups that want to automate the hardware product development process. The scenarios run the gambit from automating the idea submission process, to just automating the PCB/PCBa, and then there is the ones that try to automate the process from idea to production.

The sentiment is very clear, people want to get rid of the human element or at least lessen the human effects. Such as; some people are hard to deal with or they don’t understand me or the best one yet – you don’t understand my business. All of these shouts in the crowd makes us seem antisocial. I believe that it is a collaboration between willing parties that produce the best work. The machines do not have the capabilities to act totally autonomously (for now) and with creativity. So when it comes to hardware product development you need both. There are just too many variables to automate.

The process approach works. It works like a well oiled machine and best yet it can be adjusted with feedback. Take this example I ran into all the time. The misunderstanding game. You schedule a meeting, but at the last minute the meeting changes from an in-person meeting to a conference call. Not a video call. Once the call starts you can hear on the other end the person click with the mouse and the keyboard. What are they doing over there? They are distracted. The call covers the topics discussed, but the key elements of the call. I will call this the understandings fall to the waist side. What has happened? Unknowingly without you paying attention the parties on the call don’t get it and the call was a waste of time. How often does this happen? Well in my time more times than none. So what I do is make sure you can see the person, at least at first. And this can be done easily now with the Google Hangouts or Skype. The face-time is essential for building trust and the relationship. After the sense of trust is there then the non-face-time tools will work much better and the understandings will not fall to the waist side. A personable approach just works.

Why is this part of the process and not assumed to be operational? That is because too many people are rush rush rush and too busy to know how to make a relationship. The relationship building is essential to the process. Once a sense of trust is there, even a little bit the rest will be simpler. Mistakes will not be the blame game, but a game of how do we fix it and come up with a creative way to solve the problem. Interwoven in the process is trust.

How could you then automate this in a computer? People have thought of various was to build trust or cred online. There is klout, linkedin, etc. However, we know that social media can be faked and the posts can be BS. Nothing new there. Before all of this people would BS on their resume and the only way to find out was to be a good interviewer or try the candidate out. Been there done that. Could you automate this? What would be a software solution for trust building? There is the recomendation engine solutions, but what happens if you are new to the site and you have none listed and you have many years with experience. What would be the online solution for trust?

Let’s experiment with a particular scenario – I am a hardware startup, I have a great idea, and I want to get my product idea to market. I have a limited number of skills. So let’s say that you are not very technical (You don’t know manufacturing) and you have made a software startup before. What is the process to use? Every step of the way you can get people to help. The things to watch out for is money, time and quality. Do you have the money to pay people, can you get people to help you for free or can you learn what you need to know yourself? How fast do you need to get this product out? If you say I need to sell this within a few weeks, you are crazy – That will never happen. The best thing to do is to research other products that are similar as yours. Research the business portions of your product idea for viability. That is right – Is it a viable product? There are methodologies out there to help you such as Lean Startup. Viability also means that you need to dive in and see who out there is doing what you want to do, what markets they and you want to be in and get a sense of the cost. The cost is not in the details yet but is important to know what the market would pay for your product.

Feasibility is the next step. Can this product idea be built? I have heard some crazy comments about this. Oh yes, everything can be done. However most people read that up to that point and then don’t read about the cost and time elements. Sure you can develop a new method of communication (for example), but what about the technology and what about the market acceptance? Is it too soon? Does the technology need more time to cook? By cook, I mean does it need more research and development. Did you pick a technology that no one is using or the only ones using it are the big players? For you to enter you need to be a big player. Startups that have reached this step tend to look at the future technologies and don’t put into account this. An example of this is that you want to use a screen technology that would make your product look gorgeous. You find a technology that is great, but very few people are using it and the players are big companies. What do you do here? You start out and create a version 1 of your product. The product does not use the new technology, but you can get a product out there that can be used and feedback gained. Or you can wait till the technology matures. If you are a large company with limited access to the technology then you can wait. You have the time and the money. For a startup, you need to get something out there so you can tell if the product is the right one for that market. It is best to know now before you spend a lot of time and money on the product. Look at it another way. You need to gauge the market and get data so you can understand the acceptance. Through the lifecycle of the product, you will have other versions of the product. This should not be your first and only one – how will you have a business with repeatable rents? So come up with version one. Call it the MVP or call it the beta product. Get the data and repeat.

Hardware product development takes time. You can tell from the latest crowdfunding campaigns that people have underestimated the duration and skills needed to deliver. Get someone that has done this before and ask their advice. Find out how similar products were made. What were their hiccups – Then put together your plan. Having a process and a plan will make you successful.

In future blog post, I will get more specific about how all this works. I have thought about creating a multipart post, but I have not thought that far yet. I need to get my writing process together and then create a plan.

Photo credit: Prabhu B Doss / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

The dark side of 3D printing: 10 things to watch – TechRepublic

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As with any new technology, it’s easy to get swept up in the benefits of 3D printing. It opens up a world of new possibilities for all industries, and stands to lessen transportation costs, environmental impacts, waste, and reliance on corporations by enabling the maker movement.

This is a great list of opportunities that await the innovators of 3D printing.  Overcoming these issues are not big feet to achieve.

via The dark side of 3D printing: 10 things to watch – TechRepublic.

The 16th NY Hardware Meetup and 17th MakeIt NYC Meetup Join Forces For “Hardware Making Cities Better” Competition Sponsored by Mini

NY Hardware Meetup March 2014
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This week the event hosted at eBay. Nice space, but the event is out growing the space and the do not allow us to stay there and network after the event ends. When the event ends we have to leave. It is damn hot there. They need to turn on some AC when an event is happening there.

BMW Mini

BMW Mini

Mini sponsored a hardware presentation competition in partnership with the NY Hardware Meetup. Last month contestants submitted product ideas that focused on improving life in the city using connected devices, infrastructure and services that make life enjoyable, more secure or more sustainable.

The finalists presented at the event. Here they are:

Birdi: A smoke detector that not only protects your fire it is also a smart air monitor for your home

Radiator Labs: A cover for your radiator that can solve the overheating problems in your steam-heated NY apartment. No more opening up the windows.

Hevo: Wireless electrical charging for commercial vehicles.

eKick: Charge your battery while cruising on your long board skate board.

Enertiv: Provides a hardware and software solution that is inexpensive and smart that monitors electricity usage in your home or building. They use the data they collect to recommend ways to save energy and improve ROI.

Hevo Power

Hevo Power

First up was Steven Monks, COO of Hevo Power. I have met these guys before, but have never seen them present. The presentation was good, but I wish you could see a live demo of their product.

Birdi

Birdi

Next up was Jess Seilheimer, Strategy & Marketing of Birdi.  Birdi is an interesting product that is a combination air quality monitoring system and fire alarm system. In the long run Birdi wants to give you knowledge from the information they gather. Such as open a window you have too much Co2 in the air. They are in direct competition with Nest’s Nest Protect product. I have met the founders before and it was great to see their progress and their presentation. It would have been great to have seen a demo up close. They did show a video, but I like the live demos better.

Enertiv

Enertiv

Pavel Khodorkovskiy Co-Founder of Enertiv was up next. Enertiv is part of the R/GA TechStars Connected Devices Accelerator . Wow his presentation was amazing. His execution was perfect. The graphics and animation were subtle and yet place at the right time. After the event I asked Pavel about it. R/GA helped put the presentation together and he had some great coaching from TechStars. It really pays off. Again it was flawless.

Radiator Labs

Radiator Labs

Next up was Meg Sutton Data Scientist from Radiator Labs. She gave a nice statistical presentation that had graphs showing the before and after of using their product. I like the idea of the product, but when asked how much it costs, $270, I thought it cost too much money. Their competition is the ease of opening a window, which cost tenants nothing. Most, if not all, rentals in NYC include the heat and hot water. So why spend that amount of money on a rental. If however you owned the property and using the product would save you money on the heating bills, then yeah buy it. I have seen products like this before. The problem they face is convincing the landlords to get the tenants to use the product. All in all I like the idea and technology behind it, but it is not cheap when compared to fans and opening up a window. It would have been nice to have seen the product up close.

eKick

eKick

The last presentation was from Ivan Estevez and Aulio Diaz from eKick. I talked with them after the presentation. They are undergrad engineering students at City College and this was their first time presenting their product. They did a great job. I could not believe it was their first time. The crowd loved them. To my surprise they have working prototypes with them to show. Very cool.

Now the crowd was asked to choose the winners. I wish they used a product like EasyPoll. People were voting twice and in some cases three times. They used the old manual counting of the hands method. It was fun and jovial, but not exact. There was a tie between eKick and Hevo Power. They asked everyone to vote again. The winner of the “Hardware Making Cities Better” Competition Sponsored by Mini was…eKick. Wow a first time presenting team won. That was awesome. I have to say I was a little biased because the eKick guys are from NYC. The Bronx. Home town team has done good.

The winners

The winners

Check it out. I have more pictures of the event below. Sorry for the low light conditions, but you should make out the slides and the speakers ok. I did my best to caption the images and make adjustments to the images. Enjoy.

Inno/Vention Power Pitch February 2014 NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering Pfizer Auditorium, Bern Dibner Library of Science & Technology 5 MetroTech Center Brooklyn

Brooklyn Borough Hall Station
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Last night I was invited to judge the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering Inno/Vention Power Pitch hardware (There was a software competition. I did not judge that) competition. This competition is a student run event sponsored by the EIA student club.  I love going to these events to see and hear the product ideas the students have and how they plan on executing the business.

Inno/Vention Team List

Inno/Vention Team List

This is how it works: At the start of the semester the EIA holds an event called the Sparkstart Kickoff/TeamHunt. At this event the students announce their ideas and hunt for people they would need to build their team. During the next several weeks the students attend educational events to help them develop their idea further into a business. They learn customer validation, market research, product development, business model canvas and various techniques from the great mind of Steve Blank. The students gave their first pitch at the event last night. Five teams are picked to move forward to the next pitch event. The student teams are given a stipend to spend on prototyping. There is a schedule for the Inno/Vention Competition here.

Our task as judges was to score the teams on various categories that are part lean startup model. After all the teams presented the judges collaborated and picked the five winning teams. The winners were:

  1. Skinesiology
  2. C-Cubed Robotics
  3. Team Limitless
  4. SensD
  5. Listen To Your Wrist