Building a startup is no easy feat. From choosing the idea to work on, finding the right co-founder(s) or testing your market, this process takes a lot of time and energy. It’s very stressful, too.
And if you’re building a hardware startup, things get even more difficult. However, like in every human endeavour, people are here to help you. In this case, we’re talking about accelerators.
For those of you who may not be familiar with the term, an accelerator (not the one from CERN) is a program that helps startups reach a certain stage faster than they would in normal conditions. That stage may be finding product/market fit, getting first revenues, scaling etc. They usually last for three months.
Most accelerators focus on software startups. However, hardware startups are on the rise. And even though their number is lower than that of their “lean” counterparts, they can produce spectacular results.
This resurrection has led to a number of hardware accelerators appearing worldwide. They focus only on startups building a physical product. And this helps a lot. From building a fully working prototype, managing distribution or going into mass production, hardware accelerators help you overcome specific challenges associated with this whole process.
We’ve done some research on the topic and we want to share our findings with you. One thing to keep in mind is that this is not a “top five”. We’re not ordering the accelerators based on any criteria. The only rule is that they have a fixed duration of the program.
This Estonia-based accelerator focuses on hardware, creative industries and health-tech startups. It offers prototyping facilities, free office space, and free and discounted services from their partners. Add this to an initial investment of up to €25k and you’ll understand why you should include this program on your list. One of their teams, Solu, has recently raised €1.3M.
Buildit takes up to 12% equity for their investment. They run two, three-month programs per year, during autumn and spring.
Based in San Francisco, Highway1 offers a five-step program for hardware startups which target consumer markets. For four months, you’ll learn what manufacturing and distribution really implies, grow your professional network, maximise fundraising opportunities and develop your product. They offer $50,000 in exchange for 4-7% equity.
You should also check out their blog for more tips on building hardware. The applications for the spring 2016 class open in October.
You wouldn’t expect the Alps to be the home of a hardware accelerator. However, in Trentino you can find just that. Industrio brings your product and business to the next level. Using the Lean Startup framework, they are involved in all aspects of your startup, from creating the DFM (Design for Manufacturing) to positioning your product on the market.
They offer €25k in cash in exchange for 10-15% equity.
This is the world’s first hardware accelerator. They also boast being “the most prolific”. Their 111 days program covers strategy, prototyping, sourcing, and supply chain management. It is based in Shenzen, so you’ll also be very close to Chinese factories. Demo Day takes place in San Francisco in front of experienced investors and the press.
HAX offers up to $100k in exchange for 9% equity.
Part of the larger Startupbootcamp family, this program focuses on high-tech hardware startups. They offer mentorship from 150+ entrepreneurs, investors, and partners. What’s different is that every team gets a personal acceleration manager throughout the program. The program is located in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Their third edition is currently running, but you can apply for the next batch at the beginning of 2016.
Startupbootcamp offers €15k in cash in exchange for 8% equity.