Many hardware founders come into the industry usually as some sort of engineer or designer (product or industrial) but while they possess the hard skills necessary to create a physical product, most don’t have the softer skills such as crowdfunding, media, SCM, and even marketing. Because of this, transitioning out of building your startup’s product to launching your startup has created a barrier, or a knowledge gap.
Unfortunately, learning these softer skills is already out of the picture. But that doesn’t mean you won’t learn a thing or two when your startup starts a new SMM or crowdfunding campaign. It just means that you don’t have the time to be the marketer, accountant, crowdfunder, or DFM guru. Companies have entire divisions for those where people have full time jobs as the marketer or what have you. But we both new that.
So how do hardware accelerators fit into this?
Hardware accelerators attempt to bridge this gap by providing a suite of resources for each individual that joins them. Think mentors, DFM engineers, marketing consultants, networking opportunities and of course, the tools needed to develop and test your product.
HW accelerators are like a school
Or rather, you should treat them like a school. The best part about joining an accelerator isn’t the fact that your funding issues are now solved, but the fact that you’ll be around brilliant people who share a similar passion.
So while you’re building a waterjet cutter designed for artists, mechanics, and hobbyist, another might be building a bluetooth speaker that learns the times you listen to music the most.
What you have here is diversity, passion, and networking.
But not only are you able to network with other startups team, you’re also given access to an abundance of engineers, designers, marketers, and specialists.
Luke Dorhmel, author of “The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems — And Create More” and UK based journalist who has written for many publications including Fast Company, wrote an article a couple years back about this exact topic.
In, “What To Look For In A Hardware Accelerator,” he says,
“The ‘teaching’ side of accelerators is the other side of the coin. Not only does being part of an accelerator mean access to a deep Rolodex of designers, suppliers, and contract manufacturers, but also 24/7 access to key mentors and the company’s founding partners. At Lemnos, the likes of Conrad take weekly meetings with all of their startups, helping them with everything from engineering problems to questions about scaling businesses.”
From prototype to production
One of the most important benefits of joining a hardware accelerator is the fact that you need a way to get production, and an accelerator can clear that path for you. If you budgeted and estimated costs correctly then you’ll still be able to get your product to market. If you didn’t, you’ll likely have a tough time getting your first 1000 off the line.
But what makes this such crucial element in accelerators is the fact that they’re able to provide you with their CM contacts and help you get in touch with a CM that’s going to be a right match for you.
On top of that, most hardware founders start the DFM process way too late. So with the DFM engineers that an accelerator can provide, you’ll be likely be one step closer to production without having to redesign your product or adjust its dimensions.
Networking people! It’s all about the connects…
Putting it all together
The purpose of writing this wasn’t to market SVV or another hardware accelerator, but to give you a genuine and brief overview of why a hardware accelerator might be a great choice for you. The 2 reasons above are some of the most compelling reasons other than of course getting your company funded.
But if you’re in the hardware scene, then money should not be the reason why. If that’s the case, your startup will likely crash before it makes it to production. And that’s because hardware is hard. We’re all tired of the saying, I know. But no matter how many times people say it’s easy (including myself), it’ll always be one of the most difficult industries to succeed in. Luckily, there’s tons of hardware accelerators and amazing publications that all try to make everything easier.
Now, to wrap up the first mini series article, I want to provide you with some useful links to further your research!