One of Maker Faire‘s newest Blacksmith Sponsors is HAXLR8R, a hardware startup incubator based of both San Francisco and Shenzhen, China. Now in its second year, HAXLR8R takes promising startups to China to jumpstart their innovative hardware companies. HAXLR8R’s latest batch of startups and the incubator itself (currently accepting applications for next year) will be at Maker Faire this week. Sponsors are key to making Maker Faire happen: most maker exhibits are provided free of charge to the folks showing off their projects, and it’s the generous sponsors that make that possible. So be sure to swing by and see what they’ve got going on. I asked two of HAXLR8R’s mentors, Zach Hoeken Smith and Cyril Ebersweiler, to answer some questions about the incubator and the companies that will be at the Faire.
What is HAXLR8R?
HAXLR8R is a hardware startup incubator that was founded in 2011. Our incubator brings 10 companies to China and helps them develop and launch their hardware startups. Right now we’re closing in on the end of our second program in which we’ve led 10 companies through the process of prototyping, design, and factory sourcing. All 10 companies will be launching their products in San Francisco during May at our Demo Day and Maker Faire.
We’re located in Shenzhen because it is the best place in the world to design, prototype, and manufacture hardware. The resources, speed, and general awesomeness of building hardware here is staggering and hard to put into words. Shenzhen is sometimes referred to as the factory of the world, and it’s true. A huge amount of the goods that you interact with on a daily basis are produced here in Shenzhen and the manufacturing ecosystem here means that you can prototype using professional tools on a tight budget. Anything from CNC to SLA to laser cutting to PCBA to solder stencils can be had for a fraction of the price in the US, and typically on a 1-3 day turnaround time. Of course there’s also the world’s largest electronics market located across the street where you can find literally any sort of electronics you need. If you’re a hacker or maker, this place is best described as heaven.
Who will be at Maker Faire?
The entire HAXLR8R family will be attending Maker Faire, minus one company that is not suitable for a family oriented event. We’ve got teams from the US, China, Canada, UK, and Singapore. Each team will be bringing all or most of its founders and they will all have booths at Maker Faire. The products are all different, ranging from lighting and IoT (Internet of Things) to robotics and education. Most teams are still in stealth mode, but will all be launching the week of Maker Faire. Each team will have slightly different plans for their booth, but everyone will have products to demo and show off. Also, five of the 10 teams are open hardware companies and come from the maker community itself.
As for HAXLR8R, we’ll have a booth setup and we’re now accepting applications for the fall 2013 program. If people would like to come visit and give us their pitch, we’ll be available all weekend. We’re looking for people with early stage ideas for a hardware company. We like both open and closed source companies, and the bigger the idea the better. The fall 2013 program will run from August 2013 until November 2013 in Shenzhen with a launch event in San Francisco at the end.