As Oculus Rift, Jawbone, and Spark have increased the stature of hardware startups over the past several years, a dizzying number of resources have sprung up to support new ventures. In the no-nonsense “Hardware Incubators, The Guide,” now available as an eBook, MakingSociety founder Mathilde Berchon sifts through the specific spaces now available to hardware entrepreneurs.
“I wrote it with one goal in mind: saving you tons of research time so that you can focus on making an informed decision and move forward with your hardware project,” Berchon said.
First, according to Berchon, figure out your own needs. If you want to build your first prototype, look for a makerspace with tools and classes you could benefit from. If you want to take a prototype to market, consider an incubator, which will provide long-term support. To get through a specific phase of development, look for an accelerator program.
Then you’ll need to choose from the options in one of those categories, which is where Berchon’s guide shines: the rest of the volume breaks notable programs down by location, duration, sectors of interest, funding, and equity: entries include incubators Highway1 and Bolt, accelerators Haxlr8r and Y Combinator, specialized programs Nike + Fuel Lab and Silicon Catalyst, and makerspaces Techshop and MakerBay.
With gentle nudges — “Amplify United doesn’t systematically invest in the startups they help” — Berchon also tacitly recognizes that some Maker Pros might have more technical background than business savvy.
Other content is intensely practical. “Program is still going on despite recent tensions between Ukraine and Russia,” reads a note on Kiev-based accelerator Carrot.
Though the guide is bullish on hardware incubators, Berchon encourages would-be Maker Pros to entertain the possibility of launching without entering an incubator or accelerator.
“Adafruit Industries or SparkFun are just two easy examples,” reads a passage in the eBook. “Using a combination of bravery, open source hardware, and crowdfunding, it is now possible to test your product, build a strong community of users, and launch your products independently.”