“We decided to be pretty open-minded, and I think it’s going to reflect pretty well the entire spectrum of what a hardware startup is about,” he says.
Each company will receive $6,000 in funding per founder. Haxlr8r will shepherd them through the process of building a product, give them access to an office and equipment such as a laser cutter and 3-D printer, and help them learn the nuts and bolts of the production process.
The program was organized with Seeed Studio, a Shenzhen-based company that provides electronic parts for makers and produces its own products. Participants will meet mentors that built their own successful hardware startups, such as Dave Merrill, cofounder of Sifteo, a company that makes interactive cubes, and Ben Rubin, cofounder of sleep monitor company Zeo.
Working with local factories while in China could make the production process cheaper for the startups involved in the program. And under Haxlr8r’s guidance, says Ebersweiler, participating startups could cut the time it takes to bring an electronic device to market from 12 to 18 months to just three months.
That doesn’t mean companies will produce hundreds of thousands of their devices by this summer. But they should have a scalable product and a manufacturing partner that can produce it—something that may attract potential investors, since it would cut out much of the research and development usually required in such a process.
Sifteo cofounder Merrill hopes the experience will teach other hardware founders insights it took his company years to figure out—such as how to find a manufacturing partner, and what makes a good manufacturing contract. And as more people realize they can make electronics products into businesses, he believes, the category will get more attention from investors and consumers. “It’s kind of a rising tide that lifts all boats,” Merrill says.