As the Internet of Things hype keeps leading innovation and boosting the growth of thousands of startups worldwide, hardware startups are now one of the main targets of the smartest venture capitalists and tech investors. In this scenario hardware accelerators, that make possible to “productize” your idea and quickly ship your products after the design, test and debug phases, are gaining a growing strategic importance. Only few days ago we learned that the former Google robotics chief and Android co-founder Andy Rubin launched his startup accelerator called Playground Global raising $48 million while several leading observers raise the attention on hardware startups and all the financial and incubator environment all around. We’ve recently been through the success story of Form Devices that launched its cutting edge home automation device Point thanks to the help of Haxlr8r a leading hardware accelerator based in China.
We’ve interviewed Cyril Ebersweiler, founder of Haxlr8r, who shared with us his awesome insights on the hardware startup scenario.
How was your idea born? How did you set up your hardware accelerator?
Haxlr8r (‘HAX’) was born out of frustration, like many companies. Five years ago I’ve set up the first accelerator program in China (Chinaccelerator), which hosted 2 startups focused on hardware. I’ve always wanted entrepreneurs to see the world through the problem lens, instead of them discarding solutions (software, hardware, biology, content etc…) because they thought they couldn’t make it happen realistically. While trying to help those companies to take a product to market, this is where I realized that there was a gap between what my vision was about hardship and reality. It was really difficult to navigate the supply chain ecosystem, to prototype effectively and to launch a product at the first place. Then I discovered the hidden costs of taking hardware to market, the time and the unfair advantage big companies had in this space. I had to solve that.
Tell us about your experience with Chinaccelerator: did it contribute to influence your decisions in founding Haxlr8r?
While the first batch brought us to speed with the state of hardware startups, the second one had a company that came really close to become a thing. They had a very impressive technology at that time and would have crushed it if they would have had the support from HAX. They ran into ‘productization’ and ultimately cash issues, which were completely avoidable, looking back into it.
What’s the added value of Haxlr8r? What’s behind your high success rate?
At HAX we are building hardware ventures for the long run: we help entrepreneurs create, build and ship their first product and empower them to continue grow their company on their own. We spend a tremendous amount of energy and time, fostered by the Shenzhen supply chain ecosystem, on a very selected number of people whom are very good at understanding their market. The combination of those worlds and our experience in taking ventures from nothing to millions of dollars in revenue is what makes our launches successful (so far 28 campaigns, all successful, $300k on average).
We’ve been interviewing Form Devices founders, because of their home assistant (Point) that’s going to reshape the home automation market. What’s your view on this industry innovation trends?
I’d personally never allow a camera to be sitting anywhere near the middle of my house, for all kinds of privacy reasons. This device solves this issue, and some more when it comes down to understand unwanted happenings. It also has a tremendous potential in all kinds of environments were cameras are unwelcome, like hotels or offices.
We’ve been interviewing several makers during the latest Makers Fair in NYC and Rome – Italy as well as visionary fablab founders all around the world. What do you think about the “makers” hype? Will they bring new energy to the most dynamic industries?
Makers should make sure they are true to the spirit: they are having fun, experiencing and failing at building things. Some might want to become entrepreneurs, others won’t. I think kids being exposed to this environment and willing to become entrepreneurs will definitely own the keys to the future, and that it will be an exciting one!