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Hardware nerds, rejoice! New incubator will turn prototypes into commercial products

Many hardware startups stumble when they attempt to move from prototype to large-scale manufacturing.

To help these companies scale, Highway1 has launched its San Francisco-based incubator program. What’s unique about the program is that it can help young companies form partnerships with local supply chain service providers in Asia and Europe.

More specifically, the incubator offers engineering help, mentorship, and a two-week trip to Shenzhen, so entrepreneurs can visit the Pearl River Delta (a major manufacturing hub) and get their products “China ready.”

According to a news release, the educational program will take about four months and startups will receive up to $20,000 in seed capital in exchange for a 3 to 6 percent equity stake.

The program is run by PCH International, the Ireland-based conglomerate with 10 regional offices that offers product development and supply chain management services. One startup it’s working with is silent alarm maker Lark, which we covered recently.

The incubator will be run by Brady Forrest, a former member of the investment team at Khosla Ventures. According to TechCrunch, he’ll select about ten startups to participate in the inaugural class, and is looking for scalable businesses — not just one-off product ideas. Forrest said he’ll take startups through an “intensive educational course,” and will share manufacturing expertise, “enabling them to bring their products to market.”

This is a statement echoed by venture capitalists who aren’t just looking to fund good ideas. Trae Vassallo, a partner at venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, recently told VentureBeat: “Showing a prototype is one thing, executing it is another. We are picky about choosing companies capable of bringing their product to market.”

PCH International will compete for talent with Lemnos Labs, a San Francisco-based accelerator program founded by two MIT grads. In exchange for equity, both programs offer office space, funding, education, training, and mentorship.

“We’re looking for big thinkers with big ideas who are ready to devote themselves to four months of intense focus on their hardware product and company,”  said Forrest.

Interested in the program? Highway1 is taking applications now for the first class, which kicks off in late September at Lime Lab in San Francisco’s Mission district.

Top image via Shutterstock 


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