Next Top Makers — New York’s Makers Community that Incubated Two Hardware Startups who Won the National Hardware Cup!
New York’s “Next Top Makers” is an initiative by New York City’s Mayor Office to commit to the maker movement. Last week, their second year’s fellow companies had showcase and made final pitches in a newly renovated building in the Brooklyn Army Terminal — it is now the home of “Futureworks NYC”.
This event was to wrap up the 2nd batch of the Next Top Makers program, and all the fellow startups came together, including the two winning startups (2nd place BotFactory & 3rd place Dog Parker) of the National Hardware Cup, a “nation’s best early-stage hardware startup competition” where the 10 regional winners from 9 U.S. cities compete (Read my post Attending the National Hardware Cup Finals by AlphaLab Gear in Pittsburgh for details).
Thanks to a variety of creators and industries New York City fosters, the Next Top Makers is a unique incubating program. Since its start in 2014, the Next Top Makers has been committed to 11 startups of “makers” — not only “traditional” hardware startups such as Strongarm Technologies and BotFactory but companies like bLINK bLINK — “creative circuit kits, ideas, and space for girls, in order to build an inviting community for them to explore tech creatively”. You can take a look at the list of the fellows from 2015–2016 and 2014–2015 to make sure of the uniqueness of the program.
Improve Startup Ecosystem needs Improvement
Although not so widely believed yet, New York is one of the best places for hardware startups.
Obviously, New York City is a world’s hub of creators. The city has lots of art and design schools. New York City generates lots of resources, such as 37,500 graduates of creative and engineering talent and more than 400 new products launched with crowdfunding, according to New York City’s Economic and Development Corporation.
The fact that the two hardware startups from New York City won the Hardware Cup suggests that the city is a great place for hardware startups. However, New York is not known for hardware startups, even though the city has generated some great hardware companies like MakerBot, a 3D printing company who was acquired by Stratasys for $403 million.
Some people realized New York is a great city for hardware startups — especially in the IoT area. Techstars is starting “Techstars IoT” this Fall in New York City. But it is not the first attempt for Techstars to have an IoT accelerator in the city.
Back in 2014, R/GA started an accelerator for connected devices and ran two batches and had 20 startups accelerated. But R/GA Accelerator is no longer taking applications for their 3rd cohort, expected to start in 2016. R/GA Accelerator was indeed co-run by Techstars.
Quirky, a NYC-based hardware startup that called itself “a new type of socially developed product company founded with the vision of making invention accessible”, was praised as an innovative startup and raised nearly $180 million including $30 million from GE with a strategic partnership. But Quirky went bankrupt last Fall, having burned all the money they raised.
This seems to me that New York City has lots of potential for the hardware startups, but there is room to improve its startup ecosystem to make it work better.
Hardware Bootcamp in Japan & NYC
We, FabFoundry, wanted to take part in the hardware startup ecosystem in New York City and help the community make better. highly connected to the startup ecosystem in Japan and the makers’ network in several countries, FabFoundry is a NYC community for hardware startups and creative makers locally as well as internationally.
One of the projects FabFoundry is working on is Monozukuri Bootcamp, a hardware startup boot camp taking place in both Japan and New York City.
Our first batch will begin in July for several weeks in Kyoto, Japan, at the site of our partner Makers Boot Camp, followed by product marketing hands-on sessions in New York City, partnered with IBM Global Entrepreneur Program.
The deadline for the 1st batch of the Monozukuri Bootcamp Program is this Friday, July 10th. Apply now, or RSVP to join our Office Hours tomorrow, July 8th. No fees or equity dilution will be applied to this very first batch!