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In startup land, hardware is the new black. As evidence, just look at the innovation happening in watches, cars, drones, home automation-- you name it.

But while building tangible products is a beautiful thing, it takes a lot more time and money than stringing together a few lines of code-- which is why it's so cool that a new batch of accelerators focused on hardware startups is emerging.This week's Accelerator of the Week is innovating on the model by marrying together the requisite seed money, workshops, and lab equipment in SF with an immersive expedition to manufacturing factories in China.

How cool is that? We are pleased to bring you Accelerator #9, Highway1.

UPDATE: they just opened up applications for the next batch. Apply here.

Tinkerers gonna tinker...

In just one sentence, what is your accelerator called and what do you do? 

Highway1 is the preeminent hardware startup accelerator based in San Francisco that gives hardware startups the knowledge and tools they need to scale their products in the long term.

What makes your program different or unique? And related, what’s your primary value-add?

Highway1 is a part of PCH, a global supply chain management company. PCH has over 20 years of experience working with companies both small and large to manufacture, package, ship and distribute their products all over the world.

Highway1 provides entrepreneurs with product development knowledge geared towards producing prototypes for manufacturing, instead of one-off units. Highway1 exposes hardware startups to manufacturing processes during the program through a 10-day module in China.

What do you love the most about working with startups?

At Highway1, we see all sorts of ideas and products come through. But what makes us excited about a startup is its team. Without a well-diversified team filled with passionate people, a product can easily fail before it has a chance to take off. Strong teams succeed by dividing the necessary tasks they must accomplish during the program.

What is the hardest or most surprising part of working with startups?

Hardware is hard because it takes time and is costly, as it deals in the physical world rather than the digital one. The hardest part is working with limited capital to efficiently utilize the resources you need to make a solid prototype. At Highway1, we guide our startups in making product development decisions that will get them closer to manufacturing. But sometimes, startups will ignore our advice and go another way. We can help them to the best of our abilities, but at the end of the day, it’s their decision.

Do you have a success story to share? Who are the most notable or interesting companies to go through your program?

Highway1 has worked with 45 companies to create fundable prototypes with DFM in mind. These include the fashionable Ringly (http://ringly.com/ - connected jewelry so that you'll never miss an alert again), the award-winning Drop (http://getdrop.co/ - super-useful iPad baking scale), Navdy (http://navdy.com/ - HUD for the car so you never have to take your eyes off the road), and the at-home health testing kit Cue Health (www.cue.me).

How, if in any way, has Foundersuite helped your company?

Foundersuite has given our startups the opportunity to recruit talent with ease, an easy platform for startups to organize their fundraising efforts, and a collection of templates and documents that cover most of their business needs.

Finally, what is your best tip for running a startup?

Startups are a hard business. There’s a lot of prototyping, failing and prototyping. However, they can be very rewarding! The most important thing is to not lose sight of the goal, always be flexible, and be willing to change the method, but never change the goal.

Topics: hardware startup, Highway1, startup accelerator, Accelerator of the Week

     
Nathan Beckord

Written by Nathan Beckord

Nathan Beckord is Founder and CEO of Foundersuite.com, a venture-backed startup that makes the leading CRM for raising capital. Previously, Nathan ran VentureArchetypes and served as advisor or interim CFO at dozens of startups, including Kickstarter, Clicker, Autonet, Zerply, and many more. Nathan has an MBA and CFA and is a fanatical sailor.