How To Know When An Accelerator Is Not Right For Your Startup

A few weeks ago we ran an article on the benefits of accelerator programs. While I agreed with almost everything in it, the article still bothered me, and I wanted to start a discussion about when an accelerator is not appropriate. So many startups are regularly asked “have you thought about Kickstarter? Shark Tank? Are you raising money? YCombinator?” These questions are constantly ingrained into people’s brains and they come to think those are the only options.

The reality is that there are lots of ways to build a company, and Kickstarter, Shark Tank, angel investors, and accelerators are all new within the last few years, and they aren’t right for many people. So let’s look at when an accelerator is right for you.

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When You Get Serious About Selling A Project, Consider an Accelerator

I was visiting San Francisco, scratching my head for something cool to cover for Hackaday. When it hit me: this is one of the leading cities in the world for starting new companies. It’s known for its software, but with Tesla, Type A Machines, Intel, Apple, and more within an hour’s drive of the city, there’s got to be a hardware scene as well. Silicon isn’t a software product after-all. But where do you find it, and how do you get a hardware start-up going in one of the most expensive cities in the world?

That’s where hardware accelerators or incubators, whichever name they prefer, come in. One-third hackerspace, two-thirds business crash course, they help you skip a lot of the growing pains associated with starting a capital intensive thing like a hardware business. I dropped in, and they kindly gave me a few minutes of their time. I wanted to find out what a hacker could do if they felt it was time to turn those skulls into dollars. What are the requirements. What is the cost? What help does the incubator offer to the burgeoning capitalist in a hacker?

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An Interview With Bre Pettis, Founder of MakerBot Industries

For those of you that don’t know, the Makerbot is a 3D printer created by Bre Pettis. It is probably the best-known 3D printer that you can buy at a price point meant for the hobbyist. Although this article doesn’t go into how the MakerBot is made, it focuses instead about the business itself and the man behind it. Bre was a hobbyist maker just like many of our readers, but decided to turn his passion into a successful business.

Although not all businesses are a success, Bre has made quite a start at becoming one. His company now employs 50 people and is currently hiring (like this posting for a “Web Warrior”) and has just secured $10 million in venture capital funding! Check out the full interview for all the details. It may inspire others to go from “hobby maker” to “professional.”

For other 3D printing-related posts, check out this one about the RepRap printer which is capable of replicating itself. For other ways to make your own parts, this rotomold machine may be of interest or this semi-DIY CNC router.