Entrepreneurs who have been looking to manufacture hardware cheaply in China now have better access to infrastructure, with the launch of new accelerator Haxlr8r in Shenzhen this January.
The accelerator, which follows a model similar to Techstars and Y Combinator, invests an initial U.S. $6-$18,000 in startups, providing another $5,000 for those that require special hardware, takes a flexible amount of equity, 6-10%, and then mentors companies and helps them establish their pipeline over three and a half months. In contrast to its sister accelerator China Accelerator, which focuses on software startups and operates in the northern city of Dalian (which founder Cyril Ebersweiler dubbed the "Bangalore of China") Haxlr8r focuses on hardware-producing startups only.
The idea, says Ebersweiler, is to bring in foreign startups with an eye to cracking into hardware manufacturing in China. "Most of the time it's hard for companies to get access to manufacturing in China; the process seems scary. And for investors, there's a lot of risk involved if a startup has no experience here."
Haxlr8r works to mitigate that risk, he says, by ensuring the entrepreneur sets up the manufacturing process and can quickly scale their product by the time they exit the program. The accelerator offers not just a manufacturing pipeline but specialized tools like laser cutting and 3D printing. "It's all about getting to the technology market as fast as possible. Instead of taking a year or two to get to market, the idea is to get a product out the door in three and a half months. Hopefully a startup will get their first 100 or 1000 devices out the door during the program."
While marketing software in the Chinese market, as China Accelerator helps startups to do, involves the complex process of localization, Haxlr8r is specifically designed to focus on setting up a manufacturing process for startups, regardless of where their products will be sold. It also connects with prominent mentors in the U.S. and Canada, and brings startups to Silicon Valley for further exposure.
This could of course be a useful option for startups in the Arab World at any stage with manufacturing needs. To encourage innovation in hardware development and help startups optimize their costs, Wamda has joined as part of the Haxlr8r network, and our CEO Habib Haddad is a mentor for the program.
Accelerators around the world continue to help establish startups quickly and help the entrepreneurship ecosystem leapfrog cycles of development, and Haxlr8r will be no exception. Especially as it becomes easier for companies to innovate on the hardware side and create nifty products like Jawbone's Up by connecting it to the iPhone, it will become easier for companies in the Arab World with great hardware products, like Lebanon's Little Bits, or prototypes, like Lebanon's CardioDiagnostics team or the Jordanian entrepreneur who built a kinetic battery charger, to compete globally.