SANTA CLARA, CA — As part of the rising wave of interest in the Internet of Things (IoT), programs have appeared to help development teams creating IoT products. These "startup accelerator" programs can offer equipment, mentoring, workspace, and even funding to entrepreneurs working to move their product idea or prototype to market. A panel representing three such accelerators — Scott Miller of Dragon Innovation, Brady Forrest of Highway 1, and Zach Supalla, founder of Particle (formerly Spark) and representing the HAX Accelerator (formerly HAXLR8R) — spoke in the session "Inside the IoT Startup Accelerators" at the Embedded Systems Conference, Silicon Valley, offering advice on such things as setting appropriate goals, when not to use Kickstarter, and dealing effectively with China.
Startup accelerators arose, said Scott Miller, as a result of a hole in the market. "It's easier than ever to go from idea to prototype," Miller noted, "but it's hard to go from prototype to marketable product." Accelerators help startups navigate that step. Working with venture capital fund Bolt, for instance, startup accelerator Dragon Innovation offers entrepreneurs its expertise in manufacturing, market fit, and the like as well as funding to begin production. "We look for companies that have a path to $100 million in revenue within five years," Miller said.
The panel offered would-be entrepreneurs advice in many aspects of product development. In terms of markets that are underserved, for instance, Miller recommended pursuing a product design that would result in recurring revenue. "Look for something like the 'Keurig for X,' where your hardware serves a need but you are selling more than just the hardware." He gave the example of an IoT pet food dispenser that also ordered more food as needed.
Brady Forrest of Highway 1 suggested that developers seek ways to serve customers who are not yet on the Internet. "I've been looking at consumer medical devices,' Forrest noted, "Something that can help the consumer take control of their health."
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