Making Hardware A Little Less Hard

Jessica Alter   |   September 5th, 2013

Last week we announced the official expansion of the FounderDating platform into Hardware – FounderDating Hardware. That hardware is experiencing a renaissance isn’t exactly breaking news.  Paul Graham is encouraging hardware entrepreneurs to apply to YC and Chris Dixon explains some of the factors involved (cost reduction, crowdfunding prototypes, access, etc.) As he also mentions, “it also doesn’t hurt that the most valuable company in the world (Apple – AAPL) and some of the most exciting startups (e.g., Nest, Jawbone, Leap Motion) make hardware.”  So, I’m not going to repeat what smart people have already said.  But here’s why we’re excited about helping hardware entrepreneurs.

The Surge

In the last 6 months we saw the number of applicants to FD with an interest in hardware double.  Entrepreneurs with an interest in hardware now make up 15-20% of applicants.

This may not seem like a huge number but during this time, we did nothing differently.  Until now, we’ve done a poor job of reaching out to the hardware community. I say that in a slightly embarrassed way. But what’s so telling is that this was happening completely organically.

The Difficulty

“Hardware is the new software” – so many people I can’t quote them all.  Except it’s not. It’s harder.  Jon Callaghan sums it up perfectly, “Hardware is the double black diamond of startups.”

What’s often overlooked is where this starts. How many pieces have to come together for a hardware company’s founding team – industrial design, mechanical, electrical and often software engineering plus a hustler who can make manufacturing and distribution a reality.  It’s tremendously difficult and rarely do these people just happen upon each other day-to-day. Now we give them a platform to connect with right people together to get hardware companies started the right way.

The Curious

Hard problems attract talented, curious people. At the end of the day we’re a people network.  A high quality, curated people network. We want to help the most curious and extraordinary people do the things they really want to do. Hardware is one of the areas the curious are “hanging out.”

And we can already see that FD entrepreneurs don’t shy away from a challenge. You might expect the majority of entrepreneurs to be lured by the popularity of products like the Nike Fuel Band and Fitbit e.g. quantified-self. What we’re seeing is a wide-range of interests and a healthy attraction to areas that haven’t gained quite as much popularity, like robotics, than some of those that have, like quantified-self.

Current Hardware Areas of Interest of FD Entrepreneurs

Interest Area

% Interested

Consumer Electronics

62.31%

Wearable Tech

56.92%

3D Printing

43.08%

Smart Home

42.31%

Robotics

39.23%

Healthcare

27.69%

Transportation

20.77%

Medical devices

16.15%

Quantified Self

12.31%

Bringing People Together

FounderDating Hardware is a direct expansion of the FounderDating Platform, a curated online network of entrepreneurs ready to start their next side-project or company. While FD Hardware members will be a part of same expansive online network as software entrepreneurs, we’ve greatly expanded the product to better serve hardware entrepreneurs. For example, adding granular (searchable) areas of interest, skill sets and targeted types of people available on the site (i.e. industrial designers, mechanical engineers, etc.).

We’ve also partnered with TechShop and Highway1 (PCH Int’l) to bring people together and fill the manufacturing/supply chain knowledge gaps respectively.  

If you’re part of the curious class or you know someone who is, join us in making hardware a little less hard.

 

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#StartwithFD at SxSW

Ronethea Williams   |   March 8th, 2013

#StartwithFD

Yes, we’ll be in Austin. No, you don’t want to miss #StartwithFD: A Special Event for Entrepreneurs.  Yes, You’re invited. But you do need to RSVP.

#StartWithFD: A FounderDating Surprise with Special Guests
When: Saturday, March 9th at 12:15 PM – be on time, we will leave without you!
Where:
Hilton Downtown Austin Lobby, 500 E 4th St Austin, TX 78701
RSVP:
http://bit.ly/startwithfd
Details:
It’s a special event. It’s not a panel. To take part, you need to arrive on time.  No Questions. No Regrets.

We’re keeping track of our conversations with entrepreneurs and our adventures around Austin with the hashtag #StartWithFD. We’ll be tweeting from around SxSW and sharing Vine videos of what entrepreneurs are starting – whether it be a side project, a full-time gig, or anything else that helps move that idea forward and make for no regrets. Tweet to us if you want to meet up.

Make sure to keep up with us on Twitter and tweet with the hashtag #StartWithFD whether you’re in Austin or just following along at home.

We can’t wait to see you on Saturday and around SxSW!

P.S. – Our FD member event is on Sunday. RSVP here: http://startwithfd.splashthat.com. If you are a member and didn’t get the invite,  please e-mail jen[at]founderdating[dot]com.

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What Have You Always Wanted to Start? #NoRegrets2013

Jessica Alter   |   January 1st, 2013

I would categorize most New Year’s resolutions as run of the mill: “Eat healthier!”; “Learn a new language!”; “Do more yoga!” And nothing is technically wrong with them. But are they what you daydream about while sitting in your cube/office? If you were asked, “What have you always wanted to start? What have you always wanted to create?” would these be your answers? A year from now, will you truly regret not having practiced more yoga? We didn’t think so. So, today we’re encouraging you to resolve to have #NoRegrets2013 by helping you get started on what you really want to do.

The concept is simple – we know that getting started is one of the hardest steps for any entrepreneur (Jack Dorsey agrees). The #NoRegrets2013 initiative aims to make it a little bit easier for current and aspiring entrepreneurs who are ready to start moving on that idea that’s been gnawing at them for years (or weeks). How? We’re asking, “What have you always wanted to start?” Enter in the idea to declare getting started on it as one of your 2013 New Year’s Resolutions. We’ll help with the next steps – namely, getting started with the right people, which it’s no secret we believe is the smartest first step and have built an amazing network around. But it’s more than that. It’s about sharing what you’re thinking about with friends and family, letting them know that you’re serious about doing something different. It’s about getting feedback. It’s about thinking bigger for 2013.

Your idea doesn’t have to be the next Facebook – it doesn’t even need to be technology-related – just the next side-project or company that you’ve been telling your friends about (or keeping to yourself) forever. Once you submit, you can view the wide-range of submissions in our #NoRegrets2013 gallery.

We started FounderDating not just to put people together, but to help people do the things they really want to do in life – the things they are passionate about, the things they’ve always wanted to start. Here’s an easy way to get started and have #NoRegrets2013: http://members.founderdating.com/noregrets.

Happy New Year.

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FounderDating Education

Jessica Alter   |   August 1st, 2012

Back in March we started noticing a large percentage of applicants writing in an interest area that we didn’t have on the site – Education.  We had made no attempt to reach out to entrepreneurs interested in education and learning, so the only logical conclusion we could come to was that Education was/is a huge area of interest for entrepreneurs and one where we can add a lot of value. Then we met with Teach for America’s Social Entrepreneurship team and they literally told us that, “How and where to find complimentary cofounders is one of the most frequently asked questions from our alumni entrepreneurs.”   So, today we’re thrilled to announce the launch of FounderDating Education in partnership with Teach for America. 

FounderDating Education will help the growing number of innovative education-focused entrepreneurs by connecting them with one another to find cofounders.  It’s a direct expansion of the FounderDating platform (members will be a part of the same online network) and our first vertical-specific initiative.  We decided to launch this not only because education one of the biggest challenges of our time, but also because:

  • Bottom Up Demand – our applicants/members are demanding it as are the Teach for America alumni entrepreneurs
  • Education/Industry crossover – education/learning is an area where individuals with subject matter experience and those with industry experience don’t naturally cross paths. Bringing them together to form strong teams is a key component to innovation. Working with Teach for America’s Social Entrepreneurship Initiative means we can truly help bridge this gap. 

But don’t be confused by the name, the rest is the same FounderDating Network.  Here’s what you need to know:

  • Anyone can apply – from anywhere
  • High quality and balance – and the same rigorous evaluation process will be used by its education initiative to ensure high quality and balance by skill sets. Teach for America’s Social Entrepreneurship Initiative will be lending their education expertise to the screening process.
  • Interact online – once accepted, members will be part of the larger FounderDating Network, able to search (by interest area, skills, location, etc.) and interact with one another online.
  • Not just tech – we love tech, and believe it’s a key component to improving education from K-12 to lifelong learning. But we know education and learning isn’t just about technology and we welcome entrepreneurs who want to build schools, community initiatives, etc.
  • No idea necessary – as you know, we believe ideas change, people don’t so you don’t need to have THE idea, just be ready to at least work on a serious side-project.
  • FounderDating Education entrepreneurs will also be invited to an offline kickoff on September 20th in San Francisco (not mandatory, but certainly awesome).

There’s an immense amount of interest and excitement around Edtech and education entrepreneurship in general, and we’re excited to help individuals at the earliest stage find the right people to get started.

So, if you’re ready, actually if you’re even thinking about how to change education and learning apply now to join the network or just spread the word and pay it forward to other entrepreneurs.

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