PCH incubator Highway 1 calls for next generation of hardware start-ups (video)

5 Nov 2013

Brady Forrest from Highway 1

PCH International’s incubator programme for hardware start-ups Highway 1 has begun its call for the next generation of applications, inviting applications from entrepreneurs, innovators, investors and makers in Europe, Asia and the US.

In June, we reported that supply chain supremo Liam Casey had launched a new San Francisco, California-based incubator programme for start-ups called Highway1 that could see up to 20 start-ups a year seeded to the tune of US$20,000 apiece and introduced to vital supply chains in Asia.

Casey, who has built up a global supply chain empire headquartered in Cork that completes the journey between the OEM’s R&D lab to the cash register in stores all over the world, aims to apply the lessons he has learned to enabling potentially the next big thing in technology to get to market leaner, fitter and sharper.

The programme is led by former O’Reilly Media executive Brady Forrest, who we met at the Dublin Web Summit last week.

Highway1’s curriculum is focused on manufacturing, supply chain, inventory and pitching. It will equip start-ups with the knowledge and know-how to de-risk and become a hardware company that investors want to invest in. Participants will learn how to turn their prototype into a product that is ready to manufacture and achieve scale.

Bringing hardware start-ups to scale

The twice-yearly programme will begin with around 10 start-ups engaged in a four-month educational curriculum that will be taught in San Francisco, beginning in late September at LimeLab, the Mission District design studio Casey acquired last year.

The start-ups will then move to PCH’s new US headquarters in the Potrero Hill area. This will be followed by a two-week module taught in Shenzhen, China, with an exploration of the vast consumer electronics supply chain in the Pearl River Delta, the main hub of China’s manufacturing industry.

Each start-up will be offered up to US$20,000 in seed capital for a 3-6pc equity, as well as access to office and product prototyping facilities with equipment valued at more than US$3m, one-on-one engineering, design and mentoring expertise, and access to a mentor network with high-profile technology leaders compiled by Casey and Brady.

“We’re excited to be expanding and we hope to take this expansion internationally,” Forrest said.

“PCH and Highway1 will help entrepreneurs to build a company, not just a product. We teach companies how to scale, and we make connections to valuable mentors who have years of experience and have been there before.

“What we’re really looking for are next-generation hardware companies that view their product as ‘software in a box’. Our targets are exciting and innovative companies at the prototype stage, with or without funding,” Forrest said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years