Whether you like it or not technology is becoming a saturated market for fledgling startups. Think about it – There are currently more than 300 software specific accelerator programs being run per year across the country; typically funding between ten to 15 startups. That means that more than 3,000 software/technology startups are being launched each year. Considering all the facts at hand – The market is saturated.
When Forbes asked top VCs to predict where they’ll invest their money in 2014, several of them seemed to shy away from straight technology (as software is in the midst of evolving) and more towards wearables, data security, user interface and other more hardware focused technologies. However, there were only eight hardware focused accelerator program in the country; until now.
This fall Cleveland, Ohio will join an elite group of startups cities looking to fund hardware startups with the launch of the LaunchHouse Accelerator. This unique accelerator program, which initially was created to invest in IT companies, has broadened its focus to include startups within the hardware, software, consumer products, advanced manufacturing and the Internet of things industries. The 16-week, intensive program, now in its third year, will invest $20,000 in ten broad-based early-stage hardware startups and is designed to accelerate startups as they progress from idea to validation, onto prototype.
Cleveland offers accelerator companies a wealth of resources that reside at the convergence of technology and manufacturing. As part of the program, organizations such as Cleveland State University Monte Ahuja College of Business, Jumpstart, NASA John H. Glenn Research Center and NorTech will serve as mentors and advisors for the LHX companies. These companies will also have access to numerous resource organizations within the Cleveland entrepreneurial ecosystem.
With a rich history in manufacturing, Cleveland is now at the cross-section between technology and manufacturing. This shift in program focus will better leverage Cleveland’s niche resources to supply these types of startups with increased support, network, mentorship and potential for increased follow on funding.This will also lead to significant job creation and company building within the region.
Applications for LHX2014 are now open until July 12. The top 30 startups will be invited to participate in 2DAYdiscovery, a unique customer focused and metric driven vetting process designed for selected startups to present their ideas and gain customer initial traction. Following 2DAYdiscovery, ten startups will be selected to participate in the 16-week, customer-centric accelerator program beginning on September 29. The LaunchHouse Accelerator program will expose startups to customer development, design for manufacturing, business modeling and human-centered design will provide startups with an increased ability to achieve accelerated market validation within 90 days.
At the culmination of the LHX program, companies will deliver their first public pitches and demo to investors, potential clients, other entrepreneurs and the general public at Demo Day. More than 300 people attended last year’s Demo Day, which was presented in conjunction with the first annual Cleveland Entrepreneurship Week.
LaunchHouse has a proven track record of launching successful startups. Since 2008, the business accelerator has invested in 51 diverse portfolio companies, which have raised more than $15.5 million in follow on funding and created more than 70 jobs in Northeast Ohio.
Again, applications will close on July 12 with LHX2014 kicking off September 29. Last year more than 125 startups from around the world applied to the program. Interested startups should apply at https://www.f6s.com/launchhouseaccelerator20141.
About the Author: Todd Goldstein is the CEO and managing partner at LaunchHouse, a business accelerator and coworking community that fosters entrepreneurial success and job creation through seed capital, education and innovation. Since 2008, LaunchHouse has invested in a diverse portfolio of 51 startup companies, which have raised more than $15.5 million in follow on funding. For more information, visit www.launchhouse.com.