Hardware renaissance hits SoCal; LA's 1st hardware accelerator opens its doors this Friday to 4 startups

Aug 26, 2015, 21:30 ET from NEO Tech from ,Make in LA

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- There's a team betting big on the hardware industry in Los Angeles and they want to help visionary entrepreneurs around the world by making hardware less hard to prototype, market and manufacture. Make in LA is Los Angeles' first hardware accelerator initiative, and they've set up camp in the San Fernando Valley's quiet town of Chatsworth, next door to NEO Tech, the accelerator's contract manufacturing partner.

On August 28th, the Make in LA team will formally launch its program and introduce its first cohort of hardware startups and their products, which are:

  1. Fitguard - a head injury awareness mouth guard Developed by Force Impact Technologies, LLC, Los Angeles; Anthony Gonzales, CEO.
  2. FeeL - a wristband that measures and tracks your emotions throughout the day. Developed by Sentio Solutions, Inc., New York City; Stealth Mode, CEO.
  3. Plobot - a robotic toy programmable without a computer and friendly for ages 4+. Developed by Blue Power Limited Corporation, Shanghai, China; Rodolfo Cossovich, CEO.
  4. RideBlock - an action sports tracker that tracks your tricks and helps you learn, improve and compete with friends. Developed by Flipmotion Technologies Pvt. Ltd., Bangalore, India; Jibin Jose, CEO.

"Hardware is hot - and poised to get hotter," says Mike Geyer, Director of Emerging Technology at Autodesk in a recent TechCrunch article. In supporting hardware, Make in LA is in good company. The accelerator business model is active across the country and around the world. Accelerators mitigate risk to investors by vetting companies and entrepreneurs, concentrating resources and setting companies on a path for further growth and investment. Notable hardware accelerators include Lemnos Labs, Highway1, Bolt VC and Lab IX. In Los Angeles, Make in LA will join the accelerator/incubator ecosystem that includes Idealab, Ctrl.LA, the Dodgers and Disney accelerators and LA Cleantech Incubator, but with a broad focus on technology hardware.

By offering up to $150K, a supportive work environment (the 20,000 sq.ft. facility includes a prototype workshop, warehousing and logistics, premium coffee, local art, and a full-sized fire truck for inspiration), access to talented mentors across the country, and supply chain and engineering partnerships with NEO Tech (a 40 year veteran of manufacturing), the Make in LA accelerator is breaking down barriers to entry for entrepreneurs and visionaries wanting to build the next great hardware company.

The Make in LA origin story is a proof of concept in and of itself. Two hardware techies met in May. Two weeks later, they went all in to develop the first hardware-focused accelerator in the Greater Los Angeles area. Since kicking off in early June, they've made great strides in outfitting their workshop, raising an initial limited partner fund, recruiting mentors and startups, and forging industry partnerships. The accelerator will formally launch this Friday, August 28th, with a ribbon cutting ceremony and launch party event.

Making great strides and getting things done is exactly what co-founders Noramay Cadena and Shaun Arora are about. As a first generation college graduate in her family, Cadena beat the odds as a teen mom to graduate salutatorian of her class and go on to earn three degrees from MIT. She also co-founded the Latinas in STEM Foundation, a national non-profit organization, inspiring and empowering under-represented women to pursue STEM fields. Cadena spent over a decade developing a great corporate career across multiple business units at The Boeing Company. Shaun Arora has a diversified past as a cultural anthropologist, business man and angel investor. He has been informally developing seed stage companies by making connections and taking a very hands-on approach to stewardship. The duo's own acceleration initiative is a leading indicator of what they'll be able to accomplish in September with the first cohort of hardware startups joining them for a 4-month program.

By focusing on the teams, the technology, the market, and the manufacturing with in-house experts as well as a global network, Make in LA will de-risk hardware investments and develop great leaders. Intrigued? There are opportunities for mentors, investors, and seed-stage hardware entrepreneurs who want to grow and go big. No going home! Learn more at www.MakeinLA.com.

About Make in LA:
Make in LA is the Los Angeles epicenter of hardware startups. The accelerator empowers entrepreneurs and their businesses by making the developing of hardware not hard. They accept seed stage companies, cultivate innovation, and groom for execution. Learn more at www.MakeinLA.com or on Twitter at @MakeinLA.

About NEO Tech:
NEO Tech combines the strengths of three leading contract manufacturers: NATEL, EPIC, and OnCore. With over 40 years of heritage in electronics manufacturing, NEO Tech focuses on low-medium volume/high-mix, high-complexity products primarily in the medical, defense/aerospace and industrial markets. Learn more at www.NEOTech.com or on Twitter at @Natel.

Shaun Arora, shaun@makeinla.com

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SOURCE NEO Tech; Make in LA