BOLT: A New Startup Accelerator Helps Hardware Companies Prepare For Success

emerging-market-startups-boltBolt, based in Boston, gives fledgling startups the expertise and equipment to go beyond software and create successful products–ranging from weather stations to custom prosthetics–that could change the world.

When fledgling startups go through a typical accelerator program, they come out armed with business knowledge, industry contacts, and seed funding. For companies working on software, that may be enough of a jump start to get them going. But for hardware startups, it’s not enough.

“People come out of [accelerators like] Y Combinator and Techstars, and they’re super well prepared on the business side, but horribly prepared on the product side. They have no idea how to manufacture products, or about logistics, or quality,” says Ben Einstein, the co-founder and managing director of Bolt, a new hardware accelerator in Boston.

Einstein knows something about getting products ready for market. Before launching Bolt, he founded a design consultancy that worked with large companies. Originally, he envisioned Bolt as a product design firm that young companies could afford–but quickly realized that “the fundamental flaw in the consulting world is that you’re not aligned with customers,” he says. By investing in companies (each of the seven startups chosen for the first class will get a $50,000 investment), Bolt has a stake in their success. “Equity is wonderful at aligning people,” he explains.

The accelerator raised $3.5 million from Logitech, Autodesk, and the venture capital firm Grishin Robotics to get off the ground and build a 6,000-square-foot shop floor featuring $1 million worth of in-house prototyping equipment.

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