Incubated: Highway1 Takes Hardware Startups From Prototype To Production

A few years ago, consumer electronics specialist PCH International decided that it wanted to help the burgeoning ecosystem of hardware startups that has emerged. To do that, it created Highway1, an accelerator focused specifically on guiding early-stage hardware companies through the process of building their products and getting them from the prototyping stage to actual production.

Of course, hardware isn’t easy, and few first-time entrepreneurs know all that goes into building a new product. From finding the right materials to sourcing the parts they need to getting the final assembly through a production line, Highway1 has the connections most startups will need to get the job done.

But first, the accelerator helps companies simply refine their prototypes and get them ready for production. With dedicated shared office space in San Francisco and access to on-staff hardware engineers, startups are able to get their cost of materials down and make their prototypes as cost-effective as possible.

Toward the end of the program, founders take a trip to Shenzhen, where they source the parts they need and meet with factories that will be producing their hardware. Leveraging PCH’s ecosystem of suppliers and connections there, founders aren’t alone in trying to figure out the ins and outs of building product and shipping it back to the U.S.

And at Demo Day, Highway1 graduates are able to show off their final product to investors who have an appetite for new hardware products and ideas. The connection to PCH also helps startups as they look to do pre-orders through the company’s sales platform at The Blueprint.

Highway1 might not be for everyone, but for many hardware startups, the program has been invaluable in terms of getting them off the ground and into actual production.

This is the ninth episode of a TechCrunch TV series called Incubated. Please join us each week to find out how different incubators and accelerators help out startups that participate in them. Check out previous episodes of Incubated here: