Today we open applications for the New York Barclays Accelerator powered by Techstars, and I’m thrilled to be leading the program as Managing Director. In partnership with Techstars, Barclays is making a significant contribution to the further development of the New York City FinTech ecosystem with plans to activate its international banking network to help participating start-ups succeed.
My personal journey includes several years at a large multi-national bank where I spent nights and weekends toiling away on my own start-up. And when it came time to execute on the vision, my banking network (colleagues, clients etc.) supported me by providing funding and distribution opportunities. As such, partnering with a forward thinking financial institution like Barclays, has particular significance to me.
FinTech founders interested in 3 awesome months of mentorship in New York, the opportunity to interact with Barclays and up to $120k in funding from Techstars should apply by May 10, 2015. We’re looking for a diverse group of innovative companies working at the intersection of finance and technology including: payment solutions, applications and lending, digital banking solutions, currency products, securities trading platforms, machine learning, cyber security, data and analytics amongst other topics.
Jenny Fielding, Managing Director
Today we welcome an exceptional group of hardware and Internet of Things focused startups into the 2015 R/GA Accelerator. This talented group of entrepreneurs has come from around the world to join us in NYC for an action packed 15 weeks. By combining R/GA’s expertise around innovation, technology and design with the mentorship-driven model and entrepreneurial network of Techstars, we offer a game-changing advantage to hardware and IoT focused startups.
The 2013 program was a huge success and we have set the bar high for this new class of startups. I’m looking forward to seeing how the 2015 class develop their businesses and I’m honored to be part of this journey with them.
Astro – New York, NY
Astro is creating an automated home system of devices that requires no installation, no new infrastructure, and no new wireless networks – making it the simplest platform on the market.
Bitfinder – Seoul, SK / San Francisco, CA
Bitfinder is a portable device and software platform that helps detect airborne and environmental irritants to individuals suffering from chronic conditions such as asthma and eczema.
Chargifi – London, UK
Chargifi provides wireless, location based charging stations that include a platform for promotional or interactive content.
Diagenetix, Inc – Honolulu, HI
Diagenetix brings us Smart Dart, a low-cost, portable diagnostics tool providing food producers, processors, and buyers a start-to-finish view of their pathogen risk.
Freedom Audio – Orlando, FL
Freedom Audio makes fun, durable and waterproof wireless audio products to enhance life’s best experiences. The next rugged speaker product will be fully connected to your favorite music providers via built-in cellular + wifi connectivity and a touchscreen interface.
Latch – Washington, DC
Latch is a keyless entry security platform that uses beacon technology to update current telephone-operated access systems, providing building owners and residents with a low-cost and reliable way to manage building access.
LISNR – Cincinnati, OH
The LISNR supersonic beacon platform uses completely inaudible and encrypted tones with the ability to trigger content, second screen experiences or data to mobile devices from any source with a speaker.
One Million Metrics – New York, NY
1MM creates connected systems for workplaces. The first product is a device that tracks the physical movements of industrial workers who engage in strenuous tasks, helping to ensure safety in the workplace.
Pinoccio – Reno, NV
Pinoccio is an IoT maker kit that allows users to build wireless, web-enabled projects that are mesh-networked, open source and Arduino compatible.
SkySpecs – Ann Arbor, MI
SkySpecs’ Air Bumper technology is a hardware-enabled software system that helps drones avoid collisions automatically, making drone usage more accessible for industrial and consumer applications.
Hardware, often viewed as the poor step-child of the tech scene, is experiencing a Renaissance with West Coast based companies such as Nest and Oculus being snapped up for mind blowing amounts of cash. However, New York’s hardware scene is flourishing, proving to be a seductive environment for start-ups and partner companies that support the hardware ecosystem. Engrained industries, including marketing and manufacturing have built a formidable platform for new entrants. It’s easy to sense momentum from the dozens of Maker spaces, meetup groups, hack events and conferences centered on hardware, connected devices, wearables and IoT.
In the last few years, New York nurtured some impressive and now well established hardware companies such as Makerbot and Adafruit as well as start-ups such as Canary, the 2013 Indiegogo darling. Companies that showcase and celebrate hardware such as Quirky and Grand St. have also contributed to the success of hardware companies by providing necessary platforms for distribution. New York has always fostered strong e-commerce companies, laying the foundation for hardware marketplaces to thrive here as well.
This ecosystem has been supported by a solid investor base that has been early in identifying this opportunity. It includes VC’s like Matt Turck at Firstmark and Matt Witheiler at Flybridge as well as the various angel investors who have recently breezed through my office to see what’s cooking (or 3D printing!) at the RGA Accelerator. Unlike software, it still requires more cash to produce hardware, so start-ups need to look beyond crowdfunding to deeper pockets – and NYC has some pretty deep pockets.
As the fashion capital of the world, wearables are clearly influencing big brands like Tory Burch who are embracing new technologies. I’ve recently seen my fair share of wacky wearables — everything from a dress that gives directions to 3D printed stilettos that alert you when your feet need a rest. So much of it is happening right in the midst of the garment district, with start-ups working side by side with ‘old world’ garment manufacturers.
On a personal note, I am thrilled to be back in NYC as hardware comes to the forefront of the startup scene. NYC may have not have fully embraced recent tech trends like cloud and big data, but we getting excited about drone charging stations and talking Band-Aids! Software will continue to thrive but be warned, hardware is also here to stay.
I’m super excited about joining Techstars and building on the success of the first R/GA Connected Devices program. After several years going into corporate battle, it’s time for me to get back to my entrepreneurial roots and help build great companies. My new role at Techstars will leverage and build on my experiences of the last few years running ventures for the BBC Worldwide and founding Labs, an accelerator focused on the intersection of media and technology.
The decision to join Techstars is really about one thing – the people. Through months of conversations, I started to get a sense of the powerful network that Techstars has created — from founders to mentors to all the folks back in Boulder behind the scenes. It’s this ecosystem that is truly unique and compelling — and clearly unstoppable. As part of the R/GA program, we’re looking for a few exceptional hackstars and associates to join our team, so please reach out if you’re interested!
And in addition to the Techstars family, we also get to shower our start-ups with R/GA’s love. I know first hand the power of effective corporate partnerships, where big company resources can be game changing for start-ups. R/GA is known for pushing the limits around technical, digital and brand innovation, so it’s no surprise that they are leading the way into the connected world and doing so with a start-up friendly approach.
I’ve been working at the intersection of digital, data and distribution — and I think about devices and the Internet of Things as a new means of distributing digital information. As a founder of a mobile start-up early on, and having recently rode the content wave, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to the momentum around connected devices / IoT. With R/GA’s deep involvement in the program, we’ll be working alongside a highly experienced team with access to an impressive hardware lab.