brady forrest

Brady Forrest

VP at Highway1, hardware accelerator in San Francisco; Founder of Ignite Talks

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON October 29, 2015

Discussion

brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
I run Highway1, PCH's hardware accelerator, where I help teams become companies and prototypes become products. Highway1 has accelerated 58 hardware startups, which have raised $65 million in venture funding. I recently coauthored The Hardware Startup. I also cofounded Ignite, a talk series which has been held thousands of times around the world. I help arts organizations stay in SF via CAST. Previously I was a Venture Advisor at 500 Startups, spent time at Khosla Ventures and wrote for the O'Reilly Radar blog while chairing O’Reilly tech conference around the world. Most years you can find me on the playa.
Raleigh Murch
Raleigh Murch@raleighsf · Start-up Founder
Hey Brady, thanks for making time today! What would you tell those of us who are very interested in submitting to HWY 1's program but want to understand where the bar REALLY is for a compelling submission? I expect you would invite most entrepreneurs to submit, but what is it that really stands out?
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@raleighsf Hi! First and foremost we want to see a prototype that's being built by a dedicated team that's going after a big market. We want you to have a plan towards recurring revenue - generally involving services & content. Never be afraid to put your product in the hands of customers. -PCB - Product, Company, Business -Strong team. long history -compelling market, larger vision -disruptive tech, new IP, creative take, etc
Russ Frushtick
Russ Frushtick@russfrushtick
@brady What was the most surprising pitch you've gotten while at Highway1?
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@russfrushtick Invisibility cloak, matter transporter - We haven't figured out how to change the laws of physics (just yet)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
What has been the most exciting startup you've seen at Highway1? The one that perhaps surprised you the most?
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@ems_hodge Too many! But here are some: I'm just a huge fan of the work being done by cue.me to lower the cost and speed up medical testing. Navdy.com's creation of a new platform for cars is exciting. Modbot.com's modular approach to industrial robotics. Shade.io's plan to help Lupus patients. Finally I love salmon cooked on https://cindercooks.com/
Alex Carter
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
What do you think the biggest opportunity in hardware is over the next 5-10 years?
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@alexcartaz I am very bullish on consumer health, but not just measurement devices. Devices + data can give people superpowers. For example, we have a stealth company in our current batch that improves recovery time for athletes. Who wouldn't want that?
Bridget McGraw
Bridget McGraw@mcgrawbridget · Thingfully thing = physical + digital
I have a product idea (with a provisional patent) and am applying at Highway1. Do you think I should launch a Kickstarter campaign before I know whether or not I am accepted at Highway1?
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@mcgrawbridget Hey Bridget! In general, we are not a fan of big crowdfunding campaigns *before* entering our program. However, we do like to see customers. My suggestion would be do a small run and share it with customers. Either through your website or by do a "Kickstarter Beta" where you are limiting the number to something under 100. Our applications just opened though so I would apply first and then decide if you want to do a crowdfunding campaign after you talk with us. highway1.io/apply
John Pritchard
John Pritchard@johnpritch11 · Lead Hardware Engineer
@brady Would you be able to comment on the value of having a presence in the community [of interest] and how it affects the success of a product? Would be great to get your perspective on this. Thanks!
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@johnpritch11 Tech is very personal. People are trusting you with their data. One of the big learnings from Kickstarter is that letting the community get to know you is powerful. They can be your biggest advocates. Get to know them and let them know you. Or put in bullet points: - stay close to customers - build up network of advocates for product - make user experiences better through feedback
Jorge Selva
Jorge Selva@jorge_selva · Minium
@brady Hi Brady, what are some creative ways that companies have managed to acquire validated learning pre-prototype?
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@jorge_selva A lot of this is redefining what a "prototype" is as a quick learning tool, not necessarily a shiny representation of your final manufactured good. Showing potential users an arduino inside a foamcore box, user interface renderings, or even just talking them through a storyboard of the experience can help validate which features are delivering the value you expected.
Jorge Selva
Jorge Selva@jorge_selva · Minium
@brady @jorge_selva Thanks for the response!
Claire Burke
Claire Burke@clairebearburke · Goby, Co-Founder
We're developing our first hardware product (have protos in hand). We are hoping that Highway1 can take our product(s) to the next level and make us think differently about product development going forward. We don't have engineering / technical backgrounds, however. Does this make us more or less attractive to Highway1? How does lack of relevant aptitude impact the Highway1 experience?
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@clairebearburke Our engineering model is to educate and coach technical members of the startup team to teach them best practices on engineering development, working with outside partners (e.g. Industrial Design), and preparing for manufacturing. Therefore, we need at least one technical member on each team to participate in Highway1 so that they can learn these skills and apply them not only to developing the current product, but also future revisions.
Claire Burke
Claire Burke@clairebearburke · Goby, Co-Founder
@brady @clairebearburke Thanks very much for your reply!
Ashley Adewuyi
Ashley Adewuyi@ash_adew · Founder, LiLoE Co
@brady, Thanks for your time! What do you think is the most impressive demonstration of traction for a hardware startup with a functional (but not pretty) prototype?
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@ash_adew Customers who don't want to return the device. This is happening to one of our companies right now.
WeightUp
WeightUp@weightupmadison · WeightUp Solutions
@brady what is most important part of the highway1 application? What should we focus on most as we begin to apply?
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@weightupmadison Showing the customers love your prototype. Also... Having a concise, complete application showing us that you are at an appropriate stage of product and business development to make the most of the Highway1 program. We also want a strong, compelling team that is the best team to solve the problem.
Pénélope Romand-Monnier
Pénélope Romand-Monnier@penelope_rm · Associate @Hardware Club
Hello Brady! Nice to have you here! As you're an hardware expert I have 2 questions for you :) 1/ How do you think an hardware startup can be lean? This is a very tricky question I've been looking through for almost a year now and I've barely found clear & concrete advice or methods (even in Eric Ries' book). 2/ For an hardware startup that launches through a Kickstarter campaign, would it not be smart to produce a first batch only for the backers in order to deliver kind of a MVP, get the feedbacks from the backers (mostly early adopters so happy to participate and ok with a product which isn't 100% functional I guess) and then design the v2 destined to the mass market based on these feedbacks? Most of the time the product produced in the 1st batch isn't really ready to be delivered to the consumer market...!
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@penelope_rm 1) Rapid prototyping's evolution has enabled a lean approach to hardware - 3D Printing's proliferation, access to machinery at places like TechShop, and the accessibility of electronics and code through Arduino. 2) We are a big advocate of getting early MVP products into users hands. A small run pilot or Kickstarter Beta could be one way to do that, but you must be carful to message it as so, so that your backers understand what they are signing up for
Pavel
Pavel@pavel_melnyk · PawSnap
Me and my team we create a concept it is very cool action camera for pets. At this stage, we have prepared a complete product design, appearance and material design. We also have a list of items we'd like to see in our device. The question is: Can we work with you from the receipt of the certificate to the further production device? Also, we are interested in working with you in case to help us with hard developers if it is possible to get ones in your accelerator? Thank you very much in advance
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@pavel_melnyk You're more than welcome to apply to our program at highway1.io/apply. We do not help in hiring hardware developers for you.
Pavel
Pavel@pavel_melnyk · PawSnap
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
@brady Hey what are some of the biggest challenges in running an accelerator? How do you think these are similar/differ to non-hardware focused accelerators?
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@bentossell The hardware space is changing constantly and so are a startup's needs. We are always thinking about how we should change the program to provide new & different kinds of support.
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What's something you've changed your mind about in the last year?
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@jakecrump I no longer think that email is evil; it's just something that needs to be managed. ;-)
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
If you weren't doing this, what would you want to be doing? Any dream jobs?
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@jakecrump I pretty much have my dream job. I run a 10K sq foot building and get to develop *crazy* new products. In the evenings I help people around the world do public speaking. And I still have time to cook some nights. :-)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
Can you tell us a bit more about the talks you do with Ignite? How does this help arts organizations stay in SF? Is this a passion of your?
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@ems_hodge Ignite is a global talk series that I started in 2006. It spread around the world to all 6 continents. Anyone can give a 5 minute talk with 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds; it's a great proving ground for new & experienced speakers. There are thousands of Ignite talks online - some found here http://ignitetalks.io. My work with arts organizations is different. I'm a Director for Cast-sf.org. We buy older buildings in SF, renovate them and then make them available to arts organizations. We have two projects underway right now. For one, we are turning a former porn studio into the new home for Counter Pulse Media (http://counterpulse.org/), a dance space.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
@brady What was the craziest thing you've seen as an advisor?
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@bentossell I had been working with a team for 9 months during their product development and as they tried to raise funding. Shortly before they were about to sign papers with an angel investor the founders had a falling out. They delayed the signing and spent the next week on the phone with myself and other advisors. The team had been under stress for a long time and I think that the money was going to make the company "real" - at that point they realized that they shouldn't be working together. They have since parted ways.
Gilbert
Gilbert@gilberttamrobot
@brady I'm working hard on a prototype device , with supporting cloud platform. I'm prototyping with the raspberry pi. I'd love to pitch it to you, how can I go about it? P.s. it is a disruptive idea, heavy on computer vision usage. I'm aiming at a big market - vehicles, I have a business plan.
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@gilberttamrobot Apply to Highway1's next program via http://highway1.io/apply - that's the best way to get on our radar and continue the conversation. :-)
Rachel Masters
Rachel Masters@masters212
What is most important to Hardware Angel investors? What must be in the pitch?
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@masters212 Every Angel is different, but they often invest early have to make a decision based on faith in the team or the product idea. They can do this because it's their money. VCs are a different beast. They are investing other people's money and must see a path to large return.
Alex Carter
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
What will be the largest impact of the Internet of Things?
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@alexcartaz I think that the amount of data recorded and stored for every human will go up several orders of magnitude. It will enable both amazing *and* scary things.
Alex Carter
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
Will 3D printing ever take off to the extent that many predicted it already would have? Why do you think it's be slower to take off than expected?
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@alexcartaz 3D printing is amazing for prototyping and our teams use it everyday. Right now they can deliver plastic relatively quickly & cheaply, but at relatively low quality. I'm very bullish on Carbon3d.com's tech - their quality and speed are amazing. Glowforge.com also has HUGE potential.
Rama Prasad
Rama Prasad@ramaprasad40 · Founder
@brady How does this accelerator work with geographically disperse team? 1 founding member in SFO, 1 founding member in Minneapolis?
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@ramaprasad40 The devil is in the details, but 2 is on the lower end of what we accept. If the SF-based founder is a strong engineer then it's something that we might be able to work with.
Gravity 8
Gravity 8@gravity8uk · Founder & CEO
@brady Can I apply for H.1 program if company is register and base in UK ?
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@gravity8uk Yes. About 25% of our teams are international.
Haider Syed
Haider Syed@haidersyed · Co-Founder, Frostbite
@brady Hi Brady! I'm a recent graduate who's extremely interested in working for/at a Venture Capital firm. I know that it's not the most common path to pursue, but I have always been fascinated by the process of guiding startup companies to be the best they can. There's a certain empathy involved with that, in my opinion. I was wondering if you had any advice as to how someone could get involved at a VC firm? I apologize if this may seem like a very simple question, or one that has the most obvious answer, but I would definitely appreciate your input on this matter. Thanks!
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@haidersyed It's not easy and there is no set pathOne way that I've seen work is: Work at a startup. get operating experience. Ask the execs to meet their investors. When it is time for you to move on talk to those investors about your next move. Stay in touch with them and talk. Find out how you can help their portfolio. Send them deals. If they see you as a proven ally things can develop. Mentoring is also a great way to make those connections Or just raise your own. ;-)
Haider Syed
Haider Syed@haidersyed · Co-Founder, Frostbite
@brady thanks for the reply, Brady. Really do appreciate you providing me with some valuable insight! Hopefully I'll be seeing you soon as a VC ;)
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@haidersyed I wish you luck!
Haider Syed
Haider Syed@haidersyed · Co-Founder, Frostbite
@brady and I wish you nothing but success :) Take care!
Will Roper
Will Roper@wwr228
Hey Brady, 1 - what would you say is your favorite product (app, company, service, physical product, book, etc) of the last year or so? And 2 - what company and/or product do you think will be huge in the next (few) year(s)?
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@wwr228 I'm partial to my book -> http://www.thehardwarestartup.com/. I also have started playing lots of Exploding Kittens. I'm blown away by the growth of Slack. It's how we manage Highway1. I'm excited by the growth on the platform via companies like Howdy.
Will Roper
Will Roper@wwr228
@brady @wwr228 Awesome! I'll check out your book. Exploding Kittens is by far the best Kickstarter I have backed. Great customer service, and the product launched on time, which is pretty impressive considering the number of backers that they had. And Slack is awesome. Love the product.
Cusby
Cusby@thecusby
After the application submission is closed how long usually takes before you start calling the teams? Do teams outside the bay area (east coast) have to be present in Highway1 for the interview? Do teams that are not selected are notified? Thanks!
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@thecusby We'll be contacting all teams by November 17th. You don't need to be in SF; if we're interested enough to do a thorough technical review with you, we'll do it via video conference. All teams will get a notification, but because of the application volumes, we may not be able to give all applicants feedback as to why they were or were not selected.
David Wilson
David Wilson@daviddbwilson · Co-founder & CEO, Asimmetric
@brady @thecusby We were based in Cape Town, South Africa and went through three rounds of video interviews from there. Because of the 9 hour timezone difference we all had to be a bit flexible with the timing of each call, but the Highway1 team did a good job of making the process as smooth as possible for us. There are quite a few other teams in our cohort that are also from outside the Bay Area: Estonia, New York, Nashville...
Finley Jensen
Finley Jensen@loyaltydecaf · Founder, General Vibration
@brady How does Highway1 measure success of a cohort group? What is your vision for what Highway1 will be like in two to five years out? Thanks!
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@loyaltydecaf We look at products shipped, jobs created, funds raised, & revenue. In the future, I would love to have a distributed model that could help hardware startups anywhere (like FabLab)
Eduardo Kotujansky
Eduardo Kotujansky@ekotuja · Sofware Project Manager
Can we be accelerated before formally starting the company?
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@ekotuja No. But you can apply before forming the company.
Liya Brook
Liya Brook@liyabrook
@brady - what are some rules of thumb to consider when thinking about how costs drop with increased production in hardware?
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@liyabrook A lot of the fixed costs of hardware don't change dramatically at scale - chips and most components have relatively flat costs past a certain quantity. Where the costs really start to add up at scale is in line automation, quality, yield rates, and the waste that can become a bottle neck at scale and eat all of your margin. The conversion for prototype to product during the design-for-manufacture process can help optimize your product for scale.
Dan Shapiro
Dan Shapiro@danshapiro · Glowforge, Robot Turtles, Hot Seat book
Hey @brady! There's been huge changes for hardware startups as funding's become available, development costs have dropped, and crowdfunding's taken off. What's next? We talked about this years ago, when you first started Highway1, but I'd love to hear how your thinking has evolved.
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@danshapiro Prototyping is "solved". Manufacturing is getting better, but retail is the next big hurdle to tackle. It's a huge burden on startups yet can still provide huge sales. Startups need more visibility into their partners' supply chain, the ability to send direct to the store and a way of training retail clerks on the product.
LumenCache
LumenCache@lumencache · CEO, LumenCache
How can we use Hwy1 as part of continuous stream of product modules and accessories after our gen2 platform is released?
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@lumencache At Highway1.io we teach you how to fish. :-) We'll teach you how to work with your customers, how to prototype and how to get your products made. So after you leave the building you'll be ready to build out your product line.
LumenCache
LumenCache@lumencache · CEO, LumenCache
@brady @lumencache No sense banging our heads when there's expert coaches available to speed learning curve and show resources. Can we schedule a PCH pitch (to me--for completed products) and I'll do Hwy1 counter pitch for new product(s)?
Handy Smart TV
Handy Smart TV@hsandroidtv · Roman Ziablov, CEO of Handy Smart TV
@brady Hi Brady, we are patenting now new type of remote control (with the help of multitouch gestures) technology so what can you advice for us or how should we promote this patent?
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@hsandroidtv I'm not a lawyer and I recommend that all startups get one, but it's wise to educate yourself on this topic before engaging (it will save you money). Jeff Schox (http://www.schox.com/) works with a lot of our startups and has a new book coming out on the topic. His site is one place to start researching. Also, this talk ->
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
@brady Thanks so much for joining us today! It's been great!
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@jakecrump Thanks a ton for having me! These were great questions. :-)
Dmitry Popov
Dmitry Popov@bizonpc · Founder, BIZON
We need access to Thunderbolt tech data. For that we need to go through Intel's Thunderbolt certification process. We applied, but have no feedback from Intel more then 1 month. We tried to email to responsible person with no luck. Why is this going and can Highway1 help us to find any connections with Intel?
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@bizonpc I would contact intel. Good luck!
InSite Energy, LLC.
InSite Energy, LLC.@insitenrg · CEO, InSite Energy, LLC.
Hey Brady, Our startup has prototypes and patents pending on a louvered Solar Panel for building energy efficiency, with integration into building automation systems and the Internet of things. Some people tell me solar power investment is dead, or too risky. What's your thoughts on solar power?
brady forrest
brady forrest@brady · Ignite Talks & Highway1
@insitenrg Solar is about economics. There are a lot of big players. You'll need to make sure that your device/service pays for itself - quickly.
Cotiga Andrei
Cotiga Andrei@andreicoriga · Co Leader,Asociation... Contry Romania
Hello, Thank you for the email : I regularly miss the conversation. I would like to expose a bit my final product to you, where should I actually start. I think I can gather sufficient information's in order to build up a presentation of the project. I would like to ask if there is any chance to be selected as a invested "product". As mention : The product is in the final stage, Must just do some quality controls and if need rebuild some of them. In practical it is a finished product waiting to be launched. I scouted a bit the internet regarding communities and I found that I can have at least 2 mil copy sell out in the release months. Thank You. Thank you for your time. Regards, Cotiga Andrei
Cotiga Andrei
Cotiga Andrei@andreicoriga · Co Leader,Asociation... Contry Romania
Is there any chance that I can get a finance from you , or your syndicate in order to procure some equipment needed, and in return you get a gratitude income share ( revenue of profit share) percentage. Expectations are always out of discussing, can you please read here a bit? https://angel.co/dungeons-of-the... As mention, I look for a pre finance for a server hardware. The product is deliverable as it is in this stage, but I want it to be more Awesome quality. Working on it. Can talk more : contact at email cotigaandrei91@gmail.com Regards.