Estonia has seen its fair share of startup buzz, but recently it’s been happening in the name of hardware. Estonian BuildIt, one of the first startup accelerators with a focus on physical devices, is accepting applications from 6-12 teams for its first 1st program taking place in April 2014.
The 3-month long program takes place in the inspiring premises of Tartu Science Park (TSP). There the participating startups will receive free office space and prototyping facilities, such as the protolab, which includes a full range of product development services in the field of precision mechanics, mechatronics and and 3D design. Also, BuildIt's Asian manufacturing contacts might come in handy once things start taking off.
BuildIt intends to run 2 batches annually and welcomes teams globally with at least 2 members and a working prototype, while focusing on startups in Eastern Europe and Russia. Once selected, the program kicks off with a 15k investment from BuildIt (for a 5-10% equity share), and is followed by a month-long tour across the mains business hubs of Europe, USA and Asia to meet investors and potential partners. This touring model was first introduced by Seedcamp and has proved to work for other accelerators as well.
Of course, all accelerators are about mentoring, and in this sense BuildIt is no different. Their international network of 80 mentors includes, on top of engineers, VC’s and hardware company managers, researchers from Stanford and MIT.
Hype for hardware has rosen crucial interest towards gadget development which hasn’t gone unnoticed from Aleksander Tõnnisson, the co-founder and CEO of Buildit : “We believe it is the right time to start a hardware startup. Product development and manufacturing has become cheaper and more available for small companies.”
”Still building a hardware startup is hard, that’s why we are launching Buildit. There are over 200 startup accelerators in the world but only few are focused on hardware“, says Tõnnisson.
The Tartu Science Park is one of the largest high tech incubators in the Baltic states, giving the right startups the acceleration they will most certainly be grateful for for years to come.