These days the world is full of gadgets that sync with services (and even other gadgets), but some people seem to think it isn’t quite full enough. That’s why digital marketing firm R/GA has partnered up with Techstars to launch a new startup accelerator program devoted solely to these sorts of connected devices.
And what exactly does R/GA mean by “connected devices”? Everything from wearable tech to sensor-laden gadgets to home automation gear and beyond. R/GA and TechStars are looking for a total of ten startups for the program, which will see teams set up shop in R/GA’s New York digs and (hopefully) bring their kooky concepts to fruition in about three months.
Now Techstars is no stranger to kicking off highly-specialized programs like this — it recently linked up with Kaplan for a program meant to incubate education startups, and has worked with Microsoft on accelerators for Kinect and cloud-centric ventures — but his is new decidedly new territory for R/GA. The firm has worked on Nike’s FuelBand and Nike+ GPS accounts so it’s not exactly a stranger to the realm of connected gadgetry, but this curious endeavor will see R/GA devote a team of devs and designers to help nascent connected devices startups craft their marketing and branding strategies and cobble together prototypes ahead of a demo day to be held next March.
“We’ve had a few hardware companies or products move through the program, and we did the Kinect [accelerator],” Techstars business development VP Dave Drach. “But there are more quality companies coming in focused on the “internet of things” hardware space, and that’s one reason why we wanted to focus in with a partner like this.”
Of course, hardware and manufacturing intensive startups are usually terribly capital-intensive so it’s not uncommon to see investors shy away from the levels of risk involved. We’ve seen more than a few of those startups start crowdfunding their work-in-progress wares, Like other TechStars companies, this batch of connected devices startups will be given $20,000 of seed funding to get the idea off the ground, and R/GA is chipping in with the option for founders to accept an additional $100k in the form of a convertible note. After that, they’re on their own.
Got a startup (or a crazy idea for one) that fits the bill? Applications for the accelerator open today and will be accepted until October 11.