Hardware Development Platform HWTrek Gets $4M Series A

HWTrek, a Taipei-based platform that connects hardware startups with manufacturers and other resources, has scored a $4 million Series A. The funding was led by WI Harper and ITIC. Legend Star Capital (the investment arm of Legend Holdings, Lenovo’s parent company), Chinese e-commerce platform JD.com, and Tokyo venture capital firm Global Brain also participated.

The new capital will allow HWTrek to work with more entrepreneurs and establish additional manufacturing and distribution channels in Japan and China, where HWTrek plans to open a new office in Shenzhen. More 2,500 developers and startups have used the cloud-based platform so far to manage tasks and find collaborators for 850 projects. The companies HWTrek has worked with include Keen Home, Choose Blocks, and Meta.

HWTrek chief executive officer Lucas Wang tells TechCrunch that the company is seeking partnerships for the “the entire product development process—from idea to delivering product to market, from semiconductor vendors to retail.” Its new funding will speed up its growth and, in turn, help hardware companies develop products more quickly or stay on track to meet crowdfunding goals.

“HWTrek makes the process of project management and communication with manufactures as smooth as possible in order to ensure a project’s success. It is hard for startups and creators to validate manufacturers. Managing the supply chain requires in depth technical expertise and knowledge. It’s a long-term process that requires matching the variety of resources needed at different stages of production,” says Wang.

Adding JD.com as an investor means that HWTrek is now a potential source of new products for the e-commerce company, which is one of Alibaba’s closest rivals. JD.com recently launched an open ecosystem called JD Smart and is looking for new smart devices from new and established hardware companies to add to the platform.

In a prepared statement, Keven Wang, executive director of Legend Star Capital, said “There is tremendous demand for supply chain resources from hardware entrepreneurs and HWTrek’s platform offers a more efficient system for bridging the resources of the supply chain and requirements of the startups.”