An Interview With Brady Forrest On The New Hardware Startup Stars

Hardware startups are really cool and Brady Forrest has brought more of them to market than anyone we know. Now he and Dave McClure are the stars of Bazillion Dollar Club, a new show on SyFy that is showing exactly what it’s like to living inside a high-pressure startup. Forrest and McClure are the Jason and Thetis of the startup straits and are doing a bang-up job. I sat down with Forrest to talk about his experience and the future of the show.

TechCrunch: So how does it feel to be a TV star?

Brady Forrest: Ha! I haven’t been recognized on the street yet so I think I’ve got sometime before. That said, it’s something I’ve been trying to prepare for. I don’t

TC: Are people asking for your autograph? What’s the roughest thing about TV?

BF: Filming TV is a lot of hurry up & wait. The crew would want to film an activity, like pitch practice, but then we’d have to wait for the lighting to be adjusted. There’s only so much time in a TV episode so each interview segment has to hit a certain beat and time sequence.

TC: Why did you and Dave decide to do this?

BF: This (potential) level of media exposure is high risk/high reward. Ultimately we felt that it would benefit the featured companies and our Accelerators. We also hope that there’s a larger benefit to people who would like to get into tech or start a company.

If you watch Shark Tank, you mostly see a very intense moment in time when a company is trying to raise funding. It doesn’t show the team work, the decisions and the mistakes that were made along the way.

We let camera crews into our space. They were with us 2-3 days a week for 4 months. When people are around you that long they get to see all sides of you and they get to see your true interactions with people. At Highway1 we had 11 teams in the program, 3 of them were being filmed. The crew was there everyday. They got to see how we interacted with the teams off-camera and I think that influenced what made it on film.

TC: Was it worth it?
BF: Ask me in a couple of months. We filmed 6 episodes of the show. I’ve seen two of them. Each episode was filmed over 16 weeks and is edited to 43 minutes.

TC: Does this mean hardware is now part of mainstream pop culture? Are startups?

BF: In 2001, the iPod brought high-tech hardware mainstream. Putting 10,000 songs in your pocket was huge! I think the iPod marked when consumers were willing to start carrying a new device. The iPhone turbo-powered it.

We now have an incredible number of devices in our lives. That’s in part because it’s “easier” (not easy) to make them.

Back in 2001 it was still hard for a non-engineer to create their own hardware product. The Maker Movement has brought about incredible prototyping tools. The Arduino made electronics as accessible as building a webpage. Github and Instructables made it possible to “View Source” on similar projects. Makerbot’s inexpensive 3D printers made it easy to try different shapes. Shapeways services let you try out different materials. Kickstarter let’s you get money from backers.

I’m hoping BDC inspires people to build their own tech startup.

TC: What’s next? A movie?

BF: I think that the show has to go into syndication before we can do a reunion movie.