In 2011, I attended my first Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. While there were a handful of startups scattered throughout the main expo floor, including True-backed Valencell and Makerbot, the majority of companies in attendance were the traditional consumer electronics manufacturers that have ruled the shelves of Best Buy for the past few decades.
After missing CES in 2013 and 2014, I arrived this year expecting to see a similar mix of companies. However, I was thoroughly blown away to see the entire Sands Expo Hall filled with small, emerging consumer electronics businesses—hundreds (if not thousands) of new companies across a variety of brand new categories, including smart homes, digital health and “maker” products. And this didn’t even include the drones and other new technology areas in the main expo hall.
For a market that was dead before 2008, connected devices are back in a big way and are seeing more innovation (and funding) than ever.
At True, we’ve been fortunate to invest in more than 15 new startups selling physical products, including 3D Robotics, Makerbot and Ring. We even hosted an event last year called “True Atoms,” bringing together the best Founders and executives from across the lean hardware ecosystem to share best practices and learn from one another.
And while many trends, including decreased component costs, increased access to smaller-run manufacturing and the growth of cellphones, have made it easier than ever to launch a connected-device company, the challenges of scaling remain incredibly complex.
We previously wrote a blog post talking about hardware companies as “the double black diamond” of startups. One year later, I wanted to share some more thoughts and ideas about what we look for in new opportunities in connected hardware.
Continue reading Working with Atoms: 5 Lessons for Building a Hardware Startup