Hardware startups have long taken a backseat to the glitz and fast track of software, which has been the path to success in Silicon Valley and tech circles elsewhere.
Yet today, it seems that everybody is talking about the so-called “Maker Movement.” The top two Y Combinator winter 2013 startups voted most likely to succeed were both hardware companies. Dropcam, a San-Francisco startup that makes a camera that streams and records to the cloud, just announced it raised another $30 million in funding. A maker conference called XOXO popped up last year in Portland, Ore., and was so successful that the founder instituted a screening process to decide who gets to attend.
Hardware startup meetups are on the rise from New York to San Francisco, Stockholm to Toronto. Even venture capitalists once turned off by hardware’s high startup costs and lengthy start times, are slowly making their way to hardware.
Through my $20 million fund, Version One Ventures, I have invested in several maker-type companies, including the crowdfunding site Indiegogo. Why the excitement over hardware? The way I see it, there are five key trends driving the hardware renaissance…
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, or even use Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for MakeCode, CircuitPython, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
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