What is Hardware Club?
What is Hardware Club?
First, Hardware Club is the largest and most exclusive community of hardware startups. We select the best hardware companies and provide them with support on key hardware issues including manufacturing and distribution.
Hardware Club is also a VC fund that invests in some of its members at seed stage.
What does “community-based venture capital” mean?
Unlike traditional VC funds, we take a different approach toward making investment decisions. Founded on the principle of community, our goal is to bring together the best minds in hardware and pool their expertise to support one another.
Through our community, we will make financial investments in a small number of members whom we feel are the best of the best, all while providing expertise and resources to hundreds of hardware startups globally.
We call this ‘community-based venture capital’.
Why did you launch the Hardware Club Fund?
Hardware startups face a far different path than other kinds of startups. It requires more capital, more expertise, and more network. In building our community, we’re able to bring these elements together, giving our members unparalleled access to ecosystem resources and expertise.
As investors, our global community allows us to closely work with the industry's most promising founders. By being in the center of the hardware ecosystem, we’ve gained access to the best insights and network in the world, and we use this knowledge to fuel our investment strategy.
Our goal is to use our community to work with and support the best early-stage hardware companies to scale, and strategically invest when appropriate. For more: see “Why do I need to be apart of the community”
Does joining Hardware Club mean investment?
A majority of startups within Hardware Club are not investment portfolio companies, and thus haven’t received any financial investment from us. They still receive full access to our network of resources and partnerships, along with access to our club community of founders.
Hardware Club Fund does select a small number of companies from Hardware Club to make investments in. Investment from Hardware Club is entirely voluntary, and we never require members to accept our investment. As of May 2017, we have invested in 3% of member companies.
Is Hardware Club an incubator or an accelerator?
No, Hardware Club is a community gathering companies at different stages. Unlike accelerators or incubator programs, Hardware Club does not offer any planned programming or workspace to its members. We also do not have batches, classes or cohorts. There’s also no fixed deal when we invest. Most of our benefits and activities can be accessed online via our platform or community Slack, we have continuous rolling admission and we take no equity or membership fee to join.
Many of our members participate in accelerator and incubator programs along with being members of Hardware Club. We absolutely encourage members to find programs they think will be valuable to them.
What do startups get by becoming a member of Hardware Club?By becoming a member of Hardware Club, startups gain access to the most exclusive network of hardware entrepreneurs and partnerships in the world. Our private network of nearly 700 hardware founders and over 130 corporate partners, opens doors for members looking to expand their footprint and take their business to the next level.
- Access to our Hardware Club Platform (with over 130 partnerships and benefits)
- Access to our Hardware Club community Slack (with over 800 active members)
- Invitations to private hardware community events, including dinners with VCs, corporate and strategic partners
- Opportunities to join Hardware Club and its community at trade shows including CES and IFA
- Opportunities to be part of the Hardware Club Re.tail program
- Potential early-stage investment from Hardware Club or its partners*
What does joining Hardware Club cost?
Membership to Hardware Club is entirely free. We have no equity requirement or membership fees.
Where is Hardware Club based?
Hardware Club has offices in San Francisco, Paris and Tokyo. Our community is global, with founders residing in over 30 different countries. As a club we are location agnostic and accept startups from all around the world.
I’m a hardware startup: how do I join Hardware Club?
How do I join Hardware Club?
To be considered for membership, the first step is to complete our online application. Be sure to complete your application and include your company deck. Startups which apply without a deck will not be considered for membership.
What’s the application process like?
As a VC, we thoroughly evaluate every startup application to ensure they will be a good fit for our community. It’s a several step process, and sometimes can take weeks to complete. We make an effort to respond to every application, so please be patient.
How it works:
Our team reviews all online applications each week. Upon review, if we are interested in moving you forward, someone from our team will reach out to discuss next steps. This normally includes a call or meeting with someone from our team.
If we are not interested in moving you forward, we will let you know via email.
What is your acceptance rate?
We are rigorous about ensuring that only the best hardware startups join our community. Since inception, we’ve received more than 3,000 applications and our acceptance rate is around 7%.
What criteria do you look for in startup applicants?
- Type: Your company needs to be a ‘hardware’ startup. This means your company is physically producing (manufacturing) a product that includes electronics. Some categories we look at (but are not limited to) include IoT, wearables, drones, robotics, semiconductor chips, consumer electronics and medical devices.
- Stage: Hardware Club is stage agnostic, meaning we accept companies as early as pre-seed all the way through exit. If you’re early-stage, you need to have at least a functional prototype.
What we look for: Like any traditional VC we will evaluate your company in a number of different ways. We only invite the startups that we believe will either disrupt or dominate an old or new market. These include:
- Founding team and experience
- Product market fit and competitive landscape
- Technology feasibility, execution strategy and patents
- Past investment and investors
- Recommendations from our internal network
- A shared appreciation for Hardware Club’s vision
How do I maximize my chances of getting into the club?We’re a VC, so pitch us like one. Here’s a few tips:
- We love clear and well-crafted pitch decks.
- We love referrals, especially from existing members of the club, partners or investors.
- We love demos. If you can wow us in-person, you’re on the right track.
- We love community. Do your homework on Hardware Club and be prepared to tell us why you want to be apart of our vision.
- Don’t come looking for money. We’re community first, and we don’t write checks to anyone who doesn’t believe in our approach.
What’s the best stage to apply?
There’s no preferred stage to apply. We look for companies from inception to growth stage and all members get different value from the club.
Do you accept competitive companies?
No. To create the most effective environment for shared community success, Hardware Club does not accept competitive companies into the club. This is to ensure all members feel comfortable sharing expertise and network with the rest of the community.
If I’m accepted, what is the onboarding process like?
Once you’ve been accepted into Hardware Club, you and your team will be invited via email to join our platform and community Slack.
Upon receiving your invite, you will have 10 days to complete your company onboarding and join our community. Failure to do so will result in a revoking of your invitation to join Hardware Club.
What is the price of the membership?
Membership to Hardware Club is entirely free. We have no equity requirement or membership fees.
Is it really free? What do you expect from members?
Yes, Hardware Club is entirely free of charge.
While there is no financial cost to joining, we do require each member to fully and actively participate in the community on a monthly basis. Without active* members, there is no value to the community. We only onboard companies who are committed to being apart of our vision and are excited to join in our community. Failure to be active will result in removal from the club.
*Activity includes regularly participating on our community Slack, our platform, via email with our internal team, or by attending our private events.
Does Hardware Club membership last forever?Yes, as long as you’re active and do not break our rules.
- If your startup is inactive for more than 90 days, your company will be removed from our community.
- We have rules regarding privacy and disclosure. If we find you break one of our rules, your company will be immediately removed from Hardware Club.
Can I see the full list of Hardware Club members?
No, we do not share the list of members publicly.
Does geography matter?
No, we welcome applications from all over the world.
Is it only B2C or B2B startups?
We accept both.
I went through an accelerator or an incubator, can I still join Hardware Club?
Yes, absolutely. We are stage agnostic. Please be sure to indicate which accelerator program in your application, as we’re friendly with many of them.
What’s Hardware Club’s investment focus?
What is the best way to get funding from Hardware Club?
We only invest in members of the club, so the first step to discussing investment is to become a member of Hardware Club. We only invest in a small number of companies within Hardware Club, so in full transparency -- joining Hardware Club does not guarantee investment from us.
If you’re interested in receiving investment from us, engage with us as much as you can so we get to learn more about you and your company. Then when you begin fundraising, let us know and we’ll already be steps ahead in the ‘getting to know you’ process.
Why do I have to be part of Hardware Club to receive investment?We use the club as a vetting tool for investment. Through the club, we can engage with the best hardware founders directly, get a better understanding of market trends, and apply our expertise in a scalable way. We created the club to become better investors and support the community.
Our theory is: Successful early-stage hardware investing is tied around three major concepts:
- Is the founding team capable of executing on their vision?
- Is this product a game changing technology?
- What market is your product/technology creating or disrupting?
While part two is a given for any investment, our club really allows us to focus on part one, understanding founders. Through our club, we get to work closely with founders to help them reach their potential. We love to build relationships, and we believe that building these relationships with founders will allow us to make sound and effective investment decisions.
Think of it this way: before we write a check, we’d like to get to really know you. By joining our club, we can build a relationship and establish trust -- something we believe is the key to any successful investment. If you want our money, prove it to us by being an active member of our community.
At which stage do you invest?We focus on early-stage investment. This includes:
- Series A
What’s your check size?
As a micro-VC, we never take the lead and always co-invest with other investors. We invest from $150k to $1,25M with average in the $350k-$700k.
Are you investing only in some certain hardware industries?
Our approach is very open-minded. If you are raising, be sure to apply or reach out, as we review all investment opportunities as we receive them. Our specific areas of interest include digital health, connected home/building, smart transportation, full-stack AI systems, novel sensors.
What do portfolio companies get versus members?
Portfolio companies get a hands-on support from the Hardware Club team, while club members get full access to the resources and our community.
Partnering with Hardware Club
What type of partnerships does Hardware Club have?As a club we have over 130 different corporate partners who are committed to helping our members succeed. Some of the categories of partners we have include:
- Manufacturing Companies
- Retailers (Physical and Online)
- Distributors or Sales Agencies
- Strategic Corporate/Enterprise (Fortune 500)
- Prototyping Service Providers
- Supply Chain Services
- Logistics Service Providers
- PR Agencies
- Digital Marketing Agencies
- Industrial Design Agencies
- Engineering Design Agencies
- Legal and Patent Firms
We’re always looking for good partners, regardless of the category. If you’re interested in becoming a partner, you can apply here.
I’m interested in becoming a partner of Hardware Club, what should I do?
We love adding new partners into our network. If you’re interested in working with our members, you can apply on our site by clicking the ‘Become a Partner’ button. Or, you can apply with this link and someone will be with you shortly.
I have a service / product that could benefit to your club members and I’m interested in partnering with Hardware Club, what should I do?
Please email contact@hardwareclub for all general inquiries.
I’m a corporate, what is the Forward program and how can I join?
Our Forward program is a tailor-made program designed for corporates to get a better understanding of how hardware startups can impact their markets. You’ll get tailored introductions to some of the world’s most innovative startups in a wide variety of fields who are looking for collaboration and investment opportunities. We just connect up the dots for you. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
I’m interested in sponsoring Hardware Club’s events, what should I do?
Please email contact@hardwareclub and we will get back to you to see how we can collaborate.
I’d like to meet the Hardware Club team / Hardware Club members, do you organize events?
Please email contact@hardwareclub for all general inquiries. The majority of our events are private, but to stay up to date you can always join our mailing list and follow us on Facebook or Twitter.