HAXLR8R Opens a China-Based Accelerator for Hardware Startups

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spend the last two weeks polishing their demos and pitches and meeting potential partners and investors.

HAXLR8R is the product of a collaboration between Chinaccelerator, a separate incubator program based in Dalian, China, and Seeed Studio, an “open hardware facilitation” company in Shenzhen.

Chinaccelerator, founded in 2010, mainly hosts software companies. It’s part of the Global Accelerator Network (formerly known as the TechStars Network), and its profile in the startup community got a boost last November when one of its graduates, a supply chain management startup called OrderWithMe, won the grand prize at TechCrunch Disrupt in Beijing.

Seeed, meanwhile, helps companies create prototypes of their electronic gadgets, then manufactures them on a small, initial scale. The company has “equipment, tooling, and a group of people who will be able to help [startups] on the hardware side,” says Ebersweiler.

Ebersweiler is a 30-ish French expat who’s been busy in the startup-marketing-investing circuit in Japan and China since 2001. “When I was 18, I left France on a one-year exchange program, and what was supposed to be a one-year journey turned out to be 12 years,” he jokes. He co-founded Chinaccelerator with Sean O’Sullivan, the head of a Kinsale, Ireland-based venture firm called SOS Ventures International. O’Sullivan came along as a founding partner at HAXLR8R. Together with a third co-founder, Eric Pan, Ebersweiler and O’Sullivan have lined up mentorship commitments from several U.S. entrepreneurs and investors, including MakerBot Industries co-founder Zach Smith, Intuitive Automata founder Cory Kidd, and Foundry Ventures managing director Brad Feld.

Ebersweiler says he and O’Sullivan hatched the idea for HAXLR8R after watching how quickly two startups participating in Chinaccelerator were able to find local partners to help them assemble hardware prototypes—one in near-field communications, the other in fitness. “But everybody was saying that there is still a problem in building hardware startups—it’s very hard to raise funds,” says Ebersweiler. “It became obvious that we should do something.”

Ebersweiler says HAXLR8R won’t release the names of the participating startups until June, when the program will present its first class of entrepreneurs to investors at a yet-to-be-determined location in the Bay Area. The organization wants to “keep some level of curiosity for demo day,” he says.

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Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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