, ,

The growing ecosystem of Futureworks Incubator partners

Building a successful hardware or advanced manufacturing company is hard. But so are most worthwhile endeavors. Like, say, perfecting homemade bread. Just ask Dan Barber, the award-winning Blue Hill founder who shares how an early, doughy, failure inspired him to perfect his craft. Even more compelling is Barber’s attention to cultivating a holistic ecosystem. To make the Blue Hill Farm hay better, he introduced cows; to spread fertilizer, he introduced chickens; to trim the encroaching forest, he introduced goats. And to build a farm-to-table-movement, he used this ecosystem to build an all-natural, sustainable farm to go along with his Greenwich Village and Tarrytown restaurants.

For Futureworks Incubator, we’ve been building an ecosystem that will support thoroughbreds. You hear a lot about unicorns, but in reality, unicorns are as frequent in the business world as they are in the real one. Startups tell us what they really need is a well-rounded support system to help them work, create, refine, raise capital, build teams, test products, manufacture and repeat.  We take a look at a baker’s half-dozen of the Futureworks Incubator partners who will help hardware startups rise over the next 12 months. This is just the beginning.

Alley is an entrepreneurial hub where teams and individuals grow their businesses surrounded by like-minded people and a supportive environment. Journalists, app developers, lawyers, fashion designers, venture capitalists and open innovation labs come together to form a community of hustlers. Alongside private offices and communal desk space, Alley curates frequent events (like a recent convo with Twitch.com Founder Justin Kan), offers strategic office hours and recently launched their Resilience series podcast.

In addition to Alley’s hubs in Chelsea and Midtown, they host the AB InBev Techstars Connection accelerator and are building a VR playground with Verizon. Learn more about Alley, and join them on Instagram and Twitter. Alley Chelsea is Futureworks Incubators’ HQ and we’ll be hosting office hours and happy hours here throughout the program.


Hester Street Fair

Founded in 2010 by three Lower East Side locals, Hester Street Fair set the standard for what a market is. Transcending the notion and meaning of a typical “food court” or “flea,” they’ve become a one-of-a-kind curious, cultural and community gathering, drawing from the diversity of the neighborhood and New York City at large. Their mission is to empower pursuits of passion, and Hester Street Fair has been the starting point for hundreds of such pursuits.

Open every Saturday through October 28 from 11am-6pm at Seward Park (intersection of Hester and Essex), you can see the full calendar of market themes and special events here. Check out videos of past events and join Hester on Instagram and Twitter. Hester is teaming up with Futureworks to help startups and entrepreneurs showcase their consumer goods in front of thousands of guests per day.


Infinia Group
Infinia Group is a brand strategy and design firm based in NoMad. They combine experience and empathy with flexibility and agility to create high-impact, bespoke brand-based solutions for clients ranging from Fortune 500 to pre-seed startups, and across industries from nonprofit to healthcare to professional services. Infinia works with senior leaders and founders who are committed to growing faster and smarter – clients with the ambition to build their businesses through inspired design and memorable experiences critical to successfully competing in today’s connected world.

In addition to being Agency of Record for Futureworks NYC, Infinia is currently working with wide-ranging clients including HackensackUMC, Westfield Insurance, The Theatre Development Fund, Cerimani and Wellforce. Join Infinia on Twitter.

Kickstarter helps designers, technologists, filmmakers, musicians, and other creators find the resources and support they need to make their ideas a reality. To date, more than 120,000 creative projects – big and small – have come to life with the support of the Kickstarter community. For the remainder of 2017, Kickstarter’s Design and Technology outreach team are focusing their efforts on supporting creators across three distinct categories; Creative Tools, Delightful Design, and Boundary Pushers. You can learn more about this open call for projects, here. To discover the latest projects, ideas, and opportunities in tech and design, sign up for Kickstarter’s Invent newsletter and join them on Twitter.

Kickstarter is working with mid-stage Futureworks Incubator startups to strategize, refine and launch crowdfunding campaigns. They’re also ushering product startups through the design-for-manufacturing process to streamline the post-raise experience. 


Prime Produce

Prime Produce is a guild for slow entrepreneurship being constructed in Hell’s Kitchen. They support an economics of nourishment and a life of hospitality from their hundred-year-old autobody shop in the city and from a farmhouse in Brewster, NY. Join Prime Produce on Twitter and Facebook.

Prime Produce is supporting Futureworks Incubator entrepreneurs by providing a place to convene, critical thinking, a supportive community and workspace.

The Bronx Beer Hall
Nestled in the heart of the Arthur Avenue market, The Bronx Beer Hall offers a full lineup of New York State craft beer as well as a menu from their neighbors. Brothers Anthony and Paul Ramirez also run Mainland Media, a startup that’s helping propel the uptown borough’s brand. Stop by or join The Bronx Beer Hall on Instagram and Twitter.

The Bronx Beer Hall is Futureworks Incubators’ food and beverage partner with a big side of #goodvibes.


Tomorrow Lab

Tomorrow Lab is a hardware innovation studio based in Chinatown. They believe that new hardware products are complex, wonderful beasts. Tomorrow Lab tames these forces and resolve the complexities of emerging technologies, user needs, business cases, and consumer insights by combining the disciplines of brand Strategy, product Design, and engineering. Their processes align creative, R&D, marketing and development efforts. Tomorrow Lab calls this Holistic Innovation. Check out their projects and clients in the 2016 Year in Review.

Founded in 2010 by partners Ted Ullrich and Pepin Gelardi, the six-person team is busy working on a number of products for both new and returning clients. These projects range in size and scope depending on whether our clients are new startups, in a hardware accelerator, or a well-founded, cross-functional team inside a global brand. Tomorrow Lab strives to make new and innovative products for small-scale or mass manufacturing.

Some of these are smart home products, others are within the charging solutions landscape, and others still are toys to teach STEM. This summer, they’ll be teaching a course in New York City alongside their colleagues at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (CIID) called “Hardware Innovation: Hacking Connected Devices.” You can learn more about that here. Join Tomorrow Lab on Instagram and Twitter. Tomorrow Lab is mentoring Futureworks Incubator companies on prototyping, designing for manufacturing and hosting consulting sessions for startups. 

, ,

What skills gap? How Bushwick’s Total Metal Resource built a team of 2,000 local welders

Early last Spring, Bushwick-based Total Metal Resource won a contract with Riverside Developers to make 2,000 simple steel pieces for The William Vale Hotel in Williamsburg. With his four-person team already committed to other projects, Founder Scott Behr didn’t want to scour Craigslist and expand his staff with cold hires. Then he remembered that through TMR’s Metal Shop Fantasy Camp, he’d taught 900 New Yorkers basic welding and metal work. Behr reached out to the community and quickly recruited 20 temporary hires to work in four-hour shifts. Less than three weeks later, TMR delivered the job.

Read more


Hey cleantech & smart city startups! NYC is the world’s biggest market

Ten years ago, cleantech meant solar power and energy farms. Now, it’s all about efficient cities and IoT. Local governments are updating aging infrastructure, have a wealth of users and an insatiable appetite for data. Entrepreneurs are equally hungry to decrease waste and, of course, change the world. Cleantech isn’t just “cleaner” “tech,” it’s smarter hardware that senses surroundings, knows users and manages itself. AI and cheap sensors are tiny foremen programmed to manage and track daily ops.

New York City has its fair share of infrastructure ops. We’re the world’s biggest municipal market for energy, sanitation, transportation and buildings. Imagine how much money and time we could save by being better managed, more transparent and efficient. The global smart city market will top $1.5 trillion by 2020, and VC money in the US doubled to $741.1m since 2015 according to Melissa Mittelman and Elliott Snyder at Bloomberg. Read more


Get certified with NYDesigns’ Solar Plus Pro and Urban Future Lab’s Advanced Diploma in Clean Energy

As New York City continues its evolution into an advanced manufacturing hub, workforce development is a top priority. Sectors like wood fabrication and electronics manufacturing are growing at 38% and 26.7% respectively. Across the country, there are about 380,000 open manufacturing jobs, and filling them relies on the combination of skilled workers deep training.  We took a look at a pair of professional manufacturing certification programs across New York City that are preparing the workforce for a career in advanced manufacturing.

Read more


The Futureworks guide to NYC hardware, smart-tech and connected devices accelerators and incubators

Two years ago, Hackster’s Adam Benzion curated a list of the best American hardware accelerators for The Next Web. Although New York City got an honorable mention, no NYC accelerator made the list. Fast forward to today, and New York has a deep lineup of accelerators and incubators that help hardware and smart-tech startups grow. We curated all the programs from across the city – ranging from VC-backed accelerators like Techstars to government-supported incubators like Urbantech NYC. Programs with upcoming deadlines are listed first. Enjoy, and if you find a New York City accelerator or incubator that we missed, email us at [email protected]

Read more


Manufacture New York launches Manufacture Foundation to train advanced manufacturing workforce

Manufacture New York recently launched The Manufacture Foundation, an education nonprofit to train a 21st-century advanced manufacturing workforce, provide subsidized incubation space and offer classes for startups, engineers, manufacturers and designers.

Workforce training is increasingly important as rapid machine innovation outpaces education of skilled workers. The Manufacture Foundation’s strategies are similar to Pratt’s Equitable Innovation Economies and Toyota’s Advanced Manufacturing Technician Program. Education, training and incubation will build on Manufacture New York’s burgeoning ecosystem as it ramps up to filling out 160,000 square feet of manufacturing space. The plan is to create “a 21st-century garment district” with almost 300 jobs, space for two dozen businesses, plus research and consulting contracts. Read more


Pratt Center helps lead national Equitable Innovation Economies Program with four-city pilot

Brooklyn’s Pratt Center for Community Development is spearheading a national urban-development strategy that sets inclusivity benchmarks for economic success. Photo credit: Pratt

In order to support and develop equitable, inclusive urban innovation and manufacturing economies, Brooklyn’s Pratt Center for Community Development, Oakland-based PolicyLink and the national Urban Manufacturing Alliance created the Equitable Innovation Economies project. Over the past two years, EIE’s pilot brought together four cities – New York City, Indianapolis, San Jose and Portland (Oregon) – to collaborate, rather than compete, on longterm economic development. The four cities are sharing research, strategies and data to foster and track inclusive planning. Earlier this month, Pratt released City Snapshots of each initiative, which we summarize below.

Over the past two years, each city developed public-private investments to intentionally break down innovation barriers that are holding back equitable development. The EIE team worked with cities to help advise on programmatic strategy, capture results and set next steps. While the goals in each city – increasing economic diversity, re-establishing manufacturing and training local workforce – are similar, the footprints have their own flavor.  Read more


Watch! Chris Gorges, Sarah Meister & John Vaskis talk marketing and storytelling

Watch Marketing & Storytelling: Telling A Compelling Story And Connecting With The Audience on Vimeo.

On May 11th, the Next Top Makers community gathered at Impact Hub NYC to learn about key storytelling tactics for successfully marketing a business. Led by Chris Gorges of Rocketure, Sarah Meister of Vann Alexandra and John Vaskis of Indiegogo, the group learned how to develop the right narrative, raise awareness and pitch. Check it out!




Watch! Spencer Wright and Jordi Borràs talk design, production, and everything in between

Watch Designing for Manufacturing: Understanding The Right Production Process on Vimeo.

On April 20th, the Next Top Makers community gathered at Impact Hub NYC to learn about the best practices for determining your bill of materials, sourcing manufacturers and taking your prototype to the next level. Guided by a team of business experts, attendees gained valuable insight into the world of manufacturing. Check it out!

Oh, and love those experts? Read up on the work of the featured speakers Spencer Wright and Jordi Borràs!



Pensa Founder Marco Perry and Kit’s Camille Hearst Teach You How to Understand Users and Create Products That Matter in People’s Lives

Watch Understanding Users: Creating Products That Matter in People’s Lives on Vimeo.

Recently, the Next Top Makers community gathered at Impact Hub NYC to learn about human-centered design, designing for users and understanding those users. How does your core market browse for, touch, buy, use and respond to your products and the competitive set? Wait, wait, don’t answer that quite yet. Instead, hop aboard the smart train to Workshopville. Free entry, click here.

Also, take a look at Pensa’s groundbreaking work and the Kit.com community.