What is the Futureworks Incubator?
Through the Futureworks Incubator, we provide entrepreneurs and startups with expert mentorship, a cohort of peers, workshops and company showcase opportunities. Participating entrepreneurs also receive direct access to manufacturers, investors, production credits and coworking space. There are three tracks of the Incubator, with specific support services that cater to your stage of development. We take no equity, and there’s no cost to participate! The Futureworks Incubator is designed and managed by collaboration agency SecondMuse.
Design & Prototype
Designing your first product can be quite the challenge. Futureworks Incubator offers a comprehensive business roadmap to coach you through the ideation, formation and prototyping process. We’ll also illuminate the key legal, financial and storytelling benchmarks you’ll need to hit as you build. Along the way, we’ll invite you to visit New York’s advanced manufacturing hubs and learn about what comes next.
You’ve built a prototype, have a team and are rallying supporters around your story. Next step: understanding your market, hammering out a business plan, and exploring funding. You’re maybe even considering scaling your team or at least preparing for that extra power (and liability). Futureworks Incubator’s alumni, Mentors, workshops, and summits are designed to structure your growing company in the right way.
Manufacture & Scale
Money: Raised. Team: Built. How’s your supply chain? Manufacturing bill of rights? Cash flow vs expected inventory? Futureworks Incubator’s Manufacture & Scaling track is based on feedback from New York’s most celebrated hardware startups. We’ve assembled a community of experts to work you through the most challenging hurdles a company faces en route to rapid growth. Programming for this cohort will focus on manufacturing, particularly local when possible.
Current Incubator Companies
Adam is an entrepreneur and advisor who has helped create and commercialize products and services that drive social good and bottom line growth. Adam has experience ranging from consumer goods to healthcare to advanced manufacturing.
Alek has worked as a consultant and project manager and has helped raise millions in funding. As a member of the economic development community in New York City, Alek has conducted over 100 trainings on small business finance, management, and marketing.
Angelia manages the Internet of Things program for Techstars (IoT). The program incubates startups that are positioned to rewire the infrastructure of the future. Prior to Techstars, Angelia was the director of XRC Labs.
Bart Clareman is Senior Manager of Hardware Outreach at Indiegogo and the Founder of Clareman & Co. LLC. He previously was Cofounder and COO of Tiggly where he was responsible for consumer retail sales and marketing. Bart holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Brynna Tucker joined the Brooklyn Public Library as the BKLYN Incubator Manager in 2016. She joined BPL’s Strategy team with over 15 years of experience working with innovative people seeking to create change. She is a founding member of the NYC Innovation Collective.
Casey has worked in several roles at clean energy startups. He’s also pursued opportunities as a consultant for cleantech and healthcare startups. Casey earned an MBA and taught himself software development. He now spends his days creating a hardware program at the Coalition for Queens.
Daniel Gross is an intellectual property attorney at Myers Wolin. Daniel’s research experience as WIPO Senior Fellow for Fordham Law School’s Center on Law and Information Policy gives him a unique perspective on the technical aspects of invention and innovation.
Jonathan Askin is a professor at Brooklyn Law School. He is the Founder of the Brooklyn Law Incubator & Policy Clinic, which represents Internet, new media, communications and other tech startups. Jonathan is an honors grad of both Harvard College and Rutgers Law School.
Len is a serial entrepreneur, multiple startup founder and corporate law generalist. Len was a corporate associate in Latham & Watkins LLP, and he received his J.D. with honors from the University of Michigan Law School and his B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Florida.
Marjorie S. White is Associate Professor of Clinical Law, and Director of Transactional Practice for the Brooklyn Law Incubator & Policy Clinic. Professor White graduated from Harvard University and earned her J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School, where she was Comment Editor of the Law Review.
Philippe Laguerre is a registered patent attorney with experience in the full range of trademark and patent matters. He approaches all aspects of his practice with an emphasis on strategy and client communication. Philippe has worked with individual inventors, startups, and Fortune 500 companies.
Alicia has 3+ years of experience in manufacturing and is currently an Electronics Architecture Director at Adafruit Industries. She’s involved in overseeing 2000+ unique products from fabrication to testing, making sure each product is ready for retail.
Babak Kia is Faculty at Boston University’s College of Engineering where he focuses on the fusion of Education, Innovation, and Technology into the engineering curriculum. Babak has extensive Computer industry experience and is an advisor to a number of technology companies.
Charles is an inventor, independent product developer and design generalist. He holds a Masters of Art (MA) & Masters of Science (MSc) from the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London in Innovation Design Engineering, and a BFA in Industrial Design from Carnegie Mellon University.
David Chitayat has held the position of CEO and principal at Genimex since 2001. His role has been instrumental in transforming Genimex from a traditional trading company it was 40 years ago, into the multinational organization it is today.
Product design and development professional, experienced in taking products from concept to market using a data-driven and customer-centric approach at companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500 clients. He is currently the Senior Project manager at Newell Brands.
Frank Vallese, Sc.D. is the CEO of ePhysics Technologies, an advisory for investors and founders with technology/IP strategy, product roadmap/traction and operations management. Previously he was the CEO of Electrophysics Corporation.
Alessandro is currently the Senior Marketing manager at, where he combines his passion for digital media with his desire to create. He’s helped with Autodesk’s field marketing strategy for the consumer portfolio, and visual communications for the Product Design & Development group.
Chris creates collaboratories. He is the co-founder of prime produce, a guild for 21st century craft in Hell’s Kitchen. He also leads expansion for House of Genius, a global neighborhood of entrepreneurs who want to make neighborhoods more resourceful.
Chris is Managing Director of Infinia Ventures, part of Infinia Group, where he focuses on brand strategy and design for startups. Previously he at digital agencies including and spent spent five years in management consulting at Booz Allen and IBM. He holds an MBA from NYU Stern.
Davar Ardalan is an NPR News veteran and current Director of Storytelling & Engagement at SecondMuse. There, she leads storytelling strategy campaigns for partners such as NASA, and Nike Inc. She’s been at the forefront of experimenting with new storytelling techniques.
David is co-founder and Managing Director of ND4 Advisory, helping early stage companies raise seed, angel and Series A funding, and advising them on growth.
Erum completed a B.S. in Forensic Chemistry & Toxicology, and she gained experience working on drug development at GSK. Erum now works on innovation strategy for messagingLab.
An award-winning leader with a successful history of driving innovation through Lean Six Sigma and Agile Development, Aleef is also the recipient of the Maritime Heroes Award from US Sailing. He’s led product development in VR, IoT, robotics, medical devices, SaaS, mobile apps and more.
Alex is COO and co founder of blink blink, a company that develops creative circuit kits for kids. Alex has a BFA in philosophy from Santa Clara University and a MFA in Design & technology from Parsons. She is currently a freelance web designer and product strategist.
Chris Ioffreda is a designer working at the intersection of Industrial Design, Tangible Interaction, and Fashion. He worked as a key member of the industrial design team at Pebble. Chris received his Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design from Carnegie Mellon.
With an extensive experience in R&D and technical management, product development, and generating new revenue streams Ekin is one of the pioneers in bringing ‘smarts‘ into the HiFi world. Ekin is President of BICOM and VP of Business Development for Sonavox.
Harlan Milkove is a product-minded software engineer and veteran startup founder. Prior to forming Foundational, he was the founding software engineer at Astro, the maker of Twist Home, and a founder at Reonomy.
John Briscella is focused on the research of complex systems and the use of emerging technologies as an approach to designing in the 21st century, John co-founded AMiNiMAL studio. His designed spaces focus on creative interactivity and community involvement.
Past incubator companies
StrongArm Technologies, a 2015-16 Futureworks Incubator company, is a brand for industrial workers, or better, industrial athletes. StrongArm builds technologies and human performance equipment for the under-served and over-worked to simultaneously boost productivity and safety.
PourSteady, a 2014-15 Futureworks Incubator company, is a Brooklyn-based startup that is building a robotic coffee system to make the perfect cup of pour-over coffee. Combining precision motion-control, elegant design, and beautiful fabrication–our system makes up to five cups of pour-over coffee simultaneously with a single barista at the helm.
BotFactory, a 2014-15 Futureworks Incubator company, brings the future of electronic circuit fabrication to your desktop with the introduction of Squink. Imagine if every time you wanted to make a change to a website or an app, you had to wait for weeks and pay hundreds of dollars. The electronics industry is crippled by these costs and delays every time they are designing or building an electronic device. BotFactory built Squink, the world's first desktop electronic circuit factory. It prints AND assembles a circuit board in 30 minutes, for...
Dog Parker, a 2015-16 Futureworks Incubator company, believes you and your dog are happier when you're together. So we’re building a network of pay-by-the-minute neighborhood doghouses for use outside of stores and restaurants to make it easier to have your dog with you before, after, and in-between all your errands. Dog Parker wants to be the go-to solution in those moments when you’re out and about with your dog, want to run an errand, and need a secure place to park your dog.
RPR, a 2013-14 Futureworks Incubator company, is a design and engineering boutique specializing in kinetic furniture. As designers and technologists, our team integrates aesthetics and robotics into decor to enhance versatility and functionality without subscribing to the sterile appearance of sci-fi lore: think Charles Eames’s and Judy Jetson’s wedding registry.
Sunhouse, a 2014-15 Futureworks Incubator company, builds expressive instruments for the modern musician. Through signal processing, machine learning and sensor technologies, we are bridging the gap between digital sound and human expression. Our first product, Sensory Percussion, combines the expressive power of an acoustic drum with the flexibility of an electronic drum to bring the art of drumming into the digital age.
Kinograph, a 2014-15 Futureworks Incubator company, was founded in 2012 by Matt Epler as an experiment in open-source film digitization. As a solo founder, Epler was hungry to work with a New York-based hardware team. He joined Human Condition Safety as lead creative technologist and then UX/UI designer.
Capacita, a 2014-15 Futureworks Incubator company, is an accessible game controller for individuals with physical impairments. This game controller can be used by people that have experienced a disability or have a long standing impairment that affects their ability to participate in gaming through a traditional controller.
BlackBox Manufacturing, a 2014-15 Futureworks Incubator company, was founded in 2013 by Will Watts. Based in New York City's Brooklyn Navy Yard, BlackBox designed and built custom composite parts using additive manufacturing techniques. Founder Will Watts joined Tesla in 2016 and is now their market lead for charging infrastructure based in New York City.
Thimble, a 2015-16 Futureworks Incubator company, is a subscription service that delivers a monthly electronics project right to your doorstep. These projects contain components to teach kids and adults how to build fun, workable devices: from hardware design through firmware and application software, in a creative and accessible way.
Bonbouton, a 2015-16 Futureworks Incubator company, is a technology platform for preventative diabetic health care. Our first product, a smart insole with a proprietary embedded graphene sensing system, passively monitors the skin’s physiological signals in order to detect early signs of foot ulcers. This simplifies patient self-monitoring and reduces the frequency of doctor visits. Bonbouton is also the Smart Clothing winner of Wearable Technology Innovation World Cup 2017, a 1776 Health Fellow (2017), and a National Science Foundation a...
blink blink was a 2015-16 Futureworks Incubator company. Its Creative Circuit Kits provide the tools to engineer arts, crafts, and fashion projects embedded with lights, simple electronics, and circuits; our kits are designed with empathy for girls ages 8-18. blink blink kits include a circuit building guide with project tutorials and introduction to basic circuit theory, creative circuit materials, and traditional electronic components.
WearWorks, a 2015-16 Futureworks Incubator company, is a haptics design company. They design products and experiences that deliver information through touch. WearWorks' first product is a wearable haptic navigation device for the blind and visually impaired called WayBand. It guides users to an end-destination using only vibration. Offloading this from the eyes and ears delivers information without a display in a more intuitive way.
Applications are currently closed, but stay tuned this spring for an opportunity to apply to the second year of the Futureworks Incubator! In the meantime, check out our events page for opportunities to get involved in our workshops, panels, and more.
Futureworks Incubator builds off the success of New York’s Next Top Makers to support the growth of hardware and advanced manufacturing startups and entrepreneurs in New York City. Through committed mentorship, expert-led workshops, a devoted alumni network and a passionate Founders community, we make building a company easier, cheaper and faster.
Join the community as a Mentor, Startup, Partner or Sponsor and become embedded in a versatile and growing community of startups, local manufacturers, investors, and production spaces. In addition to joining a community, you get preferred access to events and showcases relevant to getting your hardware company off the ground. We take no equity, and there’s no cost to participate. We simply ask you engage with the intention to contribute and grow as part of this inspiring network. Futureworks Incubator is led by global innovation agency SecondMuse.
There are three cohorts within the program – each targeting distinct stages of growth and development. The cohorts are broken down by idea-stage entrepreneurs, early startups looking to validate their market and mid-to-later stage startups that are seeking investment and looking to manufacture at scale.
Those accepted into the program are assigned to a cohort and a recommended set of activities. Once invited to participate in the program, you will be expected to commit to an immersive daylong Summit alongside your cohort and to attend at least two of 10 scheduled workshops. You will have access to a network of Mentors, programming specifically designed for you and your cohort, showcase opportunities and networking events.
The 2017 program is based on success and learnings from the past three years of programming through Next Top Makers. Here are some of the key highlights to look for from Futureworks Incubator programming:
- Workshop Series: From May 2017 through December 2017, Futureworks Incubator will host a monthly (at times bi-monthly) workshop series on what you need to know to launch your own product startup ranging from business planning and exploration of business models to design and design for manufacturing to legal to prototyping and understanding users to marketing and manufacturing. Every accepted startup or entrepreneur will receive a roadmap with recommendations for activities, events and workshops most relevant to them. There will be ten workshops in total. Preference will be given to those that apply to be a part of the program and we will reserve a small number for the general entrepreneurial public as well.
- Summits: Each cohort of startups and entrepreneurs will be invited to a Summit – a day-long event designed specifically for their cohort. Idea-stage participants will prototype and bring ideas into the physical world amidst new materials, machines and design experts. Those seeking market validation will create a plan and connect with Mentors and resources to help them achieve it. Those seeking to scale and manufacture will have access to resources about manufacturing and local manufacturers in NYC along with ideas and people to support strategic growth. There will be three Summits in total, one for each cohort. Attendance at your cohort-based Summit is required in order to get invited to closing and other showcase events throughout the program.
- Cohort Programming: Depending on your cohort, there is specific programming available to help you to connect and grow with a cohort of companies at a similar stage. Many of the workshops provide opportunities for cohorts to interact with each other and to create an interwoven experience amongst startups at different stages in the lifecycle.
- Access to Mentors: Our Mentor network is made up of alumni companies along with experts in design, business, legal, manufacturing and storytelling. Our Mentors are invested in and eager to grow the NYC hardware ecosystem. They have started and sold businesses, successfully launched and scaled products or companies, received prestigious awards, and even established entirely new markets. They are bound in their commitment to help NYC-based hardware and product entrepreneurs along their journey to success.
- Additional Events and Showcases: Throughout the Incubator experience, participating entrepreneurs and startups will have access to opportunities to showcase their company and product alongside other Futureworks Incubator companies. In addition, Futureworks Incubator partners, such as Kickstarter, are planning exclusive events for the Futureworks Incubator community. The program will host two high-profile closing events to celebrate your completing a cycle of the program and to setup your network of supporters, potential buyers, partners and funders.
Futureworks Incubator is part of the broader Futureworks NYC portfolio of investments by New York City Economic Development Corporation, the City’s primary engine for economic development, charged with leveraging the City’s assets to drive growth, create jobs, and improve quality of life. Program operations are led by SecondMuse. If you are interested in getting involved in the program, please reach out to [email protected]
As long as you are working on a hardware startup that intends to manufacture physical products in NYC, then we have a place for you! We accept startups and entrepreneurs in every stage along the journey. We have three distinct tracks of programming for each of the cohorts: the Idea Stage Cohort, the Market Validation Cohort and the Scaling and Manufacturing Cohort. Read below to see where you may fit best:
The Idea Stage Cohort:
The Idea Stage Cohort has people of all levels and experiences. Some are first-time entrepreneurs and others are serial entrepreneurs working out a new idea. The goal in the Idea Stage Cohort is to develop a concept over the incubation period and create a rough prototype and to decide whether you want to pursue a business around this idea.
The Market Validation Cohort:
The Market Validation Cohort allows those with already-working prototypes and an early business to get to the next level through refining a product and building a business. The goal of the Market Validation Cohort is to identify the best product/market fit, establish a solid business framework and prepare to manufacture in NYC.
The Scaling and Manufacturing Cohort:
Those in the Scaling and Manufacturing Cohort have already established a business and have a product in the market. Members of this cohort are looking to have greater impact, connect with new manufacturers, refine their manufacturing process, reach more or new customers, and/or attract new investors.
Your Cohort will be your family and your support along the way. No matter which Cohort you fall into, you will have the opportunity to connect with and interact with entrepreneurs and startups from other Cohorts. In addition to fitting into one of our three Cohorts, Futureworks Incubator entrepreneurs and startup teams tend to have a community-oriented mindset to business. At Futureworks Incubator, we believe ideas, resources and expertise can come from anywhere and anyone; the success of our alumni are successes we celebrate.
To apply, applicants must be at least 18 years old and be a student in, resident of or have a business located in New York City. Only one application per business or product will be accepted.
Yes! With the transition from Next Top Makers to Futureworks Incubator, we are offering more opportunities to learn from, connect with and engage in an expanded set of materials and experiences highlighting people, places and resources relevant to your business. The short answer is: If you think you have something to gain and contribute to the Futureworks Incubator, absolutely apply.
The program focuses on your commitment to and engagement in New York City. The program will feature products and companies that fit within one or multiple of the following categories:
- Made in NYC
- Designed in NYC
- Solves an NYC Problem
- Interested in Local Production
Please note that the following types of product are excluded from participating in the program:
- Consumer non-durable good (including but not limited to food; beverages; garments, shoes and other textile goods; and health and beauty products such as cosmetics, medicines, nutritional supplements and vitamins)
- Agricultural product
- Media product (including, but not limited to books, publications, music, photographs, video, and film)
- Sex toy
- Chemical, liquid or gas
- Permanent structure
- Raw material
- Art, sculpture, or painting, unless the Product is reproducible, scalable, and has functionality beyond purely artistic purposes
April 10th: Application closes. Key program dates are included below: (*indicates mandatory)
May 17 (4:30 – 9pm): Opening Workshop and Onboarding of Startups*
June 30 (all day): Summit for Market Validation Startups*
July 19 (6:30-9:30pm): Workshop on Finance and Operations
Week of July 24th: Onboarding for Idea Stage entrepreneurs*
August 15: Workshop on Connecting Your Startup to Manufacturers
August 17: Workshop on Designing for Manufacturing
September 12: Workshop on Understanding Users through Prototyping
September 14: Workshop on Business Models for Startups
September 22: Summit for Scale and Manufacturing*
October 17: Workshop on Fulfillment and Logistics
October 19: Workshop on Legal for Product Startups
October 21: Summit on Prototyping for Idea Stage Startups*
November 15: Workshop on Marketing & Storytelling for Product Startups
December 6: Workshop on Fundraising for Product Startups
Closing events to showcase Futureworks Incubator companies will take place in December 2017 and January 2018. To be invited to present, Futureworks Incubator companies must attend relevant Summit + a minimum of two relevant Workshops.
You are required to participate in a virtual or in-person orientation, at least two Workshops and one Summit relevant to your cohort. Depending on your cohort assignment, there may be other required activities and events to be considered part of the program. Idea stage entrepreneurs will participate from August through December 2017, the Market Validation cohort will run from May 2017 through December 2017, and the Scale and Manufacture cohort will run from May 2017 through January 2018.
Startups and participating entrepreneurs will need to submit an application via the program website. The organizing team (SecondMuse, Imagination in Space and NYCEDC) will assess whether or not applicants meet requirements (see ‘Who can participate in Futureworks Incubator?’ below). Applicants will also be considered for general fit with the program. Accepted companies and entrepreneurs will be assigned to a cohort based on their answers to application questions. A phone interview and/or in-person pitch may be required to determine the best fit. NYCEDC will have final approval over the startups and entrepreneurs invited to participate in the program.
Futureworks entrepreneurs and/or startups will be evaluated and selected for cohorts based on the following criteria:
- Which cohort is the best for you? We will consider your self-evaluation and review at the following
- Stage of product development (used to determine which cohort is the best fit for you)
- Stage of business (also used to determine which cohort is the best fit for you)
- Team (background, how many team members, skill sets, experience, etc. to assess cohort fit)
- Fit with program including orientation to learning, willingness to be part of a community, availability to participate (refer to the question regarding requirements and restrictions listed above
- NYC relevance (are you, your teammates or your company based in NYC; do you want to build or make your product here)
In preparing your application, you should be aware that as long as your idea is not disclosed to others, or is disclosed only in confidence, you may have some limited Intellectual Property protection over your idea. This limited protection can be jeopardized by disclosing your idea. Accordingly, you should be aware that:
- You are solely responsible for protecting any rights in your invention. If you apply for the program before any Intellectual Property rights are established, you risk jeopardizing your ability to later obtain protection. We prefer that you take steps to protect your interest in your submission before submitting to us. Accordingly, we recommend:
- Reviewing the USPTO information for inventors.
- Consulting with a competent patent attorney prior to your submission. If you would like a recommendation for an attorney to contact, please contact us at [email protected]
Applicants for the Futureworks Incubator must agree to the following:
I hereby agree and acknowledge that: (i) I am submitting to the Futureworks Incubator program only non-confidential and public domain materials in the sections of the form marked as NON-CONFIDENTIAL; (ii) I am authorized to submit this response to the Futureworks Incubator program and indemnify all Futureworks Incubator program participants, partners and organizers from any and all claims related to my intellectual property; (iii) I retain full rights over respective intellectual property; and (iv) I grant Futureworks Incubator program participants, partners and organizers the right to share and distribute the NON-CONFIDENTIAL portions of my submission materials for review purposes and for the marketing and promotion of the Futureworks Incubator program.
Submissions for the Futureworks Incubation program may be rejected at the sole discretion of the program organizers, either in part or in their entirety, if it is deemed to be obscene, defamatory, likely to incite violence or illegal activity, in violation of any third-party’s rights, or is otherwise deemed to be inappropriate. The program organizers reserve the right, without liability, to cancel, suspend, amend or modify the program, or any part of it, at any time.
All applications must be submitted in English. Given this is a community-based program, it is critical that participants have a strong proficiency in the English language in order to engage with and benefit from others in the community.
There are no costs other than your time associated with the program. You may, however, have access to benefits and perks through the program such as printing credits, opportunities to attend and showcase at trade shows, access to coworking and workshop space, etc.
In short – the spirit of collaboration! Futureworks Incubator is an unprecedented citywide initiative to support the advanced manufacturing and hardware ecosystem: startups, innovators, manufacturers, service providers, institutions of higher learning, etc. More than 50 organizations and individuals were consulted for the initial design of the program of Next Top Makers in 2013. Over the past several years, the community has continued to grow and evolve with changes in technology, funding and the hardware and manufacturing landscapes of the city.
Of course! In fact, we would encourage you to apply so that you can be a part of the Futureworks Incubator community. As long as you are in NYC for key program dates and have an interest or plan to build your business in the city, we encourage you to apply!