Futureworks Incubator Gets New York City Hardware Startups Investment-Ready
Innovation agency SecondMuse and NYCEDC brought back the citywide Futureworks Incubator this January with a cohort of 15 Fellows and 50+ Entrepreneurs. The Futureworks Incubator is one of America’s largest urban hardware programs and gets startups investor-ready through expert mentorship, a series of essential workshops, and a community of supportive founders that help each other scale.
Futureworks Incubator Fellows include a diverse group of hardware-product startups. From glass solar panels and a revolutionary drum kit to at-home dry cleaning and autonomous robotic boats, Fellows address the diversity of NYC’s needs. The 15 Fellows are in three smaller cohorts where they’ll focus on core needs, including Crowdfunding to Retail, sponsored by Greenpoint’s Kickstarter and Sunset Park-based UncommonGoods, Sales and Marketing, and Manufacturing.
Futureworks Incubator Entrepreneurs supports more than 50 startups and founders with a series of workshops and summits designed to help hardware startups get off the ground. Evening workshops and all-day summits are led by New York City founders from companies like Tomorrow Lab, Genimex and more. They’re free and open to the NYC hardware community.
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Futureworks Partners & Sponsors
Futureworks Partners help strengthen NYC’s hardware economy by supporting The Futureworks Incubator and startups through donations and in-kind contributions. Futureworks Sponsors work closely with participating startups and entrepreneurs, government leadership, mentors, and the wider NYC community. Reach out here.
If you have experience in manufacturing, business, legal, marketing or other fields that can help hardware startups, reach out here to join the Futureworks Incubator mentors network.
Futureworks Incubator Mentors
I’m keen to provide guidance and support to growth companies looking to hire and engage with the right talent. Also interested in supporting businesses who are trying to solve tough recruitment challenges and use my expertise to connect with foundersl to help them on their mission to scale.
I hope to foster a vibrant and world-beating community of manufacturers and technologists in the greatest city in the world.
Having gone through the program with Duro UAS autonomous technologies, I thought it would be good to give back. It will also allow me to meet more people in our space.
I’ve worked with startups in a range of roles (founder, banker, VC, advisor, mentor) for many years, and love them all. Over the past several years, I’ve been focusing more time on mentoring, through Score and other organizations, and it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve done. I love watching founders learn and companies grow – and I learn so much. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a couple Futureworks members. It’s a terrific program, and I’d like to be more involved.
My interest in being a Futureworks Mentor is my love of advancing technology and supporting the teams who do that work. I’ve always been at the apex of new technology and hope to continue to broaden my understanding of what is cutting edge in the world of advance manufacture. I also hope to share my experience in the world of hardware and materials to help teams get off the ground. Scale, funding, leadership are all potential killers for teams and businesses.
As a Futureworks alumnus, I found the program and the mentoring invaluable. Through mentoring and networking, I met some really wonderful people. I would love to be able to give back to the community, share experience, and help make other companies successful. Along the way, I hope to learn some new ideas, meet new people, and stay in touch with entrepreneurs.
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.
I am looking to help the hardware startup community understand that they exist in a regulated space. I will help to prepare them for the regulatory challenges that exist for products that are sold to consumers in the US and in other countries. Tech startups need the basics of these regulations upfront rather than getting surprised as they grow.
I hope to contribute as a listener and supporter to a hardware startup founder at the early stages of building a product and a company. I’d also like to to share the experience and knowledge I’ve gained working as a Product Manager at MakerBot at LittleBits to help them build testable prototypes and operational blueprints for reaching market.
I am the Group CEO for Genimex, a design, engineering and manufacturing company with offices based in Taipei, Shanghai and NYC. We have an in-house team of industrial designers, engineers, quality control and account management that handles your project from concept design to production.
I have a passion for mentoring entrepreneurs within nontraditional and underserved populations and guiding those entrepreneurs towards the resources and tools needed to build and scale their concepts into profitable and sustainable businesses. My research interests are entrepreneurship education applied as workforce development, the impact of entrepreneurship education on first-gen students, and lifting families out of poverty through female entrepreneurship. Additionally, I am interested in the sustainability of apparel companies launched through crowdfunding projects
Having participated in the program last year as a member startup, I really enjoyed all of the programming and found a lot of the information and connections to be very helpful. As a mentor for this cycle, I hope to be able to share some of the things I learned last year and help facilitate connections between up-and-coming startups and other groups and companies in the NYC area.
I enjoy helping the future businesses of the world to excel and become great places to work. Among the keys to the realm are having the right narrative, having the ability to innovate, and attracting, retaining, and developing the right people. From a professional standpoint, I’m looking to gain more experience in startups and their challenges, build my brand as a mentor and specialist, and do some solid networking.
I want this city to overtake Silicon Valley as the place that hardware engineers think of as the place to be. I’ve witnessed the growth of tech in NYC the last few years, specifically with places like New Lab, and I want to help out in that progress. I’ve worked full time for startups the last three years and started a consulting business in my free time to help hardware startups succeed.
I’m looking forward to working with a broader range of hardware startups, while also working with a program that has statewide impact.
Chris is an entrepreneur focused primarily on brand strategy and design. He currently serves as founder / CEO of Thompson & Prince and Everharbor, and has a hybrid background that spans management consulting, creative agencies, and tech startups. He mentors and advises a number of accelerators, incubators, and VCs in NYC and beyond. Chris holds an MBA from NYU Stern and a BS in business administration from UNC-Chapel Hill.
I have been really inspired by Futureworks Incubator program’s mission to support early-stage hardware entrepreneurs and advanced manufacturing. I learned from many hardware founders that it’s very hard to have enough space, support and shared data at the early stage phase. I understand that being an innovator in the hardware space is extremely challenging and founders need to be more dynamic.
I love to mentor, coach, and foster innovation. I have worked with the likes of start-ups, VC funds, and Innovation centers such as Angelhack and Galvanize. Whether data science, AI, or business development, I would be proud to offer my expertise for startups.
I look forward to mentoring in order to be another asset for ambitious founders’ goals whether through fundraising help, user acquisition creativity, business strategy, partnerships brokering or personal support.
Jessica Califano leads all marketing and communications for Temboo, a B2B SaaS company focused on industrial IoT. Jessica graduated from NYU with a degree in Media, Culture, and Communications.
I enjoy helping entrepreneurs avoid the mistakes I made and helping them recover quickly from the ones they make on their own.
I participated as a mentor last year and really enjoyed the experience of helping early stage startups think through some of their customer and go-to-market questions. I also enjoyed getting to know the incredible group of fellow mentors. This is a wonderful opportunity to give back to the NYC startup community.
My team participated in Futureworks last year. It was worthwhile and I would love to give back. Mentoring is helpful for me/us, as we remain engaged in the Futureworks community.
I am interested in applying my strategic and service design expertise in the development of new manufacturing based business models.
In the past few years I have contributed to transform the largest French e-commerce company supply chain, bringing automation and robotic solutions to improve processes and performance. I am passionate about what is going on in this field, and I want to spend some time helping entrepreneurs define their products and adjust their go-to-market strategy.
I hope I can keep building an interesting network among brilliant engineers who share my interest for automation and robotics. I hope to learn as much as I can in this field.
I’ve always been passionate about connecting with people who are supporting or developing compelling hardware products. As someone who has lived in the city on and off since 2007, I’m particularly excited to help companies eager to build in New York City. By participating in the Futureworks Incubator, I hope to not only contribute my expertise to the burgeoning hardware manufacturing industry in NYC, but also learn from the other entrepreneurs and mentors and grow my network of NYC-based hardware and design enthusiasts.
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.
Futureworks Incubator works 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 community of founders, we make building a company easier, cheaper and faster.
Futureworks Incubator builds on the success of its 2017-18 program year. 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. We take no equity, and there’s no cost to participate for companies who apply. Futureworks Incubator is led by Brooklyn-based collaboration agency SecondMuse.
Within the program, every accepted startup will develop a plan to identify priorities and address the specific needs and challenges they are facing. Startups will have access to a network of Mentors, programming specifically designed for your company’s stage of development, and opportunities to showcase their product at networking and public-facing events.
The program is based on successes and learnings from the past four years of the Futureworks Incubator and its previous iteration. Here are some of the key highlights to look for:
- Workshops: Futureworks Incubator will host a 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 for manufacturing, to legal, to prototyping and manufacturing, to understanding how to bring your product to market. Preference for these workshops will be given to those that apply to be a part of the program, but we will reserve a small number for the general entrepreneurial public as well. Here is a summary of our 2017 Workshop on Connecting to Manufacturers at A/D/O, as well as of our 2017 Workshop on Understanding Users: Testing Products & Prototyping at Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator.
- Summits: Curated, full-day events that offer teams the opportunity to pitch, build relationships with mentors, prototype, and receive support from a group of experts with a specific challenge facing their business. Check out our 2017 Kickoff Summit at Kickstarter.
- Access to Mentors: Our Mentor network is made up of alumni companies and experts in design, business, legal, manufacturing, marketing, and more. 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 to the public alongside other Futureworks Incubator companies. Here is a link to our 2017 closing event at Electropositive.
As long as you are working on a hardware startup in NYC, then we have a place for you! We consider startups and entrepreneurs in every stage along the journey.
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! 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 or manufacturing
Please note that the following types of product are excluded from participating in the program:
- Consumer non-durable goods (including but not limited to food; beverages; and health and beauty products such as cosmetics, medicines, nutritional supplements and vitamins)
- Agricultural products
- Media products (including, but not limited to books, publications, music, photographs, video, and film)
- Sex toys
- Chemical, liquid or gas
- Permanent structures
- Raw materials
- Art, sculpture, or painting, unless the Product is reproducible, scalable, and has functionality beyond purely artistic purposes
Startups and participating entrepreneurs will need to submit an application via the program website. The organizing team (SecondMuse and NYCEDC) will assess whether or not applicants meet requirements and selection criteria.
Futureworks entrepreneurs and/or startups will be evaluated and selected based on the following criteria:
- Your product
- Your business
- Your team (background, how many team members, skill sets, experience, willingness to contribute to this community)
- 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:
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.
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 called 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.
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!