“The manufacturing process can be difficult,” said Lucas Wang, CEO and Co-founder, HWTrek, in an exclusive interaction with e27.
The Asian investor, who co-founded Taiwan-based incubator TMI Holding, also spoke about his motivation behind setting up a crowdfunding site specifically for hardware startups.
His journey in setting up HWTrek as a niche site for hardware builders started a long time ago — even before he established TMI — when he was the lead of investment in technology at venture capital firm WI Harper‘s Taipei and Beijing offices. He saw the laborious and complex process that is making hardware, one which hasn’t been simplified by technology, while building a network of hardware and technology companies at his previous job.
In November 2013, HWTrek announced that it had launched its platform in public beta with 80 individuals and companies. Wang and his team of 13 across Asia, the US and Europe, aims to make the website “a one-stop shop for today’s inventors seeking expert guidance and support in relation to end-to-end product design, crowdsourcing, manufacturing and go-to-market strategy”.
He said, “Through HWTrek, my team and I hope to enlighten them of the hardware manufacturing process, as well as help them deliver a high quality product on time, under budget, and at scale. This will eventually benefit consumers who will receive high quality products.” The aforementioned hardware manufacturing process includes finding the right manufacturer, understanding what materials are required to present to those manufacturers, to getting an idea of the expectations manufacturer have of prototypes.
Thus, these individuals and companies can receive access to industry experts, a Request for Quotation tool and solutions inventors can utilise to manufacture their products (or better known as HWTrek’s B2B expert solutions). All expert solutions come from the company’s community of Asian manufacturing and supply chain partners, which includes modules and application processors.
Its business-to-consumer (B2C) products, on the other hand, come from inventors all across the globe. “Currently, most of our projects are in stealth mode, as creators are still working with HWTrek’s experts to refine and improve their project plans for mass production,” added Wang.
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When asked which Asian market is the biggest for HWTrek, he seemingly sidestepped the question. While Wang did not go into the names of the countries, he said, “In Asia, countries that are highly connected will see the greatest growth in the making and adoption of Internet of Things and wearable technologies (are the biggest markets for us). These countries will have the biggest potential for HWTrek, which focuses on connected hardware: Audio/Video, Auto, Cameras, Games, Health, Home Automation, Mobile Device Accessories, Science, Sports, Toys and Wearables.”
He also noted that the first successfully crowdfunded project on HWTrek, the Guardian, a Bluetooth-enabled bracelet device that works with an iOS app, was 113 per cent funded and raised US$11,235. The Guardian’s parent company Beluvv’s Indiegogo campaign, on the other hand, only managed to score US$1,077 out of its goal of US$10,000.
Not long ago, a Singaporean smart wearable startup also managed to crowdfund its iPhone and Android-controlled vibrator on global crowdfunding site Indiegogo. Not only did it hit its goal of US$15,000, it went home with over US$130,000 pledged.
Aside from helping to uncover new opportunities and applications in Asia, Wang added that the team at HWTrek is trying to bridge creators and their potential, and market the hardware sector to the world. He concluded, “With technology giants such as Intel and Google officially throwing weight behind the Internet of Things and wearable technologies in January, we believe the hardware maker movement will grow exponentially globally from this year.”