The eight-city AlphaLab Gear National Hardware Cup, an inaugural pitch competition for startups creating a physical product, will kick off in Allen Park on Wednesday.
“There are so many great ideas for physical products that entrepreneurs dream up from their work experience as a designer or engineer, a university project that a team of students is trying to solve, or just an imaginative leap from an individual,” says Ilana Diamond, managing director of AlphaLab Gear. “We want to tap into all these brilliant ideas and give people a way to fund and commercialize their vision.”
The Pittsburgh-based hardware accelerator is teaming up with San Jose, Calif.-based TechShop, a membership-based, do-it-yourself workshop, and fabrication studio with locations nationwide, including Allen Park, to host the competition that will ultimately award the national winner a $50,000 grand prize investment, product design software, and other prizes.
In Michigan, six teams will provide a four-minute pitch to a panel of judges from the investment, hardware, and software community, who will then have five minutes to ask questions. The competition will be held at the 33,000-square-foot TechShop Detroit-Allen Park, at 800 Republic Drive, adjacent to Ford’s Dearborn product development campus.
Teams will be judged on commercial viability, team capability, and demonstrated commitment. Select finalists will be chosen to compete in the grand-prize competition held later this spring in Pittsburgh at AlphaLab Gear. They will also receive $1,000 cash and a yearlong TechShop membership.
“This national competition is a great opportunity for us to inspire members of the maker community to go ahead and build their dreams, just like we did with TechShop,” says Jim Newton, TechShop founder. “We hope to see the next big invention and commercial success rise from this challenge.”
The event will kick off with a panel about building a successful hardware startup. Panelists include Simon Boag of IncWell; Shaun Reinhold of Canvas Watch; Avi Geller of Maven Machines; and Brett deMarris of Ludlow Ventures.
Spectators can register to attend the free event, to be held 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., at eventbrite.com.