A new product accelerator at the University of Texas at Dallas wants to revolutionize an often neglected side of the startup world.
MakerSeed is a new 501c3 nonprofit that focuses entirely on hardware products developed by UTD students and faculty.
Founded by CEO Ethan Hall, MakerSeed relies on sponsors, crowdfunding, donors and commissions from sales to fund the startups.
Typically accelerators rely heavily on venture capital to get going, which requires constant pitches and chasing money.
MakerSeed eliminates all of that.
“In order to be successful, I thought we needed to do something a little different and innovative.”
Instead, Hall wants to create an ecosystem where it’s all done in-house, allowing the startups to do what they do best, develop their products.
“There wasn’t really anything available in the region,” Hall said. “There are a lot of accelerator programs out there. In order to be successful, I thought we needed to do something a little different and innovative. We’re looking to give them everything they could need. Resources, materials, mentorships, relationships with people in manufacturing.”
STARTUP HELPING STARTUPS
MakerSeed will have a pitch competition on March 25 where the winners get to join the program’s inaugural class.
UTD student teams can bring ideas and prototypes to the competition and garner attention from vendors, manufacturers, and potential sponsors.
They will be judged by industry experts who will look at feasibility, market validation, design, and a solution to a specific problem.
The top four teams win a spot in the MakerSeed program.
In many ways, Texas is already a heavy hitter in the electronics and hardware industry with Texas Instruments and other companies being so prevalent here.
MakerSeed is a startup, too, and still, needs to prove itself.
“We’ve got something disruptive that’s ahead of the curve.”
They have board members who are all volunteers, and some mentors and interns.
The lab will be located inside the 30,000-square-foot UTDesign Studio inside the Synergy Park North Center at UTD in Richardson. They will also use other space across the campus.
Student teams admitted to the program can create prototypes and receive mentorship to make their product better. Product development teams may not know how to run a business so MakerSeed would pair them with people who can.
Hall’s goal is to disrupt the hardware industry with a new business model.
“Long term, we could really make a big impact on how products reach the markets,” Hall said. “We’ve got something disruptive that’s ahead of the curve.”
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