Hong Kong consumer IoT hub Brinc announced this week that it would expand its consulting services and offer sponsored trips to China for IoT entrepreneurs from around the world. The objective, Brinc says, is to make the hub the go-to place in Hong Kong for hardware startups at the same time that Hong Kong intensifies its push to become the hardware startup capital of the world.
The new Brinc Studio will open up the hub’s services — for a fee — to non-portfolio companies. Six clients were already enjoying those services before Brinc formalized and expanded the program, which will guide startups at every point in the supply chain from prototype to distribution. That will include two new programs for hardware founders looking to take advantage of the Hong Kong IoT scene.
“We get a lot of people who come through here requesting [this] who are first time hardware founders,” Brinc’s head of marketing, Christina Lau Tam, told Geektime. They sometimes don’t know the first thing about using China as a production base. These programs will teach them “how to negotiate with vendors, find partners, and find factories that meet minimum requirements for your startups.”
Brinc holds up to a 10% equity stake in its 14 current portfolio companies, all of whom entered their accelerator program on a rolling admissions basis.
“Now we have the ability to focus on the challenges unique to IoT and hardware founders throughout their entire life cycle, not just in the early accelerator stages. Having analyzed hundreds of processes across our portfolio, we’ve identified the most challenging parts of building a scalable IoT or hardware company,” said Brinc COO and Co-founder Bay McLaughlin in a press release.
The hub will offer two kinds of trips. The first is the one-week-long First China Trip to HK and manufacturing center Shenzhen to get familiar with the environment on the ground and maybe even sign deals for production. Second, there is a two-week-long program called Go To Market Bootcamp for people with working prototypes to put together a final execution plan with input from mentors and networking with possible partners in the logistics and distribution departments.
Both programs are free, with the exception of the plane tickets, which you need to book yourself. Here, Lau Tam says the shift from production to sales can trip a lot of first-timers.
“It happens a lot with first-time founders. They’ve successfully manufactured and gotten to China . . . they have to manufacture and then get to market quickly,” Tam notes.
Their plans also include a massive expansion of their three locations’ co-working space in Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. That will include a massive takeover of the seventh floor of PMQ, a dedicated maker and innovation space near HK’s city center that the city has pushed to anchor the startup ecosystem’s development. Brinc has led that effort on the IoT front with its LAUNCH: Consumer IoT Summit back in January (which Geektime was on hand to cover), but the scene has grown in the ensuing seven months.
“I want to say people are seeing this as the nexus of hardware. Essentially Shenzhen is the hardware base,” Lau Tam reiterates. “MakerBay are moving into PMQ to be a resource for the maker community here. MIT Innovation Node opened up here in June. Wearable World IoT launched here in May, which is great. That’s another affirmation, like, ‘Hey, there’s something going on here with hardware.'”
With a supportive government and earmarks for the tech scene, Brinc is looking forward to support for its next big confab: the Internet of Life Summit from April 11-12, 2017. Even as IoT still hopes to become more ubiquitous, Brinc wants the congress to take a look at how that new omnipresent network of tech will actually change the society that’s using it.
Tam tells us, “We’re going to move beyond IoT, in terms of connection. The whole point is to make life easier to live. What’s the point of data, if not to get away from all these devices and watches and leverage that technology? This is what we’re banking on.”
You can apply for their trips at Brinc.io/apply.