Supporting hardware innovators from concept to commercialisation
What is Elevate
Taking Hardware from concept to commercialization
Elevate supported hardware innovators and founders who desire to design, manufacture and bring to market a hardware product by developing founder capability, reducing execution risk, fostering collaboration and building a stronger ecosytem.
An innovation education series, created by Western BACE and HardworX, funded by LaunchVic, Elevate consisted of meetups, masterclasses, bootcamps and 1-1 expert support.
With content created by hardware innovators experienced with the unique challenges of scaling a hardware company, Elevate helped startups with hardware product development, including anticipating the risks of scaling up, establishing manufacturing and their supply chain, and reducing execution risk.
ELEVATE was not an incubator or accelerator, with the program's content focusing on helping hardware innovators and founder who had progressed past this stage having validated product-market fit.
Whether it be advice from an experienced set of eyes to find a new way look at a problem or network introductions to assist with sourcing of components and suppliers, the ELEVATE program has been a great resource for Bask Aerospace.
- Christopher Wighton, Design Engineer, Bask Aerospace
Meetup #1 – Panel: Challenges of scaling a hardware business
A candid conversation on why building a hardware-based product business is hard. Some of the topics discussed included the unique challenge in scaling hardware business vs software business, how being an industry disruptor impacts hardware product development and how to go about designing and manufacturing right here in Melbourne.
Meetup #2 – Q&A with Grant Petty of Blackmagic Design
A conversation with Grant Petty, founder and CEO of Blackmagic Design, one of the world’s leading innovators of creative video tech. Grant spoke about design and problem solving, manufacturing world-leading hardware, industrial design, interface design, manufacturing and marketing.
Meetup #3 – Panel: Engaging with manufacturers
Turning an idea into a scalable, commercial product is a challenge that many entrepreneurs, innovators and SMEs face. Developing a new product is always hard, but is especially so for hardware products where manufacturing partnerships and supply chain impact overall time to market, product cost and quality. Leading Melbourne-based manufacturers Planet Innovation and Dolphin Products shared their perspectives on how to engage early and effectively with manufacturers, tips on how to best navigate the design to manufacture journey and avoid common pitfalls.
The program had industry guest speakers who had gone through the hardware manufacturing process recently or is going through that right now. So the information was very current.
- Elevate participant
Masterclass #1 – How does a prototype become a product
Developing hardware products (electronics, mechanical, software) has challenges and complexities that don’t apply to other types of products. This masterclass covered the development process for hardware products, including details about each development stage, and how to maximise outcomes as well as reduce risks and costs.
Masterclass #2 – Faster, cheaper, better - Managing trade-offs
Product development is a constant trade-off between quality cost and time. In the early stages, it’s about failing fast so the focus is on low-quality production at high speed. At the later stages, reputation and revenue risk require a focus on high quality at the cost of speed. This masterclass focused on understanding the trade-offs when balancing quality, cost and speed, and the challenges this presents for hardware innovators.
Masterclass #3 – IP Protection for hardware startups
When it comes to intellectual property protection, the more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to get the maximum value out of what you’ve created. Specifically designed for hardware innovators, this masterclass provided essential knowledge, insights and practical advice that hardware innovators could action straight away in bringing their hardware product to market.
Masterclass #4 – Scaling up successfully
Going from startup to scale-up can get complicated very quickly. As volume ramps up, the capabilities of your supply chain are tested, quality issues become costly, and cash flow management is critical. This masterclass, specifically designed for hardware innovators facing these challenges, focused on mitigate risk by providing practical advice to successfully navigate the transition from startup to scale up.
“The program was gold. It was time well spent for my team and I can see them starting to apply the learnings already. While I have taught them about DFM, quality control etc Vela was able to bring the content together in a complete and systematic package. The Bootcamp was a fantastic compliment to the mentoring we received.”
- Kristy Battista, CTO, Allume Energy
Bootcamp #1 – Manufacturing and supply chain strategies for hardware
Turning an idea into a scalable, commercial product is a challenge that many entrepreneurs, innovators and SMEs face. Developing a new product is always difficult. For hardware products, it’s especially challenging as manufacturing partnerships and supply chain play a vital part in the overall time to market, cost, and quality of the product. Whether manufacturing in house or outsourcing, using local or international manufacturers, this bootcamp focused on arming participants with the knowledge and tools to make the best decisions for their startup and product. Practical, hands-on with lots of tools, templates and resources this bootcamp covered four main themes: developing a manufacturing strategy, the supplier selection process, preparing a request for quote pack and quality control for mass production.
Lead Faciliator & Presenter:
Vela Georgiev – HardworX
Guest Industry Speakers:
This bootcamp was very informative and helped to identify some of the shortcomings in our manufacturing process. It allowed us the knowledge to implement processes that will help with some of the pain that we are currently feeling.
- Andrew Bate, Co-founder & CEO, SwarmFarm Robotics
1:1 Mentoring by Hardware Experts
An opportunity for founders to receive free one-on-one mentoring from hardware experts about anything related to bringing a hardware product to market. Experts will be matched based on how well they can address the pain points of the startup to ensure that high value, impactful mentoring occurs.
How is the Elevate mentoring initiative different to other office hours/Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) offerings?
Our pool of mentors are hardware experts experienced with the unique challenges of scaling a hardware company post prototyping and proof of concept stages. This is not business or growth coaching, but rather mentoring with a technical focus. It will help startups with hardware product development, including anticipating the risks of scaling up, establishing manufacturing and their supply chain, and reducing execution risk. ELEVATE is not an Accelerator Program or Incubator.
What kind of startups and SMEs are a good fit for Elevate mentoring?
We are looking for startups developing a physical hardware product, consisting of electronics and mechanicals, who are beyond the proof of concept stage / early prototyping stage. Applications will first be screened for eligibility based on the product and the challenges/pain points for which mentoring is being sought.
Who are the hardware experts?
The resident hardware expert for ELEVATE is Vela Georgiev from HardworX. In addition to Vela herself being available for one on one mentoring, part of HardworX’s role within ELEVATE is content curation, including sourcing of hardware experts. We have a pool of hardware experts in our network, previous ELEVATE events have featured experts from Blackmagic Design, LIFX, Outerspace Design, Tekt Industries and Pini IP; and will select experts based on how well they can address the pain points of the startup to ensure that high value, impactful mentoring occurs.
The Elevate program laid out the manufacturing process very well in an easy to understand chronological form, from request for quotes through to receiving the first units. In an early startup environment where there still are urgent problems arising each day, the team can struggle to plan properly for tomorrow. It was very helpful to spend a couple of hours each week with Vela going through and planning the next phases. Vela helped to ground the team and gave very good guidance from her vast experiences in the field, provided templates and made introductions. This reduced the confusion for newcomers entering this manufacturing space from a prototyping environment.
- Brenton Gray, Hone Ag
The Elevate team
The Elevate program was created by Western BACE and HardworX with funding from LaunchVic. Elevate was a receipt of LaunchVic's 'Grant Round X', where Western BACE, the lead applicant, was awarded follow-on funding to deliver the ELEVATE program.
ELEVATE was delivered as a not-for-profit, community-driven program.
As the hardware expert behind Elevate, my aim was to create a program which would increase founder capability, reduce execution risk, foster collaboration and build a stronger ecosytem.
- Vela Georgiev, Founder, HardworX
ELEVATE was delivered as a not-for-profit, community-driven program with content created for hardware innovators by hardware innovators experienced with the unique challenges of scaling a hardware company.
Coming into Relectrify from no experience in hardware product company before, there was a massive learning curve across a wide range of skills that were required just to get moving, on top of all the other headaches of starting a company. My input in Elevate is very much from both my own recent history on what would have been useful to me, and also what is useful for me to learn right now! The team behind Elevate is highly focused on making this as valuable as possible to those starting their hardware adventures and I couldn't help but jump on board to aid them in that endeavour.
- Daniel Crowley, Co-founder & CTO, Relectrify
Guest Speakers & Presenters
ELEVATE was supported by startups, scaleups, design houses, manufacturers and industry who came together to build a stronger hardware ecosystem by sharing their knowledge, experience and failures.
ELEVATE is important because there is no purpose-built hardware resource, accelerator and incubator in Victoria and as such the information sharing process is fragmented. Outerspace supported the ELEVATE program because we believe that by improving the capability of hardware innovators and founders we grow the innovation sector to the benefit of all parties within the ecosystem.
- David Menzies, Commercialisation Manager, Outerspace Design