In the competitive world of startups, entrepreneurs can't navigate the journey alone. Faced with funding challenges and product development obstacles, startups have invaluable resources at their disposal to accelerate growth, save time and money, and pave the way to lasting success.

Onshape co-founder and CAD industry expert John McEleney recently shed light on how accelerator programs, startup incubators, and the Onshape Startup Program can provide emerging businesses with a headstart.

To provide deeper insights, McEleney invited three insiders to share their expertise:

Hosts of the panel

Here are the key highlights from the "Helping Hardware Startups Grow Faster" panel.

The Advantages of Startup Incubators & Accelerators

Navigating the complexities of business growth can be overwhelming for startups. Common hurdles include defining a clear mission, entering the market, and identifying target segments. 

This is where incubators and accelerators, such as the Accelerator Centre and Greentown Labs, become invaluable allies. They provide access to expert mentors who understand both B2B and B2C spaces, offering critical assistance in areas like dissecting marketing strategies and crafting intellectual property (IP) protection plans.

Overcoming Startup Obstacles: How VC Firms and Incubators Can Help

Chowdhury, from the Accelerator Centre, plays a pivotal role in helping startups become investment-ready and secure the funding they need.

“It's very important to understand the technical parts of a VC fund as an entrepreneur yourself so that when you're asking for a certain valuation, you're raising a certain amount, know who to go to, and exactly how to negotiate that deal,” Chowdhury advises.

Greentown Labs, with its focus on combating greenhouse gas emissions and addressing climate change threats, supports startups from pre-seed to seed stages. They offer guidance in various areas, including sales and marketing, product growth, IP strategies, and international marketing. Additionally, they provide access to essential resources such as a machine shop and prototyping lab.

Building Connections: Empowering Startups With Investor Relationships

As Jason Stevens of Forages explains, being part of these communities can alleviate the solitude often felt by entrepreneurs.

“It can be a lonely journey being an entrepreneur on your own,” Stevens says. “I don't have a lot of employees around me at the moment right now, but it's so great to connect with the community and be able to talk to the mentors as needed.” 

Forages is part of the Accelerator Centre and the Onshape Startup Program.

How Forages Triumphed with a Product Launch

Forages is bringing the farm-to-table concept to the home, enabling anyone to grow their own food with a unique grow kit for sprouting seeds. However, the startup faced significant challenges initially due to limited resources, leading to quality concerns and manufacturing issues. 

“We invested as minimal as possible,” Stevens shares. “That led to some quality issues where it was a lot more manual finishing, then the cost went up.” 

Overcoming Challenges in Manufacturing and Launching a Product on a Shoestring Budget

With support from the Accelerator Centre, Forages executed a successful test launch honing in on its market fit. Stevens is now working on version two of the kit. 

This success story underscores the importance of resources and knowledge in navigating the obstacles on the path to launching a  product.

Maximize Startup Potential with Onshape's CAD Solution

Startups require access to professional software and tools when building a product. Onshape offers an ideal platform for product designers with its ease of use, scalability, and affordability. The Onshape Startup Program is a valuable resource for entrepreneurs and startups looking to optimize resources and minimize costs.

With Onshape, users can effortlessly sketch ideas, design shapes, and share their work with partners. It eliminates the hassle of version control that often plagues CAD systems.

“One of the favorite things for me about [Onshape], is just I can run it off my laptop,” Stevens said. “I've been very happy using it, and I have used a lot of the different packages to compare it to. It's right up there with any of the other ones that I've used. Very happy with it.”

The Onshape Startup Program empowers new companies to iterate and innovate on their products with access to full-featured CAD, rendering, simulation, CAM, built-in PDM, and enterprise analytics.

Navigating the Challenges of Hardware Startups

Navigating Product Market Successes and Failures: The Importance of Problem-Driven Innovation and Customer Feedback

Hardware startups face unique challenges, from sourcing equipment to managing manufacturing and servicing. Despite the arduous journey, the reward of a successful market debut is worth it. Seeking mentorship, leveraging resources like Greentown Labs and the Accelerator Centre, and using scalable tools like Onshape are strategic approaches to reduce both time and financial investment.

Startups do not have to go it alone. With the support of incubators, accelerators, and tools like Onshape, they can surmount obstacles and pave their way to success in the competitive landscape of entrepreneurship.

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