Navigating the Startup Journey: Empowering Entrepreneurs, Inspiring Innovation

Boston, also known as the “Silicon Valley of the East,” has a thriving startup ecosystem, particularly in the hardware industry. With several prestigious universities and access to funding and resources, Boston has become a hub for hardware startups. Hardware startups in Boston specialize in a variety of industries, including robotics, biotech, health tech, and more. These startups bring innovation and creativity to the city, making it an exciting place for entrepreneurs and investors alike.

Success Rate Of Hardware Startups In Boston

The success rate of hardware startups in Boston, or any location, can vary widely depending on numerous factors such as the industry, the product, the team, and the market conditions. According to a report by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, hardware startups in Massachusetts have a higher survival rate than the national average, with 64% of companies founded between 2009 and 2014 still in business as of 2018. However, it is important to note that success can be measured in different ways, and even for those startups that are still in business, they may not all have achieved the same level of growth or profitability. In this article, we will explore some of the top hardware startups in Boston and their unique contributions to the industry.

1. Desktop Metal

Address: Burlington, Massachusetts, United States
Contact: 978-224-1244
Email: press@desktopmetal.com

Desktop Metal is a company that specializes in 3D printing technology, particularly in metal 3D printing. The company was founded in 2015 in Burlington, Massachusetts and has since become a leader in the additive manufacturing industry. They offer a range of products and services for businesses looking to incorporate metal 3D printing into their operations.

Key services:

  • Metal 3D printing hardware and software
  • 3D printing materials
  • Consultation and training services
  • Engineering and design services

Google reviews:

Desktop Metal has a 4.4-star rating on Google with 76 reviews. Customers praise the company for its innovative technology, high-quality products, and excellent customer service. However, some reviewers have noted that the cost of the company’s products and services can be prohibitive for small businesses.

2. Formlabs

Address: Somerville, Massachusetts, United States
Contact: 617-702-8476
Email: hello@formlabs.com

Formlabs is a 3D printing technology company that was founded in 2011 by a team of designers and engineers. The company’s mission is to democratize access to digital fabrication technology and enable anyone to turn their ideas into physical products. Formlabs offers a range of 3D printing products, including printers, software, and materials, that are used by a variety of industries such as healthcare, education, engineering, and entertainment.

Key Services:

  • 3D Printers: Formlabs offers a range of 3D printers that use different technologies, including stereolithography (SLA) and fused deposition modeling (FDM), to meet the needs of various applications.
  • Software: Formlabs provides software solutions that streamline the 3D printing workflow, from file preparation to print management, and enable users to optimize their prints for specific applications.
  • Materials: Formlabs offers a wide range of materials for 3D printing, including standard resins, flexible resins, and engineering resins, that are designed to meet the demands of different industries and applications.

Google Reviews:

Formlabs has a 4.3-star rating on Google with over 350 reviews. Customers have praised the company for the quality of their products and the level of support they provide. However, some customers have noted that the cost of the materials and printers can be high.

3. Neurala

Address: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Contact: 617-418-6161
Email: info@neurala.com

Neurala is a software company that provides an artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) platform to customers across industries. The company was founded in 2006 by a group of neuroscientists and computer scientists from Boston University. Neurala’s software platform is designed to mimic the way the human brain learns and processes information, allowing businesses to build and deploy their own AI applications quickly and efficiently.

Key services:

  • AI software platform: Neurala offers a software platform that allows businesses to build, train, and deploy custom AI applications without requiring extensive programming knowledge or expertise.
  • Neural network modeling: The company’s platform includes neural network modeling capabilities that enable businesses to create highly accurate and effective AI models based on their specific use cases.
  • Edge AI: Neurala’s platform is designed to run AI applications at the edge, allowing businesses to process data locally rather than sending it to a central server. This can help reduce latency and improve application performance.

Google reviews:

Current Google reviews for Neurala are generally positive, with a 4.5-star rating based on 24 reviews. Customers praise the company’s AI platform for its ease of use, flexibility, and accuracy, and many report that it has helped them to streamline their workflows and improve their business operations. Some customers note that the platform can be complex to set up and use at first, but that the company’s customer support team is highly responsive and helpful.

4. Soft Robotics

Address: Bedford, Massachusetts, United States
Contact: (617)391-0612
Email: information@softroboticsinc.com

Soft Robotics is a robotics company based in Bedford, Massachusetts that specializes in creating robotic grippers capable of grasping and manipulating delicate and irregularly shaped objects. The company was founded in 2013 by a team of researchers from Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.

Key Services:

  • Development and manufacturing of robotic grippers
  • Customized end-effectors for specific applications
  • Integration of grippers with automation systems
  • Technical support and training

Current Google Reviews:

Soft Robotics has an average rating of 4.3 stars on Google reviews. Many customers praise the company’s innovative technology and excellent customer service, while others mention the high cost of the grippers as a potential downside.

5. Markforged

Address: Watertown, Massachusetts, United States
Contact: 1 866-496-1805
Email: sales@markforged.com

Markforged is a leading manufacturer of industrial-grade 3D printers that produce end-use metal and carbon fiber parts. The company was founded in 2013 and is based in Watertown, Massachusetts. Markforged has quickly become a leader in industrial-grade 3D printing technology and has a diverse customer base across various industries.

Key Services:

  • Industrial-grade 3D printing technology
  • Production of end-use metal and carbon fiber parts
  • Customizable 3D printing software
  • Technical support and training for customers

Google Reviews:

As of May 9th, 2023, Markforged has a rating of 4.5 stars on Google with over 200 reviews. Customers have praised the company for its reliable technology, excellent customer service, and the high-quality parts produced by their printers. However, a few negative reviews mention issues with the software and customer support.

6. RightHand Robotics

Address: Somerville, Massachusetts, United States
Email: sales@righthandrobotics.com

RightHand Robotics is a leading provider of intelligent robotic picking and warehouse solutions for the e-commerce, retail, pharmaceutical, and logistics industries. The company is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, and was founded in 2014.

Key Services:

  • Develops autonomous robotic picking systems to streamline warehouse operations
  • Offers a range of software solutions to optimize and manage warehouse workflows
  • Provides training and support for customers to ensure successful implementation of their solutions

Google Reviews: 

RightHand Robotics has a 4.7-star rating on Google with 23 reviews. Customers praise the company for its cutting-edge technology, responsive customer service, and efficient solutions for warehouse automation.

7. Piaggio Fast Forward

Address: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Contact: 415 350 3019
Email: info@piaggiofastforward.com

Piaggio Fast Forward (PFF) is a Boston-based robotics startup, a subsidiary of the Italian scooter company Piaggio Group, that focuses on developing mobile robots to enhance human mobility and productivity.

Key Services:

  • Developing mobile robots that help to enhance human mobility and productivity
  • Creating innovative solutions to transform urban mobility for people and goods
  • Building robots that seamlessly integrate with existing infrastructure
  • Using robotics to create sustainable transportation options and reduce traffic congestion

Google Reviews: 

As of May 10th, 2023, Piaggio Fast Forward has a rating of 4.5 stars on Google with 29 reviews.

8. Superpedestrian

Address: Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Email: info@superpedestrian.com

Superpedestrian is a transportation technology company headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The company was founded in 2013 with the mission of developing innovative solutions to personal transportation challenges, with a particular focus on making cities more livable and sustainable.

Key Services:

  • Superpedestrian’s primary product is the LINK, a durable and high-performance electric bike conversion kit that can transform any bicycle into an e-bike in minutes.
  • The LINK is equipped with advanced sensors and onboard computing capabilities that continuously monitor its performance and adjust to changing conditions in real time.
  • The company also offers the Superpedestrian Platform, a cloud-based software system that allows cities and other organizations to manage and monitor large fleets of e-bikes.

Google Reviews:

Superpedestrian has a 4.5-star rating on Google based on 51 reviews. Customers praise the company’s innovative products, responsive customer service, and commitment to sustainability. However, some reviewers have raised concerns about the high cost of the LINK and occasional technical issues with the product.

9. Humatics

Address: Waltham, Massachusetts, United States
Email: info@humatics.com

Humatics is a technology company based in Boston that develops and produces precision microlocation systems. The company was founded in 2015 by a group of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Humatics provides microlocation systems that help robots and autonomous vehicles navigate and perform tasks with high accuracy and reliability.

Key Services:

  • Humatics offers a suite of microlocation products and software for a variety of industries, including manufacturing, construction, logistics, and healthcare.
  • Their products include the Humatics Spatial Intelligence Platform, which provides a precise and real-time view of the position and movement of people and objects in complex environments.
  • They also offer a range of ultra-wideband (UWB) radio modules and beacons for indoor positioning and navigation.
  • Humatics provides consulting services to help clients integrate their microlocation technology into their existing systems.

Google Reviews:

As of May 2023, Humatics has a 4.2-star rating on Google, based on 17 reviews. Customers have praised the company’s innovative technology and helpful customer support, but some have expressed frustration with the complexity of the systems and the high cost of the products. Overall, the reviews are mostly positive, with many customers recommending Humatics for its advanced microlocation technology.

10. Vesper Technologies

Address: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Vesper Technologies is a Boston-based startup that focuses on developing and manufacturing microphones for a variety of applications. The company was founded in 2014 by a team of researchers from the University of Michigan and is backed by a number of notable investors, including Bose Ventures and Amazon’s Alexa Fund.

Key services:

Development and production of piezoelectric MEMS microphones

Provides solutions for voice-activated systems and the Internet of Things (IoT) devices

Specializes in making rugged, reliable, and power-efficient microphones for harsh and noisy environments

Google reviews:

As of May 9th, 2023, Vesper Technologies has a rating of 4.2 stars on Google with 5 reviews. 

  • “I am very impressed with the quality and performance of Vesper’s microphones. They are a game-changer in the industry.” (5 stars)
  • “I had a great experience working with Vesper’s team. They were professional, knowledgeable, and responsive to all of our needs.” (5 stars)
  • “Vesper’s microphones are excellent for voice-activated systems and IoT devices. They are reliable, rugged, and easy to integrate into any project.” (4 stars)
  • “The quality of Vesper’s microphones is top-notch, but they are a bit expensive compared to other options on the market.” (3 stars)
  • “I have had some issues with Vesper’s customer service in the past, but they have always been able to resolve my problems eventually.” (4 stars)

FAQs

1. What are hardware startups?

Hardware startups are companies that focus on creating and manufacturing physical products or devices.

2. What makes Boston a hub for hardware startups?

Boston is home to several prestigious universities and research institutions, providing a strong talent pool and access to cutting-edge research and technology.

Boston also has a strong startup community and a supportive ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship.

3. What are some challenges faced by hardware startups?

Hardware startups face unique challenges such as high development costs, longer development times, and the need for physical manufacturing and distribution infrastructure.

Other challenges may include supply chain management, product certification, and regulatory compliance.

4. How do hardware startups secure funding?

Hardware startups may secure funding through venture capital, angel investors, crowdfunding, or government grants.

5. What is the difference between hardware and software startups?

Hardware startups focus on creating and manufacturing physical products or devices, while software startups focus on developing and selling digital products or services.

6. What are some successful hardware startups?

Some successful hardware startups include Fitbit, Oculus, and Peloton.

7. How do hardware startups protect their intellectual property?

Hardware startups may protect their intellectual property through patents, trademarks, and copyrights.

8. What are some common mistakes made by hardware startups?

Some common mistakes made by hardware startups include underestimating development costs, overestimating demand, and failing to anticipate supply chain issues.

Other mistakes may include neglecting regulatory compliance, overlooking product safety, and failing to protect intellectual property.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Boston is home to a thriving community of hardware startups that are leading innovation in various industries. The top 10 hardware startups we discussed are just a few examples of the many successful companies that have emerged from the Boston area. These startups are leveraging advanced technologies and unique business models to disrupt traditional industries and improve the lives of people around the world. With the support of Boston’s robust ecosystem of investors, accelerators, and research institutions, we can expect to see many more exciting hardware startups emerge from this region in the future.

Editor

Harsh Raj covers insightful commentary on startups and business strategies. With a knack for uncovering untold stories and dissecting industry trends, Harsh empowers entrepreneurs and corporate leaders with a roadmap for navigating the fast-paced world of entrepreneurship.

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