After their stay at Le Camping by NUMA, the hardware startup QLEEK had the chance to be the first non-american company to be selected by Bolt: one of the best hardware accelerators in the US. Here’s what they’ve been doing there for the last month.
What is Bolt (and what it isn’t)
Bolt is not exactly what you would expect from a regular accelerator: no program, no deadlines except the ones you impose to yourself, no stress, and the time you need. In addition to the financial investment, the staff is available 6 days a week to provide help on how to do make your product both quickly and well. It’s best seen as a VC that provides on top of money and contacts, human and technical ressources to help you build and ship your product. Another great thing about Bolt, is that it is founded and run by hardware entrepreneurs and engineers who did ship millions of products worldwide.
The Boston office is conveniently located in downtown Boston, minutes from MIT and Harvard. The first floor is a shared office and meeting space. The basement is a (huge) prototyping facility, with all the tools you would dream of for prototyping wood, metal, plastics, and electronics (even concrete). A dedicated person is available to help and teach you how to use the equipment. Bolt has also opened another office in SF recently that we have not visited yet, but which is said to be fabulous!
A Typical week at Bolt
Monday morning, quick 15 mins meeting with the whole team, to present last week progress and what is planned for the next one. Engineers provide direct feedback, and if needed on a particular issue, they are available for longer work sessions (up to several days).
They have helped us for instance on using the (industrial) CNC to mill aluminum, when we had to write complex mathematical code or during soldering sessions to “debug” the electronics of a RFID antenna design. We have also asked for their help for budget reviews to double-check if we did not forget something. And since the staff is at Bolt everyday, we basically never get stuck on something for too long.
Numerous meetups and events happen during the week. Which is perfect to discover Boston’s vibrant hardware ecosystem, to meet MIT students looking for internships, and learn more about hardware. There’s also fresh beer and delicious pizza!
What did it do for Qleek
We have done more in a month than what we did in a long time in Paris, because everything is directly accessible from tools to assistance. We have also validated pretty much everything in the product and its design that we had doubts about. This should allow us to ship during summer!
We arrived during the worst winter Boston has seen in more than 30 years, and what’s best for focus than having nothing to do but work? But winter is leaving, and we hear Boston is a great city to live in during summertime. That’s us, for the next 6 months.