What it's like at HAX

HAX is an intensive experience you want to be part of

During those few weeks, we help teams transform themselves into functional companies by providing mentorship, seed funding and immersion into an intense startup community of like-minded entrepreneurs.

At the end of the program teams have the opportunity to present their company to US-based press and investors during our HAXLR8R DAY.

HAXLR8R S7 will begin in July 2015 (applications due May 23rd). First stop will be Shenzhen, China, where you will finalize your prototype or work on scaling your business if you have a working model.

Each week, you will meet with advisors that will offer feedback on your team’s concepts and prototypes, as well as provide valuable insight about how to scale a company in terms of manufacturing, supply chain management and distribution.

The final 2 weeks of the program will be spent on getting your pitches awesome, as you will be heading back to the Valley for the big show. After that, go own your market, wherever that is!


What you get

We take an extremely pragmatic approach so that you get your product to market fast

The main thing we will give you is hands-on help, mentorship and network: lots and lots of advice, expertise and fire in your pants.
We have over 60 kick-ass entrepreneurs, industry experts and hands-on folks who are more than willing to share their invaluable knowledge and experiences with you.
We have an extensive team (see in FAQ) at your disposal.
We will also provide you with some seed capital ($25,000 per company for 6%, $100,000 for 9%) and some freebies, while making sure you find a temporary home wherever you go.
You get to access our fully-equipped workspace for you and the other teams, where we’ll be making doughnuts.

HAX doesn't even stop here. For those who need a home in Shenzhen, you can always crash at our office. And study the gigantic Chinese market in front of you.

Why would I build a prototype in China?

Because now, you can. No prototype is manufacturable until you actually step a foot into factories.

  • You will be close to production. This will allow you to really understand how the cookies are made from the beginning of the product development process, which for a physical product, is critical.
  • You will be working with different types of engineers. In China, engineers are designing with cost constraints as a primary guide: awesome and lean. This is a very different design process than working with a product development firm elsewhere, where function is first and done regardless of price. This works for academia or fat established firms, but not for a small company trying to launch new products with real cost constraints.
  • The art of the Shanzhai. There is some serious brilliance hidden in the cheap solar lamp or fake iPhone! Tap some of that genius and apply it towards other objectives.
  • It's an experience unlike any other. Sure, you'll get factory proximity, a group of people here to help, peer mentoring and all... but you'll also experience a cultural experience unlike any other!
  • It's cheaper, and every penny counts for a startup.
  • You will receive a crash course about the Chinese market, and maybe sell your creations there in the future.

How to get in

Apply, duh!

Deadline for application is May 23rd, program starts in July 2015.
Selection will take place in May... We'll likely provide you with some homework.
Applicants are typically from all over the world and we are more than excited to put 30+ fantastic founders in the same boat.

What’s next?


For fifteen weeks, HAXLR8R provides you with an environment where you can focus on building your prototype, learned about manufacturing and distribution.
This is your chance to put a concentrated effort into bringing your dream into reality.
Twice a week, you will then share your progress and receive feedbacks from mentors and peers.

And the program, for real?

Twice a year, every year

Apply now!

FAQ Time!
Who is behind that madness?

Blame Cyril Ebersweiler and Sean O’Sullivan for this.

How does HAXLR8R work?

HAXLR8R takes teams with hardware prototypes and turns them into functional, sustainable companies. We recruit 10+ teams of 2-4 entrepreneurs who have a concept or an early prototype for a high-growth startup.
The teams go through a competitive application process and agree to locate themselves in Shenzhen for the duration of the program. Over fifteen weeks, the startup teams will build and refine their prototype product, launch it to an initial group of customers (generally via crowdfunding), and test their delivery and/or business models. During the last two weeks, each startup creates a polished company pitch and demo to present to press, potential investors or partners investors and potential partners at HAXLR8R Day which will be in the Bay Area.

Where is the office??

We are located in the heart of worldwide electronics and manufacturing: Hua Qiang Bei.

What can HAXLR8R offer me?

We'll help you launch your company and increase its chances of success. Specifically: *By providing initial funding for you to develop your business plan and build enough of a demo, prototype or beta product, in order to launch your product on a crowdfunding campaign or generate revenue. That's $100,000 per company. *By lending you a hand on the hardware side with our team. *By helping you create your company, its business model, positioning, branding and product design all the way through launch and manufacturing. *By connecting you with potential investors and strategic partners, as well as advisors and press. *By introducing you to world-class mentors and alumni who have expertise in starting companies, developing innovative consumer products, and creatively marketing those products to millions of consumers. These will be some of the most valuable connections you'll make as an entrepreneur. We expect some (well, most) HAX companies to get to revenue at the close of the initial program. We'll organize that process and guide you through it. Some companies may seek substantial funding while others may require a smaller amount to be successful. We like the self-funding route. We’ll help you identify your problems, understand your options, and think through any difficult decisions you may face.

What does the team look like?

The team is composed of 10 full time experts: Cyril Ebersweiler runs HAX at large, Duncan Turner will be your day-to-day kick butter, Ben will challenge your positioning, while you will interact with Qiyu (office manager), Sally (sourcing), Rong (design), Atommann (engineer in residence), Peter (Chief Manufacturing) and Steve (marketing). Our advisors will be available any time when it comes to tech (Zach Smith, Bunnie Huang) or business (Stephen Forte, Shawn Broderick). Teams that accept an invitation to participate in HAXLR8R give up 6% (if you pick $25k) to 9% (if you pick $100k) of common stock in exchange for participating.

How do I apply for HAXLR8R?

The application for HAXLR8R is available on this website. Completing our online application will sign your company up to be considered for the program, but does not guarantee acceptance.

When is the application deadline?

We are currently selecting the Fall 2015 batch and the deadline to apply is May 23rd!! It is advantageous to apply early to provide the HAXLR8R team sufficient time to review and consider your application, but to be early does not give your application higher priority or guarantee your company acceptance.

Program will start mid July in 2015.

I already have funding, can I still apply?

Absolutely, it happens all the time. In your application, please specify the nature of your previous funding though.

How do you choose which companies are accepted into HAXLR8R?

We will choose great founders who are proposing ideas to solve real problems or create a meaningful change to our current technological state. For us, it’s about the team and the market opportunity.
The best ways to strengthen your application are: round out your team with business, technical, and other necessary skills, make progress on your prototype or product and reference it in the application, show us that you are passionate and that you’ve really thought about your business. Getting into HAXLR8R is hard. We will only accept the best startups.

What kind of teams are you looking for?

Mainly teams that have a working prototype in the consumer hardware space. If you have just an idea and the balls to build it, apply! Things we like in no particular order:

  • Consumer devices in all fields (health, fitness, travel...)
  • Gadgets / Toys of a disruptive nature
  • Consumer electronics with a software ecosystem
  • B2B devices
  • Media and Entertainment
  • Robotics, Bionics
  • Appliances
  • Environmental impact
  • Biohacking
  • Crazy stuff
Do I have to open source the product or use open source platforms?

No, it's your startup and you do what you want. But we will probably talk about the open source benefits at some point :-)

Do I need to have prior start-up experience?

No experience required. We just ask that you're passionate about your idea and willing to work hard at making it a reality.

Do I need to be in the Shenzhen and then the Valley during the program?

Yes. Your team needs to be based in those cities during the duration of the program. It's the best way for us to help you during the critical period of growth!

Does HAXLR8R provide housing?

No. However, we will be able to offer advice on finding living arrangements and put you in touch with the other teams so that you might make arrangements together. Where you live is up to you. China is fun.

How can we deal with visas?

While you will have to apply personally to get the requested temporary visas (eventually both US and China), we will provide invitation letters in order to make the process less painful.

I have been running my company for a year, can I still apply?

Yes. It’s very likely that you will have been done a significant product development work or have launched an early version of your product.

What happens at the end of HAXLR8R, am I on my own?

No. HAXLR8R’s help doesn’t stop at the end of the initial program. We will continue to help as you move forward with your startup if you want to. There’s a lot that has to come together to turn a great idea into a great company—resources, talent, marketing, sales, partnerships, etc. We’ll be there to help as you take those important next steps. Remember, we succeed only if you succeed.

How much access will we get to the mentors?

Different mentors will be coming in and out of the HAXLR8R space at periodic times. Some won't be physically there but available. Some will interact once in a while, some every day. We'll be working on setting up office hours so everyone can get some one on one time, and we hope to have workshops with mentors as they are available. There is also always the opportunity to email or contact mentors directly via our message boards.

What's in your workshop?
  • Laser Cutter
  • SMT Oven
  • CNC Machine
  • Pick and Place Machine
  • 3D printer
  • Basic Machine Toolbench
  • Oscilloscope
  • Multimeter
  • Spectrum Analyser
  • AC Power
Am I expected to keep my company in Shenzhen after the program ends?

No, however you will have a strong operation basis for your business to scale, and lifetime relationships in that part of the world. You should be near your customers, ideally. But every alum are around and we have extra desks.

What's expected of me during the HAXLR8R program?

We can't tell you what to do. This is your company, after all. The only obligation is to be physically present and participate to all the sessions offered by the program.
We will ask is that you take advantage of what we're offering you though. You're expected to work hard, and come out on the other side with something better than when you first got here.
What does this mean? At the end of the program, you'll present your ideas to investors, partners and possibly prospective customers. You're the one that needs to justify your idea. This means you should have a compelling presentation to show them in hopes of acquiring additional funding. Often, that'll mean having a demo and a business plan, but could also only require one of the above.
We want for you to show that you deserved to be chosen as a part of this program, and that your idea has grown since you arrived.