Las Vegas Builds a Startup Hardware Factory for Hardware Startups
Startup hardware projects are notorious for their manufacturing and fulfillment delays. Dreaming up a cool product is one thing; making it come to life is another, one that usually involves a bunch of trips to China.
“Literally all of us have this problem,” said Jen McCabe, who has invested in 21 hardware startups for the VegasTechFund and previously helped the Kickstarter-funded Romo smartphone robot come to life. “It’s not just companies coming off of crowdfunding, but also large companies doing prospective prototyping. There’s a need to make something quickly and cost-effectively with multiple iterations.”
McCabe is now founder and CEO of a company called Factorli, which aims to solve that problem for other new hardware products affordably and domestically. It will mold plastics, machine metals, print circuit boards and assemble products at small volumes.
Factorli has raised $10 million in Series A funding and identified a 25,000-foot space to open near downtown Las Vegas. The money comes from Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh and through his Downtown Project’s VegasTechFund.
With the funding closed, Factorli is setting out to buy a whole bunch of equipment, and also to build software that helps all the systems talk to each other and work at full capacity. “We have massive capex costs,” is how McCabe put it.
Her plan is to try to make the manufacturing process affordable, or at least predictable, charging a simple formula of the bill of materials plus a 25 percent fee.
The goal is to open in January of 2015, in time for Las Vegas’ annual influx of tech hardware for CES.