By Nayantara Bhat | Hong Kong-based hardware accelerator Brinc’s Investor Demo Day in Cyberport on May 23 introduced investors to many exciting and innovative projects from around the globe. Among them were a biometrics startup analyzing eSports players from Portugal, and a smart irrigation and fertilizer system from Indonesia.
Brinc’s accelerator program started in 2014 with a mission to take in startups that fall into two major categories: IoT and Connected Hardware, and Drones and Robotics. But beyond the basic hardware categories, startups incubated by Brinc must have a mission. These early-stage startups should be trying to disrupt how we feel, what we eat, how we move, and where we live.
Brinc’s program isn’t the only early-stage hardware acceleration setup in the region, but it has the added sparkle of good financials and a track record of success. According to Brinc’s website, 100% of the graduated teams are still in operation, and often go on to increase their valuations threefold.
The startups presenting at Demo Day were raising seed funding in the range of US$500,000 to $1.5 million. Many revealed during their presentations that their product was through the prototyping stage and ready for commercial manufacture.
Brinc’s manufacturing arm has helped other accelerator graduates bring products to market in the past. The team has links with manufacturers in Southern China, and supervises the production process from product development to market.
One of the startups past the prototyping stage is Revsmart, which is developing a smart wearable for motorcyclists. In his presentation, CEO Sunder Jagannathan spoke of the frequency of road accidents in his home country of India, and how it led him to develop the HeadsUp.
The wearable sticks to the back of any generic motorcycle helmet and is completely voice controlled. It uses the shell of the helmet to conduct sound, similar to bone conduction technology. The project has already received backing from an Indian government body, as well as from Intel and Qualcomm.
Another venture in the program that has achieved success on its home turf is Habibi Garden, an agricultural startup that’s using IoT to increase crop yields in Indonesia. A system of sensors and software allows farmers to keep a close eye on key indicators like soil moisture and pH, and deploy irrigation and fertilizer as necessary.
CEO Dian Prayogi says the startup recently reached an agreement with Telkomsel, one of the largest telecommunications providers in the country, that resulted in the purchase of over 600 sensors from Habibi.
Some other startups aren’t at that stage quite yet, and are taking a more DIY approach. EmotAI is using a sensor-laden headband to track eSports players’ cognition and critical thinking skills. The team has 10 prototypes of the headband they created using commercially available parts.
Since gaming is such a controlled environment, it is perfect for studying emotional intelligence and focus. The team has said that they are open to product applications other than gaming, such as in healthcare or even basketball.
The crown jewel of Brinc’s event was Soundbrenner, one of the first companies in Brinc’s portfolio. During its time in the acceleration program, the startup’s smart vibrating metronome has received international attention in the musical community and it is trying to raise a US$4.5 million Series A.
The next round of Brinc’s acceleration program is accepting applications, and Brinc CEO Manav Gupta and CFO Jessie Lam have high hopes and lofty goals.
“Our goal is to invest in 100 teams over 5 years and we are well on our way,” says Gupta. “In November, we will bring another batch of high-quality startups from all around the world, which we will introduce to Hong Kong, leveraging the strengths of the Greater Bay ecosystem.”
About The Author
Nayantara is a reporter at Jumpstart in Hong Kong. She studied journalism at The University of Hong Kong and is passionate about innovation, social enterprise, and alternative finance. She’s a hobbyist photographer and is currently on the lookout for the best burger in Hong Kong.