Exclusive: I am so sick of hearing about new incubators. I get pitched a new one at every single event we host. But I found one this past weekend that is unknown but exciting. It's called Lemnos Labs. Co-Founded by two ex-MIT grads Helen Zelman and Jeremy Conrad a former US Air Force Engineer, what sets them apart is their emphasis on hardware.
Hardware's startup stock has been on a massive rise the past few years with companies like Square, Jawbone, Flip, Fitbit, and Nest gathering excitement beyond software. Lemnos Labs seems to be taking it a step further, funding some of the most untraditional companies that I've ever heard of in their first batch which began in late 2011 and wraps up in the next few months. Each company gets $50k to kick things off as well as co-working space in San Francisco, and the usual mentorship network and perks you'd expect from an incubator.
Unlike the software incubators which can get a prototype up in a few months or even weeks, Lemnos' goal is to have a working prototype with all major parts built and functioning, or if you enter the program with a working prototype, they expect entrepreneurs to refine to the point of bringing the product to market. Uniquely they incubate companies for five months instead of the usual three. The name Lemnos is a Greek island where "Hephaestus (god of technology) had his forge. He is responsible for all of the great engineering feats in Greek mythology - Hermes' winged helmet and sandals, Aegis breastplate, Aphrodite's famed girdle, Achilles' armor, Heracles' bronze clappers, and Helios' chariot." OK.
They're currently incubating 4-companies and are planning to accept four more in June. Here's everything that we can gather on the companies in this batch:
Unplugged Instruments: Founded by Ari Atkins and Andrew Penrose, two Stanford undergrads, Unplugged Instruments is developing a guitar with a built-in amplifier. The guitar will also connect to a smart phone to add effects, recording, looping, song learning, and much more. They will also release APIs so developers can build on the platform. Check it out in the video below.
Weng Motors: Describes itself as "creating a ridiculously low cost, safe, friendly way to get people from where they are to Where Everyone Needs to Go. Our mobility HotSpots bring together the first electric vehicle dedicated to local, a fleet management platform, and a social booking system for campuses, communities and individuals." Their vehicles are designed for sub five mile trips which account for 30% of all vehicle trips. They currently have a partnership with Google working on helping their employees get around the massive campus in more efficient ways. The vehicles cost around $12k and are a cross between a golf cart and an open rally car.
Blossom Coffee: Founded by an ex-Nasa and ex-iPad Product designer (pictured to the right), these guys are trying to create the most sophisticated and precise coffee machine ever made. Before you gasp at this being the hardest problem they could come up with, Starbucks alone has a $35B market cap. The patented system is able to brew coffee to the exact degree that you want it and brew all sorts of coffee from an expresso to a normal coffee pot brew. I'm not a big coffee guy and thus not doing it justice, but when NASA meets coffee you know it's going to be impressive.
Burger Machine: While this is the startup we know the least about, it's also the coolest. The final startup Lemnos is funding is an automated hamburger machine that after inputing the desired ingredients, it spits out a burger with all the chosen condiments in almost no time at all. Not only that but it puts it in a bag for you to go. I've already pre-ordered.