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Introducing the 2021 Manufacturing Hardware Accelerator Cohort

the members of the 2021 M-HA cohort standing in front of woods

Introducing the 2021 Manufacturing Hardware Accelerator Cohort

From smart food storage lids to low-cost air quality sensors, the startups taking part in Rev: Ithaca Startup Works’ Manufacturing Hardware Accelerator are creating innovative solutions to problems facing consumers today.  

Funded by the Economic Development Administration, the accelerator invites entrepreneurs across all industries on a 60-week journey to bring their working prototypes into production. The program was founded to aid founders in developing the skills needed to move into the manufacturing stage — a critical moment for startups, and one that can often present challenges.  

Participants, who can be based anywhere in the United States, attend two virtual sessions per month and travel to Ithaca for three in-person weekend workshops over the 14 month period. Additionally, they receive personalized mentorship from Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, introductions to investors and local manufacturers, and full access to Rev’s networking events and opportunities.  

“What we learned during this year’s recruitment process was the need for exactly this type of program,” said Ken Rother, Director of Rev and its hardware programs. “Inventors and entrepreneurs can usually find the needed support during the early prototyping phase of a project either at a local makerspace, school, or personal workshop, but the mentoring required to move from prototype to production is just not readily available and missteps during this phase are costly.” 

Following the success of last year’s inaugural cohort, the 2021 cohort of the Manufacturing Hardware Accelerator will consist of 12 startup teams in nearly as many industries: 

  • Bird Listener, LLC: Led by Jonathan Ehrenkrantz, the Bird Listener team, which also includes Vietly Vu and Alan Jones, is creating an outdoor microphone that transmits the sounds of birds and other nature sounds to an indoor speaker unit. This allows bird lovers to stay connected to the birds in their local environment, year-round and around the clock. 

  • Equilibrate: Michelle Greenfield, Jerry Simmons, Calder TenEyck, and Juan Bozo comprise the team behind Equilibrate, a novel technology that provides precise data facilitating early detection of equine lameness. Through a sensor inserted into a hoof boot, horse owners can detect lameness early, allowing time to provide treatment with greater recovery success rates.   

  • FROTTIX: Founded by Johanna Alicea, FROTTIX is a patent pending multi-use nail care tool that cracks an urgent problem facing people who do their nails and nail technicians: complete lack of ergonomics and precision in nail polish removal and buffing rituals.  

“Receiving the expert review and feedback from the cohort’s outstanding EIRs on our tool’s mechanical design assembly, along with their comprehensive support to improve it, has been the most beneficial aspect of the program for us thus far,” said Alicea. “We are confident that participating in the program will enable us to advance from the development stage into production and bring our nail tool to market in the most efficient and cost-effective way. The program will help us fulfill our mission: bring efficiency to every nail care moment. Perseverance and hard work will get us there!” 

  • FocusFlag: Created by Adam Yormak, FocusFlag is an adhesive mechanical focus tool that allows individuals to indicate their availability to others in a co-working space.  

“Rev: Ithaca has opened so many doors for FocusFlag. What would have taken us months in the past, has taken us just a brief few weeks. The caliber of the mentors we have the opportunity to work with is extraordinary,” said Yormak. “I’ve been able to make leaps and bounds in progress because of their outstanding insights and industry experience. It’s truly been a game-changer for us.” 

  • intelliTransit Solutions, Inc: Created by Manish Bhardwaj and Gunjan Bhardwaj, their product iCerebral360 is an in-vehicle all-in-one device on a mission to address distracted driving. Features of the device include live GPS tracking, speed monitoring and alerting, video recording, accident detection, emergency messaging, and more with a highly configurable software backend and complementary smartphone apps.  

  • Iontik: Founded by Nick Aflitto and Margaret Nicoll, Iontik’s SemioSmart is a refillable semiochemical dispensing platform that disperses high concentrations of customized pheromone blends to sustainably and conveniently manage agriculture pests without the use of harmful pesticides. 

“Working with the other entrepreneurs who are developing products in the cohort has been hugely valuable,” said Aflitto. “Through the accelerator, we hope to identify manufacturing partners and learn more about the pros and cons of in-house manufacturing, contract manufacturing, and licensing.” 

  • Mechanismic Inc.:  Founded by Anurag Purwar and Ameya Kale, Mechanismic Inc. is creating SnappyXO Design, a turn-key, authentic, and affordable STEM/Robotics education product that scales K-12 and beyond. The product includes an innovative software that teaches young people mechanical and engineering design in an intuitive and engaging way. 

  • Soulo: Created by Jialin Ke and Joshua Zhu, Soulo is a product designed with the aging population in mind. One of the challenges facing this demographic is the desire to independently maintain personal hygiene despite increasingly limited mobility. The Soulo Nail Trimmer is a comfortable, convenient and safe electric toenail trimmer for seniors to maintain foot hygiene. 

“The hands-on support from our EIR has been so helpful. It’s expanded our network dramatically and our EIR is like our second eyes and ears, referring us contacts and funding opportunities,” said Ke. “The Rev community is great and being with people who are going through the same things as us helps so much and we use each other as resources. People are generous and offer their time and connections to get us through our obstacles.”

  • Team Clean Air: Founded by Robert Koch, Team Clean Air is creating a low cost, and easy to deploy outdoor sensor platform for air quality and greenhouse gas detection, allowing for the collection of more localized data. This is the startup’s second venture working with Rev to further their development, after completing the CleanTech Prototyping Accelerator this past summer.  

  • Teqnizan, Inc.: Founded by Rama Prasad, Teqnizan is adding high-value circuits to jewelry casings, primarily through the creation of Bluetooth audio earrings that look like jewelry and function like a earbud for handsfree wireless phone calls, music, messages, notifications and alerts. 

“The Rev: Ithaca Startup Works Manufacturing Hardware Accelerator is a great overview and refresher for our team regarding how to take our innovative functional prototype to production. The team supporting this accelerator is high caliber and their support of the startups is genuine,” said Prasad. “We hope to connect with suppliers, CM vendors, crowdfunding service providers, and investors during the accelerator.” 

  • The Wrist Valet: Created by Tracie Weeks, Taelor Manning, and Dominique Manning, The Wrist Valet is a patent-pending magnetic wristband with attachments designed to hold a variety of articles and products. Founded by beauty professionals, the product allows them to keep needed items on their wrist to more efficiently complete services.  

  • Wisely, Inc.: Founded by Rachelle McCray and Charles Driscoll, Wisely is an innovative low-tech smart food storage container lid. After learning that 74% of refrigerated leftovers are discarded due to uncertainty about when the meal was stored, the team created a product that lets consumers know exactly how long their food has been in the fridge.  

Stay tuned on the Rev blog and social media channels to learn more about these teams and follow along with their success over the coming months.