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Hard Startup Ideas

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A startup that sells ready-made food for people who live in an area where it’s hard to get good quality food


Two different hardware startups that aim to help businesses set up a server farm on the cheap. Both claim their products are the lowest-cost solution for businesses looking to set up a private cloud.


A startup for the deaf and hard of hearing that utilizes text to speech to allow people to connect with others in real time.


This startup will help prevent people from losing their data due to hardware failure.


A company that helps companies sell to more budget conscious customers by creating a demand for products that are otherwise hard to sell.


M-KOPA is a tool allowing developers to create their own specialized hardware. The founders say the company has sold $4M worth of hardware over the last two years, though they’ve only launched on Kickstarter today.


A platform for school districts to help coordinate transportation and other services. The startup wants to help school districts, colleges, and universities navigate a complex system of transportation and other services that can be hard to keep track of.


A startup that builds hardware startups. The founder, Jibran Salfi, built his first hardware startup at age 20, and has since been working at Nest Labs. He was the first employee at Nest Labs, and was part of the team that built the original Nest thermostat.


A startup that lets people create VR content using their phones. The company has already raised $8.2 million to build three apps that use different VR hardware.


Idea: Make a Digital Library of Hard-to-Find Books


Hardware startup building a device that uses body heat to cut down on your energy consumption.


A maker of smartphones and tablets, the startup wants to sell its own operating system and make its own hardware.


A hardware wallet that allows users to store and use any cryptocurrency.


A health-maintenance company for the elderly, focusing on their social needs. The company’s founder and president, Alejandro Ortiz, said that for many older people, social engagement often goes missing, making it harder for them to stay healthy.


A hardware company building a connected kitchen to help manage and measure food preparation.


A computer science startup that builds simple, cheap, and fast hardware for India’s unconnected. One product, called the Laptop Bridge, is a $35 device meant to plug into an electrical socket and convert it into a computer-like device that can run basic programs and connect to the internet, so that farmers, students, or anyone else can use it.


A hardware startup that’s building a new type of computer that’s designed to be secure, power efficient, and small enough to fit on a keychain.


A social network for the deaf, modeled after its popular iPhone app. The company has expanded its offerings to include audio versions of the app for the deaf and hard of hearing.


A hardware company that wants to create smart hardware to help people manage their lives. The company wants to build smart devices that can help people find what they’re looking for, identify emotions, monitor health, and automate household tasks.


A cloud service for companies to manage their hardware inventory from a central dashboard.


A startup that makes and sells a $25 hardware device that plugs into your smartphone and lets you make maps of the world.


A company that wants to re-create the good old days of the local neighborhood hardware store for modern consumers. They want to build a modern version of the mobile app that lets people buy and sell their stuff in a local community.


As a person’s social circle expands, it gets harder to keep track of old and new friends. Fellow is a service that helps you keep track of everyone you know, and share them with others.


A hardware company that builds its own Bluetooth devices with a focus on connecting medical devices to the internet. It recently raised $5 million in a Series A led by Family Offices.


A software & hardware startup that makes a $100 credit card with a built-in fingerprint scanner


A provider of hardware and software for smart and connected products. The startup is working on a solution that can control industrial machines remotely via a smartphone app.


A way to connect hardware to software, a way for developers to access hardware components without writing code, and a way for hardware companies to easily build apps with hardware components that they need.


A way for companies to keep track of their employees' safety and productivity data, and automatically reach out to them to provide support if they're having a hard time.


The startup says it’s a better version of the traditional “pay-once-and-get-everything” package that’s popular with consumers, which works well for a lot of products but can be hard for more high-tech products.


A translator that translates the voice of a user's phone into text. The startup, which was founded in May, says that a lot of the time people are talking to themselves, and that voice-to-text software works great but is hard to use.


A hardware startup that is building a fully autonomous delivery vehicle


A company that helps its customers build their own hardware. Once they have the specs for the product, they can create a 3D design, and get it printed at Shapeways at a fraction of the cost of other companies that do the same thing.


The startup, based in the Netherlands, has built a device that turns any Android smartphone into a camera. It promises to ease the process of sharing photos, while also allowing users to take photos that are harder to take with a traditional camera.


 Gives entrepreneurs and startups easy access to the hardware they need to build and run their business. Founded by a former Microsoft engineer, the company has raised $2.5M and is launching in beta today.


A startup that has an online forum for people to talk about their problems For example, they would help people going through a divorce or would help people who are going through a hard time at work


A tool that helps the deaf and hard-of-hearing understand the information they’re hearing.


A hardware startup that builds medical devices. It’s the first company to make a 3D printer for producing pacemakers.


A startup focusing on the hardware side of the IoT ecosystem, building a “smart battery” for things like refrigerators and air conditioners.


A hardware company that creates and sells motion sensors for use by startups


This startup aims to overhaul the way employees are evaluated and compensated in the workplace. It’s designed to eliminate the “rat race” and create a better environment for those who want to work hard and see their contributions recognized.


This is a startup that makes hardware that makes it easier to pick up and carry your coffee without scalding yourself. The company is currently only selling to the US, but they’re looking to expand internationally, and have raised $1.3M in funding from DFJ.


A startup that wants to make it easy to manage virtual attendees for events, which are usually hard to track and often not included in the database. The startup is releasing a beta version of its software in mid-November.


Blockchain hardware for smart homes. The company wants to build a $200 smart lock that would allow owners to automate their home with blockchain tech that would allow them to unlock the door remotely.


A system that lets companies quickly and easily build their own hardware products, with a goal of making it easier for companies to build hardware at scale.


A business that brings a suite of software and hardware tools to help home cooks learn to cook from scratch.


This startup is building a mobile-first platform that allows users to share and resume their favorite YouTube videos, in lieu of uploading to their own platforms or working hard to monetize their content


In the US, there are a lot of jobs that pay the minimum wage. The startup is based in the Philippines, and its founder says it’s easy to get a job there for the minimum wage, but hard to get paid more.


A hardware startup that’s building a way for software to run on physical products, such as a keyboard or a mouse, instead of being software-only. The startup wants to create a device that can connect to a computer and transform a physical object into a fully-functional computer.


A startup that’s building a C++ library that allows hardware designs to be shared on GitHub. The company’s CEO says that the concept is similar to the Arduino open source hardware platform.


A real estate startup that’s building software and hardware to provide renters with a customized lease agreement that’s “as easy as sending a text message”. The startup is building a suite of software to provide leases and automated service agreements.


A messaging service for companies to send and receive messages without requiring employees to have smartphones. The company is working on a product that will work with existing hardware, like a tablet.


A hardware startup that’s building ruggedized bitcoin hardware that can be sold to businesses and consumers. The company is currently working on a $1,000 device that it says can be used for up to a year on a single battery.


A software/hardware company that builds AI-powered IoT devices like TVs and speakers.


The company wants to make negotiating harder than it already is by providing a simple, searchable interface for employees to search the market for best deals on everything from Amazon Prime subscriptions to a new suit.


A startup that wants to be the Amazon for home services, making it easier for customers to buy a service without having to rely on a retail retailer. The company has already signed up a number of local hardware stores.


A business plan for a startup is like a sales pitch. It’s vague. It’s hard to see its potential. And it’s hard to know if it’s worth checking out. So many founders miss out on the chance to grow their business because they don’t have this thing called a business plan that explains how they’ll do it. The goal of this startup is to make it easy for anyone to write that plan. It’s currently only available in the Bay Area.


A digital storefront for low-income people to buy used items from other people across the country, with a focus on items that are hard to find in the country.


A hardware company that makes sensors, including ones for weight and hydration, for home and for athletes. The company believes consumers will use devices such as the Nike FuelBand to track their health and exercise habits.


A company that turns any spare bit of hardware into a secure cloud server.


An online hub for people who are visually-impaired and hard of hearing. The site’s founders say that they’re currently in talks with hearing suppliers to help them build a suite of apps for users.


A hardware startup that allows you to make your own Bluetooth earbuds.


This startup is building an app that helps you browse and buy clothes in a world where it’s hard to find a style you like. At launch, the app will feature over 1,000 brands from across the world, but the plan is to expand to everything.


A grocery delivery business in the UK. Postmates offers services like same-day grocery delivery, which is especially useful to people living in urban environments where it’s hard to get to grocery stores.


A platform for advertisers to find and target the right demographics and psychographics. The startup is also working on an ad tech platform for brands that want to target “hard-to-reach” consumers.


Part of the problem with software is that it’s hard to measure how well an app is working. AppZilla wanted to solve that problem by building a platform for developers to track their app’s stats. The startup is focusing on mobile apps, and has already raised $1.5 million.


A company that wants to help small businesses manage their point-of-sale systems, including software that powers the POS and other hardware like cash registers.


A startup that’s working to bring mobile-first design to the web. The company’s founder says that on desktop, responsive websites are too complex and hard to work with. On mobile, the opposite is true: sites are too simple and often hard to use. Sway is working to change that with a product that uses all the same features on mobile as it does on desktop.


A hardware startup that makes a smart lightbulb that can be controlled via an app.


In 2015, when asked about the app, founder and CEO of Asana, Dustin Moskovitz, said, "...it's not like you would have to go through and check every single piece of content on Facebook. It's not that hard to check if it's a link to a website. ... But we can't be 100% sure that the link is safe. And you want a social network that's not going to take you down."


A startup that works with brands to raise awareness about products that are out of stock, or from niche brands that are hard to find.


A startup looking to build a custom hardware-based software platform for the hotel industry.


A platform that helps companies manage their IT infrastructure, from the hardware all the way to the software.


A startup that wants to help women who are having a hard time finding high-quality, affordable maternity clothes.


A self-driving car startup that builds its own hardware, to create a platform for car manufacturers to build autonomous cars.


A hardware company that makes it easier for people to possess and grow their own cannabis. They’re supplying this solution to dispensaries in Colorado, where Gov. John Hickenlooper has shown support for legal weed in the past. The company is already in business in Canada, and is looking at expansions into other states.


A project from a hardware engineering company, which wants to make a programmable, modular robot with an open source hardware ecosystem.


A set of hardware tools to improve digital security and resistance to phishing and malware.


This startup is working on a hardware solution for power outages.


A B2B software company that helps hardware manufacturers and distributors sell to retail stores. The company’s founders say that in the past year it’s already signed and closed on 125 deals and has more in the pipeline.


A business intelligence suite that helps companies track product change data for products like software, hardware, or services.


A physical hardware system that helps people remember what they’re supposed to be doing at work.


One of the most common complaints about shopping carts is that it’s hard to compare prices. 3D Cart hopes to help with that by showing the prices from the retailer’s site directly on the cart page.


Micro-loans for the unbanked, with a minimum term of 9 months, a maximum term of 20 years, and a minimum interest rate of 2%. The goal is to offer a lifeline for the unbanked, who often have a hard time obtaining a traditional bank account.


A startup that aims to “make it easier for everyone in the world to have a home internet connection” with a hardware product that plugs into an electrical outlet.


Idea: The first hardware investment platform that allows investors and inventors to reach each other


A startup that produces hardware and software for people who are deaf or hard of hearing


Idea: A programmable hardware add-on for Raspberry Pi


Idea: Build custom apps around on-premise hardware


Idea: A startup that is building a solution to address the need for early-stage investment in the medical device industry The company wants to help hardware startups run more efficient clinical trials


Idea: TrackR aims to help keep track of your things, be it keys, pets, or anything else that you might lose The hardware is a small device that can connect via bluetooth to your phone


Idea: A hardware product that seamlessly integrates with your existing credit card reader so that you can accept credit card payments in person.


Idea: A startup that is building an end-to-end solution for businesses making hardware to help them get funded and bring their product to market. They want to automate a lot of the backend work needed to launch hardware like creating a company and getting funding.


Idea: A hardware startup looking to build a “developer’s dream”, a library of easy-to-use and open source hardware tools for electronics prototyping.


A startup that provides a directory of professionals who can provide hard-to-find services like making a denture


A startup that helps people with their resume if they are having a hard time getting one above a certain number


Idea: A company that will clean up your old hard drives


Idea: A soft-keyboard for mobile devices. The startup says their product is meant to make it easier to type on touch screens, leveraging a 3D-touch feature that allows users to press in harder on their mobile phones.


Idea: A startup that helps brands and agencies plan out their Instagram marketing strategies. The founder is a former head of marketing at Instagram (who worked on its mobile app) and says that brands still have a hard time figuring out how to adapt their advertising to the platform.


Idea: We all have a hard time picking a restaurant to eat at in busy cities like New York. The startup is coming up with solutions to make that experience easier.