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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

197

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.

187

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

176

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

168

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

150

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.

146

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.

114

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.

113

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.

111

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

105

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

104

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

103

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

101

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

101

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.

99

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.

98

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.

95

A hardware startup that is building a fully autonomous delivery vehicle

95

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

94

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.

94

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

94

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.

93

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

93

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.

93

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.

92

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.

91

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.

91

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.

91

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.

91

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.

89

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.

88

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.

86

 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.

85

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

84

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.

84

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

83

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

83

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

83

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.

78

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.

77

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.

77

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.

75

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

75

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.

75

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

73

A tool to help companies estimate the time it will take to complete software development projects. Currently only for-profit SaaS companies, the startup wants to expand into the nonprofit and hardware sectors in the future.

71

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.

71

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.

70

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

69

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

69

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.

66

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.

66

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.

65

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.

64

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.

63

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.

61

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.

61

This startup is building a new kind of pay-as-you-go mobile device, which can be used for a variety of purposes, from music to glasses to medical and molecular research. The device is meant to be flexible and easy to use, with a range of options for the hardware and software, and a monthly fee that is based on usage.

60

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.

60

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

59

The product is a hardware device that uses machine learning to help you take the best shot of a face. The startup uses AI to learn faces and pair them with photos of them taken by users. It’s the company's first product, which was launched in June, and was a finalist in the class of 2018.

53

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.

52

A hardware startup that wants to integrate sensors and cameras into shoes. The company collects information on how people walk, which it then uses to train computer vision algorithms to detect hazards and improve safety.

50

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.

50

The first public hardware offering from Spin, a company that makes a 3D printer, will be a small plastic ball that you can use to make jewelry.

49

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.

46

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

45

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.

44

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.

41

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.

41

A startup that helps contractors bid for jobs, with a focus on projects that are often hard to nail down.

37

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.

37

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

36

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.

35

A company that builds hardware/software for connected services.

34

The 2018 edition of the Y Combinator Demo Day featured 41 startups in three different tracks: Hardware, Software, and Networking & Events. The startups were chosen from 5,000 applicants by Y Combinator.

30

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.

29

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

26

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

26

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.

23

This startup is building a platform for the company to launch a hardware product that can automatically detect when a customer is about to run out of battery.

22

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

21

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.

21

A software and hardware system that helps people to prepare and track their taxes and taxes for other people and companies.

21

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.

20

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."

19

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

19

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

19

A startup that helps people build virtual reality experiences and help create immersive experiences for brands. Notable for its location-based VR hardware for gaming and entertainment, the company is building a virtual reality platform for malls and shopping centers.

19

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

18

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

18

 A 3D printing service for hardware engineers and product designers.

18

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

17

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

15

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.

15

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.

15

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

14

A company that wants to build a hardware-based solution to the security problem of the internet of things. The startup wants to build a chip that can secure a device through a physical security system.

14

A new type of hardware, the “fiducial marker,” which is meant to replace the fiducials in your product data, making it more accurate and useful.

14

A startup that provides a hardware solution for IoT devices, which is connected to the cloud through your phone.

14

A startup that wants to help people check their credit score, which is sometimes hard to get because of privacy concerns. Its service offers the ability to report your financial well-being to the Federal Trade Commission in one step. The company is pitching it to companies like Capital One and Chase.

13

A hardware startup that’s building a ground-based sensor network to monitor air pollution, with an eye towards monitoring air quality in the developing world.

13

A small hardware startup that wants to be a platform partner for IoT that helps companies deploy their own autonomous devices.

12

College employment data is hard to get, and many prospective students are unaware of job-seeking opportunities in their region.

12

The startup is pitching itself as a “Google Docs for people who have a hard time in meetings”.

12

Idea: Build custom apps around on-premise hardware

11

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.

10

A startup that has built a hardware-based IoT sensor that is able to wirelessly and privately track and share your health and fitness data. The team has built a prototype and hopes to bring it to market in the next few months.

10

A company that provides a software and hardware platform for people who want to monitor air quality and track air quality changes.

10

This is a hardware company that wants to build the ultimate game controller. It’s meant to be a new generation of the Xbox controller, which is a multi-purpose in-game controller with a touchpad and a gyroscope.

10

A paid subscription service for people looking to take their homes to the next level, with plans starting at $399. They want to create a “designer” lifestyle for people that want to buy a house but don’t want to do a lot of the hard work.

10

Idea: A programmable hardware add-on for Raspberry Pi

9

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

8

A tool that helps you communicate with people who are deaf/hard of hearing.

8

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.

7

The startup aims to sell a $2,500 piece of hardware accessory to install in a car, which allows users to remotely control the vehicle while they’re not in it.

7

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

6

A custom-built security system to protect mobile devices, with a team of designers and engineers that build the actual hardware and software. The startup is staffed by former Google employees and was spun out from Google to focus on security.

6

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

5

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

4

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

-1

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

-1

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

-1

Idea: A startup that is building a platform for shared office space. The company’s founders say that it’s already profitable and has $2.8 million in revenue, with $10 million in annual recurring revenue. The company is installing $10 million in hardware in the next two years. It’s currently profitable.

-1

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.

-1

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.

-1

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.

-1