San Diego Starts To Flex Its Cross-Border Muscles

April 14, 2014 0 comments

San Diego Starts To Flex Its Cross-Border Muscles

San Diego is perfect for manufacturing wearable technology. However, due to its proximity to Mexico, a new accelerator is betting big that it is the perfect place for building wearable technology.

Hard Tech Labs (HTL) has put together a bold plan to bring together a world class design, prototyping and building center in San Diego. HTL is combining the San Diego and Baja regions to form a partnership that cannot be done anywhere else in the world.

With the ability to share talent and resources from both San Diego and Tijuana, HTL is creating a place where hard goods with technology can be built in a very short time and inexpensive cost.

Forget China

With HTL, hard goods manufacturers can now go to Mexico to build things much faster than going all the way to China – and for a much lower cost. This is especially advantageous when doing prototyping at HTL; a production run can then happen immediately right across the boarder.

Hard Tech Labs will be like no other accelerator. According to PandoDaily, HTL is currently in the process of raising $20 million and will fund projects up to $150,000 when the enter the accelerator, with up to $350,000 when they exit.

Additionally, Hard Tech Labs will offer much of the machinery needed to design, test, develop and build hard technology products. They also have partnerships with Mexican Maquiladoras (large manufacturing sites) to get the products built.

San Diego is already home to hard tech groups and incubators such as FabLab San Diego and MakerPlace where there are 3D Printers, fabricators, CNC cutting, laser cutters and so much more.

Hard Tech Labs will be able to help entrepreneurs in wearable products such as fitness, jewelry, robotics and drones to name a few categories.  HTL will be offering a comprehensive 6 month to 1 year program with a developed curriculum and extensive mentoring program. They plan to also help to facilitate valuable partnerships with not only manufacturers to get products built but with established brands to get you product launched and cash flowing.

The initial class is targeting wearable technology, drone manufacturers, medical devises and customizable attire. Think you have a product or idea that fits one of these? Email Hard Tech Labs to apply.

Blair Giesen is a Voice of San Diego tech contributor, serial entrepreneur and micro-podcast founder. Join the conversation @BlairsReport or


March Mingle – Why it Matters

March 30, 2014 0 comments

Well March Mingle was last Thursday. What is March Mingle and why does it matter? It’s a group of tech and startup entrepreneurs and developers who are helping to change San Diego. The event was held at Stone Brewery in Liberty Station, hosted by Phelan Riessen from Digithrive and featured booths from many local tech companies to help support the event.

Sometimes I wonder what events like these are all about. After all I know most of the companies and startup CEO’s that were there. The first few people that I talked to we exchanged stories of how San Diego companies are reaching many of the big markets like Chicago and New York.

Then it occurred to me that something was really happening at the event.  Some were just there to “mingle,” but there were some that were there to make things happen. Bruce Bigelow as talking about DNA sequencing and mapping the Human Genome and that Life Technologies and similar companies in San Diego need bigger bandwidth to make it happen.

Brant Cooper was talking about real ways to help the startup incubator ecosystem. Brant shared that he was sick of the old ways of doing things and some of the ways he is moving forward without them (look for a future post).

And finally a group of startup entrepreneurs that are making plans to build a website that encourages all of the San Diego tech startups to start using each other’s products. I love this one. It is one of the things that Silicon Valley does so well that San Diego MUST do.

So as the talks of all the amazing things moving forward in the startup community wind down at March Mingle I feel like things are moving in the right direction. One thing I noticed was that San Diego has so much going on in many different sectors of technology and startups that it’s hard to get a real focus of which ones to highlight.

I think the answer is to highlight them all and watch them all grow into strong parts of the San Diego economy. After all, San Diego is such a desirable place to live. All we have to do is keep building what is already started.

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San Diego Claims Its Place In The Wearable World

March 24, 2014 0 comments

San Diego Claims Its Place In The Wearable World

Wednesday night was the kickoff of the first Wearable Wednesday event in San Diego and featured an amazing panel to show how San Diego was inserting itself in the wearable space.

If you think San Diego is just about sun, surf and Mexican food, think again. Forbes just last week ranked San Diego #1 for the best place to launch a startup, and this week one of the world’s largest companies, headquartered in San Diego, along with an innovative startup founder and a guy who wrote the book on the internet of things, showed up to the Wearable Wednesday event to show that San Diego knew something about wearable technology.

Nikhil Jain, VP and Lead on the Qualcomm Toq smart watch was joined by Josh Windmiller from Electrozymeand Daniel Obodovski author of “The Silent Intelligence.”

I write a tech column for Voice of San Diego so I was asked to be the moderator. San Diego’s tech startup scene is gaining some real momentum. Wearable technology is a space that can do very well in San Diego for several strong reasons.

One of these reasons is because of its proximity to Mexico and the ability to prototype products in a single day or week. Hard Tech Labs is opening up an accelerator that will take advantage of this and has a very big plan for success.

The second reason is because it is a hub for sports related companies. One of the only sports innovation labs is here.

The third reason is because Qualcomm, the mobile chip maker is here. (No, Qualcomm is not a stadium.)

And finally, wearables will thrive in San Diego because of UCSD and the enormous Bio Tech companies headquartered in this area.

As far as the Wearable Wednesday event in San Diego, many of the topics that were covered discussed these strengths of San Diego.

Josh Windmiller of Electrozyme discussed how his products were developed for triathletes and went beyond some of the devices like the Nike fit band. Everyone knows all the beautiful people are in San Diego, so it is the perfect place to develop wearable sports related products. Windmiller told the audience that he built some of his prototypes with 3D printers and showed off the goods.

Qualcomm, who according to Bloomberg is the biggest provider of mobile phone chips, showed off its new smart watch called Qualcomm Toq. Jain, who said he was an entrepreneur in a large corporation, discussed how Qualcomm decided to go into the wearable space. “About 3 years ago Qualcomm wanted to look at what they viewed as the future of devices and wearable technology was it.” I told Jain that if he was an entrepreneur that he was one with a big budget. He tried to tell me that it wasn’t that big, but when pressed wouldn’t tell me the budget of the project.

Obodovski, who had a very good grasp of the wearable ecosystem, talked about how different it would be than the cell phone ecosystem. Jain added that there can be such a large number of wearable devices that developing a platform that they all work on very difficult. With mobile app technology there are a small number of platforms. For platforms such as Android/Google Play with all the different devices it gets complicated. Jain went on say there is a very big opportunity for the company that establishes or consolidates this process.

The discussion turned to the topic of privacy, security and data. Jain said, “we spent a lot of time thinking about if and how to put a lock on the Qualcomm Toq watch. We decided that we would tie it to the mobile device.” In other words, if the watch was not close to the devise you couldn’t access some of the features on the watch.

As far as the data the discussion turned to where the data is stored; in the cloud or on the device.

Some of the questions from the crowd were about what other industries could surround this wearable technology and design came up as one of the key industries that was of high importance to wearables.

As the panel wrapped up, it was time to grab some Mexican food and get home for some rest so I could surf early in the morning. Yes, that’s what we do in San Diego – make amazing products and enjoy where we live. Don’t tell anyone. It’s a secret.

Blair Giesen is a Voice of San Diego tech contributor, serial entrepreneur and micro-podcast founder. Join the conversation @BlairsReport or

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