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How Do You Get Hardware Start-Ups Off the Ground in Asia?

13 August 2020: The rise of smart devices has followed the soaring smartphone adoption and internet penetration in many countries. However, the path of a hardware start-up is often complex with high costs, manufacturing, heavy financing requirements, supply chain management, and more.

It was an honour for BlackStorm Consulting to have Mr. Ray Tai of Mighty Net, an expert with a wealth of experience working with hardware start-ups as the speaker and co-organiser to share about what hardware start-ups should do to avoid the risky pitfalls. Ms. Jeslin Bay of BlackStorm Consulting also shared about some of the opportunities in Asian hardware innovation these days.

This article will present some highlights covered in the event.

Opportunities in Asian Hardware Innovation

The internet age has only been picking up speed since its inception, with more smaller chips, more precise and organised bandwidths allowing more and more devices to connect to the internet. Networks are spreading wider as governments invest heavily in infrastructure to equip their economy for digitalisation.

IoT has become an exceedingly hot topic among governments, organisations and individuals to improve efficiency across every industry. Creating devices that can monitor, collect data and be controlled remotely allows people to do less, learn more and improve even faster.

For governments, it could precede a much faster rate of development for developing countries compared to the past. Many government projects for IoT implementation in public services have been launched to solve a wide range of problems, from lighting to transportation to healthcare. The budgets for such projects are expected to continue growing in the coming years.

Corporates and consumers have also started to implement more IoT systems to reduce repeated activities and improve monitoring and tracking for efficiency purposes. Individuals with smartphones are starting to control every aspect of their life from their phone.

Asia Pacific (APAC) is expected to become the global leader in IoT spending – to reach USD 398.6 billion by 2023 with APAC accounting for 36% of the worldwide spending in 2019.

Asian Hardware plays a huge role in actualising the benefits of IoT solutions. Globally, hardware spending on Internet of Things (IoT) will reach almost USD 1.5 trillion in 2020 from the estimated USD 964 billion in 2017.

Challenges Faced by Hardware Start-ups

Despite the promising outlook, hardware remains challenging for many start-ups. Financing can be extremely difficult due to the high capital requirements for prototyping, manufacturing, inventory, and warehousing.

Finding a reliable and capable manufacturer is the second hurdle. Unlike software development, developing a product requires specialised tooling that is not always easily attainable. The cost of reaching a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is much high in product development.

Companies will then have to deal with supply chain management and distribution channels that are cost-effective. Lastly, as technology improves or competitors creep in, differentiation becomes expensive and challenging, especially with large players.

The Right Approach

Ray shares how hardware start-ups should plan their business strategy and models properly. Execution for hardware companies is extremely important. Good product designs may not result in well-manufactured products.

Funding is also often underestimated as reiterations can be expensive and time-consuming. Hardware often requires integration from various suppliers of individual components. Working out specifications and modifications from each supplier may get complicated and result in further delays.

With many interdependent parts, bringing a good product to market is challenging and all the parts from design to distribution should be assessed as one when doing the planning. This will enable founders to plan better and more accurately when requesting for funding or seeking deals.

Mighty Net Hardware Express Second Cohort of 2020 Programme

Towards the end of the session, Ray took the opportunity to introduce the virtual hardware accelerator programme.


Mighty Net is looking for hardware innovation start-ups who fall under these requirements:

1. A registered or unregistered hardware innovation start-up*, regardless of the country of registration

2. Innovations possess a reasonably complete business plan

3. You are in any of the following categories of technology:

  • IoT – WiFi, BLE, 4G, LPWAN (Sigfox, Lora, Nb-IoT)
  • Sensor – Air quality, Water quality, Accelerometer & Gyro, Location
  • Cloud – WISE-PaaS, MCS, Azure, AWS, GCP
  • Power – Energy harvesting & Renewable energy

4. Your product(s) fall in any of the following industries:

  • Smart healthcare
  • Smart factory
  • Smart logistics
  • Smart agriculture

5. There must be always at least a senior team member to see through the entire selection process


As a participating start-up, you will be expecting a suite of technical and business-centric benefits as shown in the following figure.

Experienced mentors will be accessible to guide hardware start-ups in various product development stages, alongside well-developed facilities to provide the ideal environment for start-ups to develop their product. Having built many successful hardware start-ups, they are well experienced in orchestrating the various moving parts.

Reliable contacts not only in manufacturing but the integration required for other services such as communication chips will be immensely beneficial to launch a successful hardware start-up. Beyond this, Mighty Net also explores business opportunities for participants to quickly launch their product into the market to gain feedback and be prepared to scale more rapidly. BlackStorm Consulting will play the role of providing a series of business-related workshops to help start-ups penetrating Southeast Asian markets.

Apply Now


The event was concluded with a Q&A session where many questions were asked regarding the program, as well as ideal distribution channels. Jeslin and Ray provided great insight for the participants regarding these questions. Some questions that were being asked are:

  • Does manufacturer these days adopt sustainability practices?
  • How long does a start-up need to set aside from conceptualising hardware to mass production?
  • When entering a new market, should a hardware start-up market the product via distribution network or direct B2B e-commerce?

Watch the full video to find out more!


About Mighty Net

With over 30-years experience and facilities both in Taiwan and China, our professional team offers thorough services from product development, design verification, pilot run, mass production, to global logistics. Mighty Net (https://www.might.com.tw/) delivers one-stop service with quality and confidence. Mighty Net is also running a hardware accelerator program called “Mighty Net Hardware Express”.

About Startup Terrace

As part of efforts to transform Taiwan into a leading innovation service provider in the Asia-Pacific region, the SMEA, MOEA has established a major international startup hub, namely Startup Terrace (https://www.startupterrace.tw/), at the site of the former Universiade athlete’s village in Linkou, New Taipei City. Startup Terrace provides offices, housing, co-working space, an exhibition center, and other state-of-the-art facilities that make it the ideal place for startups to grow and develop.

About BlackStorm Consulting

BlackStorm Consulting (http://blackstormco.asia/) is a Singapore-based boutique growth consultancy firm that specialises in corporate strategy, profit management and investment management. We scale businesses in Southeast Asia. Our clients and connections are internationally present and range from small and medium sized businesses, MNCs, to government agencies.

About DailySocial.Id

Founded in 2008, started out as a tech blog, DailySocial (https://dailysocial.id/) have been experiencing the ins-and-outs of Indonesian technology and digital-related revolution. Now, we are your place to discover the best minds of innovation and to perceive the finest tech journalism products in Indonesia.

About True Digital Park

True Digital Park (https://www.truedigitalpark.com/) is Southeast Asia’s largest tech and startup hub located in the heart of Bangkok CyberTech District”. All under one roof, entrepreneurs, tech companies, investors, accelerators, incubators, academies, and government agencies co-exist in our interconnected ecosystem.