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Platforms Accelerating the Hardware Revolution: From Idea to Product OR What You Need to Know about Scaling a Hardware Company

Boris Wertz (Version One Ventures), Zak Homuth (Upverter), Kate Drane (Indiegogo), Julia Grace (Slack), Emile Petrone (Tindie)
Location: Festival Pavilion

The hardware revolution has seen the emergence of thousands of new makers and independent hardware manufacturers. While it’s easier than ever before to create hardware, building a real business is challenging. Many entrepreneurs aren’t aware of the platforms that help accelerate the process from initial idea, to an innovative hardware product that can be sold to customers worldwide.

Collaborative design tools like Upverter ( make it easy to gather the collective design wisdom of the hardware community while crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo ( can help raise the initial funding for the project. Marketplaces like Tindie ( finally can be the storefront for independent hardware manufacturers to reach consumers and enterprise customers worldwide.

This panel discusses best practices in each of these areas and presents real case studies explaining how independent hardware manufacturers have used these platforms to build successful businesses.

Photo of Boris  Wertz

Boris Wertz

Version One Ventures

Boris Wertz is one of the top tech early-stage investors in North-America and the founding partner of Version One Ventures. His portfolio encompasses over 40 early-stage consumer internet and mobile companies, including hardware related startups Indiegogo, Tindie, and Upverter. Through Version One Ventures, he has also invested in GoInstant (acquired by Salesforce), Top Hat Monocle, Indochino, Summify (acquired by Twitter), Wattpad, Sparkbuy (acquired by Google), Julep, Suite101, Yapta, Chloe & Isabel, Edmodo, and Flurry. Before becoming an investor, Boris was the Chief Operating Officer of, which was sold to Amazon in 2008.

Photo of Zak Homuth

Zak Homuth


Zak Homuth is the CEO and founder of Upverter, the leading collaborative hardware design platform. As a child, Zak was always coming up with new businesses, and at 16 he put his high school education on hold to run his computer consulting business, which he grew to a dozen employees and hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue. After shutting down the business and finishing his diploma, Zak studied Computer Engineering at the University of Waterloo doing his co-op internships at IBM in Germany, Infosys in India, and at Sandvine in Waterloo, Ontario where he accepted a full-time job. Zak left Sandvine in 2011 to found Upverter.

Photo of Kate Drane

Kate Drane


Kate Drane is hardware category lead at Indiegogo, one of the leading crowdfunding platforms. She is responsible for all aspects of business growth for the platform’s design and technology categories and has led many companies, including Misfit Wearables, Scanadu and Canonical, to secure funding on Indiegogo. Kate is also the co-founder and CMO of The Can Van, and the organizer of the non-profit organization SoupSF. She frequently speaks at events around the country including Engadget+gdgt Live at CE Week, MAKE’s Hardware Innovation Workshop and TEDx.

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Julia Grace


Julia is a software engineer, maker and avid athlete. She is currently Head of Engineering at Tindie where she was the first employee and built the engineering team. Prior to joining Tindie, she was CTO of WeddingLovely (a 500 Startups company), Product Manager at a mid-stage startup, VigLink, and a Research Engineer as part of one of the world’s top User Experience Research groups at IBM Almaden Research. Julia holds a BS with Honors and MS in Computer Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where her research focused on both distributed systems and human computer interaction.

Photo of Emile Petrone

Emile Petrone


Emile Petrone is the founder of Tindie, a “maker marketplace” for independent hardware manufacturers . He has worked at a number of successful startups such as Yelp, Redbeacon, Simplegeo, and Urban Airship. While Emile is a web engineer, his experience is varied. He has also worked in sales, support, and as a developer advocate.