What is the fabulous five of Buildit´s first batch working on and what do they think of being part of a hardware accelerator? We let them speak for themselves.

Buildit´s first call for applications earlier this year attracted applications from over 20 countries, and five teams settled in Tartu in April for four months of hard work on their prototypes (and occasional fun). It´s time to get to know them better, so we asked them a few questions.

Vumbl - "a sixth sense to guide you intuitively"

Tom: Vumbl is an activity band that sits at the back and base of the neck and monitors your body as well as the environment around you, and is able to relay navigation to your body by vibrations. Our team of five comes from England and we originally met at university, it´s the second hardware project we have been working on together.  

We were contacted by Buildit. We didn´t know much about Estonia, so we were wary, but interested. After speaking to the guys here, seeing the mentor list and understanding the advantages of prototyping in Estonia, the offer seemed attractive. Being in Estonia has inherent benefits of keeping us lean as a startup in terms of cost and being able to bring our whole team over to work on a project outside London. Beside that, we came here to build a product, so we required access to machinery, materials, etc and that´s what Buildit really gives us. 

We´ve just been offered an investment from UK based company and are also potentially considering  a move over to the US. So, we´re not really sure at the moment where we´ll be in one year´s time, it depends a lot on where the next investment comes from and where we see our core customer base.  

What do we enjoy most about being in Tartu? Probably, the lifestyle. Most of us come from London, which is very hectic. Being here has offered us a completely different way of life. I like Tartu, i think it´s awesome.

Mustino  lets you hold hands with the person you love - anywhere

Blazan and Kaviraj: Mustino is a  button sized device aimed to represent the feeling of holding hands across distance. Our team members come from Germany and Sweden. Patrik and Blazan had been to Tallinn and Riga many times before and were familiar with the  startup scene here. We love the Baltics, so it was a logical decision to join Buildit. 

The biggest benefit of being part of the programme for our team is mentoring, crucial insights into all functions of a company: product development, marketing, internationalisation.  Also access to prototyping facilities and contacts with manufacturers, designers - which would take much longer outside. 

Our next goal is running a successful crowdfunding campaign. Hopefully next year we will have established ourselves as a pop culture brand. 

What do we enjoy most about Estonia? Well, not the weather. Networking is incredibly good. Even if the President likes your product, he can recommend it in social media. Angela Merkel would never do that :)

KOLOS - the first tabletop racing wheel for iPad

Ivaylo: The KOLOS team originates from Bulgaria and is developing a tabletop racing wheel for 9.7 inch iPads, which allows for a more comfortable and fun gaming experience with hundreds of mobile games. Our background is in business development and marketing.

Buildit programme provides the needed financial, technical and hands-on tools for accelerating hardware startups. Key benefit of being part of the programme turns out to be the high-class mentors which navigate us through difficult decisions and shape our strategy.  As to future then will be launching a crowdfunding campaign in the next few months and hope to expand our portfolio in the coming years with new and exciting mobile gaming accessories.

Heimdallr makes sure you never lose the things you love

Gert: We work on a small tag you can attach to things, people or pets and track them. Our team of three comes from Estonia and has background in IT, engineering and marketing.

The biggest benefit of being part of Buildit for our team is easier access to contacts.We´re planning to run a pilot this autumn. Hopefully after that we can get more funding and start mass production next year. We have also thought of going abroad, maybe London or Berlin.

What do i enjoy most about Tartu?  It is compact, you have everything on a small scale here.

Heelosophy lets ladies dance till dawn

Eero: Heelosophy is working on making wearing high heels painless and comfortable.  Our team is from Estonia and we've got a manager with a decade of experience in supporting startups in an incubator, an industry expert in sensor data, an early lead engineer of Plotagon, and Estonia's best magazine designer :)

The main reason for joining Buildit was  a great lineup of mentors providing support both from the business standpoint and the tech side of things. A startup needs to be very passionate about their work, but there's a downside: in such a heat you're bound to miss some really important (yet obvious) viewpoints and ideas. Having people point them out to you is enormously helpful. Also, Buildit has allowed us to tap into their wide network of contacts and enabled us to expand ours on roadshows and conferences.

We're looking to do a store pilot later this year. In a year's time, we'll most likely be past the validation steps and I will probably be working on building and maintaining partnerships to further help us expand.