There’s so much hype around start-ups and incubators at the moment – but a lot of it is focused on apps, software, social networks or new IT system/platforms. It seems that this pattern has been well noted by Andy Rubin, the creator of Android. (As background Rubin, founded Android in 2004 and then sold it to Google in 2005).
Rubin is launching a new incubator called ‘Playground’ aimed at supporting technology start-ups devoted to making devices or hardware. The aim of Playground is ultimately to discover a new technology ecosystem – which ‘hardware will drive’. So really what he’s looking for is much bigger than just another app.
So far Playground has raised US$48 million from investors like his previous employer Google (as well as Hewlett-Packard and Foxconn). The investment from Google is an interesting one, as it essentially maintains a relationship with the entrepreneur – and gives the internet giant access to start-ups their rivals (namely Amazon) won’t be able to touch.
Playground works by taking equity stakes in start-ups instead of directly investing in them. The type of support it will offer includes help with manufacturing (through it’s investor Foxconn), financing, distribution and partnerships. Rubin has described the concept as a place or ‘studio where inventors can focus on building new gadgets without worrying’ about the day-to-day aspects of running a business. So essentially the incubator is giving this talent the freedom to be creative. Rubin says ‘Our aim is to free the creators to create, by bringing these partners to the table we can remove any of the roadblocks of bringing a great idea to market’.