A familiar face in the NZ tech and innovation community, you may recognise Elyse Wyatt from Lightning Lab Manufacturing, or her constant presence at tech, innovation and startup events in Auckland and Tauranga. Recently, fusing her passion for people and love of hardware Elyse has founded the Hardware Meetup - Auckland. In the midst of prepping for their first event we managed to get a moment to talk to Elyse about what exactly a hardware meetup is, why it matters, and why you should be heading along.
First things first, what exactly is a hardware meetup?
Well, it’s a regular event to bring together people who are passionate about building and designing physical products in a relaxed setting, and in one of the innovation hubs of Auckland. Attendees will get to meet other people building products, and they’ll be able to listen to founders, engineers and product designers who will chat about their hardware and the journey they’ve taken. The format is similar to the likes of Startup Grind or Entrepreneurs Unleashed, but I want people to be able to both show off their products and eventually pitch for stuff they need (similar to the hugely popular Game Developers Meetup).
And what kind of people do you think should be heading along?
- Founders of startups building a business with physical products
- Engineers and product designers working inside larger companies
- Contract engineers & product designers
- Senior management in medium and large size companies
- Students studying engineering, industrial design, business
- Entrepreneurs who may not be into hardware specifically, but are still interested in the journey and meeting cool people
So far I have attendees registered who are ticking all these boxes.
If someone was on the fence thinking maybe I should go…. What would you say to convince them to come along?
Here’s a checklist (if you tick at least one, come along!
- Do I enjoy building physical products? (high-tech or otherwise)
- Do I enjoy meeting people with the same interests as me?
- Do I enjoy seeing what other people in this community are building?
- Am I building a business with a physical product?
The real value I see is for people to meet other individuals who are interested in the same stuff as them and to also learn about the journeys of people developing the products. Where possible, speakers will be bringing their products along.
I also believe diversity of thought is what helps make life as awesome as it is. The diversity of thought comes from diversity of gender, ages, and races. A broad set of perspectives allows us to solve problems better and accelerate change faster. Everyone is welcomed and will be valued at this event, and it’s critically important for me that this happens. There’s also a zero tolerance policy regarding harassment.
What can we expect from your first event?
Each event will be themed, and this first one is AgTech. We’ll be hearing from Alistair Scarfe from Robotics Plus (autonomous orchard vehicles and robotic apple packers), Julian McCurdy from BuzzTech (sensors and software for better beehive management) and the team from Locus Research (they’ll be chatting about the Ubco electric farm bike, which they helped to further develop and commercialise alongside founders Anthony Clyde & Daryl Neal). They’ll also have a working bike in the room.
You can also expect to be kept fuelled with lots of platters, drinks, and pizza! I’m trying to cater to most dietary requirements too.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future of this meetup?
I really believe a supportive community can have a huge impact on a person's enjoyment of something. After working in New Zealand's first startup accelerator for physical products in 2015 (Lightning Lab Manufacturing) I had the pleasure of witnessing this first hand. I also believe that checking out what other people have built is super inspiring, and pushes us to do better.
Next year's themes will be pretty awesome - Consumer Electronics, MarineTech, HealthTech, Aerospace, Music and more. I’ve already started framing up products and speakers, and everyone in this ecosystem has been super helpful so far. Moving forward I'd like to include products from both startups and established companies. Often you only hear about cool stuff being developed on the fringes, but bigger companies also release some very exciting products.
Aaaannnd, as I said above, it’s critically important that this event fosters diversity. Women, for example, are often dissuaded from following their interests in tech and engineering, and possibly a big factor is lack of diversity. I don’t want this group to be another place that dissuades women. I want them (and everyone else) to feel welcomed and valued, and therefore keep building cool stuff.