Bolt: Part Venture Capitalist, Part Engineering Team and Pure Awesome

March 5, 2019 Judy Warner

In this episode of the OnTrack podcast we have as our guest; Tyler Mincey, who is the VP of Engineering for Bolt. Bolt is located in San Francisco and Boston and is a hybrid venture that is part venture capitalist and part engineering team. Bolt offers a unique model to help startups get off the ground, and get product to market.

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Show Highlights:

  • Tyler’s background is in product design, especially the intersection of hardware and software product development
  • Worked at Apple at new product development team for 5 years
  • Digital agency in New York, doing web app and mobile app development in UI/UX
  • VP of Product at Pearl Automation - automotive aftermarket startup
  • Bolt - Mechanical, hardware and software as well as product development
  • At Bolt we are a venture capital firm and we invest in concept-stage businesses developing technology products.
  • Usually there is a physical aspect. We help companies develop feature sets and get traction in the market. We help build companies while they’re growing and have full time engineering resources to support the portfolio companies.
  • Startups are different: More resource constrained, and less marketing muscle after launch
  • Why did Bolt adopt a model that includes engineering support?
  • When you need to create a physical product, these technology products require a lot of cross functional work completed, for a startup there are a lot of needs that can’t be fulfilled.
  • The things available today make it possible for companies to create things faster and on smaller budgets than ever before.
  • Project Vive is a good example of a new technology company that would not have been possible before.
  • Bolt has about 70 portfolio companies at the moment: B2B companies, sensor systems, wellness devices, medical devices, and direct to consumer electronics.
  • Digital protocol brands, such as flower delivery services, or baby formula and other physical goods with the same challenges in design, quality control and logistics and acquiring and retaining customers.
  • Bolt Portfolio Page
  • Interested in companies building out infrastructure for space.
  • What are mistakes you see? We see people falling in love with the concept of their own product. We encourage companies to test with real customers as soon as possible. The product needs to be tested and iterated upon. Try to frontload the market validation as much as possible!
  • Can people succinctly communicate the value of your product? Will word-of-mouth work?
  • Does it have a snappy, succinct selling point?
  • Is the experience of using it so sticky they don’t want to stop using it and they want to tell all their friends about it.
  • Validation and verification of just their product specs is one side. Engineering the actual technology is a separate track.  Often people couple these together as one, but you can really do both in parallel.
  • Why Bolt? Why Startups? There is a culture of sharing in software that hasn’t happened yet for hardware. We try to distill information here so people can tap into shared knowledge and if possible, avoid pitfalls that other people have already experienced.
  • A few favorites: Core Wellness - guided meditation trainer, a consumer product with beautiful industrial design; OrbitFAB - orbital gas stations for refueling in space.
  • Pitches can be submitted on Bolt’s website.

Links and Resources:

Bolt Blog

Bolt Portfolio Page

Tempo Automation - turnkey PCB fabrication

Core Wellness - guided meditation trainer

OrbitFAB - orbital gas stations

Submit Your Pitch to Bolt

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About the Author

Judy Warner


Judy Warner has held a unique variety of roles in the electronics industry since 1984. She has a deep background in PCB Manufacturing, RF and Microwave PCBs and Contract Manufacturing with a focus on Mil/Aero applications in technical sales and marketing.

She has been a writer, contributor and journalist for several industry publications such as Microwave Journal, The PCB Magazine, The PCB Design Magazine, PDCF&A and IEEE Microwave Magazine and is an active member of multiple IPC Designers Council chapters.

In March 2017, Warner became the Director of Community Engagement for Altium and immediately launched Altium’s OnTrack Newsletter.
She led the launch of AltiumLive: Annual PCB Design Summit, a new and annual Altium User Conference.

Judy's passion is to provide resources, support and to advocate for PCB Designers around the world.

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