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The Connected Devices Phenomenon

As some of you may have heard, R/GA and Techstars joined forces to lay down an important beachhead to force-multiply the connected devices phenomenon right here in New York with the new R/GA Accelerator. And after working many great years here at Columbia advocating for startups, mentoring entrepreneurs in the City, and by tooth and claw seen through the birth of so many startups, I'll be shortly leaving to join the R/GA Accelerator as Managing Director. I want to thank all those in the community that have supported my efforts and that today I count as friends. My new role at R/GA Accelerator will be in many ways a continuation of what I've been doing for many of you, and a return to doing startups again, but with a focus on a passion of mine--connected devices.

These are exciting times for startups, but even more so for the rarest of this breed, the ones with a calling to build physical devices. It's called hardware for a reason :-) and hardware entrepreneurs who make it to a delivered product earn their wings in defiance of the forces of nature working against them. We've seen vast changes in the business landscape thanks to globalization of manufacturing in the past few decades, and by-and-large in the wake of the manufacturing exodus, by dint of sweat and ingenuity, web entrepreneurs have put this country back onto the most positive footing when it comes to data services.

Bringing a new vitality to the ecosystem

But witness: the confluence of the Cloud, Big Data Analytics on one side and the Maker movement and the resurgence in local and personalized manufacturing on the other. These forces are a tidal wave crashing to shore, bringing a new vitality to the ecosystem and we're seeing the first results with the rise of the quantified self, wearable computing, Internet-of-Things and augmented reality. All these devices were possible before, but matter now because of the backbone of services and data. But the crazy thing is the very data that makes possible the personalized and relevant results is also driving the evolution of unique devices for unique demographics. These devices are quickly forming the connective glue that connects people together, and that innovation is happening right here right now. It's a great time for hardware innovators.

All truly great hardware products begin with a story

The strength of New York is in its diversity and density. Our people here are a mirror of the nation and the world. This is a powerful testing ground to those who build products and together with a great tech community situated here it's no surprise so many new entrepreneurs are drawn into this City of Demographics and making it happen. One thing I've taken to heart is that all truly great hardware products begin with a story that connects to people. I look forward to helping tell those stories and also to getting to know everyone with the calling to build connected devices.