Frequently Asked Questions

  • Launched in 2017, mHUB is the largest and fastest growing physical product innovation center in the U.S. Its mission is to accelerate industry growth by cultivating a community of collaboration and connectivity between innovators, entrepreneurs and manufacturers. In its first four years, our startups have raised more than $1B in lifetime funding, have generated more than $430M in revenue, hired more than 2,153 employees and launched more than 1,256 products. Learn more about our member startups.

  • mHUB is located in the West Town neighborhood in Chicago at 965 W. Chicago Ave. This historic industrial corridor has deep roots in manufacturing and has been home to leaders in industry including Motorola Mobility, Milwaukee Iron and Metal Company, Werner Piano, and more. To learn more about the building, the neighborhood, or to schedule a tour, visit our site.

  • We are an  focused on physical products. Our 63,000 square-foot facility contains multiple fabrication labs, including electronics, plastic fabrication, metals, textiles and rapid prototyping, as well as a micro-factory for small production runs.

    Beyond the fabrication labs, mHUB offers a mentorship program designed to connect entrepreneurs with business and industry leaders, technical training, hardtech development services and a robust 50+ course entrepreneurial curriculum curated for every stage of the journey and business building. Our flagship entrepreneurial product design workshops are even leveraged by regional corporates for employee training and external innovation.

    Get more details on our capabilities.

  • The mHUB Accelerated Incubation program will be fast-paced and designed to bring your startup from concept or prototype to the foundation of a profitable, scalable and sustainable business in six months. We expect that you and your team not only bring your ingenuity and a strong work ethic, but also a collaborative spirit. We expect you to come out of the program with a product and business ready to present to investors, customers and corporate partners.

  • Our program will focus on three main areas that are interwoven and revisited iteratively. The first focus is on customer development and validating your hypothesis. It answers the question of who your customer is, and what problem you are trying to solve. The second focus area is all about product feasibility; what is the solution to that problem and validating that solution with your customers through experimentation and prototyping. The third focal area consists of monetizing your solution; what is the business model and what is your go to market strategy. At the end of our six-month, on-site program you will be demonstrating and pitching your business to mHUB’s stakeholders and possible investors. Actually, you will be pitching throughout the program to become an expert storyteller.

  • At the end of the six-month program, you will be pitching your company to investors and our broader community. At this time, investors in the mHUB Product Impact Fund, the corporate partners and our VC partners may participate in your company’s current funding round.

    At the end of the program, your team will still be members of the mHUB community for the following 18 months, which includes access to workspace, shop equipment, classes, mentorship, events, etc. Additionally, it is anticipated that select teams will have the opportunity to run a customer pilot program with one of our invested corporate partners. All this depends on you successfully formulating and demonstrating your business proposition.

     

  • You are not required to stay in Chicago after the program ends, although, we find that many of our current mHUB startups do stay local after graduating from mHUB (remember you get an additional 18 months of membership). If you stay, you can continue to engage with the cohort’s corporate partners and mentors as well as the mHUB members and alumni. We will provide the infrastructure and resources to help you continue to grow and refine your business.

  • See our portfolio for a listing of the accelerator program’s current participants. Additionally, mHUB has worked with over 425 companies since its inception. Read more about our member companies.

  • We have developed a holistic selection process and a diverse selection committee designed to select the most promising teams based on program fit and alignment with our criteria. Our selection criteria include; focus on our corporate partners’ provided problem statements, the market potential of the proposed solutions, the experience, commitment and passion of the founding team, the current capital structure of the startup, and the overall business strategy. The selection process will comprise several rounds; an initial round is based on the completeness of the application, an in-depth review is based on an holistic scoring of the above selection criteria, and finally an in-person interview takes place where the product and business model as well as team coachability, passion and commitment are assessed.

  • We accept applications that cover a broad spectrum of development; your product or solution can be in the concept phase, in prototyping phase, in initial commercial pilot or in market. We know that the physical product development process can be capital intensive, so we do not discount any startup who has already taken necessary amounts of funding. As long as you fall within the pre-seed and seed classification, we welcome you to apply!

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  • Absolutely. While the capital investment(s) is a large benefit of the program, much of the true value comes from access to mHUB’s industry-leading resources, mentorship, entrepreneurial and technical training, mHUB’s startup community and connection to industry stakeholders who are willing and interested potential customers. Key features highlighted by our current members and alumni include peer learning with other startups (you are in it together), access to a state-of-the-art prototyping environment and mHUB’s extensive manufacturing and tech ecosystem.

  • “Physical product” is a broad term, but we like to say it is best defined as any physical good you can manufacture. Although, we understand that many physical product companies also have a digital side to them. As long as your company has exposure to the physical side, we welcome you to apply.

  • Yes, the fund is structured to make follow-on investments in 8 to 12 companies with check sizes ranging from $300K to $750K. These investments will require an additional institutional investor or established firm to lead and price the funding round. In addition, the Product Impact Fund Limited Partners will seek direct and co-investment opportunities.

  • Throughout the program, we will help make connections to investment partners within our ecosystem to help you meet your funding needs. Our stakeholders (corporate partners and investors) will witness firsthand your progress during the program through intermediate prototype demonstrations and pitch competitions.

  • mHUB Accelerated Incubation is a 6-month deep dive incubation taking place in Chicago, the heart of U.S. manufacturing and engineering ingenuity. We believe our in-person program is unique because of our 360-degree incubation model that focuses on the engineering, design and manufacturing of a physical product, along with building the startup teams’ business and leadership capacity. Throughout the life of the program, all teams will have the ability to access mHUB’s Hardtech Development Services and tap into a deep talent pool of entrepreneurs, engineers and designers to support your product development, processes and overall strategy. In addition, each accelerator cohort has direct access to corporate partners who will actively engage with teams to understand market demand, build customer relationships and offer possible pilot opportunities. mHUB’s ever-growing manufacturing ecosystem offers connections to a robust network of industry experts, contractors, investors, mentors, manufacturers, suppliers and more.

  • Corporate partners are an integral part of the accelerator program. They assist in defining market opportunity, supporting the review and selection process, acting as mentors, providing funding support for the program and providing possible pilot opportunities. At the mid-point of the program, corporate partners may make an additional investment(s) in cohort companies in the form of convertible notes. In addition, they will provide marketing support to help us generate strong visibility for the program and teams.

  • Each corporate partner will deploy a minimum of $100K in additional investments per cohort via a convertible note. These investments will occur at the mid-check point / product-market fit pitch competition. The terms for the convertible notes: 80% discount rate, 4% APR with debt converting at Series A funding or acquisition. There will be no pro-rata written into this document. There will also be no valuation cap.

  • Accelerator companies allocate a non-negotiable 5-8% of their company to the mHUB Product Impact Fund through the form of a Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE), which converts to equity in each company’s next priced round. Upon the conversion of the SAFE to equity, the mHUB Product Impact Fund would become a preferred shareholder. While mHUB only takes one spot on your cap table, our equity stake spreads returns and ownership among our fund’s 80-85 strategic Limited Partners, allowing you the benefit of multiple shareholders without the complexity.

    To receive the investment, all Accelerator companies will be required to provide:

    • – Organizational documents, such as certificate of incorporation, LLC or similar, company’s bylaws
    • – Any voting agreements, transfer restriction agreements, proxies, preemptive rights agreements or other agreements relating to the management, ownership or control of the company
    • – Summary of related party transactions and arrangements
    • – Employment and consulting agreements
    • – Current capitalization table
    • – Any severance, bonus or change of control obligations
    • – Incentive equity plans, awards and agreements
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  • We expect to accept 8 to 10 companies per cohort.

  • We welcome you to apply to multiple cohorts if the theme fits your product. If selected to participate, you will join the cohort that our selection committee feels best fits your product and expertise.

  • Midway Corporate Pitch Event

    This event will focus on product market fit and show the teams’ progress within the first three months focused on the Discovery phase and the beginning of the Design phase. The audience will include peers, contractors, LPs and corporate partners.

    Investor Pitch / Demo Day

    This event will be the culmination of the accelerator program. The pitches will be holistic and focused on capturing additional customers and attracting follow-on investment. The audience will include the public, VCs, angels, LPs and industry partners.

  • We accept applications that cover a broad spectrum of development; your product or solution can be in the concept phase, in prototyping phase or already in an initial commercial pilot. Regardless of your status, all startups will follow thorough customer validation through hypothesis and assumption testing followed by multiple experiments towards building their Minimal Viable Product. Once product-market fit is obtained, the best business model and go-to-market strategy will be developed to build a profitable, scalable and sustainable business. We understand that startups may be in different stages along this journey, but we want to validate and confirm each step. For some startups, this might be a confirmation of assumptions, for others, newly gained insights might require some pivoting.

  • When accepted to the program you will receive a cash investment of $75,000 which your company can use at its discretion.

    You will also receive:

    • – An equivalent of $57,000 as credits in mHUB services or services from approved affiliates. These services include consulting projects on product development, design and engineering as well as brainstorms and innovation sessions.
    • – Greatly discounted services from mHUB standards and certification partner Underwriters Laboratory (UL) for certification of products to applicable standards.
    • – Two years of full-access membership at mHUB for up to 4 people on your team ($33,600 value).
    • – Discounted legal services from law firm partner ($15,000+ value).
    • – Complete access to $6M worth of prototyping, manufacturing, and testing equipment. See our Equipment & Resources page for a list of all equipment.
    • – Access to HSM Works and Solidworks licenses as well as Eagle, Fusion360, Adobe Creative Cloud, and Microsoft Suite ($5,000+ per year value). See our Equipment & Resources page for a list of all equipment.
    • – Cloud credits for Microsoft, Google, and AWS.
    • – UPS Shipping Discounts of about 50% to 66% off domestic shipping rates.
    • – Membership at the industry and trade organizations to which mHUB belongs ($2,000 value).
    • – 20% off and a waived implementation fee to Carta.

    Additionally, our corporate partners can further invest in selected startups through convertible notes as part of their sponsorship.

    mHUB’s Product Impact Fund also has capital allocated to participate in portfolio companies’ later rounds.

  • Please email us at team@mhubchicago.com and we will be happy to answer any additional questions you may have.