Software GR Presents Brett Hackleman: A Day in the Life of a Hardware Startup (VIDEO)

As Netscape co-founder and venture capitalist Marc Andreesen is fond of pointing out, “Software eats the world.” But in my experience, sometimes you still need a fork. That’s the premise behind Bad Elf, a hardware startup launched in 2010 to build innovative accessories for the iPad and iPhone in the aviation, marine, and GIS/survey markets. Bad Elf products bridge the gap between the physical world and your phone/tablet, feeding data into innovative apps that are delighting customers and disrupting markets.

In this talk, I’ll describe what a typical day in a hardware startup looks like, and present a high-level view of what it takes to bring a new hardware product to market. I’ll also provide some background on what it was like for our team to transition from delivering software services to building consumer electronics, with many lessons learned along the way. There are some obvious and not-so-obvious pros and cons to building software vs. hardware widgets.


Brett Hackleman is the CTO and co-founder of Bad Elf. His background is in Computer Engineering, which provides a solid foundation for moving up and down the hardware/firmware/application stack as needed to bring new Bad Elf products to life. Brett is also a private pilot and outdoor enthusiast.

In his past life, Brett co-founded Band XI International, a software company that delivered solutions to the US Army, deployed a cellular-based GPS tracking system for motorcycles/trailers, and developed industrial control systems for a major construction equipment manufacturer. Prior to that he worked at IBM and started his career at Object Technology International.