I’m a mentor for the NYC Techstars program. Along with some other amazing mentors, we get to help early stage companies grow in a structured environment. If you are not familiar with the program, Techstars offers up to $120,000 in funding and access to a HUGE network of mentors, founders, and investors -- all rolled into an intensive three-month class. They now have another mission: helping early-stage hardware and connected-device companies get off the ground to become the next Beats by Dre or Nest.

To do so, Techstars has partnered with R/GA, a leading agency for design, branding, and product development to create the R/GA Accelerator. Startups selected to participate in the accelerator work in R/GA’s in-house labs to design, develop and validate innovative physical products. And it’s all happening right here in NYC. This is local and this is LEGIT.

The next session of the program is run by Jenny Fielding, managing director at Techstars, who most recently spearheaded investments for the BBC and also founded BBC Labs, an award-winning program for early-stage digital media companies in the UK. She’s now turning her sights to hardware, tapping into an emerging genre of products that combine hardware, design, data, and software in new and innovative ways.

PRO TIP (Interested in applying) : The program kicks off on October 20 in NYC. Participants receive up to $120,000 plus 150 hours of R/GA services. Applications are open thru August 25, 2014 so apply here, quick!

One of the program’s success stories is Grove Labs, making indoor gardening affordable and accessible with their plant growing appliance. The Boston-based company worked with R/GA to help refine, develop, and brand the product, ultimately raising more than $2M following the program’s investor demo day.

Producing hardware is not an easy task. With programs such as Techstars, it becomes easier to give creators the ability to tap into local resources. The future is bright for new products being conceived in the USA. Let’s get excited and build something. Hustle ON.