Tomorrow Lab Assists Entrepreneurs in Creating Their Dream Products
Founded in 2010, the self-described “hardware innovation studio” Tomorrow Lab has been lending a helping hand to all kinds of companies looking to create and develop products for a variety of markets.
We spoke with Tomorrow Lab Co-Founder and Partner Ted Ullrich to learn more about this “studio” and how it came together. We also had a chance to learn more about what products they have worked on, some of them you may have heard of.
To start off, how did Tomorrow Lab come to be?
Tomorrow Lab, LLC was officially incorporated in 2010 and the website was launched in an apartment in Brooklyn. The vision was to combine internet connectivity, open source ideals, and lean software development processes to solve problems in a variety of ways.
Soon after, I met Pepin Gelardi on the street during Williamsburg Walks—a summertime community project in which cars are removed from Bedford Avenue (the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare) for a day and replaced with artist expositions and a pedestrian space. After meeting and discovering shared interests, the two found their first client through Pepin’s friend, giving them the opportunity to develop a phone charging system product now known as BrightBox. Now, eight years, several offices, and dozens of employees later, they are one of the first continually operating hardware innovation and design studios in NYC.
2. I see you describe yourself as a "hardware innovation studio." For those who don't know, what is a hardware innovation studio?
Hardware: As opposed to software, hardware is broadly the physical products in our lives, often smart and internet connected.
Innovation: By employing hybrid employees spanning backgrounds in Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Industrial Design, we are fluent in new technologies, materials, and trends. We bring a special combination together with hard work to develop new ideas.
Studio: We run the business like an architecture studio, where clients come to us with their product ideas and pay us to develop those ideas into manufacture-ready products.
3. What are some of the products you've helped bring to life?
JUMP - https://jumpbikes.com/
LOOMIA - https://loomia.com
Keen Home - https://keenhome.io/
Hasbro’s DropMix - https://dropmix.hasbro.com/en-us
WayCount - http://WayCount.com
BucaBoot - https://www.bucaboot.com/
Teralytic - https://teralytic.com/
Astronaut Reality Helmet - https://www.thedrum.com/creative-works/project/mccann-new-york-national-geographic-the-astronaut-reality-helmet
How has Tomorrow Lab evolved over time?
With no venture capital or business loans, we have organically grown Tomorrow Lab over 8 years. With hard work we’ve slowly built-up our skills, refined our process, expanded our knowledge base, and acquired tools allowing us to do things better and faster. Starting with just one desk in Brooklyn, we now occupy two floors of a building in lower Manhattan and have plans to keep growing.
One of the biggest differences between now and when we started is the quantity and speed of projects we can handle. On average, we now run more than 30 projects per year.
We have also seen our client base grow and shift. In the beginning, there were a lot of projects for clients to launch on Kickstarter. Now, we are working with innovation groups in large companies, advertising agencies looking to create products, and some of the best venture-backed hardware startups in the world.
What are some of your proudest moments?
We have many small proud moments. Anytime we see the prototypes work the way they should with a touch of magical technology, there are pride and satisfaction. Anytime we wrap up a project and see the product in the hands of a client or on the market, we get the same feeling.
Where does the lab go from here?
There are a few things we’re working on for the future: First, earlier this year, we set up a second entity called Made Today, LLC, which is the storefront for the products developed by Tomorrow Lab. Made Today produces products both in-house and works with a unique network of US-based and overseas manufacturers, who produce quality goods quickly at affordable prices. Made Today responds to the increasing demand from our client base, to purchase a pilot manufacturing run (the first few hundred or thousand units) of their new product.
We are also pursuing an IP Venture Studio model where a VC Fund pays for TL’s time, allowing us to develop licensable IP.
Lastly, we are considering opening a second Tomorrow Lab office in another geographic market, perhaps Los Angeles.