Since it was unveiled almost exactly one year ago, Google’s NYC-based 30 Weeks: A Founders Program for Designers incubator has been nothing short of a success story that even established design firms should probably take notes on.
In collaboration with existing NYC design schools and institutions including Hyper Island, SVA, Parsons, Pratt, The Cooper Union and mentors in design, tech, and venture capital, Google’s goal with the 30 Weeks incubator is to eliminate as much wasted effort as possible while simultaneously maximizing the speed of getting hardware startups up and out the door in such a way that they can shed their training wheels and blaze their own trails.
While the first 15 weeks of the 30 Weeks incubator program are structured around dedicated workshops, speaker series, pitches and group sessions, the following 15 weeks are hyper-focused on a dedicated group project with a smaller group that is chosen by the 30 Weeks mentors. Among others who lend their time and focus include design and technology industry heavyweights David Kelley (Co-Founder of IDEO), Robert Wong (Executive Creative Director at Google Creative Lab) and Saskia Bos (Dean of the School of Art at Cooper Union).
According to the 30 Weeks founders, this learn-by-launching structure “gives participants a chance to build their entrepreneurship skills in an environment that’s as close to the real thing as possible.”
In other words: it’s bumper bowling for hardware development and covers everything from idea conception and development through to branding and fulfillment – something that even Apple has been having trouble with as of late.
Among other product ideas that were born out of the innovative startup incubator, the Light Phone looks to be among the most promising.
Founded over the duration of 30 weeks by 30 Weeks participants Joe Holler (an artist) and Kaiwei Tang (a product designer), the credit card-sized minimalist cell phone is designed to be as disconnected as possible without leaving a user feeling completely stranded:
In total, the 4-millimeters thick, 38.5 g phone can last an impressive 20 days inside of a wallet or coat pocket without a single charge. Perhaps what makes the Light Phone even more compelling is that it doesn’t have to replace existing smartphones that users are already tied down to with carrier contracts; using a built-in app, a user can store up to 10 numbers on speed dial and have all existing calls forwarded to their Light Phone when a more robust smartphone isn’t particularly needed.
“In recent years, we’ve become inundated with connectedness,” said the designers.
“Smart phones in our pockets have made life easier in countless ways, though it’s also made it easier to miss out on the world around us. With the goal of helping people live more consciously, The Light Phone — a discreet, credit card-sized phone — is designed to be used as little as possible.”
The Light Phone is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter and will go into production if at least $200,000 is raised by June 27th. Less than 48 hours in to their campaign, the designers have already raised over $42,000.
You can get yours starting at $100 over on Kickstarter.