“It is still incredibly important for startups to get their products in front of customers in stores,” explains Highway1 head Brady Forrest. “Startups traditionally face hurdles to entering brick and mortar retail, and that is why PCH is working with Best Buy to innovate in-store retail with things like direct to store shipping, which drastically reduces inventory cost for a startup.”
Early today, Highway1’s parent company PCH International announced a deal with Best Buy that would offer hardware startups precious shelf space in amongst the brightly lit aisles of mega-retailer Best Buy. The Ignite program will start small, with a devoted space in the big box store’s Silicon Valley store — a newly opened space located in Google’s home turf of Mountain View, after relocating from Yahoo’s stomping ground, Sunnyvale.
Among the first round of products are the Muzik Spotify-enabled headphones, the Noke smartlock and the Zuli smartplug.
According to Best Buy, the partnership marks a more aggressive move toward courting new companies. “We’ve worked with startups for years, but the Ignite program will make it even easier and faster for customers to get their hands on these new, cool, meaningful products from startups,” a Best Buy spokesperson told TechCrunch, citing beer tap Fizzics and pet monitor Petcube as examples of products currently available in the company’s retail locations.
Interested parties can submit their products online for review by a team comprised of members from both PCH and Best Buy. “Best Buy sees a lot of startups with great products ideas, and this program will help more of them get into consumers’ hands with access to the PCH platform,” Forrest adds. “PCH works with hundreds of startups and many of them will be considered for the program. One of our early alums, Flic, is apart of the Ignite in-store experience.
As for whether the program will ever grow beyond a single-store anomaly, neither side is ready to shed much light on things, though Best Buy notes that “the products included are also available online.”
It seems likely, however, that the Mountain View store is being regarded as a pilot for future growth of the partnership, which has the potential to both keep the retailer closer to the cutting edge, while increasing PCH’s already considerable reach among hardware startups. Startups, meanwhile, get distribution from one of the biggest retailers around, including the decided benefit of real-world customer interaction.