Hamburgers, Coffee, Guitars, and Cars: A Report from Lemnos Labs

6/12/12Follow @wroush

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about 10 percent of their founding equity. (Conrad and Zelman say they aren’t yet able to reveal who’s backing the accelerator financially.)

The main goal of the Lemnos Labs curriculum is to help companies with hardware ideas build working prototypes that they can show to investors interested in providing seed or Series A funding, says Conrad. Among other things, that means helping the startups avoid common pitfalls in the design process. “There is a lot that can go wrong in hardware, and we pride ourselves on making sure that our companies are going to look at everything, from the really technical stuff from designing for manufacturability and Underwriters Laboratories approval all the way up to what their packaging and instruction manual going to look like,” he says.

Here are brief reports on the four Lemnos Labs companies, based on their demo day presentations.

Blossom Coffee

A great cup of coffee isn’t just about the beans, says Blossom co-founder Jeremy Kuempel. It’s also about the brewing process. “We are able to brew the best-tasting coffee in the world because we control how it is brewed,” he says.

The Blossom Coffee prototype

The Blossom team, which includes mechanical engineers with backgrounds at places like Apple, Tesla, BMW, and NASA, has designed a tabletop single-serve coffee maker with an adaptable brew chamber whose temperature and pressure is computer-controlled to extract the most flavor from the particular variety of coffee bean being used.

“Every bean requires its own brew parameters to taste exactly right,” Kuempel says. Users of Blossom’s machine can download the right parameters from the company’s website. “We are bringing the Internet to coffee brewing, and it’s going to be amazing.”

Blossom plans to sell its machines first for use in cafes, then offices, then homes. It’s starting by approaching specialty coffee brewers like Ritual Coffee. “The response from baristas everywhere has been phenomenal, for the simple reason that our coffee tastes better,” Kuempel says.

Momentum Machines

At a typical McDonalds, at least four employees are assigned to make hamburgers. Vardakostas says Momentum Machines’ prototype hamburger-making robot can get rid of three of these humans and all of the overhead costs (training, unemployment, worker’s compensation, etc.) that go along with employing them.

The prototype Momentum Machines hamburger-making robot

The prototype is a miniature assembly line, with one conveyor that carries patties through a gas grill and another that deposits lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles atop a bun. All the ingredients come together at the machine’s exit chute, which even wraps up the finished burger in paper. Everything is modular, so that parameters such as cook times, the selection of condiments, and the thickness of the beef patties can be swapped out depending on a restaurant’s menu. Vardakostas says such a machine would have been too expensive to build a few years ago, but that … Next Page »

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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