FORTUNE – Venture investors have a worn-out saying for hardware startups: There’s a reason they call it hardware. It’s hard.
For the past few decades, they’ve mostly heeded that saying and avoided investing in the category. Software has produced big wins for venture capital, and they’ve stuck with what works.
Until recently, that is, when cheaper materials and crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter fueled resurgence in hardware makers, hackers and DIY-ers. The new hardware movement has created valuable companies like Pebble, which raised more than $10 million on Kickstarter after venture capitalists rejected it, and Nest, which sold to Google (GOOG, +0.12%) earlier this year for $3.2 billion.
With its new hardware accelerator, TechStars and ad agency R/GA hope to help build the next Nest or Pebble. The first class of ten companies beat out hundreds of applicants to participate in the three-month program. They make their debut at a demo day to a sold-out room in New York this evening.