On Saturday, the Hardware Unconference took place at the offices of O’Reilly AlphTech (OATV) in SF The organizers of the unconference were Rachel Kalmar who runs the Facebook group, Sensored; Nick Pinkston who has put together Hardware Startup Meetups in SF, and Renee DiResta who works for OATV and has been following the hardware development community in SF and elsewhere.
It’s interesting to me to see such enthusiasm and interest among makers in learning from each other and sharing their challenges and their aspirations.
A session on raising capital ended up focusing mostly on the role of Kickstarter. Eric Klein of Klein Venture Partners said that VC’s now consider that when you are going up on Kickstarter, it’s a product launch and they’re watching the numbers. So, take it very seriously, he said. Don’t just throw something up. It’s says a lot about your ideas, your product and your team. It’s becoming more than a dress rehearsal – it’s the show.
What makes a Maker? Positive naïveté and a desire to understand the physical world. #HWUncon
I enjoyed talking to Shannon Kennedy, a product designer. She and I talked about the need for a researcher to study a group of Kickstarter hardware projects
Eric Klein of Klein Venture Partners said that there are some VCs interested in hardware because there are investors who are makers themselves and they want to follow this area. That was a “Wow” for me.
I met Cameron and Greg from LockItron whose product is a door lock that can be set and opened via iPhone.
Jeremy Conrad of Lemnos Labs and Ben Einstein of Bolt were both there, and they will be on the closing panel about hardware accelerators/incubators at Make’s Hardware Innovation Workshop this week. I also met Aymerik Renard of PCH International, who has set up a new accelerator in SF.
One of my favorite sessions was so because I knew so little about about the subject. The session was led by by Brent Polishak, a materials chemist and engineer. I wanted to learn more about “dielectric polymers.”
Nick Pinkston led a discussion on how makers find the manufacturing resources they need, especially for small-to medium-scale manufacturing. Many times, it requires a personal introduction to a job shop. Others commented that they do protect their sources as a kind of trade secret but also to prevent them from being inundated by people who don’t know what they’re doing. Nonetheless, the discussion centered around ways that technology or information might improve the discovery of resources and perhaps provide more automated interfaces.
Dan M. of the Ninja Standing Desk talked about contacting 9 businesses that do sewing in the Bay Area but had trouble getting them to respond. He finally just walked in the door of one of them and he said even then he had to sit down at a machine and show them what he needed done. The owner said if you know how to sew it, why don’t you do it yourself? He told them that needs hundreds done and can’t do them all himself.
Justin Smith said he’s looking for a shop that can do larger runs on a laser cutter. He’s a TechShop member but can only do so much there.Mike Wirth, whose area is assistive technology, mentioned design2part, which is a trade show for job shops. d2p.com.Jon Thomas is with Pocobor, an industrial design shop. Jon said he used to work at the Stanford Product Realization Lab and said it was such fun helping students build a product they had designed. “It was magic” for students to realize an idea. Jon seemed to know where to get things made in the Bay Area.
Ben Einstein knew a lot about the choices and processes available to makers. Hearing him answer questions demonstrated that there’s a big role for mentoring makers.
#hwuncon Are makers taking over the world? Is world bigger than SF? Good answers.
I’m founder of MAKE magazine and creator of Maker Faire. I am CEO of Maker Media, the company that produces MAKE, Maker Faire and Maker Shed. I am Chairman of the Maker Education Initiative (www.makered.org).