tindie

Maker marketplace Tindie, an online store where Makers can buy and sell homemade gadgets, launched a beta service called Tindie Biz this week for finding and reviewing suppliers and manufacturers.

“We hear stories of makers paying $20k for introductions to manufacturers or a startup losing $100k to middlemen that never produce,” wrote Tindie co-founder Emile Petrone in a blog post announcing the project. “The truth is that there are countless stories like those.”

Eventually, Tindie Biz will be set up something like Yelp: you’ll be able to look up a supplier or manufacturer to read about other Makers’ experiences with them, or contribute your own review. Petrone says there are currently about 1,400 businesses in the system, and users can add new ones that aren’t yet listed.

For now, Tindie Biz is just soliciting reviews—you can’t yet see what others have submitted. That’s so they can hit the ground running, Petrone says, and “become the tool we want it to become.” Still, he hints that the reviews are coming in, including from engineers at Tesla.

“I have been consistently impressed with the speed, quality, and communication I’ve gotten from BAC,” reads a review submitted for Bay Area Circuits that Petrone posted online. “We’ve done several board runs there now, and I expect to use them from now on.”

Petrone hopes that once the full site is online—which might not be for a few months—it will take some of the guesswork out of manufacturing for less-experienced Makers, potentially leading to fewer failed crowdfunding campaigns and quicker transitions from prototype to production.

The tool will remain free, open and free of ads, Petrone said.

Tindie, which launched in 2012, provides a marketplace for DIY gadgets made with Arduino, Raspberry Pi or other Maker-friendly technologies. On its launch, WIRED hailed it as “a straightforward marketplace for cruder devices that already exist, devices often built in small batches with limited amounts of capital.”