“You can only give so much advice before you want to do the thing you’re giving advice about” — Luke Iseman, Outgoing Y Combinator Director of Hardware
Maker Pro Cities: Dallas
Dallas is suddenly filled with maker pros: there’s Glass Media (@GlassMediaTX), which creates beautiful projected adverts for storefront businesses, NoiseAware (@NoiseAwareDotIO), which is working on a gadget that monitors noise levels in short-term rentals, and the cleverly named Sew Chill (@SewChill), which makes boutique children’s clothing.
Dallas might be known known for its barbecue and Cowboys — not to mention being the hometown of Texas Instruments (@TXInstruments) — but its deep industrial roots also make it a petri dish for early-stage entrepreneurs who are combining the DIY spirit of the maker movement with the diverse city’s culture in unexpected ways.
Foremost in the city’s burgeoning maker pro scene might be NEX (@NexInnovations), a co-working space for hardware startups located in the same building in the Deep Ellum neighborhood where Mark Cuban (@mcuban) started the late, great Broadcast.com, one of the city’s most storied startups.
The Dallas News recently ran a compelling interview with one of the cofounders of NEX, Adam “Jax” Lotia — his nickname, tellingly, is short for “jack of all trades” — who touched on the importance of a diverse background, why entrepreneurs should be thinking about the Internet of Things, and the importance of community building.
“I’m grateful to Mark Cuban in the sense that he’s paved the way for us,” Lotia told the paper. “He’s not the only one, but he’s made enough noise to say: ‘Hey, wait a minute. Take Dallas seriously. There’s tech stuff going on here.’”
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In Hardware, Shakeups at Y Combinator, Highway1
Changes are afoot in the world of hardware investment.
At Y Combinator (@ycombinator), Luke Iseman (@liseman) — who’s perhaps best known for living inside a shipping container — was supposed to be the accelerator’s point person as it moved into the hardware space with a new prototyping lab. But just 14 months later Iseman has quit his job, and YC reportedly has no plans to replace him.
There doesn’t seem to be bad blood, though. Iseman is headed back into YC, this time as a founder. “You can only give so much advice before you want to do the thing you’re giving advice about again,” he told Bloomberg.
And hardware accelerator Highway1 (@highway1io) has a new leader, with co-founder Brady Forrest (@brady) moving into an advisory role while PCH Lime Lab Founder Kurt Dammermann (@kdammermann) taking the reins.
Speaking of the VC hemisphere of the maker pro world, the deadline to apply to TechCrunch’s reality TV-styled Hardware Battlefield, which will take place at the Consumer Electronics Show this year, is coming right up on November 14.
Maker Pros in India Are Struggling
India is a growing tech powerhouse, but the nation’s startups have largely been confined to software, even while funding for hardware projects is heating up elsewhere.
The problem, according to a recent Forbes report, is that investors just aren’t willing to put money into Indian hardware. Forbes highlighted the story of Vaibhav Chhabra (@VaibhavChhabra8), who worked and studied for years at Boston University and MIT before returning to his native India to pursue a self-diagnostic eye test he’d developed called EyeNetra (@EyeNetra).
But in Mumbai, Chhabra found the resources for makers so lacking that he ended up founding Maker’s Asylum (@makersasylum), a makerspace aimed at hardware startups like his own.
Some issues with hardware in India might also be regulatory — which is a vicious cycle when courting investors. Chhabra and others expressed frustration at long delays when dealing with government officials.
“It is difficult to maintain your edge when the waiting period is so long,” Chhabra said. “Also, the team members get disheartened.”
One bright spot: Intel has teamed up with local government and universities to promote making and innovation under the banner of the “Make in India” campaign.
Elsewhere on the Maker Pro Web:
Speaking of hardware woes, check out this Bolt (@BoltAcc) analysis of who’s funding the hardware renaissance. Investment is still trending up, but the report draws attention to some bad news as well: hardware darlings GoPro and Fitbit have both struggled to maintain momentum.
Google has a long history of funding out-there projects, but the MIT Tech Review makes the case that the tech giant — now known as Alphabet — has a new mandate: to actually make money. Case in point? The first Google-designed smartphone, the Pixel.
Optogenetics is the exciting study of genetically modifying cells so that they can be activated by light, and it just got more accessible: a grad student at Rice University created an open source platform for optogenetics research.
If you can’t get enough of Ikea, check out this brilliant flatpack chandelier, dubbed the Grandelier.
We’ve also got a bunch of business stories on the Make: blog this week. There’s Caleb Kraft’s (@calebkraft) coverage of Ability3D (@Ability3D), which is working on the holy grail of desktop 3D metal printing. There’s also a rundown of the ecosystem around Adafruit’s (@adafruit) Feather board, and an update about recent Autodesk acquisition EAGLE.
Also, don’t miss the New England Maker Summit on November 17, where Make: CEO Dale Dougherty will join other luminaries to discuss the impact of making on the manufacturing industry.
Do you have a cool startup? Email us at [email protected].
Upcoming Maker Faires:
- Shasta County Mini Maker Faire (CA): Nov 12
- Akron Mini Maker Faire (OH): Nov 12
- Poughkeepsie Mini Maker Faire (NY): Nov 12
- Houston Mini Maker Faire (TX): Nov 12–13
- Maker Faire Bilbao (Spain): Nov 18–20
- Rochester Mini Maker Faire (NY): Nov 19
- Rogue Valley Mini Maker Faire (OR): Nov 19
Find a Maker Faire near you on the Maker Faire map.