Maker’s Corner

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Ever had a cool idea for a kit, but weren’t sure how to bring it to market? Or maybe you’re already selling kits but you’d like to expand your market reach. If so, we have some exciting news for you. We’re significantly expanding our line of kits and we’re interested in meeting new kit makers.

The Maker Store ( exists to unite, inspire, inform, and entertain imaginative and resourceful people who want to pursue science, craft, and tech projects in their backyards, basements, garages, and even kitchen tables — tech enthusiasts, teachers, amateur scientists, hobbyists, renegade crafters, hackers, students, and inventors of all ages.

We offer life-enriching challenges and exploration through carefully curated projects for a range of interests and experience levels. Our motto: “Permission to Play!” And talk about playing. We shipped more than 25,000 items in 2007! Not bad for our first full year in operation.

So what do we look for in a kit? We look for unusual and hard-to-find projects designed and produced by backyard scientists, basement engineers, artists, teachers, and individual makers and small suppliers who typically lack channel distribution but not creativity and ingenuity.

Areas we’re particularly interested in include robots, circuit bending, games, electronics, optics, chemistry, lasers, magic, rockets and airplanes, boats and submersibles, and a broad cross-section of crafts. Pretty much any project you might find in MAKE or CRAFT magazines.

We’re building a kit lineup that offers DIY entry points for virtually all skill levels and budgets, with an emphasis on middle-schoolers and beyond. Our most successful kits tend to fall in the $15 to $39 range, but we have a number of kits over $100 as well.

Three kit characteristics we find ourselves particularly drawn to are openness to hacking and modding, family appeal, and appropriateness for group builds and meetups. It probably goes without saying that we encourage kit builders to take kits

in new directions: hack it to no end, do something we never thought of, and then come back and show us what you did. If a kit lends itself to that, it gets extra points.

We’re also looking for kits that parents and mentors can do with kids on rainy weekends. Who knows, if you keep your mind open you might learn something from a kid. And we’re getting a lot of interest from Dorkbot groups and MAKE groups who like to tackle projects at their monthly meetups. So project kits for less than $25 that can be tackled in a couple of hours work well there.

Two questions I get asked often by prospective kit makers: What about packaging? And documentation? We do look for the kit vendor (that’s you) to deliver the kits in their own package. Basic, planet-friendly and/or reusable packaging is the goal here.

As for documentation, we prefer a combination of basic printed instructions and a PDF, which we host online with the product information in the Maker Store.

Interested in getting your kit in front of millions of makers and DIY enthusiasts? If so, drop me an email at and tell me about yourself and the kind of kit you have in mind. We keep the process friendly, down to earth, and straightforward.

Dan Woods

Dan is CEO of TechShop, Inc. Before joining the team, he spent nine years at O'Reilly Media and was the co-founder of Make: Magazine, which focuses on how-to projects for makers. In this role, Dan oversaw marketing, media relations, circulation development, community outreach, and sales for the magazine. He helped establish Make: as the premier media group and voice of the DIY market. He also conceived and launched the Maker Shed store, growing it to one of Make:'s most important assets. Dan has a BS in Aeronautics from San Jose State University and studied business administration at Santa Clara University's Graduate School of Business.

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