At one of our first hackathon events last year in San Francisco I met a kid named Quin Etnyre. At the time he was only 14 years old and his dad brought him to the event to explore new hardware. I ran into him again this year at Maker Faire, where he runs his own booth showcasing his company’s products, and his dad told me: “Quin still talks about Hackster’s Hardware Weekend, it was one of the best weekends of his life.” As we move into the future with Avnet, I wanted to share more about our story, how we started and what’s next for Hackster and the community we call home.
Positively Impacting People
It all started with Ben Larralde at first and then me, a party of two. Ben had freshly left Google, and I had just sold off my first hardware company after spending several years at Microsoft. Hackster’s vision was to create a curated, friendly documentation platform for hardware enthusiasts. We wanted to build a better place for learning, playing, and connecting people who are makers or professionals seeking to tinker with a fun weekend project or are on their way to shipping a finished product. Why did we do this? Our hope was that the technology created on Hackster would trickle down to solve big issues affecting our planet and all its life. We had a few guiding principles, like putting the community first while creating a self-sustaining business. We kicked things off with a small seed investment from HAX, but thereafter we consistently generated revenue to fund the company’s growth without needing further capital. We saw the world around us as bountiful, and we wanted to create a welcoming place of inclusion for every hardware Maker on earth.
A lot of people who start companies say that they never knew where they were heading. This feels true for us: for example, when the company started in 2013, we were focused on the online delivery of our gospel and running hackathons wasn’t something we were considering at that point. But then we met Monica Houston, one of our first team members, and Hardware Weekend was born, our epic hackathon series. Monica, an acquaintance I had met at a Startup Weekend and the Seattle Arduino Meetup, is a great example of the good work and inventive mindset you enjoy when hiring from the community and for the community. Hardware Weekend helped us expand our community, engage with Fortune 500 and open source partners, and most of all impact people’s lives, like Quin’s.
A Team of Hackers, Makers, and Builders
As the company grew we were able to hire talented people that propelled us forward. The early gang: Alex Glow, Monica Houston, and Cory Asato, thenAlessandra Nölting, Zack Dean, Artie Beavis, Nick Echols, Drew Alden, and finally, our latest team member, Maggi Yang. These incredible people brought in fresh ideas, worked around the clock, and even struggled financially to bring the Hackster vision to life and support our community. But we never stopped having fun! We participated in Maker Faires around the world and held a team offsite in Bali for three weeks. We even owned a DeLorean we took on our “Hack to the Future” hackathon series across the US.
Three years later, Hackster is one of the largest online platforms dedicated to learning hardware, with a user base nearing 200,000 creators from 104 countries, aged 7 to 77. These makers and builders have access to open source technology and hardware that they didn’t have access to before and a place to make and share their creations. We also have 90+ technology partners, like Arduino, SparkFun, Make:, Adafruit, Microsoft, Amazon, NXP, Samsung, Seeed and Cypress, and nearly 100 ambassadors from Mumbai to New York. We couldn’t be more proud of the impact we’ve made on a community that never stops amazing us with innovation, sharing and creativity.
Making A Better Future Is Something You Do, Not Say
With Avnet as the mothership, our mission and values that drove us from the start will remain the same, and we will have the backing and resources to grow even larger and make a bigger impact. What better way to summarize our next chapter than with a quote from William Amelio, Chief Executive Officer of Avnet: “We are fully committed to helping start-ups bring their ideas to market. The addition of Hackster’s online platform will enable users to accelerate their hardware knowledge and time-to-market.”
Peace & Love,
Adam and Ben