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“Hardware can be intimidating for those who are just starting to learn, and even more so for those who are starting new ventures.” — Hackster Co-Founder Adam Benzion
What If Someone Steals Your Idea?
The Boston-area maker pros at Cuppow (@cuppow) touched a cultural nerve with the company’s eponymous screw-on adapters that turn Mason jars into sippy cups, vinaigrette dispensers, or even bento boxes. As the company’s online sales grew, and brick and mortar stores started to stock their lids, they quickly became darlings of the hipster-aesthetic web and regional media, eventually even making it into the New York Times.
Soon, though, Cuppow founder Aaron Panone started to notice something unsettling: the market was filling up with imitations. To date, he’s spotted nearly a dozen similar products — including a line of lids listed on FreshPreserving.com, a site run by Jarden Home Brands, which holds the license to market Ball (@BallCanning) products. A Jarden representative did not respond to a request for comment.
Panone tells us that he finds the situation particularly frustrating because Cuppow took special pains to make sure their lids were made in the United States and sourced sustainably — which makes it hard to compete, he says, with less-scrupulous sellers.
“Everyone wants to make as much money as possible, instead of encouraging small businesses to thrive and grow,” Panone told us, “and I think that takes a serious toll on innovation and really starts to sour any kind of inspiration that designers and small businesses would encounter and attempt to pursue.”
Intellectual property issues among maker pros have been in the news a few times recently, but have primarily focused on small-scale, international imitators.
Avnet to Acquire Hackster
Arizona technology distributor Avnet (@Avnet) announced this week that it will be acquiring Hackster (@hacksterio), the online community that helps makers learn to create internet-connected hardware (and that underpins Make:’s new community project platform). If all goes according to plan, the sale will be complete this coming January.
The purchase is interesting news on a couple of fronts.
For one, it’s yet another data point suggesting that more traditional business interests are keeping a close eye on the maker pro ecosystem. And more specifically, it’s also not the first sign that Avnet in particular is interested in taking on an active role in the hardware entrepreneurship space. Earlier this year, Avnet outbid Daetwyler to buy Premier Farnell (@FarnellNews), the owner of Raspberry Pi maker Element 14 (@element14). Now, the company’s acquisition of Hackster will give it access to Hackster’s network of 90 technology partners and network of nearly 200,000 users.
“Hardware can be intimidating for those who are just starting to learn, and even more so for those who are starting new ventures,” said Hackster Co-Founder Adam Benzion (@AdamBenzion) of the sale. “Creating a network for learning, sharing, and launching new inventions has been at the core of our vision and values.”
Particle Cloud to Support Raspberry Pi
It’s an interesting move, not the least because it suggests that Particle is more focused on their software and cloud integration ecosystem than specifically on their development boards as hardware products. It’ll be interesting to see if they make a move on any other platforms.
If you want to get in early, don’t procrastinate — the first wave of access is only available to the first 1,000 developers to sign up before November 22. Check out the beta here.
Late breaking: this morning, Particle announced $10.4 million in Series A funding.
How Many Security Researchers Does It Take to Screw in a Smart Lightbulb?
The IoT botnet attack against internet infrastructure company Dyn (@Dyn) that we reported on last month has continued to generate unprecedented interest in IoT security issues — which, according to experts, is almost certainly a good thing.
In fact, the conversation literally heated up this week when white hat hackers Andrew Tierney and Ken Munro (@TheKenMunroShow) demonstrated an attack that let them take over the software running a smart thermostat and cause it to demand a ransom payment in Bitcoin before giving control back to the user.
Kudos, by the way, to security researcher Bruce Schneier (@schneierblog) for pulling together an impressive number of responses to the Dyn attack in the most recent issue of his Cryptogram newsletter.
Case in point is Lance Spitzer’s analysis of the safety features of a DeWalt (@DEWALTtough) compound mitre saw. Spitzer concludes that the security specialists working on IoT devices are failing miserably to include the same types of common-sense safety features that DIYers expect from simpler hardware.
And if you really want to stare into the darkness, take a look at this proposed attack that could take over every smart lightbulb in a city.
Elsewhere on the Maker Pro Web:
If your startup is looking to build relationships in China, Brinc (@brinciot) is a new hardware-oriented coworking space in Guangzhou that says it’ll specialize in flexible work and travel arrangements.
Interested in maker fashion? Check out this report on Tinsel (@tinselwear), a Bay Area clothing startup that recently shipped its debut accessory, a combination necklace and headphone set called the “Dipper.”
Slowly but surely, 3D printing is making an impact on the auto industry. In fact, according to technology writer Jeff Kerns (@JKerns10), big auto is starting to drive research priorities in the space.
Remember our gloomy item about India last week? Here’s another bright spot for the country’s startup hardware scene: the India Electronics and Semiconductor Association is working with accelerator HAX (@hax_co) to help Indian startups access global resources.
Do you know a cool startup we ought to hear about? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming Maker Faires:
- Maker Faire Bilbao (Spain): Nov 18–20
- Rochester Mini Maker Faire (NY): Nov 19
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- Pleasant Prairie Mini Maker Faire (WI):Nov 26
- Lviv Mini Maker Faire (Ukraine): Nov 26
- DTLA Mini Maker Faire (Los Angeles, CA): Dec 3
- Chengdu Mini Maker Faire (Sichuan, China): Dec 3–4
- Ogaki Mini Maker Faire (Japan): Dec 3–4
Find a Maker Faire near you on the Maker Faire map.