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We are living in a golden age of product development. – Bolt Associate Chris Quintero

The Maker Pros of Adafruit

In 2013, when open source hardware maker Adafruit (@adafruit) moved from the apartment where it was doing business to its current Manhattan location, it was shipping about 5,000 orders per month. Nowadays, it ships about 30,000.

Today those SoHo headquarters, which now stretch across three floors for a total of 60,000 square feet, feels like a cross between Willy Wonka’s candy factory and a bright-white Apple store. More than 100 employees bustle around building and shipping electronics — not to mentioning showcasing projects on the company’s ubiquitous livestreams.

On a recent walk through, company managing director Phillip Torrone (@ptorrone) showed off the company’s tightly organized manufacturing, shipping and customer service operations. A point of pride for Torrone: the company has taken no outside funding.

“That’s the thing about New York,” Torrone said. “You either get grinded out, or you become this whole other creature.”

Speaking of Adafruit, don’t miss the company’s new series on machine learning.

Bolt: Hardware Founders are Gloomy, but they Shouldn’t Be

Hardware incubator Bolt (@BoltVC) released its most recent report on the state of hardware. Overall, hardware investments ticked up by more than $500 million in the first half of 2017, with the Bay Area dominating funding for hardware ventures and modest gains in New York City and Boston.

Despite the increased funding, according to Bolt associate Chris Quintero (@Chris_Quintero), there’s a feeling of “malaise” among many hardware founders, who feel — contradicting the data — that hardware investment started to fall off in 2015.

“While I’m sure we’ll see more failures in the coming years, the future for hardware is bright,” he said. “Solve real problems, delight your customers, and remember that capital efficiency matters. We are living in a golden age of product development.”

The Downfall of Doppler

A fascinating new Wired story chronicles the downfall of Doppler Labs (@DopplerLabs), a hardware startup working on an in-ear computer much like Apple’s AirPod. In fact, it’s the AirPod that more or less led to Doppler’s demise — the company struggled to secure funding in an age when megacorporations like Apple and Google are pouring untold sums into hardware projects of their own.

“Building a hardware startup is hard, but trying to build one that competes with Apple is nearly impossible,” said Hackernoon’s Joseph Flaherty(@josephflaherty) of the saga.

Maker Pro Cities: Rochester, New York

Maker Dan Schneiderman (@hiteak) pulled together an epic roundup of maker resources in Rochester, New York that shows that a city doesn’t need to be the largest or most prominent to foster a vibrant maker community. The whole thing is worth reading, but standouts include Rochester Makerspace (@ROCMaker), the Construct, the Rochester Brainery (@RocBrainery), and of course Rochester Mini Maker Faire (@ROCHMakerFaire).

Speaking of community maker resources, Make: correspondent Liam Grace-Flood pulled together 20 databases of maker organizations, locations, and services around the world.

 

Elsewhere on the Maker Pro Web

More insight on India’s burgeoning maker pro community: a report on the Indian startups working with Intel (@intel) to launch their products. “You need equipment, reference designs, test equipment,” said Jitendra Chaddah, a director at the chipmaker. “You need the know how for design and validation, from experienced people, and that’s where we can make a difference.”

Philadelphia accelerator NextFab (@NextFab_PHL) is seeking applicants for its 2018 cohort. You can find more information here.

Make: Senior Editor Caleb Kraft (@calebkraftwas impressed by the Dorna 5-axis robot arm that launched on Kickstarter this week.

The worst case scenario for a product debut: Snap Inc (@Snap) is apparently sitting on hundreds of thousands of unsold Spectacles, its would-be hardware launch. To add insult to injury, the company’s plans to build a photo-oriented drone are apparently also dead in the water.

Make: contributor Chiara Cecchini (@ClaireCecchini) reports on a brilliant IoT system that provides live diagnostics on the health of a beehive. She also wrote about We-Tea (@SFtwetea), a small-batch tea maker in the Bay Area.

An intriguing report by Make: correspondent Jeremy Cook looks at medical projects in the maker community, from the hackers at MakerNurse (@MakerNurse) to the UTMB Maker HealthSpace (@UTMBMaker), a facility where health care practitioners can develop their own gadgets and workarounds to improve care for patients.