You’re reading our weekly Maker Pro Newsletter, which focuses on the impact of makers in business and technology. Our coverage includes hardware startups, new products, incubators, and innovators, along with technology and market trends. Subscribe today and never miss a post.
“We saw an opportunity where others only saw a problem.” – Orange Fiber co-founder Adriana Santanocito
Connecting Maker Pros With Retailers
A new Forbes profile looks at Indigo Fair (@IndigoFair), a wholesaler that connects small brick-and-mortar retailers with merchandise made by maker pros and small businesses — a expensive task that store owners have traditionally accomplished by traveling to trade shows to discover obscure goods.
The venture is gaining ground by combining unusually forgiving terms — stores can return unsold stock within 90 days — with machine learning that examines data on the sorts of products that are moving at a specific outlet and uses it to recommend similar goods in the future.
Indigo has point-of-sale credo: it was founded by three former employees of Square (@Square), the Bay Area giant that built an empire processing credit and mobile payments for small businesses.
“In small stores, it was the buyer selling the product,” co-founder Max Rhodes (@MaxRhodesOK) told Forbes. “So much of offline retail has become about storytelling and building a personal relationship with the customers, and I saw how small stores were much better at that.”
Maker Pro Cities: Santiago de Compostela
Make: correspondent Goli Mohammadi (@snowgoli) reports on Maker Faire Galicia (@MAKERSGALICIA), a third-annual show that this year drew some 24,000 attendees for a weekend that celebrated the area’s culture of innovation and knowledge-sharing — and featured an appearance by open source guru Richard Stallman.
Maker pros that appeared at the Faire: Satrapa, which creates handmade robot sculptures from recycled materials; ceramics artist Nacho Porto; open-source synthesizer MiniMO; synesthetic device B.R.A.I.S., which translates audio into stunning light displays; and adorable educational robot Robobo (@RoboboProject).
Meet the Food Maker Pros
We have three new Make: stories about makers at the vanguard of food science.
Correspondent Chiara Cecchini (@ClaireCecchini) reports on Orange Fiber (@OrangeFiber), an Italian venture that turns food waste from the country’s domestic citrus industry into sustainable fabrics marketed to fashion designers. “We saw an opportunity where others only saw a problem,” said co-founder Adriana Santanocito (@SantanocitoA).
Also from Cecchini, a profile of ViRiDi, a mail-order live plant service billed by creator James Hunt as a Blue Apron (@blueapron) for gardening. The company had its self-watering aluminum cases custom manufactured, and the kit comes with instructions designed to keep the growing process easy, educational, and collaborative.
And Gareth Branwyn (@garethb2) reports on Alex French (@FrenchGuyCookin), a maker known for diving deep into a single kitchen-related topic, who’s recently seized on ramen noodles with a video series that explores how to best cook packet ramen, create noodles from scratch, simmer a perfect broth or even extrude your own dried noodles to make later.
HAX and Amazon to Fund Maker Pros in India
We’ve reported several times recently on the growing stature of hardware startups in India. Now, hardware accelerator HAX (@hax_co) is teaming up with Amazon (@amazon) to help fund Indian startups — and, crucially, to connect them with global customers.
Last year, HAX announced plans to bring hardware investments to India. “India is far behind China in the manufacturing space, but has a great opportunity if there are more incubators and resources,” said HAX general partner Benjamin Joffe (@benjaminjoffe) of the plans.
Speaking of makers in India, don’t miss Liam Grace-Flood’s recent Make: story about Vigyan Ashram (@VigyanAshram), a remote maker community overlooking the village of Pabel that’s partnered with Engineers Without Borders (@EWBUSA) and other groups to offer a variety of maker education programs designed to encourage innovation in agriculture, infrastructure, and computing.
Make a Difference for Hurricane Relief
There are only nine days left to submit a potentially life-saving solution to our Make a Difference for Hurricane Relief mission! Along with humanitarian supplies manufacturer Field Ready, we’re mobilizing the maker community to collect ideas, financial donations, technical remedies, and scenario-specific projects that will facilitate, speed, and support rebuilding efforts in the US Virgin Islands and other hurricane-ravaged areas. Submit your solutions by Dec. 8!
Elsewhere on the Maker Pro Web
Meet the young maker pros: this summer, Make: and Fat Brain Toys(@FatBrainToys) teamed up to launch the KidVentor contest. The winner: a young man named Alexander, who developed a game that mixes table tennis and tether ball, and who will take home a $2,500 scholarship and $500 in toys.
Could it come back from the compost pile? There’s speculation that failed startup Juicero is looking to find a buyer that will bring back its expensive, proprietary juicer in some form — though any such savior would need to solve endless problems with its business model.
Responding to the closure of TechShop (@techshop), reader Romain Kidd(@RomainKidd) tweeted: “The best selling 3D printer on Amazon costs $200. When video game consoles came down in price, arcades closed down. Techshop closing down is NOT a sign of DIY movement being incompatible with profit. Quite the opposite: tech is getting consumer friendly; opportunities everywhere.”
The maker pros at mixed reality startup Vrvana (@Vrvana) exited in style this week when Apple (@Apple) bought the company for a cool $30 million. That’s a common theme in virtual reality hardware — from Oculus (@oculus), which is now owned by Facebook (@facebook), to AltSpaceVR (@AltspaceVR), which got bought by Microsoft (@Microsoft), big tech has often acquired scrappy inventors of VR headset technologies in recent years.