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TechShop to Reopen Locations
Last month, it seemed that makerspace chain TechShop (@techshop) was down for the count: CEO Dan Woods (@danwoodsearly) posted a eulogy for the venture and announced that it was shutting down all locations.
But following an outcry from the community, it appears TechShop may have found a path forward. According to a new statement from Woods, the company has reached an agreement with a third party that will acquire all the company’s assets and run them as TechShop 2.0. Under the new ownership, the company will re-open as many locations as possible.
“Announcing the closure of TechShop was the most difficult thing I’ve had to do in my career,” Woods wrote. “When the opportunity for a different path forward presented itself, we did whatever humanly possible.”
Adafruit (@adafruit) managing director Phillip Torrone also caught up with Dan Rasure, Managing Partner at TechShop 2.0, and posted a Q&A about the new operation and plans for the future. One maker pro takeaway: Rasure wants to encourage the small businesses that start at TechShop locations to remain there as they grow.
If the Shoe Fits
The Boston Globe reports on a potential maker pro gold rush: the trend toward custom-fitted merchandise, from sunglasses and headphones to footwear — printed to perfectly fit the contours of a particular wearer’s body.
The report points to research by sneaker giant Reebok (@Reebok), but also a number of startups that are working to push forward the consumer-facing 3D scanning and printing markets. One example: Lantos Technologies (@LantosTech), based in the Boston area, is working on scanners that map the ear structure of hearing aid users in order to create a comfortable, perfectly-fitted device.
And Formlabs (@formlabs) chief product officer Dávid Lakatos (@dogichow) pointed to printable products that benefit from customization, like dental casts, that are becoming viable products to print over traditional manufacturing.
A new Make: interview with Celeste Flores, a member of Oakland makerspace the Crucible (@TheCrucible), shows ways that a driven artisan can leverage a craft into a successful business. Flores was first introduced to ironwork in a Fine Arts program, but at the Crucible she found the community and resources that spurred her to launch her own small business.
“I would say I’m a creative entrepreneur,” Flores said. “My interest began in fine art, but I am currently building a business that does architectural and ornamental ironwork.”
Can Hardware Startups Compete with Big Tech?
A new post by Bolt (@BoltVC) associate Chris Quintero (@Chris_Quintero) explores the degree to which Silicon Valley giants have come to dominate hardware in recent years — and on the potential chilling effect for small players. Quintero points to a “growing graveyard”: Before Amazon’s Echo, he points out, there was Ivee (@helloivee). Before Apple Watch, there was Pebble (@Pebble). And before Apple’s Airpods, there was Doppler Labs (@DopplerLabs).
“Increasingly, big tech companies are shipping hardware without the primary goal of making money,” Quintero wrote. “They want ecosystem control. Barriers to entry. Walled gardens of gadgets that keep competitors out. In this kind of environment, it’s nearly impossible for startups to compete.”
Elsewhere on the Maker Pro Web
This year, Maker Faire Shenzhen (@MakerFaireSZ) focused on maker pros — an apt theme for a city that’s arguably the world capital of hardware entrepreneurship. A Maker Pro Exhibition showed off 11 maker pros, with information about their business journeys and more.
A whimsical new Hardware Massive (@hardwaremassive) post compares life in a hardware startup to a literal roller coaster. The amusement park is the ecosystem, loops are community insights, and tight turns are iterative prototyping.
Spotted at the DTLA Mini Maker Faire: maker pro Hannah Matzecki’s specialty paper business Pip’s Paperie. Matzecki also runs papercraft workshops in the LA area.
A new Google kit lets you hack a Raspberry Pi Zero W to recognize objects, detect facial expressions and carry out other machine vision tasks. It’s outfitted with the hardware to run a low-power neural network and comes with a snappy cardboard case.
If you’ve put off holiday shopping, check out Wilkerdos personality April Wilkerson’s gift guide for woodworkers and DIYers. Make:’s Gareth Branwyn (@garethb2) was impressed by Wilkerson’s thoughtful, off-the-wall ideas — like going through a loved one’s tool bucket to see which glues or other supplies they might be running low on.