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.


Joomla is one of the rare cases where a bad name didn’t spell demise for the company. – TechRepublic’s Conner Forrest

How to Launch a Maker Pro Business in High School

Kick off 2018 with the story of student Darius McCoy, who started 3D printing as an after-school project at Baltimore’s Digital Harbor Foundation (@DHFBaltimore) and eventually launched a series of business ventures while still a student.

First McCoy tried selling printed iPhone cases, but it was hard to compete with low-cost commercial offerings. Then he launched 3D Assistance, a 3D printer support and repair shop that he still runs today as a college sophomore.

“I’m proud to be a part of something that is having a positive impact on youth,” McCoy recently wrote in Make:. “I will continue to benefit from these experiences long after the paychecks stop. And like any entrepreneur, I’m always looking to grow and improve my business and myself.”

Shenzhen: Maker Pro City

Forbes feature explores the complex hardware ecosystem of Shenzhen, China, through the lens of accelerator HAX (@hax_co) and a great range of other startups. The article focuses particularly on how the city can help maker pros prototype, design, and manufacture high-quality products quickly and cheaply.

One key takeaway: the importance of locating and developing relationships with capable manufacturers who can be extraordinary allies to maker pros.

“The process of going from design to an actual product needs to happen with the manufacturers,” said George Kalligeros, the CEO of Pushme, which is a kit for adding electric assist to bicycles. “Cause we know how to design, they know how to make, and the two need to meet in the center.”

Tanzanian Makerspace Gives People the Power to Solve Problems

Make: correspondent Liam Grace-Flood, who’s traveling the world to explore maker communities, recently visited Twende, a Tanzanian makerspace and educational center that works to empower its members to solve problems using technology.

One success story at the space: a 17-year-old student who had heard about research that melted plastic bags into bricks and started to experiment with his own formula. Eventually, he hit on a recipe that received widespread attention and funding.

“Tanzanian youth have potential — genuine potential, stuff that everyone including we US Americans can learn from,” said Executive Director Debbie Tien. “So making sure folks have the platform, tools, and exposure to different resources and ideas is really important.”

What’s in a Name?

Many promising startups have been sandbagged by their terrible, unpronounceable, or laughable names. “Joomla is one of the rare cases where a bad name didn’t spell demise for the company,” Conner Forrest (@connerforrest) observes in a TechRepublic round-up of ignominy.

It might not be fair, but a lot rides a name — and maker pros often need to choose a moniker long before they have access to branding experts or focus groups.

Meet Onym, a simple site with a vast roundup of resources for naming, from dictionaries and thesauruses to linguistic analysis tools, translation engines, word generators, glossaries, databases of mythical creatures, technological vocabulary and pop culture, as well as advice on cultural sensitivity, trademark law, domain names, and creative essays on naming.

Elsewhere on the Maker Pro Web

More drama in the death and return of TechShop (@techshop): new documents show that the group’s board didn’t have faith in the new management and cancelled the deal. Is a new path forward possible? We certainly hope so. Adafruit (@adafruit) has been tracking the latest.

Sam Jadallah (@samjadallah), the founder of smart lock maker Otto (@meetotto), penned a sad retrospective for the company, which folded unexpectedly over the holidays. It’s a heartfelt read, and also touches on the fiscal havoc that the financing system can wreak on vulnerable startups. “It wasn’t an easy or predictable journey,” he wrote, “but it was incredibly rewarding.”

Make: correspondent Chiara Cecchini (@ClaireCecchini) profiled a number of food maker pros at Maker Faire Rome (@MakerFaireRome): Funghi Espresso (@FunghiEspresso), which grows mushrooms in coffee grounds, Wallfarm(@wallfarmbio), an intelligent agriculture system, and more.

CES (@CES) is a notorious smorgasbord of consumer electronics that can make even the most extraordinary tech start to sound passe. But TechCrunch says it’s far more interested in hardware startups than in the corporations that tend to dominate.

Meet StitchKit (@StitchKit_io), a crowdfunded startup working on a system for creating electronic fashion. One target market: schools, where the tech could be used to teach electronics and fashion design to young people.

Just as Magic Leap (@magicleap) reveals its hardware for the first time, here’s a retrospective on the one-year anniversary of Make:’s virtual reality issue.