Maker Pro News: Successful Founders Tell How They Launched Hardware Startups

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Maker Pro News: Successful Founders Tell How They Launched Hardware Startups

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Running a startup can be a lonely experience, so get a co-founder early on. – Soundbops founder Michael Tougher

The YouTube Creators of Maker Faire Bay Area

Maker Faire Bay Area (@makerfaire), which will take place May 18-20 in San Mateo, is an event like no other. It’s also an invaluable destination for maker pros, from the entrepreneur-curious who are still exploring potential ideas to small business owners and executives looking to foster maker cultures at their employers.

One contingent we’re highlighting for the first timeYouTube creators, who will consult on how maker pros can leverage the social web. Grant Thompson (@thekingofrandom), for instance, will give a talk on how to use the latest tools to build and monetize a web presence — as he does with his own nine million followers. Laura Kampf (@laura_kampf) will talk about making stuff and continuing to develop her skills, a team from Instructables (@instructables) will talk about how to produce effective videos for projects and tutorials, and the podcast Making Geeks (@makinggeeks) will record its 100th episode live on stage. Adam Savage (@donttrythis) will also be making an appearance.

Get the full presentation schedule and stage info at

Element14 Publishes eBook for Maker Entrepreneurs

Development community element14 (@element14) released a free eBook this week called Startups on Startups: The Business of Engineering. It’s a no-nonsense guide to launching a startup, told largely by successful maker pros from Piper’s (@withpiperMark Pavlyukovskyy (@Pavlyukovskyy) to Mycroft’s(@mycroft_aiJoshua Montgomery (@oojoshua). The book covers everything from prototyping to funding, but one of its core emphases is the importance of social and emotional intelligence to a successful business.

“Running a startup can be a lonely experience, so get a co-founder early on,” wrote Soundbops (@soundbops) founder Michael Tougher(@Michael_Tougher) in the volume. “Being an engineer, most of the people I knew professionally were also technical-minded. What I quickly realised was I actually needed to find somebody who had skills that could complement my own: someone focused on the marketing and communications of running a business.”

Speaking of which, Newark element14 — the company’s electronics distributor — just launched a sweepstakes for students to win a kitted out bench lab, valued at more than $20,000. The deadline is May 18.

The Pros and Cons of VC Hardware

VentureBeat reports on Silicon Valley’s renewed interest in hardware — with a specific shout out to Maker Faire Bay Area — in an analysis of a recent panel with Grit Labs (@gritlabs_hw) co-founder Jennifer Gill RobertsGrishin Robotics (@GrishinRobotics) principal Ashish Aggarwal (@ashishaaggarwal), and other industry luminaries.

A counterpoint: some of today’s most resilient hardware startups — think Adafruit (@adafruit) — are entirely self-funded. A TechInAsia roundtable tapped thought leaders including Hax (@hax_co) partner Benjamin Joffe(@benjaminjoffe) and uHoo (@uhooair) co-founder Dustin Onghanseng(@dustwrites) to discuss when bootstrapping is an appropriate hardware strategy.

When, and under what circumstances, can a maker startup accept outside funding without jeopardizing its values? Send us your thoughts at

Dev Boards Aren’t Just for Prototyping

Dockless electric scooter rentals have caught flak for causing commotion on sidewalks and roadways in cities across the country. But when a vandal cracked open a Bird (@BirdRide) scooter, they found that the unit’s brain was a Particle Electron (@particle) board — a striking example of how a young company can deploy a hardware system using equipment that might recently have been confined to the world of prototyping.

Elsewhere on the Maker Pro Web

Adafruit has been using new videos to preview CRICKIT, a board designed specifically for creating cardboard-based projects. Eat your heart outNintendo Labo (@NintendoAmerica)!

Storied accelerator Y Combinator (@ycombinator) just announced its first official event in China. Y Combinator is in the midst of a worldwide push that has already included India, Southeast Asia, and Africa.

Palo Alto could become the first U.S. city in which drones will make deliveries of blood from blood banks to nearby hospitals, thanks to Matternet (@matternet), a maker pro startup that’s already launched a similar program in Switzerland.

Spacetech startup Relativity Space (@relativityspace), founded by a pair of students at the University of Southern California (@USC), is working on 3D printing a functional rocket — a DIY solution the duo says could radically simplify rocket design and create new possibilities for space travel.

Simone Giertz (@SimoneGiertz), the creator of the beloved “Shitty Robots,” revealed this week that she’s been diagnosed with a brain tumor. The tumor is non-cancerous, and she’s scheduled for a surgical intervention this month — please keep her in your thoughts.

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DC Denison is the co-editor of The Maker Pro Newsletter, which covers the intersection of makers and business. That means hardware startups, new products, and market trends.

DC manages customer stories at Acquia, the digital experience company.

View more articles by DC Denison

Jon Christian is the co-editor of the Maker Pro Newsletter, which covers the intersection between makers and business. He's also written for the Boston Globe, WIRED and The Atlantic.

View more articles by Jon Christian


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