Maker Pro Newsletter – 02/06/14

Maker Pro Newsletter – 02/06/14

“Your customers are your best investors.”

From the editors of MAKE magazine, the Maker Pro Newsletter is about the impact of makers on business and technology. Our coverage includes hardware startups, new products, incubators, and innovators, along with technology and market trends.

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The News, Briefly


* MAKE’s week-long Connected Home series, which comes to an end tomorrow (Friday, Feb. 7) has been a reality check on the ever-evolving concept of the Internet of Things. A good place to start: Alasdair Allan’s (@aallanThe Trouble with Things. His astute analysis of a major problem with IoT: “Instead of talking to each other, everything is talking to you.”

* Afinia has lawyered up and responded aggressively to the Stratasys patent infringement lawsuit with claims that could have implications for the entire 3D printing industry, says Michael Weinberg (@MWeinbergPK) in MAKE.

* Speaking of Stratasys, Bloomberg reports that the company might be scooped up by one of the large 2D printing companies, HP or Seiko Epson.

* A $4,000 laser cutter and engraver has reached its funding goal on Indiegogo, establishing a new entry level price point.

* The Pebble watch app store is now open, with a feature that other hardware designers might want to copy: a “locker” that allows users to store their apps online, since only 8 third-party apps can be stored on the watch at one time. Computerworld reports that wearable apps are expected to grow dramatically, for all sorts of devices.

* Indiegogo founder Slava Rubin (@gogoslava) packs a ton of practical crowdfunding advice into one 3-minute, animated, annotated video.

* Gigaom visited NYC Resister, the semi-private Brooklyn hackerspace that spawned MakerBot.

Bolt decorated a wall with exploded hardware for art, but ended up using it, writes co-founder Ben Einstein (@beneinstein).

* Are you cooling on the idea of manufacturing in China? Consider Mexico.

* Chattanooga, Tenn. is where America’s first 3D Printing Startup Accelerator is being held, May 12 through July 31, 2014.

* On the other side of the Atlantic, the ninth edition of the Intel Business Challenge Europe is ramping up.

* And this may be more education than business, but we can’t resist: the White House will be hosting a Maker Faire.



Why Makers Fail at Retail


A locator map of the Bridge of Death, at the bottom of the Retail Chasm.

Do you have a plan for getting your hardware product across the rickety “bridge of death” that spans the “retail chasm?”

If not, you should read Why Makers Fail at Retail, by two hardware vets associated with the HAXLR8R accelerator: Cyril Ebersweiler (@haxlr8r) and Benjamin Joffe  (@benjaminjoffe).

Ebersweiler and Joffe have a lively way of presenting the challenges that face hardware entrepreneurs, demonstrated in the two previous installments of their Lean Hardware series.

This latest episode takes your product through the swoosh of the automatic doors that lead into retail: Best Buy, Walmart, and the many smaller venues where your product will be expected to dance and sing.

This post is an overview of what it will take to succeed on that stage: from new, possibly unfamiliar, concepts like “demand creation,” to timeless principles such as “your customers are your best investors.”

Autodesk’s Carl Bass: The Maker Connection


If you want to know why Autodesk has so many maker-oriented programs and investments, look no further than this profile of Autodesk CEO Carl Bass (@carlbass) in his home workshop. Attendees at last spring’s Maker Faire Bay Area may have already made the connection, if they caught Bass’ casual, energetic, enthusiastic talk about CAD and kids.

Lessons From a Manufacturing Adventure


Sparse’s front light.

A little over a year ago, a group of designers, under the name Sparse, successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign to fund the development of a couple of bike lights: front and rear. They raised $66k, well above their $45k goal.

Now that delivery is looming, one of the founders has reflected on the group’s efforts “to create a real company and not just (the world’s most infuriating) hobby.”

One hard-earned lesson: as a scrappy startup, you are “last in line” at your factory, behind big, established customers. Get used to getting bumped.

Thinking About Your Next Controller?


A digital prototype of the OpenBCI 3D-Printable Headset

Maybe you will soon be able to monitor your thoughts on the topic.

OpenBCI, an “open source brain interface for makers,” more than doubled its goal on Kickstarter, netting $215k.

Brain-computer interfacing (BCI) is a relatively new field of science with a wide range of potential applications. Medical grade BCIs are often used in assisting people with damage to their cognitive or sensory-motor functions.

OpenBCI is hoping to take this technology out of medical facilities and labs and make it a bigger part of our everyday lives, revolutionizing neural gaming, meditation aids, toys, tools, and devices.

First showcased at World Maker Faire New York 2013, OpenBCI has since held their first hackathon, in November 2013, and they hope to expand the OpenBCI community by coordinating future hackathons and connecting the technology with more open-source hardware and software.

The kit, which hovers around the $325 range, will start shipping in April of this year.

Maker Pro Tweets of the Week

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Hardware Startup Engineering Summit

San Jose, Calif., April 1–2

Designed “for engineers who want to create a new market, disrupt an existing one, or learn more about the agile product development strategies employed by successful hardware startups today.” Prices start at $795. More information here.

Mini Maker Faires

Here’s what’s coming in the next few months:

What’s ahead further down the road? Check the Maker Faire Map to find the closest one to you.


Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

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


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