Maker Pro Newsletter – 02/20/14

“Work on something where you are the user.”

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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* Hasbro and 3D Systems agreed to co-develop and commercialize play printers and platforms later this year, which gives us an excuse to display an image of Optimus Prime (above), who looks like a good platform for 3D-printed modifications.

* The Hasbro deal must be part of a much bigger initiative, because a few days later 3D Systems purchased Digital Playspace, a “digital play platform that connects brands, retailers and consumers to 3D printable play activities.” Earlier this year, 3D Systems bought Gentle Giant Studios, a provider of 3D modeling services for the entertainment and toy industries.

* 3D printing had a high profile at the massive annual Toy Fair, which was percolating in New York City for most of the week. MakerBot had a booth; so did startup PieceMaker’s 3D printer “Factory in a Store” concept, which was profiled on the MAKE blog.

* Harvard researchers are working on termite-inspired robot construction teams. They are also herding robots two subway stops away at MIT.

* Robotics is the fastest growing industry in the world, according to areport from Littler Mendelson (the giant labor and employment law firm).

* Another employment survey revealed that the fastest growing area of demand for robotic talent is in healthcare.

* Update: Those eight robot companies that Google bought recently? Robohub believes that the total purchase price, for all of them, was surprisingly low: between $50 and $60 million.

* Update: Apple is not only working on a wearable medical device that can detect a heart attack in advance, it is also mulling automobiles.

* Creative hardware store Grand St. has expanded its mission to include pre-orders, beta products, and more programs for makers. One of the founders shares the site’s new ambitions with the Verge.

* Now that “Made in the USA” is back in style for small businesses, there’s a new name for it: not re-shoring, “new-shoring.”

* Here’s how to attract some attention for your Internet of Things platform: Make it look like a chocolate bar.

The WunderBar project.

The WunderBar project.



Raising Seed Capital: The View from New York

VC Steve Schlafman (@schlaf) has been teaching a course on raising seed capital in New York City for a few years. He works at RRE Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm in the city that has invested in a few prominent hardware startups, such as Quirky and MakerBot.

Recently, Schlafman updated his slide deck on the topic. It’s now 82 slides, and up on Slideshare.


A slide from Raising Seed Capital

Sometimes presentation slides really miss the voice-over, coming across as enigmatic remnants of a presentation that might have been good, if you were there. Not this deck. It appears to have been designed as a stand-alone.

Among the topics: What is seed capital? Why should I raise? What is the current state of the seed market? Who invests in startups?

Peppered throughout are quotes from New York entrepreneurs and investors, like Zach Sims (@zsims), of Codeacademy, who advises, “Work on something where you are the user.”

Bonus: Schlafman, who apparently regards presentation slides as an expressive medium, has posted an even bigger deck (109 densely-packed slides) on the New York City Tech Scene. It will either inspire you to take the next bus to the Big Apple, or trigger a claustrophic reaction that will redouble your determination to live and work almost anywhere else.


The “hardware” slide from Introduction to the NYC Tech Community

Maker Pro Adventure: The Unlace Project


The Unlace

The Unlace Project began as a sketch on a napkin. The idea: a colorful, rubbery, twistable lace for keeping cords organized.

The San Francisco team of Cindy Glass and Dante Pauwels then designed the product, created a successful crowdfunding campaign for it, and started manufacturing.

You can read their story on their site, and look at mechanical drawings of the product.

The duo also share their crowdfunding tips with the line/shape/space blog.

One of their top tips: Make it personal. The original Kickstarter video featured only the product. Friends convinced them to add a personal intro from the creators. They also spent a surprising amount of time corresponding with prospective backers and customers. The lesson: don’t expect the product to speak for itself.

Maker Pro Tweets of the Week

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Rachel Blatt Tweets
Frank Swain Tweets
James McBennett Tweets
Chris Anderson Tweets
Massimo Banzi Tweets
SketchUp Tweets
John O Nolan Tweets


Maker Faire Bay Area & MakerCon


The 9th annual Maker Faire Bay Area, our “home game” that started it all, is taking place May 17 and 18 at the San Mateo Fairgrounds. TheCall for Makers is only open for another few days, ending on February 23.

And, hey, Maker Pros! MAKE is hosting its first MakerCon, May 13–14, the week of Maker Faire Bay Area. MakerCon will look at the impact of makers and making on education, the economy, and emerging markets. It offers makers of all stripes — from hobbyists to makers pros — a chance to discover new tools and technologies; available resources and services; and learn more about topical trends and new markets emerging from the maker movement.

If you are interested in submitting a presentation proposal, please visit MakerCon 2014.

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.


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

The former technology editor of The Boston Globe, DC is also interested in ebook experimentation and content management systems.

One of the places where can be found online is Google+ (which I'm adding here only because I want to see if by adding "rel=author" and "rel=me" to those two links I can get Google to display my picture in its search results.)

Hey, it works!

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