Maker Pro Newsletter – 04/17/14

Maker Pro Newsletter – 04/17/14

“Venture math is a harsh mistress.”

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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* Staples is now offering 3D printing services, in partnership with 3D Systems, in two U.S. cities: New York and Los Angeles.

* Just when you thought the market was saturated, a new 3D printer, The Micro, is a gigantic hit on Kickstarter.


The Micro

* Etsy is starting up a wholesale division.

* Autodesk has partnered with the distributed 3D printing network, 3D Hubs.


* Need a pop-up retail space? Storefront, the “Airbnb for retail” just raised a new round of funding; it now has thousands of locations in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

* Google bought the drone company once courted by Facebook, Titan Aerospace.

* Indiegogo is enmeshed in another fraud controversy.


Wearable Frontiers

The MetaWear basic platform comes with the MetaWear board, a rechargeable USB battery, a coin vibrator, and a buzzer.

The MetaWear basic platform comes with the MetaWear board, a rechargeable USB battery, a coin vibrator, and a buzzer.

The new MetaWear board could make wearables the next big thing, writes MAKE’sAlasdair Allan (@aallan).

Meanwhile a stick-on biosensor could change the consumer market for wearables.

Also on the horizon: wearable thermoelectric generators that can use body heat to trickle-charge your devices.

New Materials


Proto Labs is now offering liquid silicon rubber injection molding, above, andmetal injection molding.

Stratasys launched a new 3D printable material, Endur, that has polypropylene-likelooks and functionality.



Tim Chang (@timechange) was an early backer of the fitness device Basis, above, which was sold to Intel. He is currently invested in drone maker 3D Robotics and a few other hardware companies. Now he’s collected his experiences into a playbookfor wearable and hardware startups.

Among Chang’s tips: community management is essential, a “core competency;” so is having a good story that consumers can relate to.

Also recommended: design your product to take advantage of the “Ikea Effect” — when consumers place a disproportionally high value on products they help to create, or assemble.

Chang predicts: “The most successful wearable companies will really be software and services firms, with a hardware entry point.”

Rachel Chalmers (@rachelchalmers), a principal at the boutique early stage venture firm Ignition Partners, has only been a VC for a few years, but she’s seen enough to figure out that “the game is rigged.”

The reason that’s not better known? “The pathology of Silicon Valley is that the winners have so much ego invested in pretending that it isn’t,” she explains. “It’s hard for people who pride themselves on their exceptional smartness to acknowledge the fact that they are much luckier than they are smart.”

Even if you get VC funding, she writes, it may work out much better for the VCs than for you.

“Venture math is a harsh mistress,” Chalmers states.

Chalmers enumerates her reservations in 5 Reasons Not to Raise VC Funding.

Finally, this is a good month to educate yourself about public relations. A few weeks ago Celery published an honest guide to PR by a former newspaper reporter. And now here’s a second opinion, equally frank, by Peter Kazanjy (@kazanjy) cofounder of the recruitment site TalentBin.

Kazanjy starts off by addressing a common question: whether your startup needs to hire a PR agency.

His answer: “No. You don’t. Not for your launch.”

A Different (Tethered) Vision for Drones


A flying CyPhy Works robot.

Helen Greiner (@helengreiner) cofounded iRobot, the company that unleashed the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner and deploys platoons of military robots.

Now she’s the CEO of CyPhy Works, which is based on a very different vision: tethered flying robots that can stay in the air 24/7. They are kind of like mini, low-altitude satellites. Because they have unlimited power, they can stand guard over a site continuously, like robotic security guards.

Greiner’s recent 15-minute overview of the robot and drone industries offers a detailed and original take on where the field is heading.

Maker Pro Tales

Screen shot 2014-04-11 at 7.07.40 PM

MAKE’s Goli Mohammadi (@snowgoli) found a treasure trove of 3D printing maker tales, collected by the people who run 3D Hubs. There are 13 profiles, ranging so widely that it’s surprising that they all have 3D printing in common.

The MakerBot crew also collects 3D printer-powered maker stories on their blog. A recent post profiled an industrial designer who is running a prototyping business from his tiny home office using just a computer and a 3D printer (a MakerBot, of course).

Maker Pro Tool of the Week



A high quality iron that’s a step up from inexpensive “pencil” irons. Available in theMaker Shed for $89.99.


Maker Faire Bay Area

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.

MakerCon — Hurry, Early Bird Pricing Ends 4/20!

try 3

Hey, Maker Pros — MAKE is hosting its first MakerCon, May 13–14, the week of Maker Faire Bay Area.

Connecting makers is essential to continuing the proliferation of new ideas, products, devices and solutions. At their very nature, makers are collaborative and community-minded. The premiere MakerCon brings together the leaders at the forefront of the maker movement. Providing new insights into local and global manufacturing, design, marketing and distribution, even creative culture, MakerCon explores the impact of making on education, business and community.

Working on something new? Consider applying for the Innovation Showcase or thePitch your Prototype contest.

Featured speakers include:

  • Massimo Banzi – co-founder, Arduino
  • Peter Hirshberg – CEO The Re:imagine Group
  • Michael McCool – principal engineer, Intel
  • Yancey Strickler – co-founder and CEO, Kickstarter
  • Taylor Dawson – product manger – FirstBuild, General Electric
  • Scott Miller – co-founder and CEO, Dragon Innovation
  • Carl Bass – president and CEO, Autodesk
  • Alice Taylor – CEO, MakieLab
  • Eric Pan – founder and CEO, Seeed Studio
  • Lisa Fetterman – co-founder and CEO, Nomiku
  • Bunnie Huang – founder, Chumby
  • Katherine Hague – co-founder and CEO, ShopLocket
  • Kevin Kelly – founding executive editor of Wired, founder of Cool Tools

Check out for a full list of speakers and themes.


Upcoming 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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