Maker Pro Newsletter #21

Maker Pro Newsletter #21

“Profit is not something to add on at the end, it’s something to plan for at the beginning.”

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. Please send items to us at .

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Ebay Launches New 3D Print Marketplace App

Online retailer eBay has created an Apple iPhone app, eBay Exact, that offers a smartphone doorway into an online 3D-printed marketplace.

Ebay’s launch partners are MakerBotSculpteo, and Hot Pop Factory.

To place an order, you choose your object, then pick from the available customization choices. Items are shipped directly from eBay’s partners within 7 to 14 days.

The merchandise is primarily jewelry at this point, and a few iPhone cases. The selection is limited to around 20 items.

More Marketplaces

Are you getting the feeling that there are a lot of these 3D-design marketplaces? You’re right. The Making Society blog just posted a list of 37 such marketplaces, and that was before eBay Exact, so make that 38.

A slightly different online marketplace emerged from beta this week:Grand Street, which sells “small-batch tech” items — gadgets made by smaller and more independent creators “that you won’t find at a Best Buy, Target, or Amazon.”

Hackaday for Sale; Staffers Start a Crowdfunding Campaign to Buy It

Hackaday, the DIY/hacker site which has been publishing since 2004, is up for sale, according to owner Jason Calacanis, who said he would rather focus on rebranding his struggling Mahalo site.

Calacanis is hoping to sell the site for around $500k.

After the sale announcement, Hackaday’s writers and editors created an Indiegogo campaign to buy the site.

With less than a month to go, the Indiegogo campaign has raised around $27,000 towards the $540,000 goal.

In his sales pitch for the site, Calacanis said that Hackaday brings in around $14k a month in advertising, without a sales force (Google AdSense powers most of the advertising). The site gets 6 million pageviews a month; has 5,674 email subscribers, and 33k subscribers to its YouTube video channel. On Twitter, @hackaday has 29k followers.

More on MAKE.

Maker Profile

A few years ago, Wayne Losey (@Kidmechano) left a career in the toy industry (he worked at Hasbro) to co-found Dynamo Development Labs, looking for new approaches to creating toys.

The result: ModiBot, a bare-bones action figure that you can customize through hundreds of interlocking accessories. Losey’s manufacturing model is a hybrid: injection molding for the core chassis parts, and on-demand 3D printing for accessories.

ModiBot’s numerous extensions are 3D printed, and available through Shapeways, or by downloading the 3D models and printing the toys yourself.

In his talk at the Hardware Innovation Workshop in May, Losey explained the company’s approach. More recently Dynamo Development Labs launched a Kickstarter campaign that surpassed its $12,000 goal.

MAKE’s Brian Jepson (@bjepson), BTW, has been running test 3D prints for Losey from the very beginning of this toy story.


How to Price Your Hardware Product

Pricing a hardware product can be difficult for three reasons: 1) It’s hard to predict costs at scale. 2) It’s tempting to simply undercut the competition. 3) Raising an initial price is difficult.

Marc Barros (@marcbarros), the co-founder and former CEO ofContour (they make action cameras), offers some ways to think about this crucial issue on his blog, One Entrepreneur’s Perspective.

Marc Barros, co-founder of Contour Cameras.

Barros explains how to figure out what your product really costs, and how to use both top-down and bottom-up pricing.

Ultimately, he advises a bottom-up pricing model, even though it will likely make your product more expensive than you first imagined.

Why? Because your initial customers will be early adopters, and if they aren’t willing to pay your high price, you most likely haven’t created a product they can’t live without.

Don’t be afraid to charge more, he adds. Long term, your loyal customers will thank you for choosing prices that will keep your product on the market.

At the end of the day, Barros says, you are picking a price that enables you to stay in business. He quotes Megan Auman(@meganauman): “Profit is not something to add at the end, it is something to plan for in the beginning.”

Where’s My Robot Lawn Mower?

The Honda Miimo Robotic Lawn Mower, currently sold only in Europe.

Doesn’t this seem like an obvious market?

Lawns are usually flat, with few obstructions, other than the swing set and the family dog. The way robots like it.

Turns out lawn mowin’ bots are catching on, in Europe.

Robotics Business Review explains why, and also why the idea hasn’t worked in the U.S. — yet.

(And Instructables has plans for the perfect companion — a seedbot.)

The Maker Scene in Asia

The South China Morning Post reported on maker activities in Hong Kong, centered around the city’s weekly HackJam meetings, and the upcoming Hong Kong Mini Maker Faire. (It’s Aug 17. Call for Makers deadline is… Saturday!) The Business of Robotics added that Asia also boasts Mini Maker Faires in Shenzhen, Taiwan, and Seoul (they forgot Singapore).

And if you’re wondering how 3D printing is playing out in China, Ronald Yu has written an extensive reality check on the situation. According to Yu, Chinese manufacturers are thinking BIG, instead of personal.

“Rather than produce small items with 3D printers,” he writes, “the country’s manufacturers have been looking to 3D printing to reduce development times and production waste, particularly in the design, development and manufacture of aircraft.”

Crowfunding Leaderboard

Soccket, an energy-harvesting soccer ball: popular on Fundable.

This week we’re looking at the most popular campaigns on Fundable, the crowdfunding platform for startups and small businesses.

Fundable was founded in May 2012, just a month after President Obama signed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, which was written to allow more startup companies to access a broader range of investors.

Since then, Fundable has been patiently waiting for the SEC to write the rules to enable equity crowdfunding. In the meantime it has been working within the existing rules, helping companies raise over $10 million from “accredited investors” (people who have a net worth of over $1 million, not including their primary residence), or who have made more than $200,000 in each of the last two years.

Last week, the SEC announced that the ban on general solicitation has been removed for small businesses seeking startup capital (to be enacted after a 60-day waiting period). Fundable created a helpful infographic that puts that ruling in the greater context of equity fundraising in general.

The most popular and trending companies on Fundable this week include:

  • Ube — creators of a home lighting control system controlled by a smartphone.
  • Cregle — a startup that is launching a next-generation pen for the Apple iPad and iMac.
  • Soccket — an energy-harnessing soccer ball.

Makerspace News

Makerspaces Find Fertile Ground in Western Massachusetts

Western Massachusetts has a long, strong manufacturing legacy (many small manufacturers there today specialize in medical devices and aviation parts). It also has a large cluster of universities — an ideal environment for makerspaces. And, sure enough, there is a groundswell of activity. The regional weekly Valley Advocate just published an ambitious, comprehensive survey of the scene.

Maker Movement Catches on in Shenzhen, China

Shenzhen, China’s manufacturing powerhouse, now has its first makerspace, reports Celeste LeCompte (@celrae) in MAKE. According to Celeste, the maker movement is catching on quickly, in part because many in China believe that it’s still lagging behind the West when it comes to original creativity. In China, makerspaces are seen as an important tool for cultivating a community of independent, creative entrepreneurs.


World Maker Faire New York

Two months until the show: Sept. 21–22. The Call for Makers is open until July 28.

Need funds to polish your project? Apply for the popular Road to Maker Faire ChallengeWorld Maker Faire New York version, which will award one maker $2,500 to bring a project to New York. If you’ve got a project on the runway, consider applying.

Featured Maker Faires

The fourth annual Maker Faire Detroit happens July 27–28. Also, start making plans to participate in the first Maker Faire Rome, Oct. 3–6. It is for Europe at large, and will attract an international crowd from all over Europe and beyond.

Mini Maker Faires and More

More than 70 are currently scheduled for this year, around the world. Check the Maker Faire Map to find the closest one to you.

And way off in the wintery distance: RobotsConf, a two-day technology event for software developers who would like “an efficient and effective deep dive into the exciting world of hardware development.” The conference will be held December 6 and 7, 2013, on Amelia Island, Fla., just south of Georgia, 29 miles from the Jacksonville airport. The call for speakers is open until the end of the month.

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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


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