Maker Pro News: Etsy Reorganizes, Chinese Manufacturers Turn to Local Entrepreneurs, and More

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Maker Pro News: Etsy Reorganizes, Chinese Manufacturers Turn to Local Entrepreneurs, and More

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“If you don’t have competitors…you’re either a crazy genius or you’re just crazy.” – SirenCare CEO Ran Ma

Investors to Etsy: You Can Do Better

Creative marketplace Etsy (@Etsy) is a quiet titan of the maker pro space that harbors a deep, valuable community of artisans and craftspeople — but as unrest among the company’s investors reaches a boiling point, the company may be forced to make fundamental changes in its day-to-day business.

Dissatisfied stakeholders penned a letter to the Etsy board that outlined their grievances. Since the company’s IPO, according to the letter, the company’s stock has fallen some 30 percent. On the bright side, they estimated that with new management and a renewed focus on user experience, the company could double its worth.

Thankfully, the company’s brass seem to be listening. In response to the investor concerns, the company quickly announced that it would oust CEO Chad Dickerson (@chaddickerson) in favor of eBay veteran Josh Silverman (@jgsilverman) and lay off eight percent of its staff. Big changes to the site itself are reportedly afoot — and the question may ultimately become whether the company can find success without compromising its DIY values.

Countdown to Maker Faire Bay Area

It is just two weeks until Maker Faire Bay Area (@makerfaire) on May 19–21. Do not miss our Maker Pro stage in Redwood Hall, where we are assembling an all-star lineup of entrepreneurs from every industry you read about in this newsletter.

One area we want to highlight this year: the dynamic world of maker pros who work with food and kitchenware. On the Make: blog, contributor Goli Mohammadi (@snowgoli) published a roundup of the foodtech founders you will be able to meet at the Faire, from the Future Food initiative to DIY chocolatiers and even a handful of startups selling cricket flour.

Hardware Horizons

A Bloomberg report points to a thought shift among Chinese manufacturers, who were once happy to produce gadgets for overseas tech interests, but are increasingly looking to bolster that business by soliciting local entrepreneurs to design new products.

A startup called Bonsai (@BonsaiAI) is working on a machine learning platform that optimizes logistics for industrial manufacturers. The question: how do you sell that kind of system to old-school factory owners?

For more data points suggesting that New York City’s time has come as a destination for hardware entrepreneurship, check out this detailed breakdown of the maker pro city’s resources by IoT outfit Keen Home (@KeenHome).

Maker Pros on the Make: Blog

The Make: blog is overflowing with maker pro and small business coverage this week.

There’s high school sophomore Ryan Felner, who leveraged his DJI and piloting skills to launch a business providing aerial photography to real estate brokers. Then there’s SiFive’s (@SiFiveInc) co-founder Krste Asanovic (@kasanovic) who wrote about how his company — which just raised $8.5 million — is bringing the open source hardware model to computer processors.

Maker Pro Editor DC Denison (@dcdenison) interviewed Ran Ma (@RanimalMa), the CEO of SirenCare (@SirenCare), a wearables company working on a smart sock that help people with diabetes manage their care. “We do have competitors, which is great,” Ma said. “If you don’t have competitors — if no one else is doing something similar — you’re either a crazy genius or you’re just crazy.”

In foodtech, Chiara Cecchini (@ClaireCecchini) profiled Fishpeople (@fishpeoples), a seafood supplier that is building its business model on sustainable fishing. She also reported on Common Garden (@Common_Garden), a West Coast startup that is developing open source gardening tools with support from the University of California, Berkeley.

Make: Digital Fabrication Editor Matt Stultz (@MattStultz) wrote about two new filaments: Taulman3D’s (@taulman3D) Bridge, a nylon-based 3D printing material, and Beaver3D’s Silk Like, a biopolymer PLA that shines in finished prints with a silky iridescence.

Frequent Make: contributor Alasdair Allan (@aallan) turned the spotlight on gender imbalances in the IoT community and highlighted an ongoing, crowd-sourced list of women to follow in the IoT space.

Elsewhere on the Maker Pro Web

Portuguese architect José Carlos Nunes designed a bunker-style family home that leverages a practical concrete design to deliver a cute, functional living environment for just €100,000 (about $108,676).

Even if you have got a great product idea, market research is a daunting prospect for a layperson. NOA Labs (@noalabs) breaks the process down in a digestible new infographic.

Z-Wave Labs’ (@ZWave_Alliance) contest for IoT makers and startups, which provides support and access to free developer kits, closes to entries on May 14.

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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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