Maker Pro News: An Open Hardware Exposé, Changes at TechShop, and More

Maker Pro News: An Open Hardware Exposé, Changes at TechShop, and More

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“We are building a company which one day can be at the forefront of ‘Designed and Made in NY.’”–WearWorks Co-Founder Kevin Yoo

The Tribulations of an Open Hardware Startup

For a classic maker pro story, read Gordon Williamsterrific chronicle of his experience founding and running the open hardware company Espruino (@Espruino).

Williams’ elevator pitch, for a microcontroller with an onboard tool chain, is solid. But the takeaway from his saga is that a good idea is only part of the battle. The rest, which for Espruino involved a failed freemium model and a £100,000 Kickstarter campaign that delivered thanks to the veterans at Seeed Studio (@seeedstudio), is a tale of grit and adaptability that exemplifies the uncertain future — and great promise — of open hardware.

You can read the entire story online and in Make: Volume 57, which is on newsstands now. And speaking of Seed Studio, check out this PCB design contest they’re organizing with CircuitMaker (@CircuitMaker). The deadline is June 30.

Meet the Next Generation of Urban Manufacturer

Writing for the Huffington Post, Davar Ardalan (@idavar) surveyed the field of maker pros behind New York City’s high-energy urban manufacturing movement, a cadre of artisans and entrepreneurs who are leveraging the nexus of urban culture, local production centers, and big data to build sustainable businesses around local manufacturing.

At the kickoff event for Futureworks Incubator (@FutureworksNYC), Ardalan interviewed key figures in the scene who are working to build and sell everything from underwater drones to next-generation hardware for 360 degree video. The constant? A dedication, even in one of world’s most expensive cities, to succeed in hardware without manufacturing overseas.

“We are building a company which one day can be at the forefront of ‘Designed and Made in NY,’” said Kevin Yoo, a co-founder of haptic wearables startup WearWorks.

Big Changes at TechShop

Makerspace chain TechShop (@techshop) announced substantial changes to its business model this week. Going forward, wrote CEO Dan Woods (@Danl_Woods) in a letter republished on Make:, the organization will be licensing new locations at corporations, universities, and other sites. TechShop has already piloted similar partnerships internationally.

Additionally, Woods announced that TechShop’s Pittsburgh location will close this September.

The Future of the Food Maker Movement

We already know that foodtech ventures are attracting big investments — look at Juicero (@juicero), which attracted more than $100 million from Silicon Valley luminaries, including Google, to fund a cold-press juicer that might not actually accomplish much that a strong pair of human hands can’t.

The same trend is in full view at The Melt (@The_Melt), a chain of minimalist eateries by tech mogul Jonathan Kaplan that serve soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, cooked to perfection on custom equipment powered by proprietary hardware and software, in a foodtech venture that was to bring a tech boom management style to fast food.

The plan was to open 500 outlets in five years, but only 18 have materialized over that period. That certainly doesn’t mean the venture is a failure, but the chain’s constant, startup-style pivots — documented in remarkable detail by Backchannel — raise questions about the degree to which certain traditional industries are ripe for disruption.

And speaking of food, Make: contributor Chiara Cecchini (@ClaireCecchini) profiled three food ventures by maker pros this past week: Zego (@ZEGOSnacks), a power bar maker; Joyloop (@joyloopfoods), which markets elegantly processed snacks; and Renewal Mill (@RenewalMill), which redirects food waste into nutritious flour-like powders.

Elsewhere on the Maker Pro Web

Hardware accelerator and venture capital firm Bolt (@BoltVC) has reportedly raised more than $80 million to add a new crop of hardware startups to its portfolio.

Think your startup concept could wow a team of A-list judges? There’s just a month left to apply to TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield, which awards $50,000 and a prestigious award to the winning contestant at Disrupt SF.

We have three new fabrication stories on the Make: blog. Digital Fabrication Editor Matt Stultz (@MattStultz) reviewed M3D’s (@TheMicro3D) Tough Ink filament and found it to be an adequate material for the company’s printer hardware, and he also covered the announcement of Formlabs’ (@formlabs) latest desktop SLS printer, the Fuse 1. Plus, Chris Yohe was impressed by SeeMeCNC’s (@SeeMeCNC) DropLit v2 printer — though you should expect, he noted, to spend time calibrating it.

Don’t miss Jeremy Cook’s (@JeremySCook) profile of a team of maker pros who designed a set of elegant binary clocks modeled on Parisian architecture; they put the designs online for free, but blew through a modest Kickstarter goal anyway.

And finally, with all this talk about startups it’s easy to forget that Maker Faire Bay Area (@makerfaire) is a go-to destination for kids — and the kids in all of us — too. Contributor Shawn Jolicoeur wrote about how his children were thrilled to meet their favorite YouTube stars earlier this month.

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

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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