Techcrunch Carries Momentum from Maker Movement
September 2015 – The Techcrunch Disrupt event in San Francisco held a fairly new population of exhibitors this year. A large number of the startups were not from the traditional “lets develop a 10 page business plan from chapter 2 of our books and raise money” like the on-line MBA courses have advocated for the past decade. Rather, they were first time entrepreneurs entering the global on-line marketplace from the maker community and hobby community.
The maker community brought a number of consumer targeted products in the VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) space. New headsets for video viewing, some with and without integrated audio were being introduced. These systems include software for the end application of the product, custom firmware for the operation of the product and typically a custom 3D printed industrial design that is supposed to represent the “brand” of the product. Most of these designs use development kits supported by the semiconductor vendor, so the amount of electronic engineering expertise required is minimized. This allows the company to focus on the creative aspects of the product industrial design along with the featured / unique functions that are available through the software.
The ability to have prototype products brought to market through Kickstarter, Indigogo, and portal marketplaces such as branded Amazon and Etsy stores has made retailing products easy for individuals with little to no experience in marketing. The global access through the search engines allows hobbyist to take their one of a kind crafts, put them into a professional form products designs that are a fallout from the maker community and then make them available to people anywhere.
One of the other areas was specialized apps for small enthusiast communities. There were apps bringing together social connections and experiences for specialty sports, driving, crafts, building and hobbies. Communities that have had localized skills training that were basically passed on by generations (family to family) such as knitting, quilting, woodworking are now creating design sharing apps and using an web banner advertising model, starting to create viable financial corridors for these products and skills. These communities are helping drive the development of new equipment to help introduce people to those craft areas at a much lower learning and skills curve than in the past. New sewing machines, quilting stations, accessories, materials, patterns, furniture, model making, as well as media for training videos/photos and social discussion with the sharing of tips & end products is causing a resurgence in a number of these crafts and the associated supporting technology.
Crafts, hobbies, and makers are not just staying in their local communities, they are following the technology trend of creating global presence companies and mobile access companies to share their ideas. A number of these groups have transitioned from the crowd funded marketplace to the venture capital and investment banking community. These new firms were fairly equally balanced on launching on iOS and Android platforms. The majority of the companies had plans for a simultaneous launch on both platforms.