The 17th NY Hardware Meetup At the New Microsoft Space In Times Square

Hardware Meetup Organizer Haytham Elhawary
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This month the meet up was at the new Microsoft corporate looking space. It was funny I walked in and thought about the times I worked at IBM. The space was huge. I would say that this space was at least three times the size when compared to the space at eBay. It was a welcomed relief not to be packed in like sardines.

Tom Kennedy (EnergyHub & Refactory) and Stephan von Muelhen (EnergyHub)

Tom Kennedy (EnergyHub & Refactory) and Stephan von Muelhen (EnergyHub)

At this event we had two groups presenting. Tom Kennedy and Stephan von Muelhen first talked about their experiences at EnergyHub and what they learned a long the way about the manufacturing experience. They had some great pearls of wisdom that I totally agree with.

Tom Kennedy (EnergyHub & Refactory) and Stephan von Muelhen (EnergyHub)

Tom Kennedy (EnergyHub & Refactory) and Stephan von Muelhen (EnergyHub)

The line from one of their slides said it best for me, “Process is product”. There are a lot of details that need taken care of when you are manufacturing a product. There a thousand things that can go wrong at any given time. Developing a great product means that you know the process from end to end. I can’t tell you how many times I talk with startups that refuse to embrace what needs doing from start to finish. “Embrace The Horror”. This does means that you have an understanding of what needs to get done and realize that there are things that will come up that you may not of thought of. Actually for startups it is not a matter of if, but when it will happen. Since most startups are new to manufacturing and process in general.

Tom Kennedy (EnergyHub & Refactory) and Stephan von Muelhen (EnergyHub)

Tom Kennedy (EnergyHub & Refactory) and Stephan von Muelhen (EnergyHub)

Tom Kennedy introduced us to his next venture called ReFactory. So, in a nutshell, ReFactory wants to make the PCB/PCBA development and manufacturing process easy. They have many services ranging from design consulting to real PCBA. One main point is that the work is done in the USA in Brooklyn, New York.

Christina Mercando, founder of Ringly Presents

Christina Mercando, founder of Ringly Presents

The next presenter was the fab Christina Mercando, founder of Ringly. I have to say that the product is great looking. It looks high end and wearable. Men’s version? It was great to hear her prospective on bringing a fashionable product to market. I have talked to people who have studied this and they say we are at the infancy of this. I think that Ringly has done some great execution. There are many obstacles to get a product like this to market such as look, electronics and battery size. It just can’t be to big and the battery must last for most of the day. The radios have to penetrate the casing for charging and for Bluetooth. It seems they have solved these problems. The ring is big, but it goes with the styling. Congrats on the great execution.

That was the last presentation. Another one was schedule, but they called to cancel.

Check it out. I have more pictures of the event below. Sorry for the low light conditions, but you should make out the slides and the speakers ok. I did my best to caption the images and make adjustments to the images. Enjoy.

Made in The USA Back in Style for Small Businesses

Link

“Instead of hiring people, we’re using robots,” Ellram says. Chinese companies are also using robots, but U.S. manufacturers are ahead of them, she says.

via Made in The USA Back in Style for Small Businesses.

Everyone wants manufacturing back because they think it will bring back jobs. Fills me with American pride to see people trying to bring it back. However it is to be seen if the return is an automated one at best. Where are the jobs for humans? The jobs will be for the robots.

Hardwired NYC Meetup February 2014, Hosted at Quirky

Hardwired NYC #7 Feb 2014
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The walk was long (Ugh, from 7th ave to 11ave) , but I finally made it to the Hardwired NYC Meetup February 2014 event, Hosted at Quirky. Even though I was late I was early. People were just flowing in to Quirky’s offices located on the far West 28th street. As a life long New York’r going this far west is a trek. I am not sure I could get use to that commute. LOL

Before going to the event I noticed a link on the event page. I am did not see it before. So I may have missed it. The link was to Quirky’s NDA. I read it and it was simple, but strange that they would imply the use of this for this event. I have heard other people complaining about these NDA’s at events at the Makerbot offices. They require you to sign the NDA before you enter. At this event you did not sign anything, but the NDA was implied. I have no idea how Quirky could in force this, but anyway. We are here to hear peoples hardware startup stories. Of which I love to hear.

Brian Garret and Bram de Zwart, co-founder, 3D Hubs:  3D Hubs is world's largest platform connecting 3D printer owners with people who want to print. We are on a mission to make 3D printing truly local and accessible.

Brian Garret and Bram de Zwart, co-founder, 3D Hubs:  3D Hubs is world’s largest platform connecting 3D printer owners with people who want to print. We are on a mission to make 3D printing truly local and accessible.

First up are the gents, Brian Garret and Bram de Zwart, from 3D Hubs. 3D Hubs helps connect people that need something 3D printed to the people that have the 3D printers. They do this globally and by building a community of enthusiast that are in the know about 3D printing. They realized the need when they were working for Cubed. They saw that most 3D printers are idle about 98% of the time. Damn, that is a lot of idle time. I later asked them how long do you think it would take on average to use 3D Hubs to help pay for your 3D Printer itself. They said it was about 100 prints or about 2-3 months of constant use of 3D Hubs market place community.  That is amazing. Makes me want to go out now and get a 3D printer now!! This could push me over the edge. I do own a Printrbot Simple, but I have not been liking it lately.

Emile Petrone, founder and CEO of Tindie (marketplace for hardware and "indie tech")

Emile Petrone, founder and CEO of Tindie (marketplace for hardware and “indie tech”)

Next up was Emile Petrone, founder and CEO of Tindie. Tindie is a market place for all things hardware and tech focused. An artisanal hardware market place. I have bought things on Tindie before. The interface is very simple and easy to use. He talked about how Tindie started. It started via a Reddit post. He asked the Reddit community about his business idea, got feedback and then knew he should try it out. If I remember correctly he mentioned he did a trial of this at an Apple WWDC event. Please correct me if I got this wrong here. Tindie does remind me of Etsy. The difference and similarity is that they both do  products that focus on a type of product category. Handmade verus Artisanal Hardware. The value in this business is the audience (eyeballs) Tindie brings to their customers that setup a store front on the website. I am wondering though if after the uniqueness of this blows over what will they do to keep the eyeballs coming back. I hope they have thought of that. I love the idea of these market places. They give the maker-going-pro a place to tip their toes into ecommerce in a safe environment.

Alice Taylor, founder and CEO of Makie (custom 3D printed dolls)

Alice Taylor, founder and CEO of Makie (custom 3D printed dolls)

The fabulous founder and CEO of Makie, Alice Taylor was up next. You have to love her. The Brits talk very smoothly and eloquently. Even with the jet lag she gave a great presentation. They make customizable 3D printed dolls for girls. I have hear very little of her company.  I give them a lot of credit for entering into the toy business. Wow. Just wow. Their product is very very professional looking for a 3D printed product. I wonder, I forgot to ask, which 3D printer they use. Her presentation was a mix of how she got started and lessons learned. Their two revenue stream business is fascinating. They sell the customizable dolls and they are now starting to go into online gaming. Their first game is a dress up game. They may have a boy’s doll in the works. I know little about the toy business, of what I know is that it is a very hard business to break into. She has done it. I think it is cool that she has used 3D printing to create such a unique toy.

Hugo Fiennes, founder and CEO of Electric Imp (hardware and software connectivity platform for the IoT)

Hugo Fiennes, founder and CEO of Electric Imp (hardware and software connectivity platform for the IoT)

The last presenter, before the interview with the CEO of Quirky was Hugo Fiennes, founder and CEO of Electric Imp. Electric Imp is a platform for IoT. I have heard of them before, but never heard his startup story. He worked at some very important companies like Apple, Nest and IBM as an Electrical Engineer. He started Electric Imp while he was working at Nest. The idea of having a platform for how smart things communicate over the web is brilliant. It makes the job of the electrical engineer easier. From my standpoint our customers will get an IoT product prototype quicker. However, the downside is when you want to go to production and scale to higher quantities. As the number of products increase the manufacturing cost don’t scale because you need to include the SD card package in your product. However if they can shrink it down to a chip package and manufacture that in large quantities the costs will definitely go down and scaling will happen. He mentioned they are looking into that. Quirky is a partner of theirs and uses the Electric Imp in their smart plug. Check out some of the pictures below in the gallery section of this post. In them he shows a diagram of how Electric Imp works. I like it. Again I would love to give it a try.

Matt Turck interviews Ben Kaufman Quirky Founder

Matt Turck interviews Ben Kaufman Quirky Founder

The interview of Ben Kaufman Quirky Founder by Matt Turck was interesting. Ben’s story is one of those “it is great to not know anything and just jump right in” stories. Just do it as on your Nikes says Ben. The interview was a bit uncomfortable at one point as Ben mentions how FirstMark, the VC firm that Matt works at, screwed him. From what I see from Quirky’s fab offices, they are not hurting in the least. The Quirky offices are beautiful. The comments got some groans and laughs from the audience, but obviously you could feel the energy was a bit tense. Matt was great at continuing and asking Ben questions to get the interview on track. Some Ben did not answer. Ben did talk about the Quirky process of which everyone knows about. I do think it is interesting that Quirky has created a global manufacturing community in which they do all the product development and heavy lifting for the manufacturing process. They even do distribution. If you are a manufacturer you have to admire them. Ben has a sense of pride in that they treat the designer and IP maker as king. Quirky owns the IP and the designer has a forever license. This creates a lot of value for Quirky as they bare all the risk. I admire them, their capabilities, their relationships with GE and their retail distribution channels. Way to go Quirky!!!

After the stage act was over the networking began. I saw a lot of old faces that I have gotten to know on the hardware scene. Until the next Hardwired NYC event.

Check it out. I have more pictures of the event below. Sorry for the low light conditions, but you should be able to make out the slides and the speakers ok. I did my best to caption the images. Enjoy.

The Joy of 3D Printing at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014

Fuel 3D of me at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014
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This past Saturday I spent the day at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014. It was a perfect day for an indoor activity because of the snow was falling sideways and would hit you in the face if you were walking west.

The show was in a small event space called The Metropolitan Pavilion. The space gave the event a cozy fell. I did not attend any of the speaker events as the nothing on the schedule was of interest to me. The discussions were of topics I had heard before many times over. So I thought it best to hit the showroom floor and see if there was anything new to be seen.

There were a few interesting things that I had not see before. I had not experience getting myself scanned so I tried it at the Fuel 3D.

Fuel 3D at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014

Fuel 3D at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014

Fuel 3D is a low-end or Prosumer 3D scanner. I have seen a lot of these do a Kickstarter. Fuel 3D was no exception, they did a very successful Kickstarter.  Luckily there was not much of line which meant that I became second on the list to get my face scanned. See title picture above for how it came out. It looks very detailed. The operator took the 3D image in seconds, then transferred it to a computer and then manipulated it so that only my face was showing. The software looks very very easy to use.

I then stopped by a high end machine that cost thousands of dollars. While the imaging was a bit more detailed it did not needed to be. The low end technology is catching up to the high end. Below is my image scanned by the higher-end machine. Take a look at the detail, but also see how more complex the software is. The UI could be made to be more user friendly.

I saw a hugemungus 3D Printer company called BigRep. Their 3D printers can print full-scale objects. What I saw were prints that looked like they needed a lot of finishing. And some prints that looked like they had problems being printer. The object pictured below being printed would take up to a week to complete. This is not ready for primetime yet. Nice idea and maybe it will happen, but not now. The prints were very bad looking.

BigRep at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014

BigRep at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014

I stopped by another booth that had some amazing 3D prints of what looked like complex textiles. I would say it was sort of like chainmaille, but close to being made into clothing.

3D Printing Services using laser sintering at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014

3D Printing Services using laser sintering at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014

3D Printing Services using laser sintering at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014

3D Printing Services using laser sintering at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014

The feeling of these 3D prints was excellent. They had great detail. You could make this into a garment if you could print enough of it. The company uses laser sintering machines. These machines use lasers that solidify a powder. After printing the print goes through a finishing process. The process unfortunately produces 50% waste of the powder. That is a lot of waste that gets produced. What a shame. 3D printing is suppose to be good for the environment and not produce waste, but the reality is that not all 3D Printing methods can do that.

There was fashion gallery and an art gallery. Both rooms housed some interesting 3D prints. The fashion gallery looked like it had mostly accessories and 3D prints mixed into text tiles clothing. One of the most interesting ones was the 3D printed glasses. See picture below.

Fashion at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014

Fashion at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014

Imagine the possible designs you could do. The designer created ones that fit on your nose snuggly and ones that had flexible temples. The flexible temples looked like they were the most practical.

The lamps in art gallery were amazing. The organic feel and look of them made it like they just grew there. See picture below.

Art Gallery at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014

Art Gallery at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014

On the way out of the show I could not help come away with the feeling that the market for consumer/prosumer 3D printers was getting crowded. Makerbot is the big gorilla in this market and they are sucking the air out for the competition. While I did see a few new players they did not have anything new to offer that would be any better. There are still the two markets at this point, the maker market that wants to tinker and maybe build a 3D printer like PrintrBot and there is the consumer/prosumer market that wants it to work with good detail out of the box. It will be interesting to see if expired patents will spur any more innovation into the market to produce anymore viable players.  It would be great if someone could figure out how to combat the 50% waste problem.

Welcome to the Era of the Hardware Startup | LinkedIn

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Welcome to the Era of the Hardware Startup | LinkedIn.

What I love about hardware startups is their willingness to take on and transform dauntingly complicated industries. Until recently, manufacturing had been almost exclusively the domain of big companies that can afford to build at scale. Now, these makers are turning the tables and showing the value of being both adaptable and close to your customers.

I agree. From talking with many hardware startups the momentum is definitely there. I often talk about this as we are now where we were in the 80’s 90’s when software development and computing was transforming from being obtainable only by big companies with deep pockets to everyone who has a PC can now code to create a program that is of value.

Hardware is very different than software. You can not develop a hardware product in a few days to a week. It takes time, patience, and more capital. It requires more relationships that last for a longer period of time.

There are still many hurdles to over come such as:

  1. How do we make the product development process streamlined or lean?
  2. How do we integrate in design for manufacturability into the process from the beginning?
  3. Where is the book of the shelf that people can go to with out a degree in supply chain management to learn how to talk to the factory?
  4. And funding…Will funding for hardware startups get easier over time?

There are a lot more questions to be asked and answered in this journey. I can’t cover them all here. In the future, I will write more about the process of hardware development.  I am going to tell stories from the trenches. What happened, what didn’t, how we solved the issues and how to approach these things in the future so it does not happen to you.

We have been seeing some great things from our clients. For most of them this is their first business. It is great to see them fill out their first Purchase Order ever. It is a great moment for them and for us.

The 15th NY Hardware Meetup and 16th MakeIt NYC Meetup Join Forces For a Blow Out Event!

15th NY Hardware Meetup a packed house
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My how much the community has grown. The NY Hardware Meetup is at it’s 15th meetup. The MakeIt NYC is at it’s 16th meetup. All the meetups have been chock full of interesting stories coming from the trenches of the hardware scene in NYC. This one is no different except that the attendance was through the roof (see image above of standing room only crowd). By the way the back of the head in the foreground is Jonathan Hirschman organizer of the MakeIt NYC Meetup. If you wanted to know.

This event was a joint event between the NY Hardware Meetup and MakeIt NYC Meetup. Four entrepreneurs presented. After the announcements, next year predictions and sponsor pitches the audience was treated to some great startup stories.

Patrick Raymond presented his Curvit product and the two-year journey from it’s conception to national retail. Curvit solves one of life’s annoyances – it stops “shower cling”, and gives you more space for your daily spritz at the same time. Patrick is the founder of the Inventors Association of Manhattan, and he has hosted of Food Network’s Invention Hunters. It was great to see his progress and he started a Indiegogo campaign.

Coming off of their successful Dragon Innovation crowdfunding effort, Hammerhead Piet MorganLaurence Wattrus, and Raveen Beemsingh told the story of how they started. I wish I had a picture of the slide they showed of the iterations of their product. They started out in a apartment in New Jersey. LIving together, sharing space and creating a great product.  It was great to hear about their problems they faced and the direction they want to take the company. Motorcycle support is next! They are in the R/GA Connect Devices Accelerator.

Next up was Kurt Workman‘s and Jacob Colvin‘s story about their Owlet  product. The product takes baby monitoring to a whole new level. The Owlet Vital Monitor collects heart rate, oxygen and sleep data, and helps keep parents aware of possible indicators of danger. It was great to hear their story. As parents or would be parents themselves they were their own first customer. Their presentation was great and very warm feeling. Showing baby faces on the screen made people say awe.  They fielded questions expertly such as “What about the RF signal? Would cause the baby hard”. Their answer was two fold. They said that doctors say the risks out way the value you get from the information and how Bluetooth LE has at least 10 times less power then cellular RF. Their knowledge showed through. Way to go guys. They are also in the R/GA Connect Devices Accelerator.

Next and not least was Ben Melinger. He tells us two stories. The first one was about Smash Cup, a cool green, clean collapsible travel tumbler. I could use this product. I would make coffee at home and then take it with me. Clean it, collapse the cup and through it in my bag. Done. My bag is small so it would fit nicely collapsed. The other product story we heard was bout Fyll, a fashion-forward, tough glass water bottle that keeps water from being flavor enhanced (in a negative way) by plastic or metal flavors. Ben talked about his journey from beginner to pro. He gave the MakeSimply X Education program a shout out. Thx Ben. His story continued by discussing the hurdles he had to over come to get his products to the state they are today. One such hurdle was having to learn SolidWorks. For those that don’t know SolidWorks is a very popular CAD tool that is used to render complex solid 3D drawings and helps you move toward an engineering drawing.  The type of drawing that factories want to see. He discussed the huge cost of entry it is to buy this product. He wishes there was a cheaper solution out there that is just as popular. Thanks Ben for your great insights.

All in all it was a great event. We have defiantly outgrown that space. I can’t wait for the next meetup.

Disclaimer MakeSimply, a company I am co-founder of is co-sponsor of this event.