Saying Goodbye to MakeSimply

Robot Wave Goodbye
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I am leaving MakeSimply as of the new year 2015. It was fun being the face of MakeSimply for over two years. Within that time I have done a lot for MakeSimply as one of its co-founders. Starting and bringing a new business to life is not easy and takes dedication. I love the hardware movement that has taken the startup scene by storm and so I loved creating a company that helps these hardware startups develop and manufacture their products. That love and my excitement will never end.

At the start of creating MakeSimply I knew little about manufacturing except for what my engineering degree gave me and the experience starting my hardware startup in 2009 called Social Hardware gave me. I took the lessons learned there and incorporated them into MakeSimply. I also used my years of experience as business person to help shape MakeSimply into a company with a great reputation. I got a crash course in manufacturing and loved it all the way. I used that love and passion to help MakeSimply make a good name for itself in the hardware scene in NYC.

We had a lot of accomplishments throughout the last year that I am proud of. Some of them (that I can mention) are the Cooper Hewitt Pen, Inclusion Table Tennis, Sponsor of the New York Hardware Meetup and NYCEDC Next Top Maker. There are many others that you will see come to reality this year. Stay tuned.

I will miss MakeSimply and they will miss me, but it is time to move on to new things.

I have seen the New York hardware community grow from hackerspaces/makerspaces to hardware meetups to accelerators and have watch the new hardware companies become successful. I have listened to the stories of these entrepreneurs and these stories have fuel my enthusiasm. I love these stories.

In the beginning of 2015 I will announce my new venture. Stay tuned to the next chapter in the Tech Chronicles of Alan Hyman.

Photo credit: NASARobonaut / Foter /CC BY

Let It Roll, Let It Roll or Not

Calm Beach Ahhhh
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We have been there before. You know that situation when you see people repeating the same mistakes you have made yourself and you think if you advise them that will change their current path. It makes me want to say “Ugh, What the f*@k are you doing?” Most of my colleagues have been there too. However when you are working with startups and people who have their own first business…sometimes you want to tear your hair out. Do you standby and let it roll?

In some situations I will voice my opinion, but there are some situations where you know if you say something it will not work. I have heard it before; “Oh you don’t know our situation” or the best one “That will not happen to us”. History always repeats itself said some very wise man and it is so true.

What do I do in those situations? I let it roll.  Sometimes the best lesson is the one you learn yourself. I watch and see people learn for themselves. It works great. You can sense when someone is not responsive to advice. You can see it in their face when you start talking with them. Sometimes I do give it anyway just to see the reaction.

Not to say I am sadistic by any means, but it is sometimes is funny to watch. It is like a sitcom played out for everyone to see. A show. A well written show. Well written because it happened so many times before that there must have been time to make the writing perfect. Sometimes the endings are difference. Most of the time they are the same. Most of the time it is history repeating itself over and over again.

When I do let it roll good things happen. People learn. They comeback and say oh yeah it did happen…”Oh crap!!!!”. Then the “Oh crap” turns to action and action turns to expected results. Other times you just see it in them. A light goes off and then the path changes. A right turn or left (Doctor Who reference). It is rewarding to see.

It is hard to give advice and it is hard to take advice, but how it evolves is fun to watch. Oh startups, a crazy business and oh so exciting. I am glad to be a part of it.

Photo credit: A Guy Taking Pictures / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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.

The 2014 Disney Accelerator Info Session in New York Powered By Techstars @ WeWork Soho West

Disney Accelerator Info Session - New York Techstars WeWork
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Yesterday I attended the info session for the new Disney Accelerator powered by Techstars. The place was packed with people interested in the accelerator program. From what I hear the Techstars programs are very intense. A very good intense. The knowledge you get and the people (mentors) you meet in the program meets the gold standard.

David Min, Vice President of Strategic Business Innovation at Disney, and Cody Simms, Managing Director at Techstars presented. They talked about the program. They presented the program well and answered everyone’s questions. I will not give details of the program because you can read that in their website.

To the folks that apply to the accelerator I wish you much luck.

Check it out. I have more pictures of the event below. Enjoy.

Can The Old School & New School Get Along And Work Together

Old School New School
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Recently I saw a great article in the New York Times Online titled “Silicon Valley’s Youth Problem”. It got me thinking about the age groups in my surroundings. I am heavily involved in the hardware startup scene in New York and when I look around I see mostly people in their twenties. Maybe thirties. I have become the old one in the bunch. I was the young one not that long ago. I remember those days in the 90’s and early 2000’s. So tech is cool now. I remember those uncool days.

I can see how the guard has changed. Older people have worked in corporate life 20-30 years doing mostly the same thing or moving up in the same organization. It has become hard for them to see the value in the new and latest app. Sounds like being stuck. The young look upon those years at the some company as stagnation. The same old same old.

Then there is the hip factor or coolness factor. Companies that use were consider cool are no longer. Take Microsoft, when I talk to people Microsoft is not the first place to work on their list, if at all. The young have not grown up with workplace security. Do you older people remember when you could be working at one company for a long time and expect to retire from that company? Well that has changed, a while ago. So now the young graduates don’t have that security so they try to find something for now. It is like the job market has appealed to people with ADD. So looking for something sexy fits in well.

The easiest explanations are mismatched skill sets or cultural friction. Older engineers are not smart in the way that start-ups want them to be — or, if they are, they have reservations about the start-up lifestyle. Both these reasons are symptomatic of how far apart the two sides have drifted. If there are whole swaths of engineering talent whose skills or styles cannot be integrated into a company, then maybe that operation has been limiting itself.

The article makes a good point in that some older engineers are stuck knowing what they know and not able to move into other areas of knowledge. Where is the flexibility? Or is it the way of tolerating the openness when placed in a challenging situation. I think the stuckidness( I made that up) comes from, as you get older, having more things and people to take care of. A house, children and maybe a car. With payments for each thing. When you are young those things will happen later. According to  PewResearch only 26 percent of 18-to-33-year-olds are married. While, 36 percent of Generation X, 48 percent of Baby Boomers and 65 percent of the members of the Silent Generation were married during that same age range.

At MakeSimply I am the oldest in the bunch. That has not stopped me thinking of creative ways of working and help out our customers.

Photo credit: andyi / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

The dark side of 3D printing: 10 things to watch – TechRepublic

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As with any new technology, it’s easy to get swept up in the benefits of 3D printing. It opens up a world of new possibilities for all industries, and stands to lessen transportation costs, environmental impacts, waste, and reliance on corporations by enabling the maker movement.

This is a great list of opportunities that await the innovators of 3D printing.  Overcoming these issues are not big feet to achieve.

via The dark side of 3D printing: 10 things to watch – TechRepublic.