June 21, 2013 AT 11:41 am

Hardware Summer Camp: Is a bootcamp for your hardware business.

Last weekend, San Francisco was the epicenter for Hardware Summer Camp: a weekend-long, 9-5, jam-packed (and free!) massive mindshare, where some of the most successful manufacturing entrepreneurs shared everything they’ve learned and then held one-on-one “office hours” to privately coach attendees. Less like a conference and not like a BarCamp, Hardware Summer Camp was where people who are masters of the idea-to-profit arena in making and manufacturing opened up to share it all – and there was so much to learn and take in, the summer camp felt more like boot camp. Speakers included Ariel Braunstein from FLIP Video, Dave Merril from Sifteo, and Mike Harris from Compliance Consulting, to name a few.

Hardware Summer Camp was incredible – I attended at the urging of its organizer: founder of HackPGH and CloudFab (and good friend) Nick Pinkston. If you’ve had questions about how to take your hardware project from prototype to put it on store shelves, HSC was where you wanted to be. But don’t worry if you missed out, or are curious what topics were covered: read the ticket page for a list of speakers, look [at this page] for YouTube videos from the first day of speakers, and check out the brief post keynote speaker Dale Dougherty of Maker Media wrote about the Saturday events he saw here.

I caught up with organizer Nick Pinkston and his team after Camp to find out more about the present and future of Hardware Summer Camp.


Eric Michaud: Who was involved with organizing the event?
Hardware Summer Camp Team: Adam Ellsworth, Nick Pinkston, Renee DiResta and our volunteers.

EM: When will the videos be up?
HSCT: The videos and slides will be up on HardwareSummerCamp.com in about a week. We’re changing the page to not be pointing at EventBrite.

EM: Will there be another Hardware (insert season) Camp, and if so, when?
HSCT: Definitely, though there’s nothing scheduled right now, we’re really encouraged by the response and want to get another one set up soon.

EM: Did anything about Hardware Summer Camp surprise you?
HSCT: People came from everywhere: Germany, Mexico, Boston, New York, Boulder, etc. We had a great set of speakers with great actionable content – that is rarely heard-of in the startup world (if ever?). “Office hours” were packed. It was done as a test, and we kept the rooms full, so the test proved our hypothesis! Attendee quality was very high, which made the whole group like a set of experts who could often answer each others’ questions.

EM: What other events will be happening?
HSCT: In San Francisco, there’s the SF Hardware Startup Meetup (ongoing), the SF Crowdfunding Meetup(ongoing), and Bay Area Factory Tours (ongoing). Also, since the ‘office hours’ were very popular one of the attendees, Jeff McAlvay, will be organizing ongoing ‘office hours’ sessions with hardware experts. You can find him here: jmcalvay@gmail.com

EM: How can people get involved with future events?
HSCT: We run r/HWStartups for all the hardware news that’s fit to post ;-) and we post all hardware startup related events there as well. Also, you can join your local Hardware Startup Meetup (or start one if you don’t have close by). You can use this map to find the one closest to you: http://goo.gl/maps/aadFj

Go to (www.hardwaresummercamp.com) for news and announcements about more upcoming events and the next Hardware Summer Camp – hopefully coming to a city near you. It’s impossible to show you how much value I got out of the event, and the connections I made with other hardware hacker-entrepreneurs are invaluable. Many brought their prototypes and projects – a great example of the standout ideas on show was Jason Huggins, creator of Selenium and Co-Founder of Sauce Labs. He brought his prototype Tapsterbot – a virtual finger robot that lets you automate anything a human could do with a modern cell phone for testing purposes. Here’s a quick video of it in operation:

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