I live and work about two blocks from Wall Street in NYC, so it’s been an interesting and charged few months — even more than the usual New York City amplifier. Besides my role at MAKE, I help run an open source electronics factory, Adafruit Industries. During the 2008 financial crash, we were able to get a fairly large space when the financial folks were leaving in droves, and since then we’ve witnessed many changes in the area. Some have been good and some I’ll call challenges. Over the years, a common question I get asked is “Why New York City?” And then there’s “Why run a business there? It’s so hard/expensive/crazy/weird/intense.” Also, “Just move to Vegas — no taxes!” And that’s what this week’s Soapbox is all about: “If you can make it in NYC, you can make it anywhere.” I’m going to talk about why I think this is the best city for me, for now, to run a business. My goal is for the maker businesses out there, from one person to many, to post up in the comments on why their city is the best city to run a maker business. Let’s get started.
A special issue of MAKE, the Ultimate Kit Guide 2012, is hitting newsstands this week!
In it, we review over 175 different kits, ranging from rockets, robots, and remote control, to cocktails, kombucha, and cured meat. This wide-ranging kit guide is something I’m really excited about. The MAKE staff and our friends spent a lot of time with a great number of kits, and we picked the ones we feel really good about recommending to others. It reminds me of the Whole Earth Catalog, which was a mind-blowing, life-changing publication for me. I hope the kits in MAKE’s Ultimate Kit Guide will inspire a new generation of people to become active creators of the things that they use in their life.
A while back I was bored and wanted to take a look at the gRaphael JS library, so I made a quick dot chart of our order totals by day of the week. Here it is!
Join us Wednesday evening for the next episode of Make: Live, our streaming show and tell! This episode is our Ultimate Kit Episode, in honor of the new Special Issue of MAKE, The Ultimate Kit Guide.
Make: Live 20 – Ultimate Kit Episode
Wednesday November 9th, 9pm ET/6pm PT
Watch at makezine.com/live or on UStream
Please join us in the UStream chat or mark tweets with #makelive to interact live with the show.
There are a lot of Angry Birds products out there, but most of them aren’t officially licensed. Angry Birds is now the most copied brand in China, and we get a lot of inspiration from local producers.
Right now, we’ve proven that there’s demand, and we’re going for 100 million downloads this year for Angry Birds, and again the same demand for the physical products.
The way we look at it is, of course we want to sell the officially licensed, good quality products, but at the same time we have to be happy about the fact that the brand is so loved that it is the most copied brand in China.
It’s great for us to see the demand, and that’s why we’re building our own stores here. And actually we’re building our first stores here, and not in Helsinki…
We hope to have quite a few over the next 12 months.
This is the Stella amp, an amplifier that I’m in the middle of designing. I wanted a battery powered amplifier that was a little more versatile than all of the LM-386 amps that are out there. So I made my own.
At any rate, I have to say thanks Adafruit for having this great kitbiz resource. You guys are amazing, I cannot thank you enough. I never would have done any of this without you.
…during the recent economic slump, more Americans have started businesses than at any time in the past 15 years, according to the Kauffman Foundation. The Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, an indicator of new business creation in the U.S.,shows that .34 percent of American adults created a business per month (or 565,000 new businesses) in 2010. That’s not entirely surprising given the state of the economy: Entrepreneurship is often a choice for people who were laid off and can’t find work.
We are seeing more one-person shops starting kit businesses as well lately.
We really like scales here at the Adafruit factory, we use them extensively for weighing packages for shipment. We also like scales for counting components, especially small ones, like LEDs or pogo pins. There’s nothing more tedious than counting out bunches of LEDs for SpokePOV kits or LED packs. Using a scale is both fast and precise, leaving us more time for designing kits and writing tutorials!
Our new favorite scale! We just picked up a MyWeigh i601 and it is by far our favorite counting scale. I’m so in love with it, I’m going to get another. Its an ideal counter for small components!
Last night I had the pleasure of co-curating an all-night concert of Chiptunes music at the TIFF Bell Lightbox as part of Scotiabank Nuit Blanche. (Clearly, I’m not too great at this whole “promotion” thing: note that this happened last night.) Nonetheless, it was an amazing event, and I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to participate. Thanks to all our amazing artists, TIFF staff, and volunteers!
My main role was in designing, manufacturing, and building small noisemakers to give out to the crowd. There were four different colour-coded notes, and during one performance the audience was prompted with coloured cards to play along.
“Lady ada, how the hell am I supposed to know what the HST code is for my products!?!?!?”
And I’m all…
“I’m not an import/export attorney, but there’s a lot of places you can research to get the best match!”
This mini tutorial will cover how to find the best tariff code to match your product. Finding the right code is annoying but you only have to do it once, and getting it right will help you get your product through customs faster!
By concentrating on planning, procedures, and performance, I have reduced mistakes dramatically. I can tell you one thing for sure: If you are quick to say “everyone makes mistakes” without analyzing whether a particular mistake could have been avoided, you are sure to have plenty of them.
Manufacturing Monday – Outlets. You have equipment – you need to power it! This little tip is one that we find so useful, we can’t imagine how we did without: being able to turn an entire outlet strip on and off, easily without having to reach behind some machinery on the floor.
For example, if you have a laser cutter and a filter, you need to make sure that the filter is turned on whenever the laser cutter is used. Once in a while, we’d forget to turn on the filter, and 3 minutes later the room would smell of acrylic. Yuk! After trying signs, notes, and beatings we just bought this awesome (but sadly a little expensive) outlet with remote switch (McMaster #69565K21 / Wiremold UL207RSBC) The switch is lightweight and easily mounts anywhere, the actual button itself is lit when the power is on which is a nice extra…
At a time when the above-ground economy seems to be stuck in perpetual neutral, something very interesting is happening in the underground economy. On do-it-yourself crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter, significant amounts of capital are starting to flow to a group of ingenious projects that bridge the gap between the creative arts and cutting-edge technology — a sweet spot that’s pure money. In some cases, entrepreneurs are raising $100K or $200K at a time — even when they ask for only a fraction of that. In the post-downgrade economy, these instances are proof that a solid business plan, a way to reward passionate supporters and a little DIY mojo goes a long way.
Consider some of the projects that are being funded these days. Two recent crowd favorites include the Desktop Jellyfish Tank, which set out to raise $3,000 and ended up raising more than $100,000 from supporters…
ZENCART ZENSDAY – Predictive inventory. Ok, folks this is likely one of the most useful parts of our Adafruit business we’re thrilled to share with the world… One of the ‘brick walls’ that any business eventually hits is how to manage inventory. If you’re a one person shop and you have 10 items to keep track of, you can probably do it all in your head. But once you get to 25 or so items it can get really messy. That’s why a few years ago we wrote up our own ‘predictive’ inventory system. Now to make it absolutely clear, this php code cannot actually see into the future. However, it can look into the past and make a good educated guess about how long your inventory will last assuming you have pretty steady purchasing history.
Basically, this code will look at all your product categories and items and sum up how many orders were placed for these items. Then it puts them in a table with the current inventory/stock. The table entries have a background of light red if your current inventory will run out before then. For example lets look at this screenshot:
If the future purchasing is like the past, then we’ll run out of 9V regulated adapters in about 4-6 weeks. If you know the approximate lead time for stuff you buy then you can just keep ordering just when the ‘red bars’ start showing up too much!