TechShop CEO and co-founder Mark Hatch discusses how TechShop can democratize the production of prototypes and products.
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Transcript: The Maker Movement is, you know, it’s an emerging movement that has kind of captures the dreams and aspirations of a pretty large portion of the United States. I mean 56, 57 percent of the people will self-identify as Makers. But we’re specifically targeting the creative class which is a subset within that group. There are about 40 million of them in the United States. This comes out of Dr. Richard Florida’s work over a decade ago. The book called Rise of the Creative Class. They actually control something like 70 percent of all the disposable income in the U.S. – 470 billion dollars. They tend to aggregate in the major cities, not too surprisingly like in New York, LA, San Francisco, Austin.
TechShop is a membership based do-it-yourself fabrication studio. Membership based means for $125 a month, you get access to all the tools that you need to make just about anything. Do-it-yourself means you do it. We don’t do it for you. So even though we have machine tools, woodworking, plastic, electronics, textiles, 3D printers, great big huge water jet that will cut through five inches thick of anything on the planet, laser cutters. It’s you-do-it. So it’s DIY.
So the reason I got involved I was at a software party and event and I overheard Jim Newton, the founder, say over my shoulder – it’s kind of like Kinko’s for geeks. And I actually ran the computer services section of Kinko’s across the United States. So if you think about Kinko’s, the geeky part of Kinko’s is the computer area, at least I would argue that. And so I cornered him and told him like I am Kinko’s for geeks, you know, what are you doing? And so he described TechShop, 20,000 square feet, all of these tools. And so I went and visited it and what happened for me is I talked to three different entrepreneurial groups back-to-back. And each one of them told me that they had saved 98 percent or so – it was like 97, 98, 99 percent of their development costs by working out of the TechShop. And so what they had – they’d gone out and had bids. One was like $300,000 to get one project done. Another one was $200,000. Another one was like $250,000.
And they each said that they had started their company. One was like $20,000 in and another was like $10,000 and the last one was like $2,500 in. And, you know, I pointed – you know, what are you doing. They said well this is an infrared pet warming device. Like this great big huge plastic with wires in it and the idea is that the dog or the cat comes out of surgery, it needs to be warmed, the current technology is wet blankets in the microwave. That’s not really a technology in my mind but that’s what they were using to keep the dogs or the cats warm. Sometimes they would get burned. Sometimes somebody would get distracted and then, you know, the wicking would actually make the dog or the cat get cold rather than trying to warm them up again. And so it was a simple idea was we’ll just use infrared. You know you set one dial based on the size of the animal, another dial based on the thickness of the coat and a timer so it just goes off after 10 or 15 minutes. Simple, really good idea. And he said yeah, it was a great idea but, you know, my original bid was for $250,000.
And then he looks at me and he says, you know, Mark, I’m a roadie for Sting. I don’t have $250,000. My wife’s not going to let me take a loan out on a house for an infrared pet warming device. And so, you know, I’ve been sitting on it for the last three years. Discovered TechShop for 2,500 bucks I’ve got my first production prototype. He’s now sold millions of dollars’ worth of these things. And that’s the magic. If you can take something that used to cost, you know, small house and you can make it so that anybody in the middle class can afford it, 2,500 bucks. I would argue if you could afford a Starbucks addiction you can afford a TechShop membership and you can innovate. That is really revolutionary. And so I stood at the end of that after meeting these three guys and I guess it’s Bruce Sterling that says, you know, the future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed. I was standing in the physical instantiation of the future. It was clear as day. [TRANSCRIPT TRUNCATED]
Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler, Elizabeth Rodd, and Dillon Fitton
Tagged under: Mark Hatch,Maker Movement,DIY,Maker,3d printing,TechShop (Business Operation),Do It Yourself (Hobby),Laser Cutter,Water Cutter,Square,Prototype,Startup,manufacturing,manufacture,solder,electronics,polymer,Big Think,BigThink,BigThink.,Education,Educational,Lifelong Learning,EDU,Maker Culture,Robot,Computer,Gadget,Technology
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