The maker movement: trend re-emerges to help investors take ideas from the work-bench to the retail store.

Author:Talbert, Marcia Wade
Position:TECH NEWS
 
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ANYTHING THAT HAS BEEN INVENTED came from a "maker": a gal or guy hunched over a desk somewhere--tinkering, programming, or imagining in a garage, basement, or lab. Though most people haven't heard of the maker movement, which some characterize as the next industrial revolution, the classes, tutorials, and new technologies that assist people with building and creating are definitely in demand. As these tools and resources become more widely available, the democratization of manufacturing is becoming a reality. And now, like never before, anyone--not just the wealthy and educated--can be on the brink of becoming the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.

FROM CUSTOMS TO CUSTOM-MADE

Matthew Burnett, 29, co-founder of Maker's Row, and Rachel Brooks, 26, co-founder of Citizen Made, are makers who want to make it easier and more cost-effective for designers to create and sell new products.

After years designing for such sought-after brands as Marc Jacobs, IZOD, DKNY, and Michael Kors, Burnett launched his own collection of watches, Steel Cake, in 2007, but ran into several hurdles. First, his shipment from a Chinese manufacturer got stuck in customs for two months. Then, when he finally received the order, it had errors.

The mistakes left Burner out $40,000 with a product he couldn't sell. It would be cheaper to manufacture his goods in the U.S., but the databases of U.S. manufacturers were dated and offered only limited information. Burnett and co-founder Tanya Menendez started Maker's Row to create a platform to make manufacturing within the U.S. easy to access, using their comprehensive database, and simple to understand, employing their making process. The factories on Maker's Row pay a subscription fee to be featured in the database.

The platform lets factories showcase their expertise, location, types of products, and the stages of production (i.e., pattern-making, tooling, materials, etc.) they specialize in.

Brooks, on the other hand, is concerned with helping small businesses sell custom wares online. Citizen Made is a white-label platform that small businesses can add to their websites, making it possible for customers to custom order products. For example, a customer buying a bike from a company's website can use embedded Citizen Made software to select available custom options. The businesses don't need to develop the...

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