As part of my series of seller interviews, I caught up with Nick Sayer of Geppetto Electronics to see what his store is all about. Nick started tinkering with electronics in the 1980s as a teenager, but perhaps wisely, he saw that hobbyists wouldn’t have the tools needed in the future to make this type of tinkering a career. He instead decided to go into software as a profession.
Fast-forward three years ago, and Nick, who still kept his soldering skills intact, bought a charging station for his electric vehicle for $700. Wondering why this price was so high, he investigated further and found the “OpenEVSE” project, which led to Arduino, then OSHPark, and Eagle for board design. He discovered that the barriers to tinkering that existed in his youth were now gone, and you can buy the stuff he makes on Tindie!
Here are a few excerpts from our question and answer email “session:”
What would you say is the “theme” of your store?
It’s sort of an eclectic mix of small electronic things. Most of what’s there is dictated by my own project whims and curiosities, and they’re things I think worth sharing with the world.
What is the best thing about selling on Tindie?
When I started, I had a Square marketplace store with a couple of my things on it, but the problem with that was that it wasn’t really a community. Square just isn’t focussed the same way Tindie is (and that’s not a slight against Square – it’s just not their mandate). Tindie has often been called the Etsy for electronics, and I think that’s more accurate than not. What both have in common is the emphasis on what the sellers have in common.
What is the worst?
I don’t know if there’s much about Tindie that I’d specifically call out for change. I think the “eBay-like” model works well as it is. It might be nice to add an option for an “Amazon-like” approach, where a seller sends a larger inventory into a distribution center, which effectively outsources order processing and shipping. This is sort of what the Hackaday store is like, although that store is much more curated than Tindie.
Any tips for other sellers?
Nothing we make in our garages is ever going to be able to approach the low costs of a factory in Shenzhen, but occasionally I do see things in the @Tindie twitter feed that are… dare I say… embarrassingly overpriced. Here, I think Tindie generally does a very good job. New item creation is now curated, which raises the bar for listing stuff. That’s a good thing. But if you’re about to pull the trigger on an item you’re selling for $50 that you can get equivalently from Amazon for $5, then you ought to think about whether that’s going to be good value for the purchaser.
So put your best stuff forward, don’t charge too much, and realize that hardware design is now within reach of the masses. We wish Nick and his store all the best! Of particular note, be sure to check out his “POV Twirlie” seen in the video below, or his “crazy clock,” which keeps track of time correctly on average, but has a second hand that moves unpredictably.
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