Cyber Monday Edition
Our largest Cyber Monday ever!
Happy Holidays from Tindie HQ!
Our 3rd Annual Cyber Monday begins on Monday Dec. 1, 12:01am PST!
Happy Holidays from Tindie HQ!
Our 3rd Annual Cyber Monday begins on Monday Dec. 1, 12:01am PST!
One of the fastest growing IoT platforms is Spark. Today they released the Photon, a simple $19 wifi module, that can be integrated into any project that you want to bring online. With over 1,000 ordered already, we’re sure many of you are wondering, well – what are are some things I can do with it?!
Tindie has the largest marketplace of Spark compatible products online in our Spark Market.
Here are a few of our favorites!
Hover by Emran – for adding gesture control to your Spark
Build a light switch you control by just gesturing over the board to turn your lights on or off – and best yet – it’s wifi enabled! Throw it on your nightstand, on wall, anywhere!
0.96″ OLED SPI Display made by Miker – for integrating a small, hidden display to Spark
Add a display to your Spark for fun wifi, mobile games. Gaming doesn’t have to be built around a console or your smartphone. It can just easily be tethered to the web via Spark. Why not build your own!?
Waterproof temperature probe – for science or brewing with a Spark
You’ve always wanted to build that home brewery. However how do you monitor your batch? Build a simple brew monitor using a waterproof probe and a Spark to track that delicious lager from your couch or office. You sure don’t want an ethernet cable running from your modem to your beer cave!
These are just a few ways you can integrate a Sparkcore into a project. With hundreds of Spark users on Tindie, there are thousands of compatible products you can integrate into your project. We’d love to hear how you use your Spark with Tindie products! Let us know in the comments!
We know, we are starting to sound like a broken record – but with over 100k visits, we hit a new record for all-time sales and number of orders! Tindie is starting to hum as we head into the holiday season.
Tons O’ Updates!
This fall has been a whirlwind of small updates throughout the site. Here are 3 from last month –
Tindie & Crowdfunding
As we continue to grow from 100k to 1 million visits a month, we’re attracting a more diverse community. Many look to crowdfunding as a source of revenue. Look for an update on our Crowdfunding policy in the near future. We began digging into it, and realized Tindarians have raised over $2 million on Kickstarter alone. Thats more than some hardware incubators! We want to do more to help everyone with their campaigns, so stay tuned!
Anyway, here’s to another great month! Happy November!
Ever since Julia joined Tindie as our Head of Engineering in November 2012, she has been an integral part of the team. I can vividly remember when the Reddit hug hit during my first AMA, and the site went down. She helped bring the site back up, and Tindie has thrived ever since.
We’ve become the largest hardware marketplace in the world. However, we are still very early with the Hardware Revolution very much in its infancy. Our next project will accelerate the revolution by better connecting inventors with manufacturers. We see it as as the next chapter in Tindie’s story – one that will set the tone for years to come. With such a major effort, I wanted to recognize Julia’s efforts through the last 2 years, and even more importantly, for the years to come.
I’m excited to announce Julia is no longer Tindie’s ‘Head of Engineering’ but ‘Co-founder and CTO.’ Julia has been a friend for years. When she joined the team, we thought the opportunity has quiet clear in building the world’s largest indie hardware marketplace. Together we’ve done that, and in the process uncovered a much bigger opportunity in further revolutionizing the hardware ecosystem.
Tackling this huge problem requires a team. I’ve always looked up to Julia for her knowledge and technical leadership. Together we will be defining an industry, and it’s only proper that she is recognized for her efforts – as a Tindie Co-founder!
It’s been a crazy summer from the White House to Popular Science, and a new office in Mountain View. However through the craziness, the community has flourished! It’s clear the world wants to and is supporting new hardware innovation.
Just checkout our sales growth since we launched in June 2012!
Up and to the right!
We had 103k visits from 67k visitors in 182 countries – including North Korea!?
The Top 10 locations were : US, UK, Germany, Canada, Australia, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, India
Yesterday, we were at Highway 1, the hardware incubator, and many of their companies are looking to launch beta products around the holidays. With the craziness we always see in November and December, this year is looking like it will be particularly bananas. Sellers, get ready : )
Emile dropping some knowledge
With all of this growth, the one thing we notice is the increasing number of sold out products – 388 in fact! We have also been getting more emails like-
“I am looking for a good source for PCB assembly services.”
We think it’s too difficult to find a great manufacturer that can help you scale your business. So we’re solving that. Our plan is to launch something in a few months to help everyone bring products to market quicker and easier.
We don’t want to share too much right now, but with our growth curve and an increasing number of sold out products, we think we should make your life easier. Stay tuned!
– Team Tindie
This month Popular Science featured Tindie in their article “The Rise of Open Hardware“.
One of their questions was about open hardware business models; it’s question that comes up quite a bit: “How do you make money with open hardware?”
To answer this, I think you must answer another question first: How big of a business do you want to build?
You must be honest with yourself about the opportunity you are pursuing, as well as your goals. Here are the 4 types of companies I’ve seen, and each brings with it particular challenges.
Hobby/ Side Project
At this scale, you can create new designs, get them made by a low-volume manufacturer, and sell them from your garage. Many Tindie products fall under this category. Nothing too complicated at this stage as you’re selling on demand, and up to 1,000 units a year, and handling shipping and fulfillment yourself.
Example: Tindie inventors
Small, Full-time Business
In this category I’d put many of the popular platforms like Teensy or Digispark. Their creators have built great businesses with strong communities. The time commitment ultimately ranges from a few hours a week to going full-time. Full-time is very dependent upon demand, but let’s say around 10,000 units a year. You’re still just manufacturing and selling your design – but at a greater scale (at least 10x of a hobby/side project).
Congrats! You have 10+ employees, and are becoming a well oiled machine. This is the point where you’re wondering “How big can this get?!” The difference between a small, full time business and a mid-sized company is that something else is driving your bottom line, meaning your mechanism for generating revenue is different.
You are no longer a company that just manufacturers and sells hardware. You’re now becoming a platform. For example, look at Adafruit and Sparkfun: Adafruit’s Learning System is fueling their growth. Sparkfun recently released Sparkfun Data for hosting and storing your data. Both are value add services that channel in new customers, as well as sustain their growth moving forward. They are manufacturing and designing new products, but there is a lot more going on under the hood.
Billion dollar Company
Redhat was the first billion dollar with open source software, so it is now a matter of time until the first billion dollar open hardware company emerges. You are working on a problem so big that you require outside funding to seize the opportunity. Institutional investors agree – and have put in millions of dollars, if not tens of millions, into your vision.
This is where things get complicated with open source hardware.
The moment you receive outside investment, your investors will require proprietary (code word for “closed”) assets. True Ventures has been one of the leading investors in open hardware. In looking at their investments, you can see this closed source requirement. Littlebits patented its magnetic connector. Makerbot had filed patents prior to their acquisition. 3D Robotics is rumored to be moving more closed source. With True Ventures as their lead investor, it would follow the pattern seen with True’s previous investments.
The other requirement investors will want is an exit – either an acquisition or IPO. In the best case scenario you IPO, and remain an independent company. With an acquisition, the business acquiring you will be doing so for your assets. As of yet, we haven’t seen an open hardware company acquired for their name/trademark alone. So you’ll need to be comfortable going closed on some aspect of your business – either from the start or down the road. It’s not a question of if, but when.
If you want to build an open hardware company, you should very clearly and realistically define your goals then position your business to match those goals. The vast majority will be small businesses, and open sourcing your design has many benefits from building community to lower development costs. However, the minute you accept outside funding, that will come with it the realization that you will have to have a closed source component.
“You mean this was made by one person?”
When I first show a Tindie product to someone, that is the usual reaction. The idea that one inventor could create a piece of hardware – something so complex, for so little, with such an impact – is shocking. I totally understand it. The first time I saw the price of a Raspberry Pi, I was just as floored. $35 for a computer that would have cost thousands a few years ago!?! The pace of invention has reached light speed, and it is changing the world in unexpected ways. Tindie has a front row seat to this revolution, and we’ve seen a few surprising results.
Fortune 500 companies & governments are buying from Tindie.
“So your customers are only hobbyists, right?”
Yes, hobbyists love Tindie (and we love them!) – but big businesses and government agencies are also buying with increasing frequency. Not in large batches yet, but prototype quantities. It’s easier to buy a $20 heart pulse sensor than reinvent the wheel. Buying cheap, open components speeds up innovation, and we all win with quicker and easier development cycles.
Patent reform from the ground up?
There is not one patented product on Tindie. I had never thought about that until a reporter asked me a few months ago. It’s incredibly interesting because many agree the patent system is broken, and that it needs to be changed. However it may not come from the top down. As hardware development has increased, IP protection isn’t as important as speed to market. By the time a patent is awarded, you’ll already be onto the next version, or even the 10th version – and so will your competition.
Small companies do not have the time or capital to navigate the patent process; this will create an interesting hardware market that has never before existed. For a certain class of products, patents become irrelevant and so does their reform. How will this impact the greater hardware space? Only time will tell.
Science & engineering education will never be the same.
The drop in costs mean schools & universities can order projects and parts previously unavailable. Elementary schools have bought DIY weather stations on Tindie. Computer science and engineering departments at major institutions (like US Air Force Academy) have ordered batches of sensors and other components to incorporate into their curriculum. If Raspberry Pi is any indication, it will be interesting to see what happens as these kids grow up and progress through their education.
It still incredibly early. Independent inventors have only begun to take advantage of the changing manufacturing landscaping. In North America today, 64% of electronics manufacturing is for orders of 500 units or less. This would be considered small batch, and exactly the sweet spot for indie inventors. As manufacturing prices continue to drop, and more inventors produce their ideas, look for further disruption in the years and decades ahead.
Tindie entered a new chapter this summer with our 2nd birthday. Much has been happening since then – but all behind the scenes. To give you a window into Tindie HQ, here is the State of Tindie!
The marketplace is humming!
We’re incredibly happy to have helped over 600 inventors get their ideas to over 80 countries around the world. We’re clearly building something together that is incredibly special.
Changing face of hardware?
Year after year more and more people are interested in hardware. Investors have put in over $848m into hardware companies in 2013 alone. The vast majority of that went to large companies, but we think that will be changing. As hardware gets easier to manufacture, more companies will emerge. The result will be a surge in specialized hardware that has never been possible before – similar to what AWS facilitated for web development.
It’s a very simple premise with one giant unknown: “When? When will hardware development get cheap and easy enough for small teams to make a massive impact?” We’re getting closer by the day, but we aren’t there yet.
Why do you say that? Let’s take a look at our waiting list
To clarify: products that are sold out can have a waiting list for customers to add their email and desired quantity. We then email those customers once a product comes back in stock. The result is mad rush to grab up the inventory that was posted. One customer in New Zealand missed out 3 times in a row because of his time zone, prompting him to email us, “What happened!?”
There is overwhelming demand on Tindie – but there is a universal problem among small companies: it is still incredibly difficult to keep products in stock. Many products go months without inventory.
So what? You’re launching Tindie U right?
In May, we announced “Tindie U” as an project to help educate makers on scaling their project. And then June hit; in that month alone potential revenue on the waiting list grew by $100,000! It became very clear we needed to solve this inventory problem – and, with sellers in over 40 countries, do more than what we had originally planned with Tindie U.
Tindie & Manufacturing
We are now working on a solution to better connect manufacturers and hardware companies. From our two years of data, we see this as a critical problem that is holding back small hardware businesses. We don’t want to announce exactly what our solution is just yet; this is a big project and the reason we haven’t released any major features in the last few months. But stay tuned…
You are probably wondering – what’s the breakdown between maker-made products and supplies? Good question!
Therefore, if you are reselling bulk components, you probably aren’t very happy – and that is a bit by design. This summer, we moved supplies into their own section of the site. We purposefully minimized their visibility and it had little impact on their sales.
However that still raises the question: should there even be supplies within the marketplace? It’s a good question and one we’ve bounced back and forth on. The data definitely opens that conversation back up.
Fans of the GoPro and its ability to capture spectacular images will love this product: Extreme Depth Underwater Housing for the GoPro Hero 3 and Hero 3+.
This casing is so heavy duty, it can actually withstand a depth of 9000 feet, which is four times deeper than a nuclear class submarine.
We’ll just go ahead and say it – this could be huge! Congrats to our friends at Sparkfun! They just released a free, data-hosting platform for your IoT gadgets – data.sparkfun.com. Because Sparkfun also sells the hardware, this appears to be similar to Apple’s strategy – buy our gadgets, get our services for free. Data.sparkfun already appears to be buzzing, so we are super excited by this. Congrats again! We can’t wait to see how this evolves in the coming months & years.