|The MakerHub table at the Vancouver Mini Maker Fare|
with Tiff (volunteer), Victoria, Bill and Shannon (volunteer).
It was also interesting seeing the difference between the two communities. The Bay Area is definitely a more “mature” maker community. Based on those that didn’t stop by our table, a large number of the community didn’t see much value in what we are offering. That said, of those we talked with at the Bay Area Maker Faire, Victoria estimated 1/2 and I estimated 1/3 of the people’s eyes lit up and wished they had available right now what we plan to offer. For the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire we both thought it was closer to 3/4 of the people we talked with had their eyes light up, even other makers with tables there.
I think part of the reason is that community maturity level. In Vancouver we found a lot of people didn’t know about local maker/hacker/create spaces, even though they helped put on the faire. A lot of people were very new to making and wanted to find peers and resources that matched their skill levels. Whereas in the Bay Area most people at the faire already knew about resources or who to talk with to learn about resources.
Vancouver mirrored my experience in Seattle. I’m not an electrical engineer and knew no one in the maker/robotics community. Because of that it took me at least a year to finally get the right connection for 3D printing & related hobbies. (The brainstorm was realizing robotics skills were needed to make a 3D printer from scratch. The next weekend was a Seattle Robotics Society meeting about 3D printers!) After that I found out there are at least 6 maker/hacker/create spaces/clubs in the Greater Seattle Area.
One of the reason we went to these events was to see if we were on track and make some personal connections with the maker community. Given the reactions of those we talked with we all had the sense that MakerHub will provide something folks want. We even had people pause on the way away from our table, turn around and give us their personal business cards because they want to help. (What with the interviewing and such we’re behind on contacting folks.)
Monthly mailing list: We now have a mailing list that we’ll be sending out a newsletter to each calendar month, sometimes early, sometimes late. Sign up here if you’re interested.
Faire contests: At both faires we had drawings for an iPod Nano and sign up for the newsletter. Surprisingly we had as many folks sign up in Vancouver as in the Bay Area, even though the venue was smaller.
Faire features: At both faires we had sheets of newsprint out asking folks various questions. We compiled those and put them as features on our UserVoice account. Take a peek and let us know what you think or add your own. Our UserVoice feedback & support is always available from any MakerHub page.
Design contest: As I mentioned above we’re running a design contest to help get the MakerHub site from alpha quality into beta quality. The more input we have the better our site will be. This contest has three $100 prizes for a toy car design. One each for easy to follow instructions, easiest to assemble and most interesting.
We’re hiring!: Check out our employment page. Right now we’re focusing on developer types but we are trying to grow in every way.
Last but not least: Thanks again to James, Shannon and Tiff for helping man the MakerHub table at the faires. If it weren't for you volunteers Victoria and I would have gone mad.