This is our inaugural meeting!!
Is now the time for hardware startups? I think so. And probably you do to, or at least give the notion some consideration since you've joined this meetup.
Just this past week I've noticed a few interesting data points:
1) This past Saturday the Wall Street Journal published an article, "Forget the Web, Start-Ups Get Real" on hardware startups. Did you know that VC investments into consumer electronics companies is on the rise, and was $262M last year? I did not know that. You should check it out. Whether or not you choose to pursue outside investors for your projects, it is interesting to note that the "wisdom of the crowds" seems to to be giving hardware a thumbs-up.
2) In just 12 days, Digispark, a Kickstarter project to build a stamp-sized Arduino clone, received $143,323 (as of 10:42pm August 21) of pledged backing, far surpassing the original $5,000 goal. They have 19 more days to go. This is amazing.
3) Chris Anderson, Editor in Chief of Wired and cheerleader #1 for the open hardware movement, will be giving the keynote speech at this year's Open Hardware Summit (in NYC) entitled "Microeconomics for Makers: Business Models for the New Industrial Revolution".
4) Yesterday in the Wall Street Journal there was an article about how investors are fleeing the likes of Groupon and Facebook. I've no ill will towards these companies (though I still don't "get" Groupon), and when bubbles burst in one sector it has a negative net effect on everything else. But perhaps this will free up capital and resources for ventures that produce something a little more tangible...
*** UPDATE!!! ***
We have a location! Jake's American Grille, downstairs in the Boiler Room. This location in NW DC should be convenient for people coming up from downtown as well as coming in from the suburbs. The closest Metro stop is Tenleytown. For those of you driving in- there is street parking on the side streets (2 hours before 8pm, unlimited after, so you'll be fine.) Parking is better here than downtown! I spoke with the restaurant manager and he very kindly offered to extend happy hour prices for drink and snacks as long as the group is there. If you are very hungry, you can also order from the regular menu.
A little tidbit- Jake's is named after Jake Jablonski, a late engineer at NRL that invented an AFFF-based chemical spray used to put out fires on aircraft carriers worldwide for several decades through 2000. I'm sure he will join us in spirit. :)
Here's an updated schedule:
6:00 to 6:30: Arrive early, get drinks, say hello. I'll be there at 6pm to say hello to everyone.
7:00: Introductions. One or more brief introductory talks to kick off the meetup group. If any of you are involved in a HW startup, and want to introduce it to the crowd (or give a 5-10 minute pitch- good practice!), just let me know.
8:00 onward: Networking and demos. We are a diverse group and it would be nice to get to know each other to get a sense of quorum for future meetings.
I look forward to meeting everyone!