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DC Hardware Startup Inaugural Meeting- Theme: "Is now the time for hardware?"

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!


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  • David B.

    It was good to meet other folks working on hardware startups in the area. We had a good discussion on the differences between a small business and a startup, as well as some talk about what direction to take the Meetup. Beer was involved, so not as conclusive as one might hope.

    September 12, 2012

  • Doug M.

    great first time meetup

    September 11, 2012

  • Geoffrey L. B.

    Bob- Thank You for your cautionary reminders. "Build it and they will come" makes a great movie, but rarely works in real life. The whole point of this meetup group is not to tinker with the hardware itself, but to tinker with the BUSINESS behind the hardware. Personally, I am excited about the combination of the "Lean Startup" methodology, which has proven to be very successful for Internet/software based companies, with agile manufacturing and rapid prototyping, which is accelerating the rate at which hardware can be iteratively improved, especially in parallel with market development.

    As for the shovel-seller / prospector metaphor- There is a lesson there (shovel sellers sold something of value to prospectors), but it would be fatalistic to assume that only shovel-sellers profit. The metaphorical prospectors lost out because they acted without any business development discipline.

    I'd like to vary the locations of the meetups- it would be great to do it at Nova Labs one time.

    September 6, 2012

  • Geoffrey L. B.

    Everyone- we have a location for the meetup- Jake's American Grill in DC on 5018 Connecticut Ave. NW. We'll be in the "boiler room" downstairs. The manager graciously offered to extend happy hour prices on beer and snacks for as long as we are there. Closest metro is Tenleytown. There is also plenty of street parking for those driving in. (It is easier to park here than downtown!)

    September 6, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Bob - Cool, thanks for the reminders, etc. I hope to make it out to Reston at some point...

    All - where are we meeting again?


    September 6, 2012

  • Bob C.

    Well you guys sound like an interesting group. You are tracking allot of things I am tracking. Maker Movement: real. Like the goldrush, but the money is not in the gold but outfitting the individual prospectors (Sparkfun, Adafruit, Jameco, Element14, Dangrousprototypes, Seeedstudio). Kickstarter: Chris Anderson said it on the amphour podcast; "Kickstarter is like a time machine; It moves your cash back in time to when you need it to fund production" But then you have to spin-doctor your huge fanbase for 4 to 6 months who you owe money and product. No thanks. I know multiple kickstarter founders who were 5-10x over subscribed and it is no picnic (search touchfire on ks). There is not allot that your experience stuffing boards on your kitchen table will aid you when closing that 100k unit deal with a contractor in Shenzhen.

    I'm on your meetup list. I will continue to monitor. I am involved in nova-labs reston meetup, 'case you want to wander out this way. Small venue, friendly bunch.

    September 5, 2012

  • David B.

    Geof-Looking forward to it. Any idea where yet?

    August 28, 2012

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