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Guest Blogger, Jessica Oman: Turning Your Awesome Idea Into an Income

You made it. Now how are you going to sell it? Turning an awesome product into a profitable business can be exciting, but it can also be overwhelming to learn to think like a business owner as well as a Maker of awesome things. Not all great inventions or products make good businesses, but there are a few litmus tests you can apply to see whether there might be profit in your product.

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Dzingeek mad scientist

Image courtesy of dzingeek.

1. Can you scale it?

You might be able to bake ten dozen cookies a day in your kitchen, but a hundred dozen, or a thousand dozen, involves a whole different process. You will have the extra expense of a commissary kitchen, but you might also be able to get better prices on ingredients because you’ll be buying in bulk. To test your product for scalability, first figure out how much it costs you to make one of your items now. Next do some research on how those costs change per item when you 100x or 1000x (or more) your production. If higher volumes result in lower production costs per item, you might be on to something.

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2. Can you price it well?

We all know that when a new technology first comes on the market, it’s usually very expensive to buy. Only a select few early adopters will be willing to shell out the cash to buy, and those few customers won’t sustain a business for very long. To create broader appeal, the price has to make sense for your ideal customers. If it’s too high, they may not see the value in making a purchase – but if it’s too low, they might think it’s cheap or low quality. Even worse, pricing that’s too low can suck all the profit out of what could be a great business.

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3. Is the market ready for it?

Microsoft created one of the first tablets years before the iPad came out – but most people don’t remember it. That’s because the market wasn’t ready for tablets yet; consumers didn’t see a need for them. Whatever you make, your customers have to understand how it benefits them or solves a problem they have – whether it’s a bikini that fits any body type, or an application that helps people be more productive. To test whether consumers are ready for your product idea, you can run taste tests, conduct surveys, or do statistical research. You can’t be 100% certain that people will buy your product, but you can get a lot of valuable insight into what your customers really want – and you’ll find it’s not always what you think they want.

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Even if you fail at turning your product into a business the first time, you can make it a success later. Experiment with different ways of marketing. Adapt your product for different kinds of customers. Figure out a way to make it cheaper, or to sell it for more. You’ll find the right combination eventually, especially if you have the right resources and people to support you. Your business, like the things that you make, is always evolving, and you can forever make it better.


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About the author:

Write Ahead - Web-1.

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Guest blogger Jessica Oman is the founder of Write Ahead Inc., a team of consultants, writers, and trainers who help entrepreneurs launch and grow businesses that support their lives and passions. Grab their free report5 Critical Steps for Taking Your Business from Idea to Open, and learn to build your business the “write” way. Don’t miss her talk, Can Your Invention Make You Money, at the 2014 Vancouver Mini Maker Faire’s Speaker Series.

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Tiny House community project

Zee's tiny house project!
My name is Zee and I am facilitating a tiny house workshop project build. Using salvaged materials, you can learn basic construction skills and the final product will be used as a tiny mobile community centre for Makers to host workshops and share skills with the community.

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I love tiny spaces!  Last year, along with a group of teachers and community leaders, I co-founded the MakerMobile:Workshop on Wheels, a traveling classroom, hackspace and art studio in a renovated Ford Econoline van.  While working on this project, I started researching alternative mobile spaces for living and working and came across tiny houses in the process.

 

Do you want to learn to build a house or help this project happen?  

Check out the rest of the article here. Email me to find out more!

 

Zee Kesler is an Community Based Artist and mentor for kids 3-18. She is the co founder of the MakerMobile:Workshop on Wheels and facilitates the Maker Education Initiative  Meetup alongside Vancouver Mini Maker Faire Director Emily Smith. 

 

 

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Maker Education Meetup: July 4th at the Vancouver Hack Space

John shows off some 3D printed parts at our first meetup

John shows off some 3D printed parts at our first meetup

 

Always wanted to check out a hackspace, but never had the chance? Now is the perfect time! The Vancouver Hack Space is hosting the next Maker Education meetup on July 4th at 7:30pm.

 

They have just moved into a brand new 3000 square foot space, which they’ve filled with laser cutters, 3D printers, all kinds of electronics and a crew of hackers working on interesting things. Better yet, we will be joined by representatives from some of Vancouver’s other excellent makerspaces and DIY groups, such as: the Vancouver Community Lab, the Vancouver Design Nerds, 3D604 3D printing group, the Vancouver Tool Library, Mozilla and more!

 

We will start the night with short talks introducing the different organizations, then there will be lots of time to check out the hackspace, socialize, and connect with all of the other interesting people who attend the Maker Education meetups.

 

Food and drink has been generously sponsored by Mozilla! It is absolutely free to attend but, if you would like to give back, you can bring a small cash donation to support the Vancouver Hack Space and Maker Foundation.

 

Please RSVP at the link below:

http://makered.eventbrite.com/

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Meet Your Sponsors: The Hackery

Local business The Hackery has stepped up to sponsor Mini Maker Faire Vancouver for the third year in a row. They’ve supported us from the very beginning, even down to donating meeting space in their sweet rabbit warren warehouse in East Vancouver in our first year.

 

David Repa, founder of The Hackery, has been involved in supporting community efforts to make technology more accessible and fun for a long time. “I think it’s really important to have family oriented, hands-on, engaging events like Mini Maker Faire. People have a place to inspire each other, and celebrate making things for the love of it. Hacking and building can be done in your garage alone for years, but meeting other people who get a kick out of your creation is a pretty special feeling. There’s massive creative energy all around Vancouver.”

 

The Hackery, in its fifth year of business, repairs, recycles and re-sells computer equipment. They also help local makers find used motors, fans, wire, and odd-ball parts for projects — at affordable cost (and sometimes free!).

 

The Hackery is also a leader in ethical electronic waste recycling. They employ local people to dismantle equipment right in their Vancouver facility, meaning a smaller carbon footprint. Recycling is done in accordance with the Basel Convention, and they do not ship unprocessed equipment overseas. Best of all, they prioritize repair over recycling whenever possible, reducing the need to  manufacture brand-new equipment; this decreases the environmental and human impact of mining for conflict metals required for electronics.

 

The Hackery also maintains a “Vintage Computer Museum” to preserve obsolete computer equipment for educational and esoteric purposes. Some of their oddities will be on display at this year’s Mini Maker Faire, including a teletype from 1954 and some vintage computers. Come say hello and thank them for helping make this year’s event happen!

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