Why I Took My Startup to Maker Faire
Why Maker Faire?
Maker Faire is an international series of events that celebrate technology, arts and crafts, engineering, and the Do-It-Yourself culture. This was a great way to speak to creative and curious people who have a genuine interest in making cool stuff with their own hands and the ideal place to spread the word about SAM. Our company created the ultimate electronics kit for inventors, artists and students, allowing tinkers and aspiring makers to get involved in electronics. You can start creating without learning coding first.
This year at Maker Faire NYC we received three Editor's Choice Awards in recognition of the simplicity of SAM and the easy access it gives to technology. The judges were looking for innovation, impact and sincerity, and found it all in SAM. We believe it's important for startups to explore niche events like Maker Faire if they're appropriate to your product or service.
The SAM Idea
At SAM Labs, our mission is to make learning electronics and coding accessible and rewarding to a wide range of people.
We created a system that rewards the user as soon as they manage to get something working—even if it's very simple— but still supports them as they continue to learn and delve into more complex stuff. Rewards make us persevere and reach places that we didn't think we could reach.
The goal behind the SAM project is to simplify technology to reach people beyond the Maker Movement and beyond those people who already have an affinity for technology and engineering. We want to engage a broad swath of people in a fun and rewarding way and bring them up-to-speed and up-to-date in our world where technology is becoming increasingly pervasive.
Power to the People
Engineers often forget they live in a microcosm and spend a lot of time, resources, and energy improving systems that already exist. We believe they could have a much greater impact by spending the same amount of energy applying these pre-existing systems to different fields in a novel way. This requires a human-centric approach, which is commonly the domain of designers and creatives.
That core idea – giving designers and creatives the power of engineers – was the genesis of SAM. Our goal is to give people the tools to make impactful, technologically innovative projects regardless of whether they've been technically trained as engineers or not.
We believe there is no dichotomy between learning and innovation, and therefore SAM is a continuously teaching, supportive and safe tool for all creators, regardless of their aptitude.
The SAM experience transitions from basic to complex seamlessly and is supportive throughout.
As engineers, it's important for us that the user doesn't feel short-changed after having reached a basic or intermediate level, forcing her to buy either new equipment or a different kit all together. This is why we've integrated software modules, wirelessness, and the code view editor.
It's been a lot of work so far, but we're coming up on a major milestone: the first SAM kits will ship in March 2015. We've been fortunate that the SAM idea has resonated with so many people—our Kickstarter campaign was fully funded in less than 3 days and we've just surpassed $130,000 in pre-orders.
Think Outside the Tradeshow
We'd absolutely recommend Maker Faire for other startups in the maker/tinkerer spacer, since they'll meet like-minded people and get an idea of how receptive the community is towards their vision. Over the next few months SAM will participate in workshops with fashion/design/product students, hackathons and host workshops in primary schools. Outreach events like these and Maker Faire are crucial to the SAM mission and vision. Ask yourself what kind of events or programs would make sense for your start up, and think beyond the tradeshow!