by ada fruit, engineering at adafruit industries on Jun 05, 2009
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so for the last year we've been talking open source hardware and watching that progress...there are more and more open source hardware projects, to the extent that you can get venture funding now for ...
so for the last year we've been talking open source hardware and watching that progress...there are more and more open source hardware projects, to the extent that you can get venture funding now for OSH (ie buglabs)
one thing we only mention briefly, is the business model of how this works
i started my OS hardware business 'formally' in 2005, after seeing the proliferation of MP3 player projects online that were backed with webshops (such as jelu.se)
a lot of my friends, seeing that my business is sustainable/profitable have asked me
"limor, how can *i* get the wealth i deserve using the internet?"
i believe that every good business starts 'by accident', but here are some hints that may help you know if its accident time
a) theres only one of you - starting a biz with more than one person is exponentially more difficult and complex
b) you have a current job (or are coming out of school) with 'middle class' income
c) you are very computer literate & the internet does not scare you
start organically, only get what you need not what you want - this will get you thru the unpleasant first part
1) you will need some skillset that can be allayed into a product. i have no idea what it is that is. think of what you like to do. for me its electrical engineering
2) think of a name 'brand' for you/your company. this doesnt have to be crazy insane like SuperMegaTronixLLCinc. It could be your name! (Kip Kay/Ben Heck) or your handle from hax0ring days (ladyada)...whatever, just pick something. you can pick a 'logo' but id wait
TIME: 1 week
WHY: you want to be remembered
3) register a domain name - do this first because man it sucks if you cant get what you want cause some jerk snagged it and has trannie porn links on it. the domain name does not have to be short but it should be memorable (sparkfun, hackaday, instructables)
google the name, make sure theres nothing out there that will be confusing. do a trademark search as well (this is free). get the .com, .net and .org but you can skip the .info, .biz if you're short on cizzash.
this is something you will have choose on your own. cycle thru #2 and #3 until you're happy
TIME: less than a week
COST: you can register domains for really cheap, lets say $15-$20 each, so $50 on ave
WHY: if you cant be found you cant sell something
4a) file a DBA. you most likely do not need to LLC or incorperate. DBAs let you do business under your chosen name instead of your given one. they are very very easily, do it by mail or in person. costs maybe $40
4b) open a bank account under your DBA, a free checking account. you'll be writing checks!
4c) get a credit card under your DBA name, if you have the credit, get one with rewards or cashback.
4d) go to the library and read every relevant book by Nolo press
TIME: 1 week
WHY: you can do business under your company name!
5) get, borrow a digital camera, and some bright lightbulbs. i have an SD200 it was $200 4 years ago. seriously, do not go crazy here, you will not take significantly better photos with a SLR. however, you cant use a webcam. build a simple lightbox (using a diffusing gel)
WHY: a good photo will be used over and over and over again
6) make a lot of stuff. the only way to 'get good' is to make a lot of stuff. dont tell people about the failures (yet). get maybe 4-5 projects under your belt. purchase everything related to your biz on the bank account/credit card. this makes your bookkeeping hella easier than 'receipts in a box'. hopefully you've done some of this. take lots and lots of photos of progress.
TIME: 2-12 months
WHY: to get experience building things
7) Take very nice photos of your one-off projects. spend a few hours. take many many photos. find good photos of pictures online to get a sense of what is good. Do not take just pictures of just a circuit board, there is nothing more horrifying than a photo of a PCB. take photos of your project
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