For a while now, there has been an effort underway to drive innovation through maker-spaces. I must admit that the excitement of it was generally lost on me. Each time I would hear of one, it conjured up images of small 3d printers as big as an old fax machine. As someone focused on the intersection of technology, data, and media, it just did not resonate.
So, today the bell went off…. I attended the opening ceremony for The Foundery, because the founder and CEO is a great guy that I have known for a long time, and I went there to support him. The Foundery is a membership model incubator for physical goods – from textiles, to big iron, to basically anything physical. It has been funded as a venture of Kevin Plank’s Sagamore Ventures. Sure, there were racks and racks of tools, and massive wet plasma cutters, and welding stations galore. What had not been in my calculus was that you could join and know nothing, but receive the education that would have to come with building hard goods. Seeing it all in person, and getting a better understanding of what one could learn, immediately got my creative juices flowing. And that says the founder, “is the point”.
It turns out when you combine the technology company incubator model, top talent (like a blacksmith in residence), structured education programs, and access to some of the best technology available to build products – there is a bolt of lightening. And, for an industrial city, this means striking out on one’s own an approachable path not just for tech oriented types and software engineers, but for middle class and blue collar workers as well. Imagine if it was as easy for a machinist or carpenter to build a new product prototype, as it is for an engineer to connect to the Amazon Cloud.
That is really something. I salute Kevin, Tom, and Demian for supporting this vision, and Jason Hardebeck for bringing his dream to fruition today.