It Takes A Village…Or, The Local Community To Build A Successful Company (Especially If You’re Working From A 3DP Business Plan…)

At This Early Stage Of The 3DP Revolution, The “Maker” Route To Startup Triumph May Be The Most Effective Means To Assure Entrepreneurial Success—BUT, Regardless The Path, This Should NOT Be A Solo Trip: Better The Startupper Teams With Every Hyperlocal Power-Center Available To Her or Him…

Let’s contemplate the new eCottage Industry model of hyperlocal, human-scaled and Techreative-skilled (see below) manufacturing. That is: 3DP/DigiFab-based Maker makes good by creating a new, successful and growing product-producing organization. Atoms (things) not digits (thoughts).

Not incidentally, this vibrant enterprise promises to enhance its home Community in many ways. The most important being job creation. (And, a job IS the most effective economic development tool…)

So, it behooves every Community—Ultra-Urban to Ex-Urban—to foster 3DP-driven eCottage Industry. That is whether the eCottage enterpriser is:

  • an entrepreneur by nature or predilection;
  • a sole-proprietor bent on bigger things;
  • an artist or artisan selling creativity by the 10s or 1000s;
  • an existing small-biz intent on ramp-up; or
  • our paradigm here: the 3DP/DigiFab Maker.

This last is most likely a Techreative-honcho’d, micro-producing startup with CNC (Computer Numerical Control) scale and scope built into its DNA for eventual macro-development.

(Oh yeah: “Techreative”—that individual who is both creatively inclined and/or empowered AND possessed of an understanding or expertise in digital technology. E.g., the driving force behind Brooklyn’s continued growth in tech-based and creatively engined startups. ALSO: the hybrid sensibility that enables successful 3DP commerce…)

S0—to assure high-levels of commercial achievement—the 3DP startup-fostering “Village” or community needs to develop a Collaborative Home-Team.

The impetus to build this Team can come from hyperlocal leadership. Or, a node on a nascent neighborhood network. Or, it might be coalesced and/or launched with the help of an outside organization with common-good intent—and a concrete vision and/or proven system on which to model support structures and on-going operations.

What hyperlocal organizations (and regional networks with local-node focus) might make up this success-supporting Collaborative Home-Team for fostering 3DP-startups in our hypothetical “Village”—your local community?

Here’s our current list of appropriate players (depending on your goals, mandate, resources, geography and/or community size, this list will need customization to your specific needs):

First, start with local Economic Development Organization (EDO) empowerment. These are the folks at the development organizations whose job it is to support and enhance local businesses (from Chambers of Commerce to merchant-block organizations). Leaders at progressive EDOs are beginning to recognize 3DP as a re-industrializing force at a local level. You can gain entree by helping to educate EDOs in the commercial and common-good possibilities of 3DP.

Second, look to the education systems. These are natural allies to the new—especially within the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) disciplines. AND, remember to evolve this acronym into STE(A)M: the “A” stands for Art & Design. (See the “Techreative” explication above.) Steve Jobs recognized that Design was the new Engineering—and the business leavening and  market differentiator of choice at Jobs-triumphant Apple. Your education player/partners can be found at K-12 systems (particularly enlightened middle-school teachers!), community colleges and local State university-system campuses.

Third, your local library. Libraries everywhere have two important assets. (A) Local public physical-space and (B) the new need to stay relevant. Printed books are less important and new tech knowledge systems (think 3DP) are more important. Desktop 3D printing needs the access-space and questing communities that libraries inherently deliver. Our local repositories of knowledge are already dealing in online databases, e-books and Internet access. 3DP is the next logical offering for library constituencies.

Fourth, your local digi-hobbyists, e-tinkers, gamers, makers, hackers and other digitally driven DIYers for fun (and possible/probable profit). The Internet has empowered an underground of digitally savvy people who start out playing with accessible technology. The can DIY (Do-It-Yourself) it AND now DIT it. “DIT” is Do-It-Together. This is the Maker ethos. Teach one another. Everything in 3DP/DigiFab is new. EVERYONE needs to learn. Sharing knowledge for the common-good is their common mode. Find your local Maker space, club, center, etc. You’ll be welcomed…

Fifth, Governments. From Town Hall to the Feds. Enlightened government administrations—at every level—are beginning to recognize the worth of 3DP. Start hyperlocal: your mayor’s office or town manager. Again, the elected astute and attuned are grasping that some of these DigiFabbers are beginning to build local businesses… At the very least, some of these politicians will seek to learn from YOU. Hey, you could drive your hyperlocal government’s education in 3DP: not a bad position to be in…if you’re either commercially or commonweal inclined. OR, both. And, then there are the State and Federal players. (If you’re in New York City, you’re blessed with City, State and Federal officials who are awakening to the 3DP economic-development opportunities you represent.)

Sixth, your local manufacturing base. Stuff is still made almost everywhere. Even if you’ve never really noticed. Customized offerings, short runs, re-manufacturing, artisanal products, one-offs, ethnic/cultural creations, jobbers, startups, etc. All these players and more will need 3DP. In fact: they’ll be demanding it. Your business could empower their businesses with 3DP/DigiFab orientation, knowledge, training, operational support, design, CAD/CAM file creation and actual production—on site or as a sub…

I’m intent on continuing to expand this list!

So, C’mon Back!



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