(The original Chinese version of this post was written by Mr. Owen Ou and published on MakerPRO)
We all know that it is often a long, winding path for many singers to release their own albums. But what if we compare makers to singers? Do they share any similarities that can help shed lights on the process of turning ideas into actual products?
The love for singing is often something that we are born with, and there are many different ways for us to satisfy our urge to see, whether it’s humming to ourselves, singing at a karaoke or attending singing contests. For one to become a famous singer, it often takes the combination of capacity, efforts, and luck. However, at least he or she does not need to found a company in order to become a singer.
In fact, while the entertainment industry puts most of the spotlights on singers, their success are often made up of the supports from multiple different professionals, from lyric writing, songwriting, melody arrangement to marketing. Imagine every support system like this exists to support the singer to perform well on the stage. These support systems don’t just exist in the entertainment industry. Every writer, athlete or even artist all have such support systems behind them.
Nowadays, the most common way for makers to enter the market is founding their own businesses, which means becoming startups. However, the transition from creating interesting prototypes to founding a business means makers have to go through some stark changes. Founding a business means they have to put more serious issues like business operation into consideration while prototype making is more casual. So if a maker thinks that his or her prototype is good enough to be rolled out in the market, can he or she still keep the “maker’s mindset?”
There is a chance that he or she can still retain the maker’s mindset, but it will require a support system that lets makers keep being makers. Imagine if makers all had agents, that were responsible for connecting them to design experts and solving the problem of rolling prototypes out in the market. They might even have people who help them to shoot promotional videos, write fundraise materials, and arrange tours to different Makerspaces. A lot of these efforts are about building images and fundraising for the next product.
Of course, each product needs to reach certain sales number to be able to keep this ball rolling. The idea of reaching certain sales number often does not just depend on the products, but the combination of investment and products. Investors may need to support ten to twenty products before the sales number is large enough to open up a market of their own.
In the startup community, there is something similar called “accelerator.” The idea is accelerators have a system that can help startups mature their businesses in a short period of time, and they will also invest in them to obtain a portion of their stocks. They won’t just invest in a few startups because they want to locate the real gem by largely investing in different types of startups. Since accelerators are founded on the basis of investing in businesses, if this model is transplanted to the maker community, whose members may not be interested in founding businesses, then no matter how great their products are, this model still won’t work.
So, the maker community needs its own special system to sustain it. For example, it can integrate different resources through a platform that is dedicated to the maker community. The funneling of these resources can make up the deficiencies of individual makers, and use the platform to test the market feasibility of their products.
The analogy above is only a hypothesis, it may work, and it may not work, but we will only know the result until we try. In fact, no matter it is maker economy, shared economy or crowdfunding, in order for them to show the willingness to support individual creativity, they all need to develop support systems. Otherwise, they might just all be washed away by the mainstream economy over time.