It Takes A Village to Support a Maker

It Takes A Village to Support a Maker

In 2013, six teams were selected as Next Top Makers to receive mentorship and support. At the end of the four-month Studio Program, PowerClip, a device that provides an efficient and inexpensive power source to recharge devices with a USB, took home $11,000 to continue iterating on their product. PowerClip, developed by students from NYU’s ITP program, allows first responders to immediately access power in the wake of an emergency. We spent some time catching up with one of PowerClip’s co-founders Surya Mattu to hear about his experience with the Next Top Makers program, what they are up to today and to see if they had any advice for other hardware Makers in NYC.

powerclip

K: Where did the idea of PowerClip come from?

S: Powerclip came out of the Design For Unicef class at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program(ITP). We had presented our product to a group at UNICEF and also at NY Tech Meetup. At both places we received good feedback and were encouraged to keep developing the project.

K: What was most useful from last year’s Next Top Makers program?

S: Through Next Top Makers we were introduced to our mentor David Armour.  David is the Chief City Executive for New York City for Siemens and he understood our situation well and helped us (and still helps us) tackle some of the toughest questions one faces when starting a new business. Along with David, NTM provided us with a wealth of resources from design and business experts to government agencies all of which helped us refine our product and really think about our target market and why we wanted to make this product.

K: Why is NYC magical for hardware startups?

S: The variety of people you have access to in this city is amazing. From business heads to injection moulding experts, artists and everything in between. The energy and network of the people in NYC is amazing and being here definitely catalysed our process.

K: Where is PowerClip today as a result of participating in Next Top Makers?

S: Over the last year we have made more progress with PowerClip. Post NTM, we received funding from UNICEF to further develop the product. Through that partnership we got a chance to test it in the field and get some real world feedback on how it’s used. With the lessons learned from that experience we found ways to improve the design and teamed up with Brooklyn Research a BK based  studio  to make a new, more robust device. We’re currently in pre-production mode, and before we complete our first run we are focusing our attention on distribution and marketing: identifying how will reach our earliest consumers.

K: If you could tell a hardware entrepreneur one piece of advice, what would it be? S: Iterate, iterate, iterate. Get your product into the hands of people who know nothing about it as soon as possible and see how they use it. In software the basic interaction is something users are  already familiar with whereas the interaction with a new piece of hardware often has more nuanced design challenges. Be prepared to know that what you think is your product today, will very likely change as you go through New York’s Next Top Makers.

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What we, as the Operations Team behind Next Top Makers, have learned from the PowerClip journey is that it takes an entire community to develop a product. NYCEDC is committed to convening this community through New York’s Next Top Makers. We are looking forward to applyin gthe learning from 2013 Next Top Makers, recruiting an amazing applicant pool, an expanding the Studio Incubation Program from four to 12 months, and engaging with an entire ecosystem of New Yorkers to help New York’s Next Top Makers thrive. Stay tuned…and tell Makers you know to apply!

A look back at PowerClip’s journey:

Design for UNICEF class @ NYU’s ITP   —>   presented to UNICEF & NY Tech Meetup   —>   applied to New York’s Next Top Makers   —>   mentored by David Armour, the Chief City Executive for NYC @ Siemens   —>   bootcamped with Brian Shields   —>   shared challenges and successes with other Makers   —>   completed Next Top Makers program   —>   received UNICEF Funding   —>   currently refining design with Brooklyn Research   —>  It really does take an entire village (or an ecosystem)!

This post originally appeared on www.nexttopmakers.com/blog on 8/19/14.

Katey Metzroth

About Katey Metzroth

Katey leads New York's Next Top Makers, a program by NYCEDC, which supports NYC-based independent product designers to establish and grow their businesses in the city. Katey is also part of the Internet Freedom team at SecondMuse which focuses on localization and need-finding efforts to make Internet Freedom tools more accessible to users around the world. Before SecondMuse, Katey helped launch a prize at the Wharton school for social innovators. Prior to that, Katey guided NYC's digital strategy firm, Sarkissian Mason, to incorporate social impact into their business model. Katey participated in Philly's first ever Random Hacks of Kindness event and her team developed PhillySNAP to connect food stamp beneficiaries with farmers' markets through a simple text message. Katey holds an MA from Georgetown and the UNSAM in Buenos Aires.

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