Our first 3D printing run was completed today at the Makerhaus in Seattle. Dane Roth (on right holding sign) designed the parts in Autodesk Inventor software we received through the Autodesk Clean Tech Partners Program. We used a Makerbot to produce the prototype parts for the USB Hydropower Battery. Parts include the can body, internal structure, rotor, and end cap. The effort took two days, with the Makerbot chugging away for a night while we slept. All the parts were made in one setup. Total cost was under $170 for the materials and assistance. That’s just crazy cheap for what we get. We love “Maker” tech!
This weekend I went with my wife Annette to San Diego and Tijuana and Tecate in Baja Norte, Mexico to check out potential suppliers. We expect to manufacture our Hydrobee batteries there. The “maquiladora” factories of northern Mexico have become very advanced and produce high-quality electronic and other products such as power tools. They also have rapid prototyping abilities.
This came about due a lucky encounter with Dr. Eric Rasmussen at ImpactHub Seattle. Eric is a global expert in disaster response and a senior advisor to FEMA. Now he also manages a private USA-Mexico partnership providing prototyping and manufacturing services in Mexico for humanitarian technologies. Eric arranged for me to meet his Tijuana partners from Innovatio and we had a great meeting in San Diego. Next day we went across the border to see three firms. One does fast prototyping, another does more assembly, and another is a logistics and business services provider. We have not made any decisions yet but clearly everything we need is right there, only a few hours from San Diego.
Below I am talking with the managers in two of the companies. In central picture, the background has silicon mold ovens. Plastic parts can be quickly prototyped using these molds.
In addition to a great informative business trip, it was Annette’s birthday and we went dancing on Friday night in Tijuana. Happy birthday, love!
Hydrobee SPC goes to camp! The Fledge Accelerator in Seattle is a 10-week program for “conscious companies serving conscious customers”. 9 or 10 start-ups are invited to participate in a competitive selection. This year there were 99 applications from 26 countries. Hydrobee SPC has been accepted and class started today.
The class is run by Michael “Luni” Libes, a successful serial entrepreneur who is on a mission to help people follow his new book, “The Next Step: Guiding you from idea to startup.” There are lectures and mentors every week, a steady stream of great events, and lots of other entrepreneurs sharing the space in the Impact Hub Seattle building. Check out their website, it’s a gorgeous work environment full of amazing people and organizations.
A typical day for me at the Impact Hub and Fledge starts with an express bus ride downtown, nearly door-to-door. That’s critical because parking in downtown Seattle is over $30 a day if you don’t arrive real early. In the morning our mentor Luni gives a presentation following the chapters in his book. The presentations are free online. The group has weekly problem-solving lunches that often are great brainstorming sessions. In the afternoons a great group of mentors come by and work with us on our concepts and plans. The program ends on November 21 and Demo Day, where our “class” stands on stage to give our business “pitch”. If you are in Seattle area this is a great event, over 200 people came for the last program’s Demo Day. Includes lunch, please come if you are a fan of Hydrobee and in town.
The companies accepted into Fledge receive a small equity investment of $12,000 from Fledge LLC. So, we have our first investors, we have to make them successful too! That’s the realistic definition of sustainable business: You are making twice as much profit as your competitors.
Dane Roth, co-founder and VP Design and Development, has been producing great designs for our Hydrobee and Streambee using Autodesk software. We received a grant of this software from the Autodesk Clean Tech Partners Program.
Dane is a certified Autodesk instructor and used the software at our previous company Hydrovolts to design hydrokinetic turbines. Autodesk has been a fantastic partner for us. The software is just amazing. Dane does not need much technical assistance 🙂 but we always need promotion assistance and Autodesk has helped us get a lot of attention.
Here is the Streambee body holding the Hydrobee USB turbine battery. It will charge fully in 2-4 hours in a stream or river depending on the water speed.
Anyone designing “clean tech” products should make every effort to become an Autodesk Clean Tech Partner. They offer lots of training and its not hard to get started. We are looking forward to a very productive partnership with them.
The Seattle Angel Conference happens twice a year and is a competition among early-stage companies for a few presentation slots in front of several hundred investors. We have applied and made it to the quarter-finals, so will be given them our 3-minute quick pitch on October 1. The SAC website has a lot of great information for early stage companies that seek angel funds.
Seattle has one of the world’s great communities for start-up companies. Microsoft and Amazon and numerous other giant firms based here have made thousands of millionaires who have launched thousands of new businesses, and many of them can afford to mentor new entrepreneurs and help them along. Seattle has more classes and events for learning how to launch a company than one person can attend. The Northwest Entrepreneur Network is the best single source to learn what’s going on. There are also several incubators such as 9Mile Labs focused on B2B software and cloud technologies, and SURF Incubator for digital entrepreneurs. For people making physical stuff, the Makerhaus and Jigsaw Renaissance are shared workspaces with wood and metal shops, electronics, 3D printing, and laser cutting.
We at Hydrobee are based in ImpactHub Seattle, participating in the Social Impact Fast Pitch as well as Seattle Angel Conference contest, and we are using Makerhaus to make our initial prototype products. The value added is really high. These resources are really inexpensive, a few hundred dollars a month total. That’s the beauty and huge competitive advantage of building a core of start-up assistance organizations – quickly they stimulate even more resources and events, which attracts more entrepreneurs, which creates more demand for resources and events! Anyone interested in promoting more innovation in their own city should study what is going on here in Seattle. We are immensely grateful for the help we have received and will receive.