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Author Topic: Funding Open Source hardware - OSHW Economy?  (Read 428 times)
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Well I'm not sure where to post this, since it's not really an exhibition (yet), nor a workshop (for just Arduino like stuff), but it's sort of like a "if you're in the NYC area and want to hang out and talk Open Source hardware financial" theory and ideas kind of note...

A while back I built the Illuminato with Chris and Mike, and got some help from a few friends who pitched in to help fund enough quantity that it would be cheap for everyone. Mostly, though, there was one friend who pitched in almost half of the funding. Ever since then, I've been trying to figure out the best way to get organized to build another batch.

This coming Tuesday Feb 24, Justin, Mike, Mark, Chris, and I are going to get together to talk about structuring an Open Source economy type model for how to fund Illuminatos. However, if something works out, I suppose it would probably work for other projects too?

Anyway, in the meantime, I'm going to use this space here to post updates... and any materials that come out of it... it's going to be at:

Tuesday, Feb 24
8 PM
Famous Ray's
831 7th Ave (between 53rd and 54th)
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Matt
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I'll be coming from Connecticut!
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Ha ha... you don't count.

Anyway, I just got a few emails, so it looks like it's up to between 9 and 12 people now... ok, the rest will go on an update on the blog. But email me at inthebitz if you're interested too, or want the materials ahead of time?
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Matt
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I dunno.  "open source" hardware doesn't need to mean that you sell stuff "at cost."  To do that, you have to essentially either have people pre-pay, or have a "nest egg" big enough to cover at least one full "batch", and both of these have their problems.

In a traditional business, your prices would be high enough to build up that "nest egg" on the company-wide basis, so that over time you'd have plenty to do the next batch, not to mention paying yourself a salary.  I don't think that anyone expects "open source" hardware to have a significantly different funding model, just a sort of "escape clause" where the customer gets to say "You don't offer the deal I'm looking for so I'm going to build them myself! (MY labor is free (hobbyist/student/etc) and I'm not willing to pay your salary instead.)"
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I agree with westfw.  We had this kind of discussion while working on the Freeduino project.  Open Source Hardware is one thing, and economy of scale is another complete different thing.  It is very easy to achieve one or the other.  There are many companies "funding" open source hardware projects, like Sparkfun, Adafruit, Smart Projects (Arduino) and many others.  Is difficult to engage all the constituents of the value chain into this model using the "at cost" approach, as there are many hidden costs when you are bringing products to end users.  There is nothing bad in paying yourself a salary while contributing to open source.  What matters is the VALUE you bring to the end user.  Once you demonstrate the VALUE, you will have all the parties knocking your door.

Just my 2 cents...
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Perhaps a little late, but you may find this presentation relevant (in terms of business models anyway):

https://fossbazaar.org/content/david-rowe-open-hardware-business-models
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