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Fab Business

16. June 2010

How can we offer the expertise that is available in the various Fab Labs (e.g. Vigram Ashram = agriculture).  Do we need a business model for it?

Eddie: Access to the world-wide network is a commodity; accessing it for companies could really be sold at a price. Capabilities should be assessed, availability and cost; matrix.

Klaas: sceptical; there is a lot of value in the people. Brokering between people is a value. Problem: the network is very organic, lightly structured. We need a global approach, but unclear who would run it.

Example of 100k garages -- how are they organized? 

Commercial company would come with a commercial request for knowledge; as opposed to free use (= make things for themselves and willing to share). 

What would we need -- two approaches: 1. database of competencies 2. twitter #demand and #offer tags

This is somewhat disconnected from the question whether it is for free or commercial use. Getting free support is typically not a problem, that was the experience of the last times we had this.

Coming back to the question of web presence.  Monitoring for abuse and to be responsive quickly did not really work since it was done by students. Forums, by topic, with a moderator each. When site was moved to a new server, the forums disappeared.

Reference directory with competencies and contacts.

How to manage a community:

1. everybody’s own responsibility to update own profiles 2. burden when it comes to multiple languages (and multiple platforms)

Maybe we need to add a few rules, e.g. you have to be an active member of the community.


Collaboration with Ponoko [... here it was hard to understand, so missing bits ...] they seem to have some rules ... collaboration with Ponoko could conflict with the ‘open’ requirement. Ponoko also take a share of each transaction; straight forward business model.

Centralized business platform = more production / distribution system. Income from products is wasting too much of a Fab Lab’s time, and Fab Lab equipment is not designed for mass production. It would be better to use an existing production service provider such as Ponoko. Akvo.org is a platform to post and pledge for funding for projects.

Show success individually and share it with the community.

How does a local person to get their idea heard globally, and could that be business for the local person. Manchester is holding events to bring together Fab Labers and manufacturing companies to try match them up (proposals to companies).

How would we implement an idea? Maybe through Fab Fund, or putting together a business plan. We have not tried to go after one thing.

Proposal to address the idea at Fab6. Proposal to have regional “community managers” who keep an eye on what is going on.

Examples of platforms: - crowdsourcing: Starmind.com - Ponoko etc. - Akvo.org