Category Archives: The Startup Dream

The Startup Dream: Journeying into the heart of San Francisco pt. 3

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We all know those makers who are a few steps ahead of us.

They are producing unbelievably creative prototypes, manufacturing tons of items, and learning cutting-edge skills. They seem to be tapped into an industrial realm of resources and connections that leave the rest of us summing it up by saying, with a sparkle of jealousy: “They got it all figured out.”

But how did they learn those skills? Where did they go and who taught them how?

As a part of a recurring series, we will be following the story of an up-and-coming journalist who has been travelling across the country researching hackerspaces along the way. He has met makers, hackers, entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, engineers, scientists, professors, and various others in-between.

hostel

After spending a few nights at The Adelaide Hostel on the corner of Isadora Duncan Lane, our journalist has decided to seek out friends and family in The Bay area. His clean laptop, electrical chargers, and tie-dye tapestry have all been packed away neatly into a black suitcase; which is then thrown in the trunk of his car. The engine revs up putting the vehicle in motion. Onward towards a home!

The next morning, eggs are gathered from a few free-range chickens in the backyard. Breakfast is cooked for everyone at the house. They fuel up for the day, ready to go wherever the winds of change may take them. For our traveller, his adventure begins at a fabrication studio called TechShop only a few miles away.

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Inside the building are a variety of heavy machines. A tour is given by an acquaintance named Nick who knew the environment quite well. Laser cutters, plastics, electronics, metal working tools, welding stations and water-jet cutters are all found here. There is even a 3D printing company called Type A Machines testing out their new prototypes.

The scene then proceeds nearby to an event hosted by Momentum Machines who was showing off there shiny new hamburger-making robot. Posted on the wall was ‘The Laws of Thought’ by George Boole, LL. D. In the crowd were lots of people including robotics engineer Michael Sudano and an energy-intelligence pioneer. Many others showed up to taste the wine and try the delicious burgers.

Afterwards, the journey continued North to the small town of Cotati. There was an Accordion Festival going on where the Troglodyte Jug band ‘Thee Hobo Gobbelins’ were playing. The after-party was held at a red house over yonder that sat underneath the starry skyline. Lights flickered and creatures of the night walked about outside.

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Conversations of energy surfaced in the morning right before leaving. Little did the journalist know who exactly he was talking to. Eventually, he would figure it out, but only after driving across the country for again for a 2nd time. First he would have to return to Los Angeles to try to find his place among the millions of people there.

The environment he was looking for was located in a warehouse complex called Big Art Labs where two old metro buses where being retrofitted for the food truck industry by the Fojol Bros. They were preparing to travel from LA to DC and invited the journalist along for the ride to help document the experience. His role would change everyday as the trip became wilder and wilder.

2013-08-19_14-05-16_631When ‘The Startup Dream’ returns, we will journey across the country driving through various states encountering many obstacles along the way. There will be flashing lights, elastic highways, and intense fights. 6 people will start the trip, but only a few will make it to the finish line.

 

Article written by @industychanger

This is a continuation from The Startup Dream: Journeying into the heart of San Francisco pt. 2 (of the Startup Dream online series).

 

Links:

The Adelaide Hostel’s website: http://www.adelaidehostel.com/

TechShop’s website: https://twitter.com/techshop

Type A Machines’ website: http://www.typeamachines.com/

Momentum Machine’s website: http://momentummachines.com/

The Laws of Thought’s Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Laws_of_Thought

Accordion Apocalypse’s website: http://www.accordionapocalypse.com/

Thee Hobo Gobbelins’ website: http://www.hobogoblins.com/

Big Art Labs’ website: http://www.bigartlabs.com/bigartlabs_home.html

Story of the Fojol Bros: http://www.brownalumnimagazine.com/content/view/2467/40/

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The Startup Dream: Journeying into the heart of San Francisco pt. 2

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We all know about those hackers that are a few steps ahead of us.

They are aggregating massive amounts of data, setting up security implementations, and figuring out how systems work. They seem to be tapped into a mythical universe of connections that leaves the rest of us summing it up by saying, with a dash of envy: “They are rising hackers. They’ve got it all figured out.”

But how did they get there? What series of events led them here?

As a part of a recurring series, we follow the epic story of a hacker who has been travelling across the country zipping from one hackerspace to the next in search of the startup dream. He has opened up doors just to see what lies behind them. He has met several tech pioneers along the way.

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This week, we find ourselves just outside the infamous building space called Noisebridge ready to see what’s inside.

The door is locked. And there is a camera staring straight at us. Questions of whether to break inside or not occur. It’s mid-afternoon and tons of people are walking around. Will they notice, if a man wearing a black hat starts fidgeting with the lock? It’s better to press the buzzer instead.

Ring…Ring…

“Hello??

You there!
What is your purpose here?”

Good question. Perhaps, it started long ago, eons and eons away. Zillions of atoms plus molecules have spewed all over the universe. Slowly, they collect themselves forming objects of mass and energy like our journeyman who is standing on the street outside. Could this be his purpose? Is he here to unlock the door?

He speaks. He tells the silent man behind the microphone that he has traveled all the way from Florida to be here. Now, all he wants to do is rest inside.

Suddenly, the door opens; a Korean family vacates the premises at that exact moment…Perfect timing.

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As the adventurer moves upstairs, he runs his hands along the wall. Greetings are said while he casually sits down at an open table. Finally, time to do a little coding. His bag is unzipped, and contents are shown within. There are chargers, business cards, clothes, and a little bit of weed that was bought off the street. He needs energy.

But where are the outlets?

 

Zap! Power is gained from the wires manifesting into electricity pumping in from the grid. It completes an integrated circuit, and moments later, a NodeJS server initializes. A connection is made to an already constructed SQL database. There are no security implementations yet, but data starts streaming in anyways [containing information about every building in the city]. There are GPS locations, correlating addresses, and even kilowatt/hour usages for all the individual meters throughout the city.

 

And then, something goes horribly wrong. The system crashes causing the unstable infrastructure to vanish into the air like a subtle sandcastle being beaten down by hurricane force winds. All that’s left now is to pick up the pieces and fashion it together into something new…But what?

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Time flows by. Exhilarating ideas of intertwingularity focuses in. Stomachs grumble. Hunger wanes in.

There are hackers here. Perhaps they have answers. But who is here?

Questions of purpose are asked leading to the story of three people. Two of them drove all the way from Florida. From Miami in fact. Their car sped through I-10 encountering an immigration checkpoint along the way. Another vehicle wandered onto a higher freeway, with a tired driver who was avoiding unfamiliar stretches of territory to the South.

Each roadtrip varied wildly, yet for some, odd reason, both ended up in the same place at the same time.

There are more people here as well. One guy, code-named Pigeon, has acquired a box of vegetables from the street, tossing together a salad for the homeless. He starts the task all alone, but over time, more people gather to help.

Eventually rot was cut off, leaves were washed, and dressing was made.

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And then, out of the corner of the room, entered another hacker. He strolled in quietly under the cover of distraction while the rest pieced together parts from a nearby graveyard. The man was older, but not by much. He looked at the traveller and directly said, “You sir, look like a great leader.”

What? That makes no sense. These two have never met and already he is telling the traveller that he has power within.

“Okay. So what do you do?”

“A lot of things.”

That didn’t help much. The environment felt right though. It was worth a shot trusting him.

“Please, tell me more.”

“Well…I used to be in a secret Atari research group in the late 1980’s. We developed the Star Wars arcade game. I also worked for Robinton Products, Incorporated. Most people have never heard of them, but this company was the pioneer in digital power metering, early portable meter readers, time-of-day power use studies, load shed monitoring/management, all of which were networked together. At first, their meters were not so reliable. But by 1980, they had figured out how to build reliable meters. At this point they started partnering with large meter manufacturers.”

Jackpot. Finally, someone with energy industry experience.

“Cool dude. I also have worked with utility meters. More tracking, and less manufacturing.”

“Nice! You should swing by this accordion festival in Cotati tomorrow. It is where my band ‘Thee Hobo Gobbelins’ will be playing. Come party with us and stay the night. We got music, lovely ladies, and I can tell you more about the energy-intelligence industry.”

“Sounds good. Just have to stop by this other hackerspace called TechShop first and document all the heavy machines. Here’s my number. I’ll let you know when I’m on the way.”

tsNext week, we will learn how to fabricate unimaginably influential prototypes and eat hamburgers made by robots. Come hungry because there will be plenty of sustenance!

 

Article written by @industrychanger

This is a continuation from Journeying into the heart of Francisco pt. 1 (of the Startup Dream online series).

 

Links:

Noisebridge’s Website: https://www.noisebridge.net/

Atari Introduces Star Wars Game: http://www.atarimania.com/mags/pdf/atari-life-volume-2-number-14.pdf

Patents by Robinton Products, Inc: http://patents.justia.com/assignee/robinton-products-inc

Thee Hobo Gobbelins’ Website: http://www.hobogoblins.com/

Thee Hobo Gobbelins’ Twitter: https://twitter.com/HoboGobbelins

TechShop’s Website: http://techshop.ws/

The Startup Dream: Journeying into the heart of San Francisco pt. 1

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We all know of those startups that are a few steps ahead of us.

They are getting featured in news articles, speaking at tech events, getting multi-million dollar investments, and seem to be tapped into that mythical network of social connections that brings them one step closer to the startup dream. The rest of us sum it up by saying, with a tingle of envy: “They are rising entrepreneurs. They got it all figured out.”

But how did they get there?

As a part of a recurring series, we will be following the epic story of an entrepreneur who has been travelling across the country jumping from one hackerspace to the next in search of the startup dream. He has seen the transformation of an idea into a full-fledge company many times. His experiences have been chronicled through photos, videos, and scribbled notes, which shows the progression of the hackerspace culture all while documenting the success stories of many startups aggregating around these unique co-working spaces.

This week, we dive into the interconnected world of San Francisco where our traveler finds himself visiting several tech communities of creative and innovative people.

hackerdojo

It’ all starts during a bright and sunny day in Mountain View, California. There are cars everywhere filling up all the parking spots in the lot and every inch of space on the street, except for one little area off to the side. This allows for a dark car to roll up smoothly and snatch that last spot positioning itself on the outside of a co-working startup environment code-named The Hacker Dojo.

Inside the doors are dozens of individuals sitting in leather chairs and at organized tables busily typing out code for their budding startup ideas. They hope to find a co-founder here, or perhaps someone to invest money into them. They work with 3D printers and play on pool tables. Mounds of Columbian coffee helps to keep the energy focused on the tasks at hand. This gives them the necessary motivation to stay up at odd hours programming databases and various software solutions. The scene is mostly quiet here, as people wait for something big to happen.

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Just then, tires screech and rubber hits the floor. That black Toyota Camry that took the last parking space peels out into the road driving sporadically towards the freeway. The driver knows that there is something going on just a few miles north; near the decrepit streets of the open air Mission market. He slides into a parking garage, pays for the fee, and ventures out onto the noisy sidewalk causally strolling passed drug dealers and bloodied butchers.

As our journeyman loses track of time, he stumbles up to a locked door. Behind it lies the infamous hackerspace called Noisebridge where eccentric hackers gather to take apart old computers and build something new. They come from all over the world to experience this founding member in the maker movement.

But why? What makes this place so special?

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Next week, we will continue our travels and explore what is behind the Noisebridge door. We will run into goblins, accordions, and heavy machines. Prepare yourself, for it will be quite the adventure!

 

Article written by @industrychanger

 

Links:

Hacker Dojo’s Website: http://www.hackerdojo.com/

The Noisebridge wiki: https://www.noisebridge.net/