The Economic Impact Of The Maker Movement

How is 3D printing, together with other technologies in the maker movement enabling creativity, and entrepreneurship? Mark Hatch, CEO of TechShop, shares some astonishing numbers: in the Bay Area, TechShop catalyzed $10B in shareholder value, $2B in annual sales, $200M in annual salaries, created by members.

“We are living in an era where you can go through your own personal industrial revolution in ninety days. You can come to a TechShop, take twenty to thirty classes, spend ten hours a day, and in ninety days you are going to be able to go from not knowing how to make anything, to knowing how to make almost anything.

And what happens when you get a group of like a thousand people that are doing that, you fundamentally change the economics in the city. So what’s happened in the Bay Area? Ten billion dollars in shareholder value, two billion dollars in annual sales, two hundred million dollars in annual salaries have been created by members who have come in and picked up the skills that they needed to start a business or to start an educational institution or to pursue their dreams.

We are living in a completely new era. It’s been completely unknown to man, until literally just the last four-five years. We are part of the maker movement, and it’s really a grassroots, ground-up kind of activity, where individuals start to realize these are the things I need to understand, these are the tools that I need access to. So they reach out and they get the particular thing that they need. There is no hierarchy that says that in order for you to be an engineer, you have to take these many classes in engineering, these many classes in French, these many classes in world history. You don’t have to do that anymore! You can go to a TechShop or a General Assembly, or you can go on to MOOC, and you can get the minimum amount of information you need to move your project to the next stage. That’s very much personally driven, and you own it yourself.

The primary issue is that people have never heard of them. They don’t know what it is. They’ve never visited them. What they imagine, and what it actually is is radically different. And so I need more people to actually visit the locations, to see the videos, to see what it is. That’s one, because it is completely different than anything that they’ve seen before. And the next one is access to capital. It takes ten million dollars over five years to get one up and running, and thriving in a major metropolitan area.

We have three primary funding entities: it’s either a major educational institution, like Arizona State University in Phoenix, or soon Wichita, or Washington University, or Dublin City University, or the Technical University of Munich. These are five universities that we are engaged with. Or it is a major corporation like Ford Motor Company, who’s seen a one hundred percent increase in high quality patentable ideas because they put a TechShop next to their facilities. Or it’s a government entity, like the Veteran’s Administration in collaboration with General Electric, who helped to fund our two locations in Pittsburg and DC.

Let’s change the world!”