This post is the last progress report, aka. “horrible clarity” for this year of 2013 – and the first one for the coming 2014. The end of the year tends to inspire people, as deadlines usually do too. Hard to shake off the “I’m older one year, what happened during that time?” feeling. Thus besides the regular review, let’s do a yearly one as well at the end of the post.
Learned last week
Upon recommendation, I finished reading Making Ideas Happen, which struck me as an interesting mix of GettingThingsDone+Evernote+Sparkfiles, though it pulls together a lot of extra experience, and while it doesn’t feel too deep, it does inspire. Filled quite a few pages of notes, and have a dual conviction of I’m on the right path with what I’m doing, and that there are a bunch of things I want to do. When being in it for the long run, this kind of things do matter.
Had a discussion with an electronics developer friend, who does digital designs, as well as partnering with a factory here in Taiwan to produce circuits. Apparently if I have a circuit schematics, turning it into a PCB is about 38,000TWD (~1300USD) and printing 10 pieces of it is another 12,000TWD (~400USD). That’s a good figure to know, even if at this point I cannot afford it, so going to have to work around that. Especially because no “development” is included in this, so if I have errors in my schematics, I’ll have errors in the prints too.
Been reading the scientific papers describing the first product I’m considering for implementation. I have a better feeling what it involves, while I don’t think I’m much closer to the physical implementation. Need more sweat put into that. This topic also started a thought for an adjustment for the business model – instead of being the Adafruit of scientific instruments, could it be more of the Etsy of sci-inst?
From my network I got contacts to a shirt printing company in the US that seem very interesting. Following up with them as well, as closure on this project would definitely raise the morals, and would give me some tangible effects to ascertain that “I’m here”.
Had a very fruitful discussion at The Entrepreneurs Society of Taiwan about the idea to crowdsource the business on IndieGoGo, though it mostly turned into ideas about where to register a business (HK, BVI, Cayman Islands, Singapore instead of Taiwan). Since the stakes are unknown to me as a first-time founder, it’s hard to make an informed decision. The advice coming from seasoned entrepreneurs is certainly something to consider, while I feel it could be useful to send my limited mental bandwidth on elsewhere in the business development. Taking notes and letting it brew in the back-brain for a bit longer.
I feel I need to know more my environment, thus want to make a survey of local researchers (physics, electronic engineering, and maybe other related fields) within Taiwan. Those who I don’t know yet, I should get in touch over email, and preferably in person as well. Foreign researchers are also important to know, though that can be delayed, unless I can come up with really good reasons why jump abroad already. This would serve as an important platform for collaboration.
Do the schematic layout of the electronics board I’m considering building, and if possible, a naive PCB. Put all of these on the wiki, and that would serve as a stepping stone and a basis to reach out to people about it. I have to show I’m doing something not just talking. Theory is that invested work and open sharing (open source everything) encourages people to contribute.
Finish some kind of shirt printing, either in Taiwan or from abroad, even just a few copies. Make them business cards finally.
To see if I would be a good teacher, talker, presenter, I’m preparing a science workshop for the 2nd week of January about the physics of 3D printers at the Taipei Hackerspace. Have to put in the work to actually (re)learn the relevant physics. It should be fun for sure.
Taking that idea even grander, I’m considering organizing a conference about scientific instruments. No concrete plans, but here are the lines I’m thinking along: do it in Taiwan for the local community, though in English; pick narrow enough topic to be able to pick good talks; engage both professors (probably physics and EE) and industry, framing it as a chance to meet and exchange ideas; make the talks different that it’s not just boring presentations: Ignite style talks of 5 minutes & auto-advancing slides for example (I can’t even contemplate how to pull that off); do some activity or workshop to do something more hands-on, that gets to people; charge entrance fee, a bit but not too much, to cover costs and if possible use a bit of bootstrapping but quality is the priority; find partners to do this from the survey I’ll be doing; schedule it not further than 2 months in advance to keep the pressure on.
The Year Back and Ahead
Without reservations, this was an awesome year. It’s all in the retrospect, so I’m surely being biased.
The year started at a cushy research position, with making some interesting projects, while being frustrated in lots of others. Lots of stress in one hand, and much more safety in the other. Having been forced to leave that place in April, 8 months too early, feels exactly what I needed – in retrospect, it took time to take that view.
In the last 8 months, lots of projects flourished, and I started to find my voice better with this project as well – ever so slowly. Founded the Taipei Hackerspace earlier this year, and could put in the work to move it forward. Joined projects, some that got somewhere, on others the jury is still out.
Came up with a name for this project and registered it in August. Talking to other startup founders in the same shoes, Autumn got a boost and I dared to reach out to ask questions directly to my target audience. Got very interesting and encouraging answers. Started these reviews in November, and progress is much more visible now, to myself as well. I’m clearly touching on a point that is important to people.
For the coming year to be able to be here writing a review again, I’ll need to focus on implementation, it’s that simple. This is of course pretty much a tautology, but way too often I take my eyes off the goal. That doesn’t cut it anymore.
Happy New Year everyone, let us all kick some ass. ;)