San Mateo's Maker Faire Offers Opportunities for New Companies

In the Bay Area we’re used to hearing about 20-somethings starting their own tech companies. Adam Swart is blazing a different trail.

By Angela Swartz

This past weekend, the eighth annual Maker Faire Bay Area took San Mateo by storm and for years it’s where hundreds of businesses go to build their own customer bases and establish their brands.

The Bay Area’s own TechShop is one example of a company that launched their business at the San Mateo Event Center. The company hosts member-based workshops that lets people of all skill levels come in and use industrial tools and equipment to build their own projects.

Mark Hatch, TechShop’s CEO, said launching at Maker Faire made sense for them since attendees generally match their clientele.

“These are our people,” Hatch said. “We have what I call H.E.A.T.S.: hobbyists, entrepreneurs, artists, tinkerers and students.”

Since their own launch, the company has been helping others to launch by offering the space and tools as a resource for making products. Kids as young as 10 can work in their shops.

This year, TechShop members that hosted booths at the fair include:
• Hugalopes: Plush toy with interchangeable parts that can also be worn as a hat and used as a puppet.

• The Dream Series: Limited edition, laser engraved wall maps for dreamers. Each map is engraved and cut from acrylic glass and is hand assembled.

• Type A Machines: Type A Machines has focused on designing and building the easiest to use and most reliable desktop 3D printers such as with its Series 1 3D printer.

The tech blog VentureBeat even wrote about how one TechShop patron went from homeless to hacker thanks to TechShop.

At their first fair, they were about to generate interest in their company and use the exposure to create an e-mailing list.

With 25,000 attendees their first year of participation, Hatch said it’s the perfect setting to publicize your company.

Now, there are more than 120,000 fair attendees.

“I think it’s also a perfect demonstration of how in Silicon Valley, anything is possible,” he said.

The company now has locations in San Francisco, Menlo Park, San Jose and across the country. Their hours are 9 a.m. to midnight.


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