Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Unbranded Designs - 2012 Lean Startup Challenge Champions

DIY Manufacturing, With a Twist
I was  pretty blown away by this weeks readings. The ability to create a tangible, 3D prototype of any object simply by rotating it in front of a webcam, something that so many people already have sitting in their homes, is absolutely astounding! The terms "new age manufacturing," "garage renaissance" and "circular design" were strikingly brought to life.

So you can imagine that I was even more blown away, when just the other day, my sister witnessed as two of her friends were crowned the 2012 Lean Startup Challenge Champions, winning $25,000 cash and over $50,000 in other prizes that will help them launch their new startup: a lean, open source, furniture company. 

Their creation, Unbranded Designs (www.unbrandeddesigns.com) allows anyone (designer or not) to upload a furniture design to their website; members that aren't interested in designing can vote on their favorites; and favorites will go into production and be sold. The aim of their business is to create a community of designers and users that learn from one another. Accessing the ideas and feedback from the community allows everyone involved to make better products. Their dedication lies in the creation of high quality, relevant furniture that doesn't need to conform to any rules based on what is being done by established brands. 

And it's working. In addition to winning the Lean Startup Challenge, sponsored by Chicago Lean Startup Circle, they have already sold $3,200 worth of goods, and they've only been in business for ten days!

It seems like last week, I knew next to nothing about the return of small-scale manufacturing and open source collaboration. Now all of sudden, it's everywhere!

How would you apply open source and collaborative techniques in this return to hands on consumerism?  

"Nano-Based RFID Tags Could Replace Barcodes." Science Daily 19 Mar. 2010. Print. 
Anderson, Chris. "In the Next Industrial Revolution, Atoms Are the New Bits." Wired25 Jan. 2010: Print. 
Mohr, Stephan, Ken Somers, Steven Swartz, and Helga Vanthournout. "Manufacturing Resource Productivity." McKinsey Quarterly June (2012): Print. 
"Chicago Lean Startup Circle." Chicago Lean Startup Circle. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Oct. 2012. <http://www.chicagoleanstartup.com>. 
Elahi, Amina. "Unbranded Designs Named 2012 Lean Startup Challenge Champions." Chicago Startups | Built In Chicago. N.p., 4 Oct. 2012. Web. 5 Oct. 2012. <http://www.builtinchicago.org/blog/unbranded-designs-named-2012-lean-startup-challenge-champions>.

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