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Friday, December 16, 2011

American Manufacturing Revolution

I am of the belief America is kick starting a manufacturing revolution.  Sound crazy?
It is if you think of the mass manufacturing of GM and classic manufacturing.

Those types of large scale manufacturing is likely dead in the USA for the rest of my lifetime.
The kind of manufacturing I am referring to is smaller, agile, cost effective companies.

In affect, the future GM's of today, that start up right here in the USA, and when reaching a point of mass employment, likely off shoring the labor.  Most of these companies likely won't off shore at all, as they won't need more than 50 people to do "huge" business.  There maybe 1,000's if not 100,000's of these businesses springing up over the years ahead.  To some, employment of only millions and not 10's of millions is not revolution, it is to me.  For these businesses will leverage the cutting edge of the internet and technology to start up their businesses with pennies on the dollar of just a decade ago.

In effect, you the reader, can start up your own company, with very little personal investment.

Now that I have set the tone of the manufacturing revolution size, lets look at what is happening.
Below are examples, but by no means is the only examples.  I list enough in each category to show the revolutionary change in the American Landscape for new businesses.

Free Business Software
There is Google docs, that provides spread sheets, word processing, and other tools that can be shared across the world, real time, to collaborate and communicate.  For example, you can create a spreadsheet and work with someone else, real time, seeing each change as it occurs, with the person across the globe.
Did I mention, Free?
You can communicate, using Google Voice, make free phone calls in the USA/Canada, and free calls across the world with other Google-ites.

You can create virtual conference rooms, using Google hangout, share a video conference with anyone.

Also, share desktops, instant messaging, and control each other's pcs using software like Adobe connect now.

Plus find 1,000's of free programs at many hosting sites, including http://sourceforge.net/ .
In a nut shell, for information based tools, free or near free costs, just need a PC for 400 bucks, and an internet connection at your local starbucks.

Cheap  Tools
For manufacturing type work, there is now many open source projects to create physical machines.  The entire blueprints are free, and you can make the device at home.  Or you can buy the device, pre-made from a manufacturer.  The best example of such a devices is a 3d-printer.  You can "print" objects, like a chess piece, using this device.  Such a device is typically 10,000's of dollars.

But you can buy such a  tool at http://www.makerbot.com/ for under 1,000 bucks.
Then you can download pre-made 3d objects to print at http://www.thingiverse.com/.

There are other projects similar,  such as laser cutter at laseraur.  Check out http://www.buildlog.net/blog/ for other tools.

For non-physical products, based on the internet (the Cloud), there are cheap options here too.
You can download a pre-canned server at http://www.turnkeylinux.org/ , and host it at Amazon E2 cloud for 0.09 cents an hour!

Cheap Labor
Need someone to do a specific technical task?  Maybe have someone do some proto-typing woodwork?  Or need an architect?
Just shop for the right person at the right price to do the work you need, freaking dirt cheap.
No need to have employees, if you can bid out the detailed work piecemeal to specialists.

When I see the prices people will do some of this work for, I am stunned.
You may make more money painting walls than doing technical skilled work.
Check out http://www.ifreelance.com/ for all sorts of job bids.
Have a specific techie job needed, try http://www.getacoder.com/ or http://www.project4hire.com/ .
Bid on construction work at http://www.bidclerk.com/ .

Cheap Venture Capital Raising
OK, so you have leveraged Free Software, cheap labor, and cheap tools.  You now have your idea started, enough to seek funds to take it all the way.   What chances do you have a bank will lend you money for your start-up?   Borrow from relatives?  Seek venture capital?

All of these methods are very hard to get money, and involve potentially high consequences for the risk everyone takes on the project.

So, how do you minimize risk? by SPREADING the risk among 100's, or 1,000's of people, each risking 1-100 bucks to fund your project.  To boot, you can give people first run's of your product, for a pre-purchase price.

Just head on over to http://www.kickstarter.com/ for funding.  Create a video, set up your funding requests, and watch the funding come pouring in.
I found several projects that I liked.  I could become a real addict to this web site.  I want to buy stock in this company!
Check these projects out:
Thin iphone wallet / stand
Connect smartphone or tablet to any external storage via wifi
Use a small little device to "interface" the real world to the web, by using built in motion, sound, and heat sensor to gather information and trigger action.

This is an incredible revolution that the media is just simply missing.  I see this as earth shattering as the last industrial revolution, back in the early 1900's.
But the successes will be 100,000's of small companies, with the rare exception of a company growing to fortune 500 status.   The average pay of these new workers will be substantially lower than the Union workers of the last industrial age.  They will need to innovate, work hard, to secure their niche 

Video about Kickstarter

Quick video on makerbot

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