This year’s SoCal MakerCon Convention attracted so many more attendees and exhibitors than last year that it had to be moved to a larger building a month before the show. In this WTFFF?! episode, Tom and Tracy Hazzard discuss their experience exhibiting and giving a talk on Makers Making Profits. They also preview nine upcoming interviews conducted live from the show floor. Hear about the lessons and ideas they gathered from the event.
Listen to the podcast here:
SoCal MakerCon Recap
We went to SoCal MakerCon which is a trade show event local. It was up in Pomona, California organized by Aaron Berg and it was a great show. We are going to bring you all the interviews from that show, each of the Ask Us Anything days.
Just so you can understand, we exhibited at the show. We got a booth and we set it up with our videographer on our recording equipment for the show. We interviewed people throughout the day.
We’ve been trying out a different model. This is an interesting thing if you’re running a 3D print business or you’re considering running a business. Are trade shows profitable? Are they worth it? What’s the right kind of trade show for my business? What’s the right kind of booth to have for that business? What’s the right kind of model for it? We’ve been trying out some different things here. We started with the 3D Printshow California.
We were like roaming reporters. We had press passes because the show gets that. We went around to people’s booths, set up our equipment, and interviewed them right within their booth.
You can see most of those interviews on YouTube and everything like that. We didn’t air from that because they weren’t long enough. They were short because you’re interrupting someone’s booth and it’s more difficult. For this one, we tried something. We decided to get a booth and we organized it. It wasn’t a booth you come into, although there was a little section at the end where people who are walking by could find out about our show or see our products and things like that.
We were displaying some things like our 3D twist tie, angel ornaments, and stuff like that. We had a TV running with a reel of videos that we’ve created.
The main part of the booth was to have a location that we could interview vendors from the event, other 3D printer companies, service companies, and filament companies. We were conducting those interviews live and people could hang out and watch them if they wanted to. For the most part, people didn’t. We were going to air those and we decided though that they were such good interviews that we’re going to air them as these episodes.
They were longer. A lot of them are 25 to 30 minutes, so it’s longer than a normal Ask Us Anything episode, but there was some good information there. We even had an author who wrote a book on Beginning Design for 3D Printing.
That’s Joe Micallef. I loved our interview with him and we’ll have him back again. We’ll do something related to his book. What I liked about his interview was that he talks about why he wrote the book and how, and why you need this, which I thought was a great topic. We also talked to Taj Chiu.
From ToyBuilder Labs, but they’ve been acquired by Raise3D.
It was great because we got the breaking news right there. That’s the big announcement at the show and that’s what happens at a lot of trade shows. There’s always some new thing that people are showing and some announcements because they want to have reasons for you to come back to their booth again.
You’re going to want to read that whole interview because it’s not just, “There’s this acquisition of one company to another.” They’ve got some new stuff coming out and they have a Kickstarter that’s way overfunded, and you’ll know all about that. Kickstarter’s done, but it’s still a lot of good information you want to know about that’s up and coming.
We have interviews with OneBot 3D Printer, AIO Robotics, and Deezmaker. These are all printer companies. MAKEiT is another printer company. We talked to CoKreeate who does 3D scanning and mini-mes. We’re going to go up and see them and try again because they have a different process that they do than we did last time. We’ll give it a whole other try and they’d have a whole different set of equipment to look at.
We have AstroPrint.
We’re going to have him on because this is an interesting concept, apps for running 3D printers, for searching for 3D designs, and app focus. I love it.
They have their own app store with all sorts of things to enhance the process. It seemed significant.
It was too complicated. We got into a bit of it, but there’s more to talk about. We’ve invited him back. That was Drew Taylor, the CEO. My other favorite, who I love, is Gene Sherman from Vocademy. He’s one of the first guys I ever met when we went to our first trade show for 3D printing and you cannot get a guy more excited about 3D printing.
About STEAM education in general shop class. What they’re providing is an extracurricular shop class.
If you’re an educator, teacher, administrator of an education system, or if you’re a parent or thinking about opening a makerspace in your area, any of those things, you need to think about reading that episode. That one is interesting because he has a model that works.
He’s an evangelist. He is a cooperative person and the whole organization is cooperative. He’s not trying to compete with anybody else’s makerspace.
He’s willing to sell his model and he talks about it.
He has a vision of having Vocademy everywhere, but it’s going to take many years for him to achieve even a fraction of that goal. If you want to create a makerspace in your locality, they’re going to help. You can reach out to him.
We’re going to have him on again to specifically talk about the challenges for educators and administrators and why they’ve done what they’ve done in terms of creating this model for deploying it in a school because that’s such a complicated topic. We need to revisit it because some of our education episodes like the one that we had when we were talking to Hélène about her challenges trying to consult and recommend what they should do to implement. It’s one of our most trafficked episodes, so we know this is of interest. We’ll definitely revisit with him.
There are many great interviews and we went to SoCal MakerCon in August 2014 and they waited until early November 2015. It grew in size. They had to move it to a bigger building.
Because they got these great drone races going on in the background so there’s a little competing for it. The sound is still good in our videos.
I’ve listened to a lot of the audio and you can tell it’s not our normal audio quality in our studio. Although we often have our 3D printer running in the background. There is a dull white noise going on.
I want to give a shout-out to Aaron Berg. This is well-organized. He did a great job of communicating, so you have to look at a show also from, “What am I getting out of it as an exhibitor? Did I get enough traffic? Did they drive enough traffic to the show? Was that traffic valuable?” In this case, the worry is if you’re a serious printer company, are you going to get a lot of people who only care about the drone races and nothing else? Are you going to get a lot of kids, but not a lot of shoppers? You have to think about what it is you’re going for, but he drove a diverse age group of traffic. They marketed and communicated with us as exhibitors well. They had an exhibition plan and they shared it with us. When they moved, they reshared it with us and gave us new booth locations. They were great about communicating with us all along the way.
As an exhibitor, we got tremendous support. It was well run and we’re pleased with the results. The quality of people that were there, while it was all age ranges, there were also a lot of different mixes of families who were there checking it out. They have some cursory interest in serious people who are already involved in the industry. It’s such a great mix and it was busy all day long.
It was, all the way up until the end. I thought they did a great job and they had a huge team of volunteers that we’re working with them. All of them were professional, so kudos for them.
They put on a great space within the building for talks that were going on all day long. Tracy, you gave a talk on makers making profit.
I did with my rough voice and it was great. It was packed and there were some great questions. People were engaged and interested in what had to happen. They had this cool little throwable microphone that was fun.
It was almost like a big kickball or something, but it had a microphone in it and if somebody had a question in the audience, they would throw the mic out in the audience.
I was glad they didn’t ask me to throw because anyone who knows me knows that I throw badly. That’s terrible. I’m more intellectual than I am physical. I’m sorry.
Fortunately, they had somebody who was running these events and keeping it going in a timely fashion and orderly. He would throw the mic back and forth. Your talk was great and we’re looking to see if we turn any of that audio into an episode. We may do that.
We’ll put it as a post because we had hoped to Periscope it, but it didn’t work out. It was too complicated to video it, take the audio, try to Periscope it as well, and capture camera shots. There was too much that we were trying to do there to do the Periscope as well.
We had a great time. We got a lot of information we’re going to share with you. If you are regular readers, we would appreciate it if as you read these upcoming episodes and view some of the videos on YouTube, if you could give us some feedback as to if this was useful for you, we’d like to hear about it. We saw it as successful in terms of gathering a lot of information we can share with you, but if you appreciate this, let us know. We’re thinking of doing more of this.
Not just here in California. We’re thinking that we might do them across the country at various times of the year in various locations. If you have an event and you liked it and would like to invite us to come in to do that, we’re looking at it like it’s a shared promotion for the event as well as for us.
For all the companies that are exhibiting there as well, it’s free promotion of them.
A couple of the interview subjects said to me afterward, there was a pair that we had interviewed, “I was worried that I wasn’t going to get enough professionals coming to the show, but conducting this interview made it worth a while for me.” They felt that was an ability to reach out further than just the people who were there.
We had a meeting with our team of everybody who was at the show, saying, “What worked? What could be improved?” We have a plan to improve the quality of the experience and to even capture more information and keep delivering you new fresh content as time goes on. We thought it was good, but we’d love to hear from you.
You can do that at our new website 3DStartPoint.com and the WTFFFPodcast.com is linked into that, so they’re blended in together.
You’ll see it on the homepage of Start Point. You can go right to the episode.
Bear with us. We’re making a lot of changes to that site. There’s a lot of rough things still going on as they are fixing it. It’s getting improved every day, but we didn’t want to wait any longer because there’s a better look there. It’s a lot more professional and somebody is helping us to handle that, so we can concentrate on creating great content for you and not so much on fixing websites and updating posts all the time.
We are going to have a lot of good blog posts with more photos and we do other videos, but there are more photos and details coming. We’re going to have a blog post for each of these episodes from the show.
If you rather go to YouTube, we have a YouTube channel, which is at Hazz Design and all of these videos are going up at the same time each day. They’ll be going up there and you’ll be able to see those there.
We have a new email address, Info@WTFFFPodcast.com and there’s Info@3DStartPoint.com. Both of those come to us, so you have some ways to reach out to us. Either through social media anywhere @HazzDesign or those email addresses or our websites. We’d love to hear from you and keep bringing you quality content.
It was a lot of kick to see in a few fans. It’s nice to hear many of you, audiences, there. I appreciate you guys showing up and talking with our team and with us. We’ll hope to see other audiences at other events in the future.
As we’ve learned, we have an audience of people all over the world, as not everybody can get to California or any of these shows within the US. That’s why it’s important for us to go and capture a lot of things and bring it to them.
Anyway, thanks again.
- SoCal MakerCon
- Beginning Design for 3D Printing
- Joe Micallef – past episode
- Taj Chiu – past episode
- Drew Taylor – past episode
- Gene Sherman – past episode
- Hélène – past episode
- Hazz Design – YouTube channel
- @HazzDesign – Instagram
- 3D Startpoint Facebook
- 3D Startpoint LinkedIn
- Hazz Design Twitter
- 3D Startpoint YouTube