Maker Expo connects with Wilfrid Laurier University

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Maker Expo extends a leaping-high-five to this trio of walking-the-talk entrepreneurship gurus at Wilfrid Laurier University. Left to right are Assistant Professor Laura Allan (School of Business & Economics), Associate Professor Stephen Preece (Academic Director, Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship), and Victoria Larke (Manager, Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship). On Monday of this week, my Maker Expo co-organizer, Cam Turner and I (DW) met up with these folks on campus at the corner of Albert and University Ave in Waterloo. The topic of conversation was how we can, for the mutual benefit of all, connect some very bright second-year business students with the enterprising makers of Maker Expo.

In the makerly spirit of gettin’ stuff done, we’ve got some logistics to sort out. For the students, we’re aiming for them to apply their skills, business smarts, and enthusiasm to looking at real profit-motivated makers at Maker Expo and sharing insights, suggesting business strategy, and adding another real-world case study to their portfolio. For the makers, we’re hoping they will benefit from insights into their market, reducing material costs, alternate paths to manufacturing, understanding sales channels, the importance of brand, and a whole lot of other things that I myself didn’t study in school.

This won’t cost money. It will involve a few hours of maker time in talking with the students initially and then in a follow-up. As makers ourselves, we realize not all makers are in it for money. But some are, and it is certainly the case that there are makers who are much better at making their awesome creations than they are at market analysis or pricing. Maybe the gap between doing-what-you-love and earning a living doing the very same, is just a question of exploring opportunities with some smart people who are studying at the top business school in the country.

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For most of my making, I don’t begin with a profit motive. Always with a curiosity motive. Last year I did some reverse-engineering of electronics to help a local high school re-animate some machine shop tools. Having done the hard technical work, I started to wonder if there was a viable business opportunity in it. Lacking some of the business acumen and busy with my primary storytelling business of makebright, that opportunity hasn’t been realized beyond one school. Some guidance from smart Laurier biz students might have changed that outcome.

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My co-organizer Cam Turner has just this month switched gears from a tech career in Kitchener to kicking off his startup TinkerTruck. Cam and his wife Tanya Morose will now be building on their non-profit success as creators of the monthly Maker Club for Kids they run out of THEMUSEUM. Their mission is to inspire, equip, and support kids as capable makers with a mobile truck of tools, supplies, and a whole lot of know-how. When I first brought forward this idea of connecting Laurier with Maker Expo, Cam stuck his hand up and asked “Can I go first?”

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Now, I think of Maker Expo as equal parts invent and event. So there are things to be figured out, there are manageable risks, and there is, as always, a requirement for the community, you, to engage. To participate in some way. If this potential connection interests you, let us know when you fill out your exhibiting maker application well before the July 1, Canada Day due date. There will be limited spots available, so apply now.

Go Hawks!

DW

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