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Gearbox By Jessica Colaco / November 8, 2013

Gearbox Hardware Meet Up in San Francisco

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Gearbox was in San Francisco last week and had the opportunity to hold a hardware meet up in the heart of the Bay Area maker community. With the help of our friends are TechShop, Juliet and Nathaniel hosted a two hour gathering that brought together makers, hardware innovators and companies from not just the Bay Area but people from even as far India and Sweden who were looking to gain insight on how to build a makerspace.  We received a lot of support particularly from  Nick Pinkston and Adam Ellsworth,and the larger SF hardware community, in making the event a success.

 

David Auerbach from Sanergy talking about the challenged of developing their toilet prototypes in Kenya

David Auerbach from Sanergy talking about the challenged of developing their toilet prototypes in Kenya

 

 

We started off with presentations from our partners from BRCK and Sanergy on their experience in creating hardware start ups in Nairobi. Both David Auerbach and Nathaniel Manning shared their story of  making in Nairobi and the challenges their respective companies faced in terms of getting the right equipment and tools, as well as gaining traction while making iterations on their prototypes.

 

Nat from BRCK explaining the company's experience of prototyping in Nairobi and its possible role in paving the way for fabrication of electronics in Kenya

Nat from BRCK explaining the company’s experience of prototyping in Nairobi and its possible role in paving the way for fabrication of electronics in Kenya

 

The meet up was a great opportunity to share with the Bay Area hardware community the history of the making culture in Africa as whole, and Kenya in particular. During our presentation, we traced back to the start of Afrigadget and Maker Faire Africa , both of which have played an important role in showcasing Africa’s ingenuity as well as the challenges faced when it comes to making and developing products in this market. This is exactly why we need the Gearbox, so that people can have access to the space, tools and equipment need to design and build rapid prototypes and this way change the story behind innovation in Africa. A lot of final mile technologies will be able to be realized from this space than hobbyist project - gauging from the  outcomes of our  hackathons and the work presented Maker Faire Africa.  We believe that will be part of the unique story behind making in Africa as opposed to any other place in the world.

 

A mobile phone controller ugali cooker presented at  Maker Faire Africa

A mobile phone controller ugali cooker presented at Maker Faire Africa

From the meet up, we were able to gain a  lot insight into the world of making- where to buy the best equipment, possible waivers from manufacturers and creating channels to access suppliers from the US and China.

Hackers at TechShop in San Francisco

Hackers at TechShop in San Francisco

We’re currently seeking corporate partnership to help set up Kenya’s first open makerspace for rapid prototyping and design. This includes both companies seeking to invest in a space that provides access to the much needed tools as well as manufacturers and suppliers of the equipment we are looking to obtain. Moreover,  our team has set up a virtual crowdfund for the gear. How do we plan on doing this? We recently set up a Crowdmap initiative that enables anyone in the US to donate tools, equipment and books that would be beneficial to the Gearbox makerspace and community. In return, they get to be part of this great initiative and be featured on our website. The bigger picture is to continue connecting these two spaces through virtual classes on the use of the different tools in the makerspace in addition to desk exchanges as part of our long term goals. We’re excited to see more cross pollination of ideas and collaboration on diverse and innovative hardware projects.

 

Open discussion with hardware techies at TechShop San Francisco

Open discussion with hardware techies at TechShop San Francisco

 

 

 

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Author : Jessica Colaco

Jessica Colaço is currently the Director of Partnerships at iHub. She was the Founding Manager between 2010 and 2011 at iHub and the Research Director between 2011 and 2013 at iHub Research. She is passionate about Innovation, Research, Mobile and Robotics Technology and Mentorship and Entrepreneurship in Kenya as she uses her position at iHub to court local, regional and international stakeholders to adopt Kenyan-made solutions. She is also a Mobile and Robotics Tech Evangelist, Co-Founder of @WMIAfrica and @AkiraChix, @TED Global Fellow 2009 and upcoming Guitarist.


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