A community of start-ups: Garage manufacturing, in a big garage

A tour of the Artisan’s Asylum, a haven for “makers” (The Economist, 7:24)

The consumer goods industry is being transformed by the shift in business models towards greater collaboration, a development that is reflected in the value creation shared between millions of small economic players. The Artisan’s Asylum offers a first-rate example of this fragmentation into a type of small-scale industrialization — one of the characteristics of the third industrial revolution promised by Chris Anderson.
Since 2010 this non-profit organization has been providing production space (3,000 m2 in a hangar on the outskirts of Boston) for around fifty entrepreneurs, artists and DIY enthusiasts ranging from a master cabinetmaker to a robotics engineer. Businesses can carry out their activities here for a small fee ($ 20 m2 / month) and take advantage of the communal tools and large pool of available skills (not to mention the training sessions arranged by the organization).
Cooperation, sharing, creativity, do-it-yourself… the values that are dear to this community of makers are attracting the interest of established companies: Z Corp, which makes 3D printers, has even set up its equipment in the hanger to see how the community might make use of it. Whilst some of the initiatives intend to stay small-scale (such as the espresso machine repairer), others aim to invest in the market, such as 3Doodler, which now manufactures its 3D pens commercially in China.
For Molly Rubenstein, Artisan’s Asylum executive director, the success of “makerspaces” such as the Artisan’s Asylum is largely based on the need to belong to a community, which is all the greater when the economy is sluggish. The popularity of these new innovation spaces is serving as an inspiration to managers seeking to leverage creativity and collaboration.

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Based on The Third Industrial Revolution by Jeremy Rifkin (LLL, February 2012); Makers: The New Industrial Revolution by Chris Anderson (Crown Business, October 2012); and “The time of spin-offs” (“Le temps des spin-off”) by Patrick Arnoux (Le Nouvel Economiste, November 2012), and the interviews with Stéphanie Tramicheck, Etsy country manager France and Dr. Harish Hande, founder and Managing Director, SELCO India.
Business Digest nº 232, December 2012.