Manufacturing is sexy. Sounds crazy? Just wait! Every Thursday, Z Holly takes us on a behind-the-scenes look at how people who make stuff are trying to ‘make it’ in their industries. Get a sneak peek inside these risk-takers’ factories and studios — and most of all, their minds. If you’ve ever wondered how to build a brand, a business, or just a better mousetrap, tune in and enjoy. (More here: artofmfg.com)
James Webb Space Telescope: Krystal Puga and Scott Willoughby
$9 billion and a million miles away: we get a special behind-the-scenes tour of NASA’s most ambitious and risky project ever. The James Webb Space Telescope will let us to look billions of years back in time and look at exoplanets in other galaxies. It’s pushing the boundaries of what is technologically possible.
When you think of manufacturing, you probably imagine mass production, but this project is one-of-a-kind. And because it’s headed a million miles away into orbit past the moon, if something breaks, it can’t be fixed. As the vice president and program manager of the whole project, Scott Willoughby has one shot at getting it right.
I was curious: how can you take risks and innovate when you’re working on something so high stakes and under such big scrutiny? So I went to Northrop Grumman in El Segundo, the prime contractor, to find out. We start with a special behind-the-scenes tour of the telescope from systems engineer Krystal Puga. And then, Scott joins us as we talk about the risks and rewards and what’s next for the program. We also learn about Scott and Krystal’s backgrounds, which will probably surprise you!
Links and social handles:
The James Webb Space Telescope home page: https://jwst.nasa.gov/
“Seeing Beyond” video (14:02): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=073GwPbyFxE
NASA’s FAQ: https://jwst.nasa.gov/faq.html#howbig
Northrop Grumman’s site for the JWST: http://www.northropgrumman.com/MediaResources/MediaKits/JWST/Home.aspx
The JWST on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Webb_Space_Telescope
#NorthropGrumman #Webb #JWST #JamesWebbSpaceTelescope #nasa
For more information, bios, and links, check out the show notes at http://makeitinla.org/jwst.
Hydroswarm: Preeti Battacharyaa
An underwater roboticist is determined to map the 70% of our globe covered in water. Everyone’s talking about space these days, but the most promising uncharted frontier might be under the sea. And exploring our oceans is much harder than you think.
Preeti Battacharyya is a 30-year-old entrepreneur who fought tradition back in India and moved to the US. She received a PhD from MIT before launching her company, HydroSwarm. They’re building a network of autonomous underwater vehicles that can map the oceans and communicate with each other.
I was curious what is holding back ocean exploration. What are the challenges of building robots that can work under the sea? It turns out its way harder than rocket science! We learn the difference between ROVs and AUVs, and why they matter. We also learn about Preeti’s path from small town girl in Kolkata to an underwater roboticist with experience with particle accelerators and nuclear reactors starting an ambitious venture.
Links and social handles:
Video of a hydrone: https://youtu.be/EYkz5mRsuqg
More on cyberclones: https://techcrunch.com/2016/01/09/virtual-reality-and-a-parallel-universe-of-cyberclones/
For more information, bios, and links, check out the show notes at http://makeitinla.org/hydroswarm.
Knock Knock: Jen Bilik
Comedy isn’t always easy: this entrepreneur has learned some tough lessons manufacturing irreverent gifts that don’t meet everyone’s tastes.
This week we’re speaking with Jen Bilik, the founder and CEO of Knock Knock. With a name like that, you might guess there is some humor involved—and you’d be right. Knock Knock is known for their funny and often blue gifts and books.
But she has to deal with risk-averse retailers and easily offended consumers. Not to mention the pot-smoking hippie manufacturing broker that bilked them out of millions of dollars in their early years. And crying employees. Jen started out as a “reluctant businesswoman” and she’s very candid about her mistakes. She shares some useful lessons about growing a company and bringing a little humor into your business.
Links and social handles:
Website for all three companies (Who’s There Group): http://thewhostheregroup.com/
This is [NOT] L.A. book: http://ThisIsNotLA.com/
Knock Knock on Instagram and Twitter: @knockknock
Also, follow Jen on Instagram @jenbilik (mostly pictures of her dog, Paco), on Twitter @JenBilik (to which she never posts), and on Facebook.
For more information, bios, and links, check out the show notes at http://makeitinla.org/knockknock
Lumi: Jesse Genet [encore]
Packaging should be your secret weapon, and this serial entrepreneur will show you how. Some of you might remember our episode a year ago, with Jesse Genet from Lumi. They recently raised $9M, so we’re checking in with Jesse to get an update. We talk about how they’ve evolved their strategy and what she learned raising venture capital. We also get tips for finding suppliers, and the advantages of offering a platform that gives customers unprecedented control to tinker with their packaging.
We’re starting with the original interview. If you want to skip ahead to our more recent conversation, it starts at 1:07:30.
At age 15, Jesse started her first business printing t-shirts in Detroit. Over the next year she followed her curiosity, tracked down an obscure invention, and next thing she knew her new company Inkodye ended up on Shark Tank and participated in the prestigious incubator Y-Combinator. Through becoming a manufacturing entrepreneur, she learned how easy it was on the digital side to start a business, but on the physical side it was the complete opposite.
That’s when their big idea hit: why don’t they create a whole platform for startups to handle packaging and fulfillment? And Lumi was born. Jesse tells horror stories and practical advice about packaging and logistics. She gives insights into new ecommerce trends like direct-to-consumer retail and Vertical Commerce Brands that make your packaging more important than ever before. And she also shares her real-life experiences and perspectives on being an entrepreneur. (Her stories about stalking the original owner of the Inkodye technology, turning down Mark Cuban, and what happened as she was about to walk onto the set of Shark Tank are pretty hilarious.) She’s energetic, nerdy, and unapologetically quirky, and she has some great advice you won’t want to miss.
Links and social handles: (note if the embedded hyperlinks don’t work, scroll down for explicit ones)
Lumi Home Page
Lumi on Fast Company
Jesse Genet’s MAKE IT talk on YouTube
“Digitally-Native Vertical Commerce Brands,” by Andy Dunn
Marshall Goldsmith: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There on Audible
Marshall Goldsmith: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There on Amazon
For more information, bios, and links, check out the show notes at http://makeitinla.org/lumi.
Desktop Metal: Ric Fulop, Jonah Myerberg & Andy Roberts
Meet the 3D printing company that might totally change how we manufacture, design, and even develop products.
When you hear the words 3D printing, what do you imagine? Do you think about those cheesy, plastic parts? Desktop Metal has raised $270M to change all that. Unlike other metal 3D printers, which are ridiculously expensive, incredibly dangerous, and slow, their first product is a machine that will print metal parts on the desktop. And they’re about to launch a new production-level machine that will pump out parts as fast as using traditional manufacturing processes like casting and machining.
The CEO Ric Fulop is an old buddy of mine from my days at MIT, so when I was visiting Boston a few weeks ago, I went to go visit and get a tour. And I sat down with Ric and two of his executives, Chief Technology Officer Jonah Meyerberg and Senior Software Engineer Andy Roberts, to learn more.
We nerd out on their technology and what it means for the future of manufacturing. But what I was especially curious about is how metal 3D printing will change the game around what we make, and the way we design and innovate in the future. If you’ve been skeptical about additive manufacturing until now, this episode will change your mind.
Links and social handles:
On Twitter: @DesktopMetal, @ricfulop
Video of Live Parts growth example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38yW6D4MtFg
For more information, bios, and links, check out the show notes at http://makeitinla.org/desktopmetal.
SmartyPants Vitamins: Courtney Nichols Gould [encore]
Amazon is eating the world! A wellness entrepreneur shares her secrets to launching a consumer product in today’s complex retail environment.
This week we’re going to the vault to play one of our favorite past episodes. We’re speaking with Courtney Nichols Gould, the co-founder and CEO of SmartyPants Vitamins. She had a really successful career in tech before launching a consumer packaged goods company. Before this venture, she was the Chief Operating Officer of a very complex business called Clear, the first fast pass for airport security.
I was curious what her path has been like, from tech entrepreneur to a maker of things, and what we can learn from the process. What surprised me most was the importance of getting the product launch process right, and how hard it is to succeed in today’s complex retail environment. But they’re kicking butt, and she has tons of war stories and tips for the rest of us. Everything from protecting IP to picking your manufacturing partners, cultivating your first customers to thriving on Amazon, negotiating with brick and mortar to being pioneers in the early wellness industry. She’s mission-driven but doesn’t flaunt it. At one point, she goes deep about her awkward early years, before she finally discovered her identity as a successful CEO, and we broach the touchy subject of starting a business and then falling in love with your co-founder. We hear about that and a whole lot more on this week’s episode of the Art of Manufacturing.
A year ago, when I spoke with Courtney, I was really curious how they could be so successful launching their products in a time when Amazon seemed to be eating the world. And the episode is as relevant as ever. Since the episode first dropped, Amazon acquired Whole Foods, nine massive retailers disappeared in the “great retail meltdown of 2017,” and they now have a foothold in every corner of your home, too, with Echo Dot and Ring. There’s no doubt Amazon is a bigger force than ever to be reckoned with.
Earlier this year, I wrote a Forbes column that the biggest tech trend of the year wasn’t going to be a technology per se, but it was Amazon as a company. They’ll have a vast impact on so many other aspects of how we live, and how we work and collaborate, and even how our cities might be designed in the future. This goes beyond their more obvious impacts on the retail industry. Just the new expectation of on-demand has transformed business models across the board. With their 100,000+ industrial robots, they are pioneering new leadership approaches in an environment where humans must collaborate with robots. The purpose of shopping malls is getting totally reimagined, and in an age of on-demand delivery, warehouses are playing a more integral role in our cities. Yet I wondered when on-demand delivery would turn to custom, on-demand, local manufacturing.
But I digress. Whether your entrepreneurial dreams start with launching on Amazon or end on brick and mortar retail shelves, listen to this episode first.
Links and social handles:
Forbes article on Amazon: https://www.forbes.com/sites/krisztinaholly/2018/01/26/tech-trends-2018-amazon
For more information, bios, and links, check out the show notes at http://makeitinla.org/smartypants.
Useful for any sort of entrepreneur
You don't have to be manufacturing physical goods to find useful lessons from the great guests and questions they're answering.
Love your podcast 👍
I learned so much about variety of products and entrepreneurs journey building those businesses listening to your podcasts. The Preeti Bhattacharya podcast is very inspiring and insightful.
7 myths were great
Z got me excited when she dispelled the 7 myths