“Pop the Trunk, I’m Running Across the Freeway to Maker Faire!”
Thank you so much to all our early backers for making the launch of Linkbot on Kickstarter such a success! The last few days have been a whirlwind, so I’m dedicating the next hour to writing our first update, sorry if it’s rough, but I’ve got to share some stories from the days leading up to the launch and the awesome people we’ve met so far.
It was our “plan” to launch the Linkbot Kickstarter last Friday (day before Maker Faire), but after weeks of building robots and shooting video we were running a little late! I finished uploading the video and content to Kickstarter and pushed submit around 4:30am, slept an hour, and my wife and I jumped in the car, picked up a few team members and headed to San Mateo Saturday morning! We read that 120k+ people were expected this year at Maker Faire, and it showed on the freeway! After traveling 100 feet in half an hour I wasn’t sure if we’d make it by the time the gates opened… At some point we saw a section of freeway fence leaning over, so we jumped out of the car, grabbed some robots out of the trunk, ran across the freeway, hopped the fence, and serendipitously flagged down a taxi driving by. We went from gridlock to through the Main Gate of Maker Faire in under 15 minutes! (Thank you Natalie for spending another 2 hours in traffic… xoxo) Still riding the sleep deprived high of what we’d just done, we met up with the rest of our team and put robots in the hands of hundreds of kids and Makers as they visited our booth.
But there was a problem, a few hours into the event our Kickstarter was still “pending”. I’d read somewhere that there was a several day approval process, but hadn’t put two and two together that this was AFTER the Amazon approval process. What a bummer and oversight on my part. It was tough to work so hard for so long and not have it go live… and that’s when we met John from Kickstarter! “Cool robot, you’re doing a Kickstart?” Yep. “Is it live yet?” Nope. “Well, let’s take you out of your misery!” Well, long story short, John reviewed and approved our Kickstarter in our booth at Maker Faire borrowing our neighbor’s internet so the campaign could go live Saturday! I always thought of Kickstarter as this nameless mechanism, but after meeting John and talking to him about the community and their mission it was obvious that they really care and spend a lot of time thinking about the projects on their site!
The staff at the Maker Faire really went above and beyond to make things go smoothly for us. For being an event with major sponsors like AutoDesk and Intel, they worked really for us, the little guy. For example, we were at a press event last Thursday where Dale Dougherty announced a new partnership with Radio Shack and I went up to introduce myself to him, a little star struck. He was super busy and after waiting a few minutes I decided to take off. Well, after packing up our robots we were half way out the door when Dale Dougherty ran across the room to stop us. He’d seen us waiting to talk and apologized for being too busy, and called us the “robot guys”, which was a complete geek-out moment for me. Totally cool guy and his whole organization, from top to bottom, gave off this friendly, professional vibe. I really think that’s the magic of the Maker community, everyone coming together to help make something great happen.
So, after two days of thousands of people coming to our booth to create with robots, Maker Faire was over. Some modules took some serious falls to concrete, but they held up great no broken modules. Also, the batteries lasted 4 hours on average, which was awesome!