7 Reality Checks For New Makers and Handmade Entrepreneurs


But the fun and fresh look can quickly turn into dread and tears if you are not fully prepared for what life as a handmade entrepreneur is truly like. This article is designed to give you a heads up. If you are a newbie, read it carefully and take notes, and share it with other new entrepreneurs. I wrote it not to scare you, but to empower you. I want you to be ready for the real deal. With that in mind, here are seven checks for new makers and handmade entrepreneurs.

Life As A Handmade Entrepreneur

1. You Will Not be Able to Just “Make” All Day

I know that one of the reasons you started your business is to make money by continuously making the things you love to make. While you may anticipate that your life as a maker business owner will be a right-brained playground, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, in order to make money, you’ll spend about a quarter of your time making things. The rest of the time will be invested in marketing, sales and leadership activities. Be prepared for this from the start.

2. You Will Need to Hire Help Before you are Ready

In line with the advice above, to ensure that you have enough time to market and sell your products and lead your business, you will need to hire help — and probably faster than you’d like to. What kind of help you hire first will depend on you. Generally, it’s best to hire people to do the things that you either don’t like doing or do not do well.

For example, if you hate fiddling with technology, your first hire should be someone to help you with technology including your website, SEO, social media, etc. Conversely, if you are a geek, but really don’t want to be making everything all the time, you’ll want to train someone to help you make your products so you can be free to focus on other things your business needs — things you enjoy doing.

3. You Will Need to Take Some Phone Calls During Family Time

You may think that you’ll be able to work during the day and never have to take a business call during the family dinner hour. Don’t hold your breath on that one. While there will certainly be some days when you can sashay out of your studio in time to prepare and enjoy an uninterrupted home-cooked dinner, most days will not be that way — especially at the start of your business. Get used to this, and more importantly, make sure your partner understands that this is a reality of entrepreneurship.

4. You Will Need to Keep Up with Technology

One thing I hear makers and handmade entrepreneurs talk about frequently is their reluctance to embrace and leverage technology. Unfortunately, this leads to a domino-like effect from which it is difficult to recover. Failing to intentionally make time in your work week to study how you can leverage technology to engage your customers automatically results in lost sales.

In order to be successful, you will need to embrace social media and certain types of automation. You will also need to learn to leverage video and audio technologies and, yes, you will need to embrace living life outside of your comfort zone where a lot of technology is concerned.

The idea of embracing technology may sound scary at first, but believe me, it is not as scary as dumping piles of cash into a business and never making enough money to even keep up with inflation.

5. You Will Need to Create New Income Streams

You will likely start your business thinking that you will be able to make whatever you make, and sell enough of it to make enough money to secure your future. That may happen to you, but it does not happen to most makers. Most makers eventually discover that, in order to make enough money to sustain the type of life they want, they will need to create additional sources of income. Do not let this idea scare you. In fact, this is where the fun can actually begin.

By the time you have been in business about five years, you should have enough help and enough systems in place that the business can run without your day in and day out involvement. That’s when you can begin to consider creating additional sources of income. From writing and selling books to speaking at conferences and events to teaching classes to leading membership programs — once you have built one successful brand, you can build another.

Look forward to this, but don’t put the cart before horse. Make sure to build one brand out before you start building another one. Eventually, you can build as many as you’d like, with all of the preceding ones supporting the ones to come.

6. You Will Need to Learn How to Write Well

Many maker’s sigh when I say this. While a product must be made well before it can be sold, the bulk of your sales success still depends on your ability to write well. Your product descriptions must be well written. You will need to write well enough to connect with your audience on social media and at your blog and/or newsletter. Brochures, direct mail pieces, Tweets, Instagram posts, thank you letters — every word that represents your brand must be carefully crafted to represent you and your customers well.

If you were not in advanced placement writing classes in school, don’t worry. There are plenty of places (online and offline) where you can begin to hone this important craft.

7. Some of Your Friends Will Turn Out Not to be so Friendly

It is a sad fact of life that some people are uncomfortable with the success of others. Unfortunately, it can be those closest to you who are most likely to try to discourage you from pursuing your entrepreneurial desires. While it is not always possible to figure out exactly why someone is not supportive of your work, it’s not hard to notice when that’s the case.

Understand that everyone will not be as excited as you are about your new venture. Share your journey with those who show that they are committed to encouraging you to grow and be successful. As an entrepreneur, you will need heaps of positive energy around you all day every day. Be discerning. Carefully choose the people you want to travel your entrepreneurial journey with you. Minimize people who are spiteful or who don’t take you seriously. Don’t get comfortable if you have not seen them yet. They’ll come. It’s just a matter of time.

I could go on from here, but I’ll stop. I realize that some of these points may be discouraging. You may think I’m trying to rain on your parade. I am not. I just want you to be ready. I want you to be prepared for the bad and the ugly, as well as for the good. There’s plenty of both, and if you use the points in this post as a guide, you’ll find that you have more good than bad and ugly.

What do you think?

What do you think, do you have what it takes to live life as a handmade entrepreneur?  If you’re a seasoned maker, what advice or “reality checks” do you give to those coming along behind you? I’d love to know your thoughts and advice in the comments below.

Reality Photo via Shutterstock


Google’s Standalone Mixed Reality Headset Will Integrate Eye-Tracking: Report

Google's Standalone Mixed Reality Headset Will Integrate Eye-Tracking: Report


  • Google’s alleged new headset to include eye-tracking tech
  • The headset is also said to pack sensors
  • The VR headset won’t require any phone

Google has been rumoured to be working on a high-end standalone VR (virtual reality) headset which is said to blur the lines between virtual reality and augmented reality for a while now. Now a latest report claims that Google’s upcoming mixed reality headset will integrate eye-tracking features and both motion and positional awareness.

Engadget citing some people familiar with the matter reports that the new VR headset will also use “algorithms to map out the real-world space in front of a user.” The mixed reality headset from Google will be also able to augment the reality in front of the headset which means it will be capable of showing digital objects, and also use sensors to map out the real world around the user.

The report adds that Movidius is currently providing chips that will help in tracking motion and positional awareness. Notably, Movidius is a machine vision firm in the process of being acquired and also powers Project Tango. The report again stressed that the standalone headset will not require any other hardware including a desktop or mobile to run. The upcoming Google VR headset is said to compete with the likes of HTC Vive and Facebook’s Oculus Rift.

The new report also goes in-line with Google acquiring Eyefluence, which is working to enable eye movements to control digital screens. The new Google-acquired company began its journey in 2013 and worked on coming up with ways to interact with augmented and virtual reality displays. The company is currently working on advanced eye-interaction technology.Earlier this month, Google unveiled the new Daydream View VR headset which it claimed was designed and developed by it and was the company’s first Daydream-ready headset and controller. The Daydream View comes with an auto-alignment system for compatible phones as well. The Daydream View controller sports sensors and is capable of understanding movements and gestures.

Tags: Augmented Reality, Daydream, Google, VR, Wearables

Sony PlayStation VR Goes on Sale, Brings Virtual Reality to the Masses

Sony PlayStation VR Goes on Sale, Brings Virtual Reality to the Masses

Sony PlayStation VR Goes on Sale, Brings Virtual Reality to the Masses
Sony is betting that it has a better package for mainstream consumers
Sony has to sell a lot of devices to attract talented game developers
Early reviews have praised its design, affordability and comfort
When the PlayStation VR goes on sale Thursday, it won’t just be a test for Sony. As the first high-end virtual-reality headset aimed at the mass market, the gadget will also offer the first hint as to whether the technology can become a mainstream product.

For about $500 (roughly Rs. 33,500), consumers won’t be getting newer features or better performance than pricier headsets being sold by Facebook and HTC. Sony is betting that it has a better package for mainstream consumers, given the ease of use and ability to tap into a gaming and entertainment ecosystem built by the PlayStation franchise over the past two decades. The device is Sony’s best prospect to remain on the cutting edge of technology after scaling back in phones, televisions and other businesses.

(Also see: Sony PlayStation VR Hits Stores Shelves Thursday to Take on Oculus and HTC)

“The Sony release is the first real test of consumer VR,” said Dave Ranyard, a virtual-reality developer and former head of Sony’s London studio, which produced its main launch title PlayStation VR Worlds. “Nobody knows the rate of uptake, so this is the first significant indication.”

The debut also represents a classic gaming-industry dilemma. Sony has to sell a lot of devices to attract talented game developers, gamers won’t buy new hardware unless there’s quality content. Sony hasn’t lined up enough must-have titles to kick off that virtuous cycle, according to Hideki Yasuda, an analyst at Ace Research Institute in Tokyo.

“If an amazing game comes out and makes everyone want to buy PSVR, the situation will be different, but for now we’re not seeing that,” Yasuda said.

With more than 40 million people already owning a PlayStation 4 console, the novelty of VR alone may be enough to attract a large number of early adopters. IHS Markit and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predict more than 1.4 million unit sales by the end of this year, while Ranyard is more conservative, expecting about 1 million in the first 12 months.

(Also see: PlayStation VR Is the First Real Mass-Market Virtual Reality Headset)

“This is the biggest innovation since the arrival of TV,” Atsushi Morita, president of Sony Interactive Entertainment Japan Asia, said at a launch event in Tokyo.
Sony shares were up 1.4 percent at JPY 3,431 in early trading. The stock is up more than 14 percent this year, compared with a 13 percent decline in the Topix Index.

Another key metric to watch will be how many games each player buys for the PSVR, Raynard said. The device will generate $134 million in revenue for VR content makers this year, about twice the $69 million it expects from Facebook’s Oculus and HTC’s Vive headsets, IHS estimated. Still, that would represent just a fraction of the total market for games software sales.

Early reviews of the system have generally praised its design, affordability and comfort, but a common criticism has been the lack of compelling content. There are about 30 titles available at launch, which are little more than environments to explore, or short games. Sony acknowledges as much, saying what’s available for now are mostly brief experiences that showcase VR technology instead of those with hours of gameplay.

(Also see: PlayStation VR First Impressions)

“The experiences we’re putting on offer are different from your 50-hour Metal Gear Solid experience,” said Shawn Layden, president of Sony Interactive Entertainment America, the unit overseeing the U.S. PlayStation game business. “You have a very intense 7 to 10 to 15 minutes of gameplay.”

Case in point: Job Simulator, a tongue-in-cheek launch title, lets people pretend that they’re working in a kitchen, office or convenience store. Jun Tamaoki raised eyebrows at last month’s Tokyo Game Show with Bandai Namco Holdings Inc.’s virtual-reality game Summer Lesson, which lets users become home tutors.

“It will take a longer time to find those eureka moments – oh wow, this is so fun,” Tamaoki said in an interview. “I would expect a gradual start for now.”

© 2016 Bloomberg L.P.

Tags: Sony, PlayStation VR, PS VR, PSVR, Virtual Reality, VR, PlayStation 4, Wearables, Gamaing


Why Google wants to sell its robots: reality is hard

Photo: Bloomberg

Photo: Bloomberg

San Francisco: It’s been a week of extremes for Google’s artificial intelligence efforts, as the company luxuriates in the afterglow of winning a board game tournament against one of the world’s top players, while it privately tries to sell one of its most visible robotics efforts.

Google’s decision to try to shed its Boston Dynamics robotics group highlights a fundamental research problem: software is far easier to develop and test than hardware. That’s especially true when dealing with artificial intelligence and robotics.

Today’s industrial robots tend to be dumb machines, operating on pre-programmed routines, and are housed in metal cages to stop people walking into their zone of movement and potentially getting harmed. With Boston Dynamics, Google was working on machines that could break out of the rigid confines of the factory and perform a broader range of tasks. That requires dealing with a range of unsolved problems, requiring fundamental research.

The challenges were apparent in an internal meeting held by Google’s robotics leaders in November. According to meeting minutes seen by Bloomberg, executives discussed the viability of AI techniques like teaching robots to do physical tasks, and how the Boston Dynamics group needed to collaborate more with other Google teams. They planned to grapple with larger questions as well: the division’s leader, Jonathan Rosenberg, said the company needed “to have a debate on hydraulics.” Google declined to comment. At Google, as in the rest of the industry, there is much excitement about the potential for smart machines– but still a lot of questions about how, exactly, to build them.

On 23 February, Boston Dynamics published a video showing off how their robots could stalk, run, walk and stack boxes. Tens of millions of people viewed it, exhilarated over the prospect of what artificial intelligence could accomplish.

But Boston Dynamics’s creations were not quite as advanced as people assumed. The main problem the company had solved was getting its machines to move in a realistic manner, said a person familiar with the company’s technology, but full autonomy is far away. Marc Raibert, the founder of Boston Dynamics, said as much in an interview with IEEE Spectrum in February, when he acknowledged that in the videos, a human steered the robot via radio during its outside strolls. Indoors, though the robot could stack boxes autonomously, someone had to set it up and tell it to start, he said.

A robot can’t decide to go for a walk on its own, said Rodney Brooks, an artificial intelligence pioneer and founder of Rethink Robotics, “It doesn’t have the intent a dog has.” (Rethink makes factory robots that don’t need cages, and can detect big changes in their work environment. “Is that scientifically hard? No. People in labs would have done that 20 years ago,” said Brooks. “But it’s gotta work 100% of the time.”)

Giving a machine intention is a difficult challenge. Software programmers can simulate the problem they’re trying to solve on computers, and progress doesn’t depend on physical movement–it’s about how fast a computer can simulate those movements.

Google’s DeepMind AI software played hundreds of thousands of rounds of the board game Go in a matter of months. It would take a lot longer to test drive robots taking hundreds of thousands of walks in the woods.

To develop robots, you have two options: You can either simulate an environment and robot with software and hope the results are accurate enough that you can load it into a machine and watch it walk. Or you can skip the simulation and tinker directly on a robot, hoping you can learn things from the real world– but that’s awfully slow.

Google faces this problem with its self-driving cars, and it tests them both ways. It has real cars drive a few thousand miles a week on real roads, and at the same time it simulates millions of miles a week driven by virtual cars on virtual roads. The idea is that the simulator can test out different scenarios to see how the cars react, and the real world can give Google data — and problems — that virtual cars don’t encounter. One time, a car confronted a man in a wheelchair chasing a turkey with a broom. This was not something Google had simulated.

The problem with robots is that they tend to be more advanced than cars. Instead of wheels, you have legs– and arms, necks, knee joints, and fingers. Simulating all of that accurately can be extremely difficult, but testing out all the different ways you can move the machine in flesh-and-blood reality takes years.

“Rosie the robot, you can’t have it knock over your furniture a hundred thousand times to learn,” said Gary Marcus, chief executive officer of a startup AI company called Geometric Intelligence.

Sergey Levine recently worked on a project to tackle this problem at Google. The company programmed 14 robotic arms to spend 3,000 hours learning to pick up different items, teaching each other as they went. The project was a success, but it took months, and it used robot arms rather than an entire body.

“In order to make AI work in the real world and handle all the diversity and complexity of realistic environments, we will need to think about how to get robots to learn continuously and for a long time, perhaps in cooperation with other robots,” said Levine. That’s probably the only way to get robots who can handle the randomness of everyday tasks.

Boston Dynamics’s robots need technology that doesn’t exist yet. The software to control them and give them autonomy is still a research problem being worked on by universities around the world. This is likely why Google thought it would take a decade to develop Boston Dynamics’s technology into a commercial product.

Possible acquirers include the Toyota Research Institute, a division of Toyota Motor Corp., and Amazon.com Inc., which makes robots for its fulfilment centers, according to a person familiar with Google’s plans. Toyota declined to comment, and Amazon didn’t respond to requests for comment.

It’s rare to see a company to build a product that requires such fundamental research in a number of areas, said John Schulman, a researcher with AI group OpenAI. “Having a humanoid robot that goes around and does interesting things in the real world, like maybe cleans up your house, that’s just way beyond the current state of the science.” Bloomberg


Samsung Gear VR: Reality if you have the right phone

Samsung Gear VR: Reality if you have the right phoneI’ve always wondered what it felt like to be Iron Man. Now, not only was I able to experience his suit boot up, I also got to meet JARVIS and play around with a few of Tony Stark’s toys. I wasn’t dreaming. This was reality, of the virtual kind – also called VR. Yes sir, I did all this sitting on my couch, using Samsung’s Gear VR headset, attached to a Galaxy Note 5.

At the time of writing, the Gear VR supported only four phones from Samsung – the Galaxy S6, S6 edge, S6 edge+ and the Galaxy Note 5.

My first attempt with the Gear VR presented me with blurry images, which I corrected using the focusing ring at the top of the headset. I don’t wear glasses and while the manual says one should use contacts if needed, I think the eye cups are big enough to accommodate medium-sized spectacles. Navigating is fairly easy; one needs to look at a certain item to point the pointer and then tap the select switch on the touchpad.

My first port of call was the videos already on offer – where I got to surf in Tahiti and visit the PGA Tour. There was some pixilation in the second video, but I blame it on the resolution of the screen; here was an instance where a 4K screen on a phone might make sense. Next, I downloaded Netflix in phone, not VR, mode. But I had to log into it in VR mode. I had a torrid time pirouetting my neck to type in my user name and password using the onscreen keyboard. Nothing matches the sheer pleasure of watching in a personal theatre, and the headphones add to the immersive experience. I decided to watch Gravity. But it was not to be; the built-in gyroscope ensured I was looking at the ceiling of the theatre after I lay down.

Samsung Gear VR: Reality if you have the right phone

Next morning, with a fully charged phone, I decided to tackle an important aspect of the VR headset: gaming. I ended up playing Temple Run VR. It was fun playing it, but if one looked back, the monsters looked downright scary!

Samsung recommends a break after every 30 minutes of usage, especially if one feels discomfort. The phone heating up ensured I couldn’t continue for more than 45 minutes. And two hours of tinkering with the Gear VR depleted the Note 5’s fully charged battery down to 20 per cent – as the headset is powered by the phone.

The Samsung Gear VR, at Rs 8,200, takes multimedia and gaming experience to a whole new level but the phone heats up and the battery gets exhausted. It is possibly the best consumer VR headset one can buy in India at this price point, provided one has a compatible Samsung phone.


Tour Bruce Wayne’s Home and Batcave in Virtual Reality With Google Maps

Tour Bruce Wayne's Home and Batcave in Virtual Reality With Google Maps

Warner Bros.-DC wish to leave no stone unturned in their quest to launch a franchise rivalling the popularity and financial success of Disney-Marvel with the release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice on Friday, and they have even embedded Bruce Wayne’s fictional place of residence into Google Maps to provide audiences with a 360-degree or virtual reality view of the crime-fighting billionaire’s home.

What is surprising though is that Wayne does not live anywhere near Gotham – a universal moniker for New York City – but smack-dab in the middle of nowhere, in the suburbs of the US city of Detroit. You can’t see the house in aerial view or from the road – because it doesn’t exist, duh – but you can choose to jump into the property directly, without any need for voice print analysis or fingerprints.

Note: minor spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen the movie.

Once inside, you can look around the living room with all the walls made of glass or jump through the black void to uncover the mysteries within. You will then be treated to an under-lit and dingy tunnel that leads straight to the Batcave, with the Batmobile from the film straight in your path.

You can also tour Robin’s suit with Joker’s graffiti that Batman keeps around for motivation, or take a look at the six-screen console used by Alfred to assist the Dark Knight in his missions.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – starring Ben Affleck as the former and Henry Cavill as the latter – might have received middling reviews from critics across the board, but it’s been a hit world over during the weekend, earning more than $420 million (roughly Rs. 2,800 crores).

Download the Gadgets 360 app for Android and iOS to stay up to date with the latest tech news, product reviews, and exclusive deals on the popular mobiles.

Tags: Batcave, Batman, Batman v Superman, Bruce Wayne, Dawn of Justice, Google Maps, VR, Wayne Residence