From left, Lou Rassey, Matt Clayson, Chad Dickerson, Marleen Vogelaar, K. Venkatesh Prasad (all photos by Asa Mathat)
Marleen Vogelaar (l) and K. Venkatesh Prasad
Director, Detroit Creative Corridor Center
Chief Executive Officer, Etsy
K. Venkatesh Prasad
Senior Leader, Open Innovation, Ford Research & Innovation
Co-founder and Former COO/CFO and CSO, Shapeways
Principal, McKinsey & Company
If everyone can be a maker, can the maker movement move the economy? What is the impact of the DIY economy beyond creating and selling knickknacks? Additive, 3D, digital – manufacturing in the 21st century is increasingly personalized. Can these new approaches to finance and manufacturing create a sustainable ecosystem and significantly contribute to economic growth?
Read the full transcript below. (Transcript by Realtime Transcription.)
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Rassey: Hello, my name is Lou Rassey with McKinsey and Company. Please allow me a moment to introduce our distinguished panelists. First, we have Matt Clayson, director of Detroit Creative Corridor Center. Among his many contributions, he’s been instrumental in making midtown with downtown here in Detroit playing an important role for success stories here in Detroit, including Shinola.
Next, we have Chad Dickerson, CEO of Etsy. Etsy, as you all know, is the de facto distribution platform for the maker movement, now over a million users. An interesting fact I came to learn is that roughly 99 percent of all Americans live in the same ZIP code as an Etsy seller. So we will enjoy hearing Chad talking about it.
Next, we have Marleen Vogelaar, who is the chief strategy officer and co‑founder of Shapeways, which as you know is a 3D printing marketplace and service. An interesting fact about Marleen and Shapeways: it now has 10,000 shop owners and recently has opened a 3D printing factory in Queens, New York.
Last but not least, we have Venkatesh Prasad, senior leader in open innovation at Ford. He’s generally considered a what’s-next guy at Ford. Has led to things like Ford SYNC and many innovations that we look forward to talking about today.
Welcome to you all. One point on logistics. We will have a conversation on the stage for the next 20 minutes or so. Then we will invite all of you to the microphones here on the sides for questions and discussion. But let’s go ahead and jump in.
So today we are going to talk about the maker movement. Proponents will say it is driving the next industrial revolution. Skeptics will say it is limited to tinkering. I think in the next 40 minutes we want to explore some of these questions. What exactly is the maker movement, where is it going, what is it potential economic impact, what are some of the obstacles standing in the way, and what can we do about that?
So first, let’s explore a bit what it is, this maker movement. And Chad, if we can get started with you. What does the maker movement mean to you?
Dickerson: To me, the maker movement means two things. It’s about empowerment. If you look back at sort of the history of manufacturing, one of my favorite movies is Charlie Chaplain’s “Modern Times,” and it kind of shows essentially man being crushed by the machine. When I think about the maker movement, it is about man taking over the machines again and being empowered. In Etsy’s case, being able to reach a global marketplace with your goods.
On the connection part, this is equally, if not more, important, the maker movement is about having the tools to be able to connect to other makers and learn from them around the world, not just people in your communities but also people globally connecting via the Internet. The way that plays out on Etsy is, we have something called Etsy teams. These are self‑organized groups of Etsy sellers. We have 7,000 of those teams around the world.
Here in Detroit there are nine self‑organized Etsy teams, representing 1200 sellers, and this is something that didn’t exist in the same way before.
To give you a perspective on that, in New York, where they’re based, there are more Etsy sellers in New York than there are yellow taxis. So these people, the community and the sellers on Etsy, are really everywhere, and they are able to connect with each other. And to me, that’s the movement.
Rassey: Yeah. In the spirit of man over machines, interestingly, Maureen, you guys are creating a platform to bring the new man to the machines. Can you talk a little bit about the movement, what the maker movement means to you guys?
Vogelaar: Well, I can relate to Chad with respect to empowerment. We have over 11,000 shop owners at Shapeways who are selling their products online through our marketplace. And we are enabling them to become entrepreneurs and have a life. Before, the threshold was too big to start your own company, producing beautiful, meaningful products.
I think if you look at the maker movement more in general, I think people can—at Shapeways because of what we do, people can make meaningful products with a high personal value, because they can make exactly what they want, and that is really beautiful in itself.
Rassey: Let’s pick up on that thread just a little bit, this idea of high personal value. There is often a perception that this maker movement is about tinkerers in their garage making things that are meaningful for them but not high‑value, high‑volume, that people are going to want. Do you guys see that as a common misperception? How would you frame it?
Dickerson: I do. We recently surveyed Etsy’s U.S. seller base and 75 percent of them surveyed said, when asked are you a hobby or a business, and they said a business.
Also, the types of goods that you find in marketplaces like Etsy, I think, are absolutely more than what people might call knickknacks. So to give you a specific example, the fastest growing category on Etsy last year was furniture. The furniture on Etsy is absolutely amazing, beautifully crafted. It is really, really amazing stuff. It’s much more than that. It is basically anything that represents creativity and craft and making something really amazing.
Clayson: I think it is important when we talk about creativity and craft that we don’t limit it to one‑off. It is not something that is there and then nothing. It is something that can be replicated, can be mass‑produced, but still has these intrinsic values. It tells a story, tells a story of a person making it, designing it, but it is something that can reach a broad marketplace. And that’s the beauty of what technology is bringing to this movement.
Vogelaar: Yeah. If I can add onto that, if you look at what we do, 3D printing is not for knickknacks. I mean people—like you say, we use technology in a mass produced way to make highly personalized products. People make their wedding rings on Shapeways. I mean, their wedding rings. If there is anything that is super special and highly personal, it’s that. And there’s a good reason they do that, if you want the exact thing you want—it’s digitally produced, it’s exactly to your liking, and you can express who you are.
Rassey: So there is this high value clearly within the maker movement. I want to draw you in, Prasad. Clearly, Ford is thinking about the maker movement and open innovation. How do you see the maker movement as meaningful for you and to Ford?
Prasad: It’s been great sitting listening to each one of you. I find it a fascinating time we are at right now, where the tools for innovation have been so rapidly democratized once again. You can say 25, 30 years ago you had the coming together of the Internet, and laptops; and now you have flat screens that allow for all kinds of spontaneous crowd participation.
But what we’re seeing here is the tangibles coming together now in incredibly democratized ways, whether it’s the ability to print something out and shape your own wedding ring—how much more personal could that get?—or whether it’s to be able to create your own shift knob. Like Jeff Nelson, who is one of my colleagues, actually created a shift knob for a car, incredibly cool to have a shift knob. You can Google it, check it out.
But the point is, somebody can walk into a space, think of something, get on the network, get on the Internet, get tangible tools, and all the tools that you need to be able to shape your idea, whether it’s using a digital form or whether it’s having a conversation with someone who’s on the other side of the planet to be able to go deliver what you have from an idea to a pretty good working prototype and then, of course beyond that.
I think this is a very incredible period of time where one might, speaking from a car‑maker’s standpoint, you might say you have a half a dozen automakers in the world or a dozen auto makers, big ones, depending how you count this. But I think there’s a billion little automakers in the world, and growing. By these I mean a little “a,” anyone who can automate making. So imagine the effect of a billion companies coming together. I use the word “billion” because there’s a billion trucks, cars, and busses on the planet. There’s a lot more off‑road, and mini, two‑wheeled vehicles. A fascinating period in time, where sitting in Detroit it is particularly touching. Instead of moving, because this is where a lot of this began. This is going with a way back to Henry Ford and our learning. Henry Ford spoke about making the desirable affordable. We can now make that desirable, in your mind, affordable. And it can be democratized in an interesting way.
Rassey: It’s interesting to hear a couple of different perspectives on this movement, one from Ford and a large company looking to draw in innovation from many sources, from many small-“a” automotive innovators.
On the other hand, we have on your team, Chad, folks who are helping crafts‑makers and entrepreneurs come up with new ideas that may not have aspirations necessarily of connecting to the automotive mass market, high‑value. How do you think about the connections between this—these two different parts of the maker movement?
Dickerson: I think one of the areas that—I think Etsy is increasingly going to touch more and more industries with the types of activities on Etsy. There are no auto parts yet on Etsy that I’m aware of, although someone is probably going to search and prove me wrong.
But what we’re starting to see is the maker movement starting to really touch larger systems like retail, for example, and one of my favorite examples is just in the past year we partnered with Nordstrom—Etsy partnered with Nordstrom to essentially introduce Etsy sellers to Nordstrom in their local communities so that they could wholesale their goods to Nordstrom. I think that’s one way we’ll be working with the community to really reinvent retail.
So what does that really mean? If you go to Seattle, San Francisco, or Chicago Nordstrom, there is actually a display of Etsy made by local Etsy sellers. Just this last week we got a note from one of those local sellers that she got so much exposure from Nordstrom, not only did she have to quit her job, her husband had to quit his job to help her.
Rassey: That’s really achieving a scale that’s significant to them.
Dickerson: It did. And I think with the maker movement we will be increasingly surprised at what seemed small and local and small‑scale, now will continue to grow. I think with things like 3D printing affecting—
Rassey: Marleen, do you see prospects for a similar kind of retail disruption of the kind Chad described?
Vogelaar: Well, I see two elements. The first element is the shop owners at Shapeways who sell their products through our platform. What we do is we take away everything that is hard about manufacturing. They don’t have to create a website. They don’t have to have customer service. They don’t have to negotiate vendor contracts. They don’t have to stock expensive inventory of 20,000 pieces of the same thing. So—and we are enabling them scale, because if they sell well, they can sell as much as they want. They can go to really high‑scale, selling thousands and thousands and thousands of parts without, you know, creating a sweatshop in their own house.
There’s a second element there, that you see some other shop owners at Shapeways that have become very successful; I think a great example is Craig Kaplan. He is a math professor who actually decided to teach his students about parabolas. And he created a rocket cup. And we printed it for him in ceramics. And all of a sudden this rocket cup is all over the Internet. It goes viral. He’s selling them like hot buns all over the place. And right now this cup is actually selling at Fred & Friends and at Urban Outfitters, and so he’s transitioned into retail.
Rassey: A terrific example for scaling up the economic impact of the maker movement.
Prasad, how do you think about it in Ford’s shoes? You guys opened your open‑ended XC platform a year or so ago. Where do you see you are a year from now, what is the trajectory in your view?
Prasad: What we have was open-source hardware and an open-source platform for tinkerers and hackers. It’s called Open XC. We also have on the product side, AP, application-programs interfaces for think programs.
Really what I see happening is, makers being able to create really interesting concepts and take it beyond the concept stage. But as has always been the case, individual makers are faced with diffusion challenges: How do I find the right market channel? How do you share what you’ve learned? How do you share what’s worked and what hasn’t worked? Be happy to do it in small communities, but they don’t have the scale necessarily.
I think that’s where a firm like Ford can come in that plays interesting platforms that allows this engagement with the crowds, and really to provide challenge, challenge not just to communicate a finished product because that it does pretty well. Individuals might be able to do that through individual channels. But to be able to share what’s worked and what hasn’t worked with others, with peers, right?
Rassey: When we were talking earlier, it seems there is something, a need for that big‑company experience. What are you saying?
Clayson: It’s an interesting thing happening in Detroit right now when we define what’s happening in the maker movement; interesting design and production is happening under one roof, if not by one person. So it could have some good traction in the marketplace. But for something to be scaled, that is where we need to put on the expertise of a Ford, of a GM, of a Chrysler, of someone who can help engineer it, engineer the process around it, but still remain true to itself as a handcrafted idea, or an item that has intrinsic value, a story to tell. But it can get to scale, to markets beyond Detroit, beyond southeast Michigan markets, beyond United States. There is an opportunity in Detroit that maybe few regions have—is the fact that we can design prototype, engineer, mass‑produce and mass‑market this good, all in the same city. That’s kind of fun, and I think that is really going to help define where this maker movement goes in the next 10 years.
Dickerson: There is one point I wanted to make about the maker movement and scale. This is something we have learned in the past eight years at Etsy. I think the maker movement also means making things on your own terms, and for many of the sellers in the Etsy community—and I hear this when I speak of them all the time—they actually enjoy at Etsy that they don’t have to scale on Etsy, that they can make things one day a week, or one day a month, or one day a year, and carve out space in the rest of their lives to take care of family members, pursue other hobbies, you know, write a book, like any number of things.
And so I think the flexibility—I would caution pushing too much towards how do we scale this, and recognize that part of what’s remarkable about the maker movement is that the participation is very flexible. You don’t have to scale if you don’t want.
Prasad: I completely agree with you, Chad. The beauty really here is you are able get to a market size of one, but use the resources of the globe. And I am echoing what’s been taught at the Ross Business School and other places by faculty members. So this has been pretty well studied, that if you use the tools of the age these days, these tools that allow the democratization of innovation, you can get to a size that large firms don’t have the aptitude or interest in getting to, but you can use the resources of the globe.
So I think what’s really interesting and unique about this discussion and this dialogue here in Detroit is that Detroit knows how to bring parts from anywhere in the world, resources from literally anywhere in the world. For a hundred years, or more than a hundred years, we have been doing that. So I think there is a real unique, latent, innate talent here that is so embedded in the DNA of this place, so I think this is where this type of maker movement—I’m not saying this is the only place where you can have this flourish. Working to a market size of one but being able to use the resources of the globe.
Clayson: That’s why I do talk about scale. Because when I look at reenergizing, reinvigorating our older industrial cities, we need to find a way to bring this to scale because that’s the way we can make American manufacturing relevant again, is to go back to this focus on crafts, this focus on the individual output, finding ways to connect that to markets beyond my aunt and uncle or something like that.
Rassey: What I am hearing is, there isn’t a one‑size‑fits‑all answer. There are certain sizes of this maker movement and to work at it at a scale that is close to them, still deeply meaningful, a human element, Chad, that I hear you describing. There are also other entrepreneurs, innovators in this movement that are looking to scale it up, to drive something at a level of larger and broader reach. But the maker movement I am hearing you guys describe has multiple segments in it that we want to recognize.
Vogelaar: And if you look at the scale, whether you want it, yes or no. But what happens right now is the companies like, for instance, Shapeways, we are enabling that scale if you want it to. If you look at how software was developed 20 years ago, and you would have to update it. You had a disk and you have to put it in your computer and you have to get it a store. So the amount of software for entrepreneurs out there, there weren’t so many. And if you look at the Internet and the complete proliferation of software development, how many software development entrepreneurs that are here right now, it’s huge! And the maker movement and with 3D printing, you actually enable people to become product entrepreneurs and productize products all over the world for direct global access. So anybody can be an entrepreneur.
Rassey: So to reflect on our conversation on this maker movement, it shows tremendous promise. And the examples you shared give us lots of reasons to be excited.
What about obstacles that you all see that are gating adoption, impact? What are the possible barriers?
Dickerson: One thing I think a lot about is things like government policy. I don’t think, at least here in the United States, we still haven’t grappled fully with how independent workers can get into the system and get healthcare and that sort of thing. Something we think a lot about at Etsy also is the idea of the micro entrepreneur; you know, we have the Small Business Administration, and we have many institutions that support small business, but what about the micro business? And we see challenges pop up in health care, as I just mentioned, but even things like Internet sales tax. I have spoken to U.S. senators who can’t quite believe that there are people working from home, building these types of small businesses, and there is still a lot of education to be done on the policy side.
Rassey: Other barriers or obstacles that you see from your vantage point, Prasad?
Prasad: I mentioned this before but it’s the diffusion challenges that an individual maker might find. They have a great idea. How to get the word out. How others learn from that. There are channels today, whether Internet or different modalities, to be able to communicate. Large firms know how to market and communicate what they have, but then they do it for a large market, as I said before. It’s not for a one‑person market or a 10‑person market. So segmentation, scales are very different. So being able to get to—to be able to diffuse the idea, from other people’s failures, is very important, and it’s hard to do that unless you are part of some group.
But then when you are speaking of the right brain and left brain having to work together to create a product that has appeal and function, you really need to be able to lower those barriers to diffusion. I think we are getting there, but—
Rassey: We’ll pause for a moment, and to the audience, we will invite you up to the microphones. We will take questions after a moment or two, so please feel free to come on up.
One more question before we do. As we look ahead, is this a local movement, a national movement, a global movement? What are you seeing, and how would you encourage folks to think about it? Marleen, let’s start with you.
Vogelaar: This is a global movement with local effects. What you see is, people at Shapeways, and I’m sure with other maker companies, they sell globally. They have customers all over the world. But it’s local in a way, too, because lots of these entrepreneurs who are selling their products, they actually—they’re part of a niche community, and they are deeply engrained into that community, and the community is maybe geographically spread all across the world with members saying, you know, either it’s a video game or some, you know, hobby, or something with jewelry, anything it can be; that the community acts locally on the Internet. So they know where to find each other and they have their presence on the Internet at one certain place. So it’s kind of a little bit of both. They sell globally, but they act locally on the Internet.
Clayson: I think it will be seen that it’s a global movement we are beginning to re‑realize here. I think with our big rush towards mass consumption, our big rush towards towards big box, they lost sight of what craft means, what hand work means, what artisanal means. Like with many societies around the world, they still maintain that, they didn’t have that big push towards consumption, consumption, consumption. So now with this kind of rise, with this kind of shared vocabulary that people are speaking about the maker movement, the advent of technology such as Etsy getting products out, all of a sudden we are seeing this return back to craft, back to the artisanal, one‑off goods, the rugs and the copper pots of the Middle East, the widgets and leather goods and watches of Detroit.
Dickerson: It’s absolutely global. Last year at Etsy there were transactions in 200 countries and a million sellers across all of those countries, 30 million people registered on the site all over the world. But it’s also got a very local element, and one of my favorite examples of what Etsy means and I think this starts to—is one of the answers to the question, can the maker movement re‑make America, is last year I got a Tweet from Mayor Larry Morrissey from Rockford, Illinois—he’s in the audience today—he was on a panel, asking if we wanted to talk about building an Etsy economy in Rockford. And Rockford is a community that has been struggling in similar ways to Detroit.
I responded to Mayor Morrissey—and this is all happening on Twitter—these are local Etsy teams responding to the local platform, saying I want to work with you guys to make this happen. So here you have this global platform based in Brooklyn, Etsy, connecting a Mayor with the head of a team of Etsy sellers in his community. So in that sense, I think platforms like Etsy are intensely local.
One other quick anecdote. We had a Greek seller who was doing really well on Etsy and, of course, the Greek economy has been struggling for quite some time. She tried to pay taxes on her earnings on Etsy, and her tax form was rejected because the Greek authorities didn’t believe that you could make things like you make on Etsy and sell them and make money. She is an accountant, so she went to the Greek tax office, and painstakingly took them through the whole business, so they accepted her tax payment.
That’s the hardest I have ever seen anyone work to pay taxes. But it’s an amazing thing, and I think in Rockford, in Athens, we have people talking about how this maker movement is changing their lives.
Rassey: So is awareness building needed at multiple levels to make this go?
Dickerson: Yes. Pay your taxes.
Rassey: A related question. So the examples you gave are quite inspiring. If we look around the globe and we look what’s happening in the maker movement in the country, where are we? Are we well positioned? Are we ahead of the game? What do you see and where would you place this relative to what’s happening elsewhere? Prasad?
Prasad: Dale Dougherty, who runs Maker Media, recently said, not surprisingly, instead of making a case for how the maker movement is, in fact, transforming into a maker market, and I think it’s worth considering that in the context of your earlier question about is this local or global, I’d say that we actually are getting to a very interesting point in time where the world is getting smaller, and the village is getting more and more global and bigger.
Just last weekend there was an article in The New York Times about how MIT recruited a student from Mongolia as a freshman, in part, mostly because of what he was making in his garage. So he was putting things, electronics, together and making things really interesting. MIT is a world unto itself, big flat world, maker sitting in Mongolia, high school kid, got recruited. So it is becoming a market driven by all of this sort of technology‑enabled innovation; it’s really bringing us all together.
Clayson: I think if you look at the infrastructure of this country and you look at the definition of “maker,” where design meets production, and you look at the two core indicators of that—world class universities, world class art and design schools, some of which are in the city right here, and then you look at the technological infrastructure that we have, that intersection of those two elements really places America in a strong position. To be an attractor of makers but also to cultivate our own community of makers.
Rassey: I’ll look to the audience now. Do we have any questions?
Hightower: Tira Hightower of HL TV. I have a two‑part question. What I think is fantastic about Shapeways and Etsy, empowering the creative individuals out there, and I think Jack Dorsey is going to speak later, he said Square, his project came out of the need of a friend who was selling glass works at a fair to process a payment for a sale that he couldn’t otherwise have. That is the nature of Square, so it is empowering the local art scene and individuals.
But my question is, there was a great piece in The Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago with Jay Leno who is a car enthusiast. He said his whole garage, all his vehicles, all the people who work on his cars, they are entirely self‑sufficient. They don’t have to go out to get any parts for the vehicles. If there is a part that needs to be fixed, they can take an old part, scan it in, modify it, print out a new part, or just create the part they need and print it out there with 3D printing.
Now from the perspective of someone like Ford, how are you positioned to handle the fact that be—the implications of what 3D printing means in your future? Not only how you can harness it and use it for prototypes of things, but how will it affect your business, your parts business as you go forward? And second part of this question, what about IP? If people can create something and upload a design to the Internet and anyone can print it, how do you protect your manufacturing IP when you have all that on the table?
Prasad: That could take a whole session. But clearly we have thought about it. To your first question about people printing their own parts, obviously we are a tightly regulated business for all good reasons. So things that are regulated will stay regulated and therefore have to be regulated, and there are testing and procedures involved. So there are hurdles just because we want to do the right thing as individual members of society. As individual entrepreneurs we might want to do otherwise but as members of society, we have a certain responsibility.
Outside of that, there are a lot of ways to create value to the car as a platform. The auto business, as I said today, there are about a billion cars, trucks and buses on the roads. The aftermarket business has upwards of $300 billion, an annual number, not sure if it is a U.S. number or global number. So it is big today, already happening. We know how to work with all the makers in the world, whether in the aftermarkets or us and our competitors. So I think that’s a happy world just getting happier, I would say in many, many different ways.
To the second point, I think intellectual property is there to protect the David and the Goliath of the world and they are there for good reasons, but intellectual property shouldn’t stifle innovation. It’s actually there to promote innovation. So with the democratization of technologies and tools, there is going to be a number of ways to allow the crowds to innovate and create various versions, and for those who are interested in stitching together those innovations to create added value. So to take a platform notion, each platform layer can be protected but it now creates something on top of that that now adds value. So I think you are going to see a lot of that.
Rassey: Thank you, Prasad. We have another question over here.
Kirkpatrick: Yes, you guys had a great discussion, but there was an element I was hoping to add, particularly that goes to things that Matt and Chad have been talking about, which is the cultural and even spiritual dimension of what this movement suggests long term. I will say the reason we had Rodney Brooks in the previous session was, among other things, I personally believe the pace of robotics and automation and the transformation of jobs globally is going to be much more rapid than most people think. And it is a great thing; it will replace a lot of tedious work. But there’s two things that I think may be worth thinking about. One is the disappearance of the hand, in the sense of craft, which is a word I think Matt brought into the conversation. But also, the need in a future when we really could—this is more hypothetical, but I actually believe it is a real possibility—see a world where people really do have to work less, and have the opportunity to express themselves more, and maybe we’ll really need to do that.
So I would just like for anybody there to muse on some of those—the consequences of a little longer-term evolution of the maker movement and what it might mean culturally.
Dickerson: I will give it a shot. The one book that really inspires me, when I am thinking about the way the world works economically, is the book by the economist E.F. Schumacher, written in I believe 1972, called “Small is Beautiful.”
I will try to talk about the cultural, spiritual parts. In that book he talks about the various anti‑technology, anti‑machinery movements that have happened, and he talks about labor‑saving devices in a specific way. As I remember it, sitting up here on stage, he talks about how machinery that is good is that machinery which doesn’t remove the essentially human part of the work.
And so when I look at things like 3D printing and even what is happening on Etsy where jewelry designers are using CAD to design jewelry pieces and they are printing it out on a 3D printer, that’s still a creative act. They are not slaving at a machine, stamping this a thousand times a day. So when I think about the long‑term culture and the way technology will advance, I believe really in a brighter future based on this type of technology.
I will give you a very quick example. If you study the history of something like the sewing machine, which is—you know, sewing machines are used on Etsy by many, many, many Etsy sellers—the sewing machine when it was introduced caused riots. Tailors in France decided it would take away their work away, that sort of thing. And I imagine if I announced on Etsy we would take all the sewing machines away because they were machines and you weren’t actually doing it completely by hand, I would have a riot on my hands.
So I really believe that as these machines develop, we have humanity and the means to have them develop in a way that supports our spiritual selves and the culture we are creating. It’s just going to change how things are specifically done.
Clayson: I look at it as a function of the marketplace. We are living in a world of increasing scarcity. When you live in a world of increasing scarcity, what do you do to provide value, to engage consumers? You focus on the craftsmanship of the materials, the limited resources. Then you craft a narrative around that craftsmanship that really gets people to see value on that hand, whether it is facilitated by a machine or whether it’s just an old‑school blacksmith shop.
But as we continued to deplete resources, there is going to be so much more—much more important part of the dialogue.
Rassey: Marleen, you also brought up the wedding ring example, something that has high emotional and personal. What are you seeing?
Vogelaar: If you think about it, a lot of people have a need to feel recognized, to feel that they matter. And what they do, if you look at mass‑produced goods around you, and we are surrounded by them every single day, you actually see that these goods, they are all the same. Quite often they lack a little bit of heart because they are made super efficient, but they are all the same. Our computers, our cars—sorry!—and it’s very hard with the current mass‑produced products that we use, it’s all the same, so there’s no way to distinguish ourselves. So we start to customize them by putting stickers on them, or going to a car dealer or to one of those shelves where you can get your car cleaned, so we do all of these things to distinguish ourselves and to make us feel happier with the products that surround us.
And if you look at what the maker movement can do, by providing these highly personalized goods, people start to surround themselves with goods that are much more things that are really meaningful to them, like a wedding ring, and hopefully will provide a few more smiles in this world.
Rassey: Very good. We have time for one more question.
Faralisz: Hi. Nancy Faralisz. Sorry, I am up here again. I also work for a magazine called edibleWOW. Have you heard of edible communities at all? Basically this is all about the local food movement, which is another maker movement. In Michigan, after automotive, second is agriculture. So I believe there’s a huge opportunity to take mobile technology, basically Etsy, and do the same thing for food. And I worked at Kraft Foods for a long time, so I know that side of things and I have been working in this for five years. So what do you guys think about that whole concept?
Dickerson: I think you are exactly right. There is a whole set of start‑ups in that space right now. In Brooklyn, in the neighborhood where we’re located, there is a setup called Farm Ego, which working in the space. We have had conversations inside Etsy, like how do we get in agriculture, and they are a bunch of complexities and other startups will do it better than us. But absolutely, the same spirit of community and connecting and global/local things absolutely will connect with food and agriculture.
Audience Question: I have to tell you when I found out I was coming here this morning or last night, I saw the schedule and I saw that you were here, and I said, there are a lot of bigwigs there, but I am most excited about Etsy.
Rassey: Thank you for coming here. You have given us a lot to think about and to be excited about, about what the maker movement really can mean. So please join me in thanking our panelists, and thank you, all of you.