Back in the middle of 2010, I went to Hong Kong to meet with Jon Buford, I’ve known him since a few years back from Agile Hong Kong meetings, where he had talked about the design, manufacturing and marketing processes in the toy industry. He had just organized the first Startup Saturday HK event with a huge attendence of more than 400 people!
I talked to him about the “Open Hippel” project I was working on – creating an open source platform for collaborative innovations. Think of this as the tool to enable people to create a “haystack of innovative people and ideas”. The more haystacks people can pile up, the more chances of a few top quality products can be created, and we can source the production through a new venture in Hong Kong!
Cuusoo.com, the company I work for, was going to be a major “haystack” in this scenario. I came back to Japan and arranged a meeting between Jon and my boss. Well… let’s just say it didn’t quite work out.
Fast forward a few months, Jon had started BootHK, a physical space for the co-working, makers and startup communities in Hong Kong! I thought it was really cool that someone is finally doing something for the greater good of the whole society!! I’m not exaggerating!! You can read the concern and reason on why I organized the Design & Innovation Forum event in 2009.
There are a lot of naysayers about how Hong Kong is not the place for internet startups and entrepreneurship, and they’re right to a certain extent, the “conditions” are not there. But that’s exactly what Jon is doing, he’s creating the environment for these “conditions” to exist!! It’s always hard to create something that doesn’t exist yet, outside of current paradigms… but once you’ve created it, you enable whole new eco-systems to come to life!! For that, Jon deserves a lot of recognition… and he’s beginning to get that: http://www.fastcompany.com/1736662/hong-kong-startups-get-their-footing
Congrats to Jon and everybody working closely with him on BootHK!
Personally, I’m excited about the future of Makible (Great name! ;P ) and the “product sources” (haystacks) that my friends and I have been working on! With the making side of the business model in place, I’ve begun to think about the PR and community building aspects of these “product sources”. I think this eco-systems revolving around an open sourced platform will be a paradigm changer. You can read more on Jon’s insight about the future of manufacturing and consumption on his blog post – http://jonbuford.posterous.com/economies-of-scale-have-no-meaning-where-we-a