My short bio:

About this time last year, Tindie was a few months old. I quit my job, incorporated the business around the site (which was meant to be a hobby), and had just brought on our first hire. The AMA I did then was really popular with great questions, so I figured I'd do a followup since a lot has changed!

What is Tindie?:

We are building a marketplace for indie hardware companies - from Arduino, Raspberry Pi, 3D printing, drones, you name it!

Current stats:

  • 7,000+ orders
  • 1,499 products for sale
  • 300+ independent hardware stores sell through Tindie
  • Distributed team of 5 (in Silicon Valley & Canada)
  • Customers in 60+ countries including hobbyists, universities, Fortune 500 companies, and gov't agencies
  • Raised over $1m+ in funding

My Background:

  • Worked at startups throughout the valley for last 5+ years before founding Tindie
  • Started in sales, turned self taught engineer, turned CEO
  • Took a year off to teach myself Python before becoming a developer advocate then web engineer
  • Started tinkering with Arduino
  • Asked this question in /r/Arduino and the rest is history

My Proof: https://twitter.com/tindie/status/407499783373602816

Job If you are a great Frontend Engineer/Designer, PM me with your portfolio!

The End Thanks everyone! After 9 hrs, I'm calling it a day. I'll check tomorrow for more questions. If you have any questions, you can find us: @tindie.

Thanks!

Emile, Founder of Tindie

@emilepetrone

Comments: 458 • Responses: 92  • Date: 

PatentAtty129 karma

I looked at Tindie and my first thought was "there's a lot of neat stuff on here." But then I started poking around and realized that there's more than a small barrier to entry to actually using much of the neat stuff on the site since a lot of it seems to bits and pieces. In some cases, you'd have to actually string a number of the things together to make them actually "useful." This is unlike much of the what I understand people use Etsy for.

Is this something that you're looking at to lower the barrier?

Do you have a Tindie equivalent of Regretsy?

tindie_com89 karma

100% true & YES. There is a bit of a barrier to entry right now. Part of the features we will be rolling out in the new year will be to lower that barrier - help people get an idea what they can do with a part and make things much more approachable.

Haha we don't have the equivalent of Regretsy but if it emerged that would be brilliant

TheNr2472 karma

One way to do this could be the way amazon shows purchases frequently made together with a certain object. And like them you could offer deals that make it cheaper to buy a couple of those parts together.

s87jackson74 karma

You'll need a statistician/data scientist for that! See: me, an underemployed statistician.

tindie_com72 karma

Resume? PM me!

iliketogiveadvice11 karma

Since you're currently working on making it a bit more 'entry friendly', do you mind a little suggestion? :-)

Those of us who are interested in introducing our kids/students to tech and engineering would love an 'educators' type section with kits like this: https://www.tindie.com/products/PartFusion/i-can-solder-badge-v1/ or even just parts lists and instructions that we can teach in our scout troops or homeschool groups, that type of thing. That would seriously be a fantastic resource and will probably drive a lot of customers your way.

Thanks!

jkerman83 karma

As a maker, why should I sell my goods on your site instead of amazon?

As a buyer, why should I buy from you instead of amazon/ebay?

tindie_com136 karma

Great questions - as a maker, our rates are lower than Amazon - flat 5% of the order. We also reach a core audience of people like you, which tends to mean you'll sell more on Tindie vs Amazon. As an example, one seller sold exclusively on Amazon, opened a Tindie store, and we began out selling Amazon. He closed his Amazon store and now sells exclusively on Tindie.

As a buyer, you are joining a community of likeminded people from all over the world and in different niches. Some like audio, some drones, others lighting. In the new year we are launching more features to build out the community side of the site. We are a community marketplace - community comes first. We can do a better job on the community side, and those features are currently being built.

Great questions though!

duffmanhb21 karma

As an example, one seller sold exclusively on Amazon, opened a Tindie store, and we began out selling Amazon. He closed his Amazon store and now sells exclusively on Tindie.

I usually find these things hard to believe. Why on earth would someone close their other account? It's still bringing in orders and subsequently more revenue. It makes no sense to sell exclusively on one platform.

tindie_com64 karma

100% true. I'll leave it to the seller if he would like to come forward.

Many reasons but here are two-

  • Amazon has a flat fee you must pay $40 a month
  • Easier inventory management when you have to just make sure 1 site is right vs multiple
  • When you sell out many times over, inventory management becomes a huge issue

Detechto37 karma

Many reasons but here are two-

  • Amazon has a flat fee you must pay $40 a month
  • Easier inventory management when you have to just make sure 1 site is right vs multiple
  • When you sell out many times over, inventory management becomes a huge issue

But, that's three reasons.

How can you run a successful business if you can't even count?

Caraes_Naur43 karma

My local hackerspace, a 501(c)3, is just getting started. We're thinking of making some products to generate some funding... would Tindie be the right marketplace for us?

tindie_com42 karma

Oh cool! Yep! We have members of hackspaces all over the globe on Tindie. Sounds like a perfect fit. If you have any questions, just pm me and we can help!

SpookyHoobster21 karma

I have a hard time understanding the people side of startups. Where and how do you really start meeting creative, productive, passionate people and how do you get the message across that you're one of them.

tindie_com23 karma

Do you mean about finding cofounders/employees/investors? I guess it depends which you are looking for.

The best way to meet people, I've found, is through people you already know. Your network. Generally speaking they are similar to your friends and you'll have a much higher chance of getting along with them.

peters_cornhole18 karma

I have a desire to learn a programming language and have messed around with python and java on codeacademy. What would you recommend as the next step? Books? More beginner tutorials? Poking around on github?

tindie_com45 karma

Sounds like you are now at the crossroad where people either keep going, or 'never have the time.' When I started, I'd get the occasional comment online, 'You'll never figure it out.' It's a pretty accurate statement for most. Most don't figure it out. If you can put your head down and just grit it out, you'll get to the other side.

If you want to grit it out, start with Learn Python the Hard Way. Then figure out a project you want to build and go build it. You'll pick things up as you go. You'll think you have it about 10 times before you really have a solid understanding. There were many times I'd talk to my friends and say "Oh I figured it out." I was wrong 10 times :)

It took 1 year to get to n00b level. The next year is when things settle in. After 2 years, you'll have a solid foundation to keep honing your skills. You won't know everything, but you can hack together projects, & figure things out.

Good luck!

Also checkout Stackoverflow. Learning how to properly break down my problems into questions was a great exercise. It helped me understand what the real problem is vs what I thought it was.

JabbrWockey11 karma

This is good advice.

I would also add that you should be humble, and not afraid to scrap code that you've worked on because you've learned something new that is more effective.

I taught myself how to code, and used a Raspberry Pi to learn the basics on Linux - and I can tell you, the Stack Exchange network is basically your bible.

tindie_com4 karma

+1

outbuilding3 karma

Did you eventually start working as an engineer or was programming geared towards side projects and building Tindie?

tindie_com5 karma

I did - my first job after learning how to code was as a developer advocate. Not 'coding' but putting what I learned to good use. That company was acquired, and I eventually became a web engineer at the company which acquired us. That was my last job before starting Tindie

ebenavides57816 karma

Did you have a good breakfast?

tindie_com14 karma

Eh, coffee, leftovers, and IRC. We have a channel on Freenode I hop in every morning to check in with users (Tindarians) and make sure everything is right with the world.

(hash)tindie on Freenode ftw

cjf47 karma

What sort of things did you do for market validation? Did you have personal experience with this type of thing, people you knew who needed something like this, or some other type of research?

Also, how do you go about estimating market potential? I realize it's probably pretty difficult to do, but I would imagine it's also something investors/VC folks would be very interested in. I'm mostly just wondering if you make an educated guess, or if you have more concrete ways of quantifying the opportunity.

Thanks!

tindie_com11 karma

Good question - the only market validation I did was ask the question on /r/Arduino. There wasn't a marketplace for this type of hardware (we are still the only "big" site doing what we are doing). The space is emerging now.

You are right. The big question I got from investors is actually - 'How big is the market?' Unfortunately there isn't a good answer for that bc the market is growing / being defined now. Arduino/Raspberry Pi/Drones/3D printers are all just getting started and all growing like weeds. If those platforms become as big as we think they will, then a site like Tindie will have to emerge.

The one thing we look at is the components market is a massive, multibillion dollar market. The type of components that are on Tindie, generally speaking, first come to market on Tindie. The market potential is entirely untapped. However having orders from gov't agencies & large businesses is very reassuring that there is a much greater opportunity than just hobbyists (which is what most people thing on first glance).

lavishmuffin6 karma

I'm a student pursuing a bachelor of computer science, and I run a technology and fashion blog in my spare time. I have two questions: 1. What can I, as a blogger, do to help cool startups and/or find ones to feature? 2. What advice do you have for me as a student?

Thank you, I think what you're doing is awesome!

tindie_com10 karma

Very cool! Getting press / outside attention is very difficult (if you don't pay for PR - we don't pay for PR). Write blog posts, like to those sites. The link love will go a long way (over time). Most of the companies that you read about on TechCrunch, PandoDaily, etc are paying for PR which is why they get listed on all of those blogs and have stories come out at the same time (embargoes).

As a student, build something! Just keep building things. You have some free time - take full advantage of it. Also meet your peers. Build a network of other students in your class. Some will go to Google, Twitter, the next Google, the next Twitter. Increase your chances of doing well by meeting as many super smart people as you can. Build projects with them. Just make things and learn from experience.

Good luck!

thejesteroftortuga2 karma

I'm also a CS student and for the longest time I've been interested in Arduino. How did you get started tinkering and where would you recommend someone such as myself begin so as to eventually purchase from your website?

tindie_com5 karma

There are tons of beginner Arduino books. Arduino also has some great tutorials: http://arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/HomePage

In this age, if you have a CS background, Google is your friend :)

hypermarv1236 karma

Would you feel that taking a year off to learn python was a worthwhile decision? With no coding background, can I learn it in a year?

tindie_com5 karma

Definitely - 100% worthwile. I had saved up enough to live for a year without a paycheck (without healthcare...not smart but I did it). If you are interested, go for it. While you still have a job start learning HTML, CSS, some basic things. Give yourself some sort of foundation before taking the plunge. After a year won't be able to get a job as an engineer, but it will definitely help in the long run. I have never regretted that decision.

wsender1 karma

Any recommendations on resources to learn HTML and CSS? I have some programming skills (C, assembly, VHDL) and found the code academy stuff to be too slow and had a hard time seeing how to really apply it.

tindie_com3 karma

http://webdesign.tutsplus.com/

I <3 Tuts / Envato

unmined6 karma

Amazing site! Just found it.

Question/Suggestion ... I'm looking for a site that will accept commissions for one-off projects based on boards like Arduino or Raspberry. Any chance you're site will offer such a market?

tindie_com6 karma

Thanks! Can you break down "will accept commissions?" Just want to make sure I fully understand what you are looking for

unmined8 karma

Sure ... For example, I would like someone more skilled than I to craft wireless sensors for my washer and dryer. They would sense when the machines are "done" and send a wireless notification so I would know when to switch loads.

So the thought would be ... I post the idea and accept bids for the work. Something like taskrabbit for the maker folks.

tindie_com12 karma

Got it- we've had this requested a couple of times. Tbh I'm not sure right now. There is definitely interest, but no plans at the moment.

justcurious123455 karma

On Etsy, it's possible to message people and ask them if they'll take a special request. Some will, and they'll post a special listing just for one person. The person pays for it that way, using paypal, before it's ever made. I have done this a couple of times on Etsy and have had great success. If that's not possible on your website, I would suggest you consider taking the steps to make it possible!

tindie_com4 karma

Interesting I didn't know they did that. Thats an interesting take on getting a custom job made

CC_EF_JTF6 karma

Serious questions:

  1. Have you considered reaching out to the Bitcoin mining community? Their hardware seems to fit into your site.

  2. Have you considered accepting Bitcoin?

tindie_com4 karma

  1. We haven't but I'm 100% open to Bitcoin mining products on the site
  2. We haven't due to its volatility.

CC_EF_JTF5 karma

Thanks for the response. It's great to hear you're open to mining hardware.

As to the volatility question, with services like Bitpay you can accept Bitcoin that is deposited as dollars. That way your customers can use Bitcoin, but you have no risk of volatility affecting you.

tindie_com5 karma

o really? I didn't know this

MrMostDefinitely5 karma

Who is your favorite ninja turtle?

tindie_com4 karma

Easy one - Michelangelo!

hqi7775 karma

Hi,

What's been your biggest challenge as CEO of your own start-up?

What's the most frequent challenge you saw when working across various start-ups in the Valley?

What words of wisdom do you have for someone wanting to create their own start-up?

Lastly, as a CEO of a promising start-up, how do you think you would react if a complete outsider to your business cold-called/mailed your company with a potentially, feasible and lucrative idea? (Unfortunately, I don't have a great idea for Tindie, but am asking this question to see how a start-up CEO feels about cold-calling in general).

Thanks for your time (and sorry for all of the questions)

tindie_com11 karma

Great questions -

Biggest Challenge as CEO - Communication, balancing expectations, keeping everyone on the same page from users, employees to investors. You'll constantly hear, "Did you see X?" when someone thinks it is a competitor. Chances are it isn't and they have their own idea of what the business is which is different than your own.

Wisdom to start a startup - If it is a tech startup, one of your cofounders must be technical. Either yourself or your cofounder. If you can't build the first version/ a proof of concept yourself, start there. If you aren't technical, and don't know anyone technical, learn. In the valley you hear, "I'm looking for a techincal cofounder." so many times its crazy. You either already know someone (a good friend usually) or you don't. Trust me , you won't 'find' a techincal cofounder.

Coldcalled me - If someone cold called me with an idea, I'd ignore it. If they are serious, they will find a way to get an intro from someone close to me who can vouch for them. You'd be shocked how many random emails I get with businesses proposals.

No worries - these were excellent questions. Keep 'em coming!

supportyourargument4 karma

What were the initial steps you went through at the beginning of your startup? From idea, to deciding to develop, to getting a group together to develop, to getting funding (and the other steps in-between). I feel like startups seem to magically appear out of nowhere, would love some insight from a real world example!

tindie_com11 karma

Far from magic- here's the process that got Tindie going:

  • Was playing with hardware, saw people posting interesting projects and realized there will be products to emerge off Arduino/Raspberry Pi - like 3D printers, quadcopters, door locks that open with your phone, etc. New hardware products were coming
  • Thought well I could build a smart lock -but chances are tons of other people are doing that too. Will mine be the smart lock to win? Probably not (if tons launch).
  • Why not be the place where people get market traction? There will be tons of businesses that emerge and their names won't all be Nest- there will be small companies that pop up that build interesting products and just need visibility -> therefore marketplace
  • Asked the question in the Arduino subreddit if this was a legitimate idea (no code written at this point)
  • Initial answers positive so started writing the code for the site, getting a domain, name.
  • Launched site with a sign up form "Reserve your username" where you are giving your email, username, and password (really signing up with a different header for the form)
  • "We are stocking the shelves" - pushed the backend of the site for sellers to start adding products without seeing what else is there
  • Launched with 20 products/sellers and a community that already kind of knew each other from Reddit

This was about a 2 month process bc I had a day job, was working nights/ weekends

EnderbyEqualsD4 karma

Do you plan on taking currencies like bitcoin, megacoin, etc?

tindie_com4 karma

Not right now. Bitcoin is too volatile. From talking with other marketplaces that implemented Bitcoin, the % of transactions that come through are very, very small. Most people seem to be holding Bitcoins as an investment strategy (the gold analogy). I think that is true. At this point, we can get a much bigger bang for our engineering buck by working on other features vs implementing/maintaing Bitcoin or a similar digital currency.

drleminglegs4 karma

Hi there. I have been looking into creating a website my self, and I was just curious as to how you build a user base for something like this? How did you get people to sell on Tindie when it first began?

tindie_com5 karma

Good question - you'll need to figure out where your initial users are and tell them what you are doing. Get people in your corner. As you build the site, give them updates, let them sign up before the site is live. If you don't have enough users on day 1, do more to drive more users to the site. Launch only when you have some amount of users (few hundred or maybe a few thousand is the best case scenario). You'll never be ready to launch but definitely give yourself some momentum before opening the doors.

I did this by keeping everyone on /r/Arduino in the loop. As I found a name, a domain, logo, I'd share those updates. Sellers were able to sign up and "stock the shelves" prior to launch which meant once I opened the site for transactions, we had ~20 sellers/ products on the site and orders on day 1.

SpookyHoobster3 karma

Did some more reading. I personally feel a lot of excitement for how well you're doing lol, congrats! What we're you doing before the 5 year run in the valley? How did you get started there?

tindie_com11 karma

Thanks! Before moving to SF/Silicon Valley, I was still in school at UNC- Chapel Hill. Got a degree in Political Science. Finished my degree by my soph year, and started taking Entrepreneurship classes. Started a site, Knowble.net, that was a network for researchers to connect across disciplines. Got some money from the school, but ultimately that flopped - ran out of money, paid a firm to build the site (terrible idea), and ultimately had to get a job. Key lessons from that failure:

  • Learn to do the things you don't know yourself
  • NEVER outsource development to a 3rd party company
  • Learn how to code
  • If you don't know how to code, don't bring on another person that doesn't know how to code

SpookyHoobster2 karma

So what compelled you to go from NC to CA? How did you start getting acquainted with people there?

tindie_com8 karma

Joined Yelp. Yelp was maybe 40-50 people at that point. Flew myself for the interview, got the job, packed my car and hit the road.

nowshowjj3 karma

Do you accept Bitcoin and if not can we expect it in the future?

tindie_com2 karma

We don't right now and don't have any plans to in the future. Copying answer from another question "Bitcoin is too volatile. From talking with other marketplaces that implemented Bitcoin, the % of transactions that come through are very, very small. Most people seem to be holding Bitcoins as an investment strategy (the gold analogy). I think that is true. At this point, we can get a much bigger bang for our engineering buck by working on other features vs implementing/maintaing Bitcoin or a similar digital currency."

joshu3 karma

Hey Emile! I'll get that paperwork done soon.

tindie_com3 karma

haha Thanks!

Froakie3 karma

How did you come up with the name Tindie?

tindie_com16 karma

Indie Tech...Tech Indie... Tindie

The domain was available. Best $7 I've spent

inexion3 karma

Hi, great work so far!

Question: how much equity did you give up for the investment you've gained?

tindie_com5 karma

Thanks! A this point it is just closing and collecting checks so the final % will be set in a few weeks once we have a definitive amount closed with this round. However the answer you are looking for is 20%-25%.

BoxPressed3 karma

Cool site!

You've mentioned a few times how you shouldn't outsource development to a third party. Can you elaborate on this? Why not? What was your experience? What should you do instead if you're a n00b coder (like myself)?

tindie_com11 karma

Sure thing - if you hire a 3rd party, you will always have to pay someone else to iterate on the site. There is a 0% chance it will be right on the first shot. Therefore its really an invitation to spend a lot of money down the road - not just the upfront cost you are spending to get your idea made. This is what I did with Knowble - it cost something like $20k+. Please learn from my mistake :)

You'll have to iterate, make changes, learn as you go. If you know how to code, then you can make those changes yourself. You'll do it in the morning/nights/weekends and it will only cost you your time.

If you are a n00b coder, keep going and get better! Jump in, the water is fine!

oldmonty3 karma

This looks awesome, I'm surprised I've never heard of it. My question: how hard is it really to start your own business and what are some obstacles no one hears about?

tindie_com5 karma

It is difficult but not impossible. Things to plan for: taxes & attorney fees. You'll want to set up your business correctly if you plan on raising outside investment. If you don't do that right up front, you'll get bit when you fundraise. The legal fees we'll have for this financing round will be over $10k I bet (probably more)

myrealnameisbagels3 karma

As an aspiring entrepreneur myself, my question is this: what was the process like of getting the company from an idea to something you would be able to pitch to investors?

i.e. how much of a product did you have before seeking funding. How did you fund the project initially? How did you go about finding investors? Did you have to refine or iterate your idea at all in the process?

Edit: paragraphs

tindie_com7 karma

The site was already live, we had products, orders, traffic. The sales early on were ~doubling month over month. Sure they were small but that seems like a very good sign. As it kept growing, people around me connected me with other people interested in the space. The first investor I got was someone that was in my network already, but I didn't know him. He also invests in early stage companies, understands marketplaces, and believes in the changes we are seeing in the hardware space. From introductory call to email saying, "I'd like to invest" was about 12 - 18 hours.

For this round, that was a much different process. I was out meeting with investors in person, and talking about the site, growth, vision, etc. It was very iterative. The lesson I came away with were:

  • Spend time/money to get a VERY polished pitch deck
  • If an investor says "stay in touch, I'm interested" thats a No
  • Anything but a "Yes" is a No

We didn't have to iterate on the site, but I did iterate on the messaging/how I frame what we are doing depending upon the investor, and how that message was received by the last investor. I was constantly iterating what I said from pitch to pitch.

mrwhibbley3 karma

So are you saying that funding is closed and you are not accepting any new investors?

tindie_com3 karma

Right - the round is closed. The docs are written. The lead investors have already wired their funds. Now just emailing the smaller investors, getting signatures and the wires for their commitments.

brysonreece2 karma

What has been your biggest regret starting Tindie?

tindie_com5 karma

No regrets so far. It's been a huge learning experience- esp this year. If I were still at my old job, I'd have been constantly wondering whether or not this could take off. Happy I took the plunge

tindie_com2 karma

Question asked offline:

How many are investing? Out of those pitched, 20 are investing

Jake2062 karma

I want a Job Give me a Job!

tindie_com3 karma

Any chance you are a frontend engineer/designer?

brandoncordell3 karma

I'm a backend ruby developer, with frontend experience :)

tindie_com1 karma

Ah sorry :/

Python/django shop

adenzerda1 karma

Where are you located?

tindie_com1 karma

I'm in Mountain View but the team is also in Vancouver & Toronto

Greentree232 karma

How did you get in front of 50 investors?

Thanks for the AMA I kind of see now what I need to do for my Start Up getting rejected 10 times shouldn't be a big deal I guess.

tindie_com4 karma

100% from networking. Friend introducing me to someone else, who says you should talk to X. That person sends the intro, and then schedule a meeting. Cold emails don't get you very far with the top investors who are constantly being bombarded with pitches.

distractedneighbor2 karma

I have a very refined idea for a web/mobile app start up. I have done months of research on the problem/solution I am building but I have no experience designing websites. Thus, I will need to pitch investors to fund development.

What are any tips or resources to get in touch with potential investors?

tindie_com3 karma

Unfortunately you need to get it built. With out a product & traction, it will be very tough sailing

pablothe2 karma

Why did you decide to go to the valley for this? For someone thinking of starting an e-shop startup, what would you advise?

tindie_com4 karma

I had been in SF for 4 years, then moved to Portland after the last company I was at was acquired. I moved back bc missed friends and our head of engineering is in Mountain View too. Made sense from a personal perspective.

Would I move to the valley if I didn't already have a connection to the area? I'm not sure. It is definitely cheaper to live somewhere else. However it is more difficult to get into the community from outside the area. If you live in the the valley, you'll constantly hear about startups/tech and meet people who are part of the scene. It's easier to be a part of the conversation if you are in the area.

Slagard2 karma

Hello Tindie.

I am just now incorporating as of January 1st (LLC) with friends in the tech industry for our first start-up. They are all NASA employees and MIT grads with extensive tech background, but my background is in Public Policy and Regulations development. Are there tools on your website for new start ups in the tech field, or could you offer any recommendations as to navigating pitfalls for someone without extensive tech background?

Thanks!

tindie_com2 karma

We can definitely do a better job on that end. Since you all have an engineering background, most likely the biggest problem will come in execution - sourcing manufacturers, parts, work abroad vs a domestic manufacturer. PM me and we can definitely help!

StormlightLVP2 karma

I'd love to hear your thoughts on patents for DIY hardware! Let's say I've got a hardware design idea, but I know it's an evolution of existing technology. How do I go about researching conflicting patents that could prevent me from bringing my idea to market, what steps should I take to differentiate my idea from similar products, and at what point (if any) do I need to see an attorney?

tindie_com1 karma

I'm anti-patent. It is a huge time/money suck and ultimately hinders innovation. I'm not the best person to ask on researching your design/idea/ etc but I'd probably just go ahead build it and go for it. Any time you spend looking for conflicting patents, someone else will launch their version and get a leg up.

oohcharlie1 karma

Cool site and good luck on the venture.

Few questions. We just launched our startup and are in the running to be accepted into some accelerators that will have demo days at the end of the programs with VC's:

1.) What was the toughest question you were asked during pitches?

2.) Any questions worth mentioning a company should be able to answer that they don't think about?

3.) Our products are similar in the sense of the needed co-creation so I'm interested in your marketing strategy on both fronts. (finding sellers and finding buyers)

4.) I'm sure not everyone has been full time with the company, so how did you manage a team of 5 part-timers and making sure deadlines were met, goals accomplished, etc.?

Thanks. And again, best of luck to you and the Tindie team.

(Edit: formatting)

tindie_com2 karma

Nice good luck!

1) Market size. There isn't a good answer. You can come up with many different answers with many different data points but at the end of the day, no one knows

2) I don't think there is any particular question - just think ahead of what they will ask you. Have your questions down cold. Answer & then shut up. Don't be afraid of silence.

3) Sellers & Customers has been word of mouth. We haven't don't much on the direct marketing side, so I don't have very good advice on that.

4) Everyone is full -time

Thanks!

mister7031 karma

Why does the mobile version of your website suck so hard?

tindie_com2 karma

Bc we have very little traffic to it, and therefore it hasn't been a priority. Fortunately the VAST majority of our traffic is from the desktop so we have focused on that experience.

But yes you are right it does suck. We'll be polishing this year.

domaininfo11 karma

First of all, congrats! I'm thinking of learning how to code and create websites. What is your site developed with? ASP.Net? Python?

tindie_com1 karma

Python / Django

MagikHat1 karma

Just wanted to say good job man! It is my dream to start a company. Get investors. Congratulations!

tindie_com1 karma

Thanks! Good luck!

MagikHat1 karma

So did you learn Python by yourself in a year? I would like to learn development myself. Did you have prior developmental knowledge?

tindie_com1 karma

I did. In middle school, I learned HTML & CSS. That gave me at least a floor to get started

CTownGaming1 karma

First of all congrats on the success with your start up and initial funding. What is the number one thing you would say investors look for in a start up? What helped you achieve success while pitching your ideas?

tindie_com3 karma

Depends ultimately on the investor and if they are the lead or a follow on investor. The lead must believe in the space, have some idea of what is going, and therefore be passionate about the opportunity.

Follow on investors might know something about the space, might not. The one thing I didn't realize is how much they just "pile on." Most investors look for a signal by another big name investor, and if they are investing, looks good and they want in! The pile on mentality is alive and well.

thyll1 karma

Hi Thank you for doing this. My question is, how hard it is to work with VC/Angel people? Do they push you really hard?

tindie_com2 karma

Good question - some investors you won't get along with. You'll have different ideas/ look at the world differently/ it just isn't a fit. If that is the case, probably not a good fit as a major investor in your company. The can email you rather frequently - don't want to hate that part of your job...

Alenonimo1 karma

Plans for the international market?

tindie_com2 karma

Already international! We have customers in over 60 countries, sellers in over 40. I haven't looked lately but those were the numbers about a month or two ago

ViennettaLurker1 karma

There are many exciting developments in hobby-level electronics development. First things like Arduino, now affordable ARM processors. In addition to cheap accelerometers, laser cutting for enclosures, 3d printing, etc.

What trends and fads are you seeing that are exciting to you? What kind of products do you think we will see in Tindie next year? Five years from now? Ten?

And, have you bought/used anything offered on Tindie? If so, what was it?

tindie_com3 karma

100% agree, and the most exciting part is I don't know. We are just getting started and the projects that pop up constantly excite me. Two examples:

  • AirPi - Two 17yr olds in London built a shield for Raspberry Pi to turn it into a weather station. Brilliant, cheap product that I never saw coming and has done amazingly. They had to incorporate in the UK, take a loan from their parents, and just shipped hundreds of preorders they got on Tindie.

  • Tapster - a robot for manual app testing on mobile devices. EVERY mobile app developer in the world should have one bc of the time you'll save.

The only thing I know for certain is we will have tens of thousands of hardware companies emerge over the next few years because it is becoming cheaper to prototype and easier to manufacture in lower volumes. Yes "hardware is hard" but it is getting easier and that only opens the door for more people to come in.

calebkraft1 karma

Well Well well! All I have to say is congrats!

tindie_com1 karma

Funny seeing you here! Thanks Caleb

IncendiaVeneficus1 karma

I'm trying to convince some friends of mine to get serious about taking an idea of there's to an angel to see if they (we) could get funding. So my question is, what did you need to take to investors in the form of demos/research/etc. to get them to take you seriously enough to give you your first (and subsequent) rounds of funding?

tindie_com3 karma

Build it first. If you get traction on the idea/project, investors will be interested. If it is just an idea, you'll have a very tough time. The only real answer - build it and they will come (if it is a great project and they see potential).

noisymime1 karma

As a maker who is currently in final stages of getting a product ready (ie 2nd round of PCB prototypes) any advice about how I go about getting it ready to sell on tindie? How do I determine a good initial batch size to order, handle shipping, refunds etc?

tindie_com2 karma

Good question - once you are ready, you can list it as a Fundraiser (our version of crowfunding which really is just accepting preorders). It has to hit the min # of units sold to 'live' where we bill the orders and you fulfill those ordered. That will give you a good idea of the initial demand. Shipping & handling you'll need to do a little testing on your end bc it depends where you are located & the shipping service you select. Refunds we can handle on our end. You'll just need to tell us which orders to refund. If you have any other questions, feel free to email us at support(at) tindie.com. More than happy to help!

Chris_Gammell1 karma

So what's your take on the interest level in hardware overall? Do you think things being sold on the site will continue to increase in complexity? Or will they be limited in scope and cost in the future because people are more interested in the low end of things?

tindie_com3 karma

Hey Chris! I think it will gain in complexity - esp as parts come down in price, and manufacturing lower quantities becomes more accessible. The opportunities only get magnified as those two trends accelerate.

I think we will always have low level / low end products, but the sky is the limit - in terms of price point and customers. We already have products that cost pennies to $1k+. We will begin to have more consumerish products - but I think those will fuel growth in hardware. The more interesting products emerge, the more interested people will jump into diy. Very cyclical. Arduino & Raspberry Pi just make that first step so much easier. Gateway hardware drugs

kichigai-ichiban1 karma

Aside from contacting a seller directly, will there be regulated ways to request items made to spec?

Surely it would be up to the seller if they even wanted to, but I could see requests getting out of hand pretty easily.

Do you have any plans on how to handle people wanting custom work?

tindie_com1 karma

Good question. We don't have any plans at the moment, however if there is demand, we can make it happen!

Lusunati1 karma

Any plans for UK Delivery? I would order from here comfortably.

tindie_com1 karma

\o/ We already have tons of sellers in the UK. Just have to be on the look out! Also many already ship to the UK

https://www.tindie.com/?country=GB

lasagnwich1 karma

Can regular people invest?

tindie_com1 karma

Unfortunately not right now :/

Tebasaki1 karma

I'm an idea guy; I have new ideas everyday and am actually executing a few of them. My roadblock right now is getting it out there and selling it (to consumers, to investors). I have a new idea that, while the product is different than yours, could rope in every business sector.

I've never built a business model; all of my stuff is from the idea point of view. I get an idea, find out if it's been done, and then make it work.

What can I do to get the word out there and find investors? What kind of cut do you think is fair for investors?

tindie_com3 karma

Build it. Unfortunately "ideas are cheap." You have to build it before anything else.

piclemaniscool1 karma

I'm 19 and have no marketable skills beyond being the designated local tech geek. In terms of coding, I could mess around with the variables in JavaScript, but that's about it. Would I have any use in your organization? If not, what would you recommend the first thing I do to set down that path?

tindie_com2 karma

Unfortunately not. Get more experienced & become a solid JS developer. Build projects, open the code, get feedback, critiqued by the JS community. You'll have a lot of value as a seasoned JS dev (esp as Node picks up traction)

some1inmydictionary1 karma

What are the limitations on what can be sold on your site? I work for a company called Delptronics, and I'm wondering whether we could sell our fully-assembled stomp boxes and eurorack modules on Tindie, or just the kits (since most of the things i'm seeing while browsing seem kit-style).

EDIT: Our modules and stomp boxes are substantially hand built (many of them built by me, actually). Sometimes the resistors and such are put on the boards in a factory, but the electromechanical parts and final assembly are always by hand. I don't know if that's relevant or not, but I mention it because of Etsy's rules.

tindie_com2 karma

All of your products look like a great fit! We are very open with what can be sold on the site. We are the first doing what we are doing so it is very much trial and error. If you need any help just PM me!

mars991 karma

What's the best way for someone who has no tech background to turn an idea into a tech startup?

tindie_com3 karma

Start learning how to code: learnpythonthehardway.org

If you are interested in building a tech startup, either you need to know how to code or your cofounder does.

heykostar1 karma

I have a question. What stage was Tindie in when you pitched to the investors? (users/revenue) What was is about Tindie that made them decide to invest?

tindie_com3 karma

At this time last year, I forget where we were with users but we had $3600 in sales that month which would be about 100 orders. When talking to early stage investors, it is very much a gamble. The chance of failure much higher, but then again the opportunity is great. I haven't asked them point blank, but I think it ultimately boils down to they have an idea of how the world will work in the future, and you fit in that narrative.

year20401 karma

man can i be your apprentice, master?

tindie_com1 karma

Depends on your skills as an apprentice

Raviede1 karma

Are you hiring sysadmins?

tindie_com2 karma

Unfortunately not right now :/

GenericCoffee0 karma

So how long until you leave Santa Clara county just like everyone else did.

tindie_com2 karma

Having lived in SF for 4 years, and I just moved down, probably not for a while. I like it - much quieter, better weather, and easier to bike around

GenericCoffee1 karma

So so expensive.

tindie_com1 karma

You got that right!

iamkoloss0 karma

Can I (or will I be able to) sell ink and toner through this site?

tindie_com1 karma

I'm not sure we are the best place for that

thoughtfix0 karma

Need a full-time DevOps, Linux systems, or cloud guru in Silicon Valley? I'll bring my Printrbot Plus V2, Watercolorbot, and Eggbot to the office and let everyone play!

tindie_com1 karma

Ooo not right now, but shoot me an email emile(at) tindie.com . We will at some point in the future!