Making the Future

What we see in theMaker addiction, is that a relatively small amount of people can have a big impact. You don’t necessarily need the world’s largest company behind you. – Dale Dougherty- Founder, Make Magazine

4 years ago, I walked out of the elevator onto the 4th floor of NYU’s TISCH building, home to the Interactive Telecommunications program that brought together some of the most diverse bunch of brilliant misfits from around the world to learn, teach, collaborate and make. The arriving Masters candidates, were an eclectic bunch, which included engineers, designers, lawyers, journalists, artists, architects, a masseur, filmmakers, dancers, fashion buyer, and a former drag queen. I was an actress and TV host, who didn’t know a soldering iron from a glue gun, and who, like many in my incoming class, had never written a line of code in her life. Yet, only a month later, I would strip down an old computer for spare parts to make my own galvanic skin resistor from scratch, and program video outputs to visualize the incoming data. My first wearable prototype –the mood gauge, had involved experimenting with different materials, soldering, electronics, programming, designing, user experience and video, all of which I’d known nothing of when I stepped off the elevator that first day of school. When my first device ‘talked’, I was hooked. The Maker addiction had begun.

The maker era, enabled by the Internet, DIY 3D printing, low cost chips/boards, open-source prototyping platforms like the Arduino, shifting business models and payment options have erased barriers to creation and expression and leveled the playing field. Today, if you want to express an idea, you can choose whether you want to employ sensors or film, an android app, performance or interactive sculpture. The Maker movement is sometimes perceived to be synonymous with geek culture, robotics and gadgets. And there is truth to this. Engineers, with their deep knowledge and a love of taking things apart are no doubt the movement’s most ardent mascots. However, making is more than just about the technology. It is about a cross pollination of ideas, the merging of the boundaries between disciplines and philosophies. At it’s core, the maker ideology is about moving from being a mere consumer to participating, influencing and changing the world you interact with- be it objects, people or experiences. It is also about pushing boundaries and experimenting for the sheer fun of it. And to achieve this, we need a variety of backgrounds and perspectives all playing with each other. Making/tinkering encompasses a dazzling variety of creations- including DIY quadcopters controlled by brainwaves, cloned fig trees, bamboo bicycles, environment-reactive clothing, 3D bio-printed organs. It touches every area of our lives and encompasses many different fields- arts and crafts, engineering, urban planning, architecture, theatre, film, storytelling, psychology, education, gastronomy, relationships, health & medicine.

“Technology is a means to an end; the end is people” – Red Burns, Founder, ITP, NYU

The industrial revolution concentrated the means and power of production in the hands of a few. Even the entertainment and news industry was a one-way street, with a clear delineation between producers and consumers. There was no way of “talking back” or dissenting on a scale that had any sort of impact. The internet and the subsequent democratization of tools and access changed that. Today, a lone individual with a You Tube channel can command more viewers than a major news channel. As an example, PewDiePie’s, a Swedish gamer’s You Tube channel has 32 million subscribers and more than 2 billion views. All he needed for that was a video camera and a subject he was passionate about. The rise of cheap 3D printers means many more people can create physical objects designed by them quickly and cheaply. The most exciting aspect about the maker culture is that it endows the maker with personal power. Where once, we grumbled about the lack of government initiative in solving certain problems, today, we have the means of creating our own solutions.

This is where makerspaces and Maker Faire comes in. Around the world, maker culture has emerged, founded on the ideas of collaboration and learning to learn. Innovation is a happy byproduct of this culture. From the Bay Area to Bogota, Istanbul to Nairobi, maker cultures are blossoming, driven by a spirit of collaboration and learning to learn. In India, Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad and Kolkata have their own makerspaces, driven by a global sensibility, but also grounded in locally relevant approaches. One of these spaces, Bangalore’s Workbench Projects, operating out of an inspiring space in the Halasuru metro station, has been at the forefront of some exciting maker initiatives, one of which is the Bengaluru Mini Maker Faire, which it is hosting in collaboration with Nasscom.

Maker Faire describes itself as “the greatest show and tell on earth”. People from all walks of life come to show what they’ve made and to learn from each other. The open, playful nature of these events are deeply conducive to cross-collaborative projects and innovation.

“The Walls between art and engineering exist only in our minds” – Theo Jansen, Dutch artist, creator of kinetic sculptures.

“Maker Faire is primarily designed to be forward-looking, showcasing makers who are exploring new forms and new technologies. But it’s not just for the novel in technical fields; Maker Faire features innovation and experimentation across the spectrum of science, engineering, art, performance and craft” – Maker Faire website

The First Maker Faire was held in 2006 at San Mateo and attracted 20,000 people. Today, Maker Faires are held all over the world, with 151 events taking place in 2015 alone. Aware of the global shifts towards a maker driven economy, and eager to maintain their innovative edge, bigger corporations are now increasingly part of the Maker Faires. Companies like General Electric, Autodesk sponsor and, as in the case of Motorola, even collaborate with hardware startups like Makerbot.

The Bangalore Mini Maker Faire aims to be a community based learning event celebrating the Indian maker culture, with it’s unique perspectives, aesthetics and challenges. Be it robotics, games, gastronomical innovation, sustainability, textiles, apps or video, the Mini Maker Faire is a chance to climb aboard the Indian maker bandwagon and be a part of a global movement, one that Kevin Kelley has dubbed the “Third Industrial Revolution”.

If previous industrial movements were about creating silos and competition, the maker movement emphasizes and engenders collaboration. A fashion designer collaborates with an engineer to create a responsive dress, a homemaker and a 12 year old biology enthusiast work on bio-fabrication projects, the local police team up with security specialists, designers and android developers to create apps and devices for a safer city. The possibilities are endless.

If you’re a maker or think you might like to try your hand at being one, apply to participate before the 15th of September by sending an email to info(at)

If you would like to support the maker community as a volunteer, sponsor (be it individual/ organization) feel free to email to info(at)

The Bengaluru Mini Maker Faire will take place on the 15th of October 2015 at the Taj Vivanta, Yeshwantpur.

Guest Post by Suvarchala Narayanan

14 Ways to Emotionally Engage users with your Product

Most conversations with entrepreneurs and product managers who want drive engagement and bring viral features to their products are answered as ‘We will gamify our product through features’. This post is about clearing some nuisance around the topic of gamification in products.

Gamification has nothing to do with building features. In fact, even Product Management has nothing to do with building features. It is not a rocket science, product managers usually figure out the ‘building features’ part of it with time and experience.

“People don’t buy products. They buy better versions of Themselves.”

So how do you ‘connect’ users with your product? Not through features, not through gamification, but by triggering certain emotions with your users.

Gamification = Getting People Emotionally Engaged with Product.

Below are some of the most powerful emotions people have along with few examples that will help you figure out how get users to emotionally engaged with your product / startup.
PS: The number of emotions could be more, I have referred to only 14 here.

1. Expression

Expression – People love to express themselves. Enable it.

Products that allow users to express themselves:

  1. Tumblr
  2. Twitter
  3. Facebook
  4. Medium

Products that allow users to express themselves anonymously:

  1. Secret
  2. Whisper
  3. FML

Tip: ‘Expression’ is used as a core use-case in product.

2. Acknowledgment

Acknowledgment: People love getting acknowledged. With interactions & endorsements.

Help people getting acknowledged. They love it!

  1. LinkedIn – Recommendations & Endorsements are social acknowledgments which users love.
  2. Twitter – Retweets and Replies on tweets are great way to be acknowledged.
  3. Facebook – Likes & Comments are acknowledgments to status messages users shares
  4. Quora – Upvotes & Comments is acknowledgment to your answers.
  5. Tumblr – Love & Reposts are acknowledgments to you posts.

Tip: ‘Acknowledgments’ lead to ‘User Notifications’ which further lead to Engagement. Always build features that enable acknowledgments in products that use ‘expression’ as use-case in product.

3. Exclusivity

Exclusivity or Privilege: People love being privileged. Make it exclusive.

Make it exclusive. No one likes the feeling of being left out.

  1. Gmail – Gmail invites were exclusive to few users. People were ready to buy invites off Ebay.
  2. Quora – Only existing users can invite new users.
  3. Pinterest – Users need to apply for access. After few days they were granted it.
  4. Mailbox – Users were in queue to get access to the app.

Tip: ‘Exclusivity’ works best for initial referral program for driving sign-ups.

4. Being Cool

Being Cool: People want to be Cool. People want others to know they are Cool.

Make your users look cool when they share your product.

  1. Frontback – Share a snap along with a selfie. Lets users be cool.
  2. Vine – Short cool creative videos.

Tip: ‘Being Cool’ will help you drive sharing on Social Networks.

5. Nostalgia

Nostalgia: People have memories. Sweet Memories. Remind them about it.

Remind users about some of the best times they have experienced.

  1. Timehop – Complete product is built around Nostalgia. Reminds users of special moments from the past.
  2. Facebook – 2014: Year in Review videos
  3. Twitter – 8th Anniversary: Which was your first tweet.

Tip: ‘Nostalgia’ helps get back old users and revives their interest. Can be only used once in a year on special occasions.

6. Curiosity

Curiosity: People want to know. They fear on losing out. Keep them curious.

Keep users curious. Keep them looking for more.

  1. LinkedIn – The feature ‘who viewed my profile’ tries to keep its users curious, and engaged.
  2. Twitter – Catching up with Timeline, mostly is the fear of losing out.
  3. BuzzFeed / UpWorthy / ViralNova – All try to trigger curiosity of readers through their post titles.

Tip: ‘Curiosity’ in products helps you increase repeat usage.

7. Competitiveness

Competitiveness: People love to compete with others. Creates a sense of achievement. Make it happen.

Drive users to compete with friends / others.

  1. Foursquare – The leaderboards between Friends was a great way 4SQ ensured people kept checking in.
  2. Quora – The feeling of ‘I have a better answer’ or ‘I can answer this question in a better way’ keeps driving engagement.
  3. Fitbit – Leaderboard that tracks your fitness with friends.
  4. Hackrank – Programming challenges.

Tip: ‘Competitiveness’ leads to greater engagement. Though its novelty in private group is lost after some time.

8. Stay Organized

Stay Organized: People love to organize things. Organize everything. Make it happen

Give users stuff that they want to sort / organize. Keep them busy.

  1. Pinterest – Lets you organize pins / interests/ stuff you love.
  2. Evernote – Organize all your notes.
  3. Wanelo – Organize fashion stuff. Ask girls how much they love doing this.
  4. Calendar / Contacts – They are always in a mess. Its a never-ending struggle to organize this. Google Contacts & Google Calendar help you keep them in place.

Tip: ‘Staying Organized’ helps your users spend more time in your product. It soon becomes a habit.

9. Importance

Importance: People love to feel important. Its about them. Their identity. They want to show off.

Make your users feel important about themselves.

  1. LinkedIn – My professional achievements., that is how a user sees it.
  2. Twitter – My views. My opinions., that is how a user tweets.
  3. FourSquare – Checkin is telling the world – I am here.
  4. – This is me. This is my identity.

Tip: ‘Importance’, everyone wants to be important. The product usually ends up being shared, talked about – and results in others wanting to do the same.

10. Authority

Authority: People love to display their authority on a topic. Give them opportunity to do that.

Help create authority for users. Users want to be acknowledged as influencers by others.

  1. Quora – Authority by Topics. Asked to Answer is being authoritative.
  2. StackExchange – For programmers.
  3. HackerOne – For hackers.
  4. Hacker News – For Geeks.

Tip: ‘Authority’ is the importance others in a community or forum assigns to select users. Users want to be acknowledged as being authoritative, it helps increasing engagement and spending time on the product.

11. Visual

Visual: People love stunning visuals. Its a powerful emotion.

Visuals create impact in product. Don’t miss on it.

  1. Instagram – Personal Emotions.
  2. Flickr – Professional Emotions (yes unfortunately for Flickr).
  3. 500px – Photography community.

Tip: ‘Visual’ is a substitute to all unsaid emotions. Use well when your product is build around pictures and photographs.

12. Freebies

Freebies: People love Freebies. Badges. Credits. It all works.

Freebies work. Make use of them correctly.

  1. Quora – Credits users get when other upvote their answers.
  2. FourSquare – Badges for Check-in.
  3. Uber – Credits to Refer Friends.
  4. Facebook / Twitter / Google – Regularly use Advertising Credits to on-board new advertisers.

Tip: ‘Freebies’ – use it only for one purpose. Can be used for activations, sharing or driving engagement. Use it for one use-case that can measured.

13. Money

Money: People want to make Money. People want to receive Money.

Money is one of the strongest emotions. Portray it positively.

  1. Google Adsense – Opportunity for bloggers, individuals, publishers to earn money online.
  2. PayPal – Receive money from anyone.
  3. Elance – Get paid for free-time work.
  4. Kickstarter – Raise money for your projects.
  5. Gumroad – Make money by selling digital goods.

Tip: ‘Money’ – Receiving Money / Making Money is a positive emotion. Giving away is negative.

14. Sex

Sex: People want Companions. People want Dates. People want Sex.

Keep it simple, keep it safe.

  1. Tinder – Helps you find date.
  2. – Helps you find date.
  3. OkCupid – Helps you find date.

Tip: ‘Sex’ – It is more about selling the Hope. Keep the product simple. Don’t over engineer.

Concluding Notes:

When you build any feature, try to trigger a emotional engagement with user. If you are in early stage of your product development or in process of making your product roadmap, spent some time with this methodology – 15 Steps Towards Building a Great Product.

When it comes to including emotions in your product, ensure the following:

  1. Use max 2-3 emotions per product.
  2. Gamification is not about building features. It is about emotionally engaging a user.
  3. Don’t exploit users. Be subtle. Be good.