A Place Where Makers Can Pursue Their Dreams, with TechShop's Mark Hatch

Mark Hatch, a leader of the Maker Movement, is CEO of the DIY workshop TechShop. Hatch explains how TechShop allows makers the opportunity to harness its resources to innovate and create amazing things.

Mark Hatch is widely seen as a leader of the Maker Movement, which is defined by Adweek as "the umbrella term for independent inventors, designers and tinkerers." Hatch is also CEO of TechShop, a do-it-yourself workshop for makers both experienced and new, with locations across the United States. TechShop provides its members with the necessary tools -- woodworking, electronics, textiles, 3D printers, laser cutters, etc. -- so that they can construct prototypes and products. As Hatch tells us in his Big Think interview, TechShop has been the birthplace of numerous and myriad inventions including the world's fastest electric motorcycle, the very first Square devices, and the life-saving Embrace Warmer infant blanket.


Hatch first got involved with TechShop after overhearing founder Jim Newton describing a "Kinko's for geeks" at a tech conference:

"And so he described TechShop, 20,000 square feet, all of these tools. And so I went and visited it and I talked to three different entrepreneurial groups back-to-back. And each one of them told me that they had saved 98 percent or so – it was like 97, 98, 99 percent of their development costs by working out of the TechShop."

Hatch speaks of TechShop success stories like a proud uncle detailing vast family accomplishments. He tells of the one-time roadie who came into TechShop with a vision of an infrared pet warming device. Instead of taking out massive loans to pay an initial $250,000 bid, he invested $2,500 in a TechShop membership. The invention was a hit and the roadie made millions (though I'd guess he's probably not a roadie anymore).

Returning to the Embrace Warmer blanket, Hatch describes how the innovators behind the product sought to invent something that would give premature infants a better chance at survival. A baby born two weeks premature lacks the ability to regulate its own body temperature. The child will likely die if not transferred to an incubator within an hour. With the Embrace Warmer, which is a specially designed polymer blanket, that vital timespan becomes 4 hours. The invention has since saved 87,000 lives and made its maker, Jane Chen, the subject of international acclaim.

Hatch describes the Maker Movement as an emerging force that "captures the dreams and aspirations of a pretty large portion of the United States." He also points to the power of makers to control innovation and harness wealth:

"There are about 40 million of them in the United States. This comes out of Dr. Richard Florida’s work over a decade ago. The book called Rise of the Creative Class. They actually control something like 70 percent of all the disposable income in the U.S. – 470 billion dollars."

And for Hatch, TechShop is a place where both established entrepreneurs and fledgling inventors can innovate and tinker. Some of the results may end up being novel products but others have the potential to make major social impact:

"And so that’s what I like to say. It’s not only do these spaces enable you to pursue your dreams but they can also enable you to change the world in very positive ways."

The world and workforce need wisdom. Why don’t universities teach it?

Universities claim to prepare students for the world. How many actually do it?

Photo: Take A Pix Media / Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Many university mission statements do not live up to their promise, writes Ben Nelson, founder of Minerva, a university designed to develop intellect over content memorization.
  • The core competencies that students need for success—critical thinking, communication, problem solving, and cross-cultural understanding, for example—should be intentionally taught, not left to chance.
  • These competencies can be summed up with one word: wisdom. True wisdom is the ability to apply one's knowledge appropriately when faced with novel situations.
Keep reading Show less

What the world will look like in the year 250,002,018

This is what the world will look like, 250 million years from now

On Pangaea Proxima, Lagos will be north of New York, and Cape Town close to Mexico City
Surprising Science

To us humans, the shape and location of oceans and continents seems fixed. But that's only because our lives are so short.

Keep reading Show less

From zero to hero in 18 years: How SpaceX became a nation-state

SpaceX's momentous Crew Dragon launch is a sign of things to come for the space industry, and humanity's future.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk celebrates after the successful launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the manned Crew Dragon spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Center on May 30, 2020 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Earlier in the day NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley lifted off an inaugural flight and will be the first people since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011 to be launched into space from the United States.

Photo:Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • SpaceX was founded in 2002 and was an industry joke for many years. Eighteen years later, it is the first private company to launch astronauts to the International Space Station.
  • Today, SpaceX's Crew Dragon launched NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the ISS. The journey will take about 19 hours.
  • Dylan Taylor, chairman and CEO of Voyager Space Holdings, looks at SpaceX's journey from startup to a commercial space company with the operating power of a nation-state.
Keep reading Show less

Six-month-olds recognize (and like) when they’re being imitated

A new study may help us better understand how children build social cognition through caregiver interaction.

Personal Growth
  • Scientists speculate imitation helps develop social cognition in babies.
  • A new study out of Lund University shows that six-month-olds look and smile more at imitating adults.
  • Researchers hope the data will spur future studies to discover what role caregiver imitation plays in social cognition development.
  • Keep reading Show less
    Scroll down to load more…