After these two articles on why the Maker Movement matters — “Part 1, the Tools Revolution” and “Part 2, Agility,” I’ve received a lot of replies from people in the middle of this transformation in existing companies, or new ones they are starting.
Let’s kick off with two. First, from reader David Ryan, a one-time filmmaker who in recent years has become a boat-builder and charter-boat captain on Montauk, Long Island. He responds to the observation by Liam Casey (“Mr. China”), in this WSJ interview by Matthew Kassell, about why some manufacturing is coming back to the United States. Ryan writes:
"Where it’s made doesn’t really matter, when you look at the margin breakdown—you mostly win and lose in the selling, not in the making." [So Liam Casey says.]
What I learned financing, producing, and distributing my films is that even if you are very good at what you do and are unopposed in the market, no less than 30% of your cumulative enterprise effort will go into marketing,promotion, and sales. And that's if you are very good and unopposed. If you're merely good, or have competitors, or both, the percentage will be higher.
Much of the reason for this higher than in he past percentage (remember, "if you build a better mouse trap...."?) is a result of the profound democratization of communications tools. As previously mentioned, this democratization has been a boon to peer-to-peer communication (videos for fixing sanders and smartphones) but my own opinion is it hasn't made the task of marketing, promotion, and sales any easier (when everyone is super, no one is super) and this would seem to be supported by Mr. China's assertion about where the battle is won and lost.
Because of this and other things I believe I perceive about the effect of the (hyper) democratization of communication tools, I am somewhat more leery, perhaps even bearish about the effect that the democratization of manufacture tools can and will have on that sector of our economy and society.
Speaking of manufacturing, Mon Tiki Largo [the next charter boat Ryan is building, shown above] is scheduled to launch in about 10 days. No one's 3-D printing 100 passenger sailing catamarans --not yet at least!