Kicking off our Emerging Manufacturer Study

To enable all of us to make all we need, it is important to understand much better what is already happening for manufacturers in this city. We can then help to connect people to each other and intentionally build network effects that start to connect the present to the future.

There is a significant lack of data and resources for emerging manufacturers in this Oakland. That lack means that, when inventors and founders are figuring out how to make their products, they often immediately assume that they need to look afield and offshore. This will continue to happen despite fast-moving evolution in machines and materials that can change this equation. Additionally, there are large groups of local entrepreneurs who, working from their personal experience, are creating products and services without benefit of a strong professional network, great vendors, access to space, equipment, and more. This puts these entrepreneurs at a permanent disadvantage. Showing what’s possible, and helping others imagine that possibility in themselves, is an critical part of our Fab City project.

So, right now in 2019, we’re working with a team of Mills College faculty and students to contact and interview emerging food and non-food manufacturers from all parts of our city. We know that this will include individuals and families working part time from home, professionals spending their lunch hours and weekends to research and develop their ideas, teams bootstrapping through high risk early phases of their business. It also must include larger companies, who are still evolving and growing.

Some of the organizations, companies, and individuals we include in our research will have information, data and partnerships which will support our deeper understanding and ability to tell stories with facts. We will, ask those partners to feed us questions to ask, and hypotheses to test as we conduct our interviews and listening sessions.

We expect to gather data that will support our assumptions in many cases. We expect and hope to be surprised. We know that various cohorts of manufacturers have unique challenges, but also that some of those challenges are common to all.

We will connect entrepreneurs that participate in our study to each other, and to the Fab City information pipeline. We’ll ask them to take the Fab City Pledge, and to contribute their ongoing perspective to the problem: how to move from our current reality to a better one…

when all of us make all we need.