6 Beer Tech, Home Brew Startups & Kickstarter Projects

Because its the weekend and I’m about to bottle a batch of my special Freemans Reach Euro Lager and just purchased a batch of Mangrove Jacks Pilsner & Chocolate Brown Ale to kick off this afternoon I started thinking about Home Brew Tech Projects.

Brewing your own beer is one of the great “Maker” things you can do, it is a hobby that has a lot of room for experimentation and getting what you like (hopefully).

What can I say, you had me at Beer


Beginners don’t need to make a large investment, you can get started with a $30-50 for the fermenter, $10-20 for a can of Wort (beer makings) and some dextrose. Get a bunch of bottles and you are in business. Its pretty cheap compared to commercial beer but that’s not why its special.

As you start to get more experienced you can start adding hops to the kits (actually you should do this straight away it will make the biggest difference in your beer) and buying special yeasts for particular types of beer, then when you really get keen and assuming you can get some space in your kitchen you start buying raw grain, hops and brewing from scratch.

Once you start to have a bit of success its actually hard to go back to commercial bottled beer. It tastes a bit plain and lacks character.

You might ask whats this got to do with Startups, well I see a lot of the same attributes in home brewers as I do in Startups, willing to experiment, they want to make something better than the big guys, willing to custom build devices and processes to create their own systems that produce a great product, they want to do their own thing.

There is also serious money in Beer Startups, some of these guys raised $500k+ in their Kickstarter projects.

So here are a bunch of Home Brew Related Startups and Devices that are currently the most popular Beer Tech Products


Three years ago, brothers Bill and Jim Mitchell’s frustrations with homebrewing prompted the duo to look to create an entirely new brewing process.




Jim, a food chemist & physicist, desired to incorporate more science and engineering to the process of beer brewing on a small scale. Bill, having been building software, boards, and appliances for decades, knew a precise, brewing instrument was possible. The two joined forces with engineer Avi Geiger in 2010 and PicoBrew was born.

A few years (and many pints of beer) later, a whole new category of kitchen equipment was invented: the beer brewing appliance.

Now with a team of 6 full-time employees and 14 beer fanatic college interns, we allow people to make their own great tasting, custom-brewed, high-quality craft beer at home.

The PicoBrew Zymatic® improves the precision, repeatability, and overall quality of the beer-brewing experience. The process of homebrewing, now simplified and automated, allows anyone to brew craft beer in the comfort of their own kitchen.

You can pre-order these for $1600 at Picobrew


OpenBrew was founded by Nick and Jake, two avid homebrewers. They sought out to make a great set of tools for aiding in the development and sharing of homebrew recipes. The people aspect of homebrewing is important and we know that the brewing culture in the United States is changing. Our goal is to be a part of that change and help make homebrewing even more accessible to new brewers. We strive to make our set of tools as easy to use as going to your local brewer supply shop and buying a recipe kit.

Openbrew is currently in closed beta but will be opening up to everyone shortly, you can apply for a invitation at their site.








BrewNannyTM monitors your fermentation rate, temperature and even the light level inside your brew. This information is used to watch for conditions that can threaten the quality of your beer and the minute something doesn’t look just right BrewNanny lets you know.
After a launching a crowdfunding campaign they are completely sold out of units and are not expecting more stock until October 2014.

Brewnanny-Dashboard BrewNanny-Fermenter Brewnanny


Synek Draft System

Synek Draft System

Synek Draft System

If you are brewing beer, the biggest pain is to bottle it. Cleaning and Sterilising the bottles is the most tedious part. It is also the most un-environmentally friendly aspect as you waste a lot of water getting one bottle of beer.

If you are buying beer from Craft Breweries they often need to do Growlers (large 2-4 liter plastic or glass bottles) that they fill when you buy, you can bring your own or they will sell them like that.

So this idea is a great variation on the old Australian Wine Cask Invention, except they have pressurised the plastic bladder.

Its that little bit better than the wind cask because they have made them strong enough to withstand a decent pressure so you keep the beer fresh and gassed.

You can take your plastic bag and get it filled at the craft brewers tap or if you are brewing yourself fill it at home. My guess is would save about 2-3 hours of work per brew, you would only need 4-5 of these per standard 20-23 litre batch.

They had a successful kickstarter program >2000 backers with $650,000 on a target of $250,000 in June so whilst they are taking pre-orders at their site Synek System they are probably not going to be able to ship this for months.

Hops App

Hops-App Hops-Screenshot1 Beer is subjective. Tastes vary. Hops isn’t about finding the beer that everyone likes, its about finding the beers that you’ll love. Through a simple, elegant interface, Hops allows you to rate the beers you know and any new beers you try. Hops then curates a unique set of beer suggestions based specifically on your preferences. These suggestions will vary depending on your location and will become increasingly accurate the more you rate.

The Tapit Cap – GrowlTap

This is a great idea for Growlers

The TapIt Cap - GrowlCap

The TapIt Cap – GrowlCap

These guys started off with a Kickstarter campaign and managed 1588 backers with a $91,000 finding from an $80,000 target.

The TapIt Cap is a patent-pending design that ensures the beer in your growler remains fresh and carbonated. Don’t know what a growler is? Growlers are used to transport beer home from craft breweries. They are reusable and are more ecologically friendly than bottles or cans, even if you recycle.

The Inventor Rob had the idea when his homebrew partner told him his father had quit using growlers because the beer went flat too quickly. Buying craft beer in growlers is less expensive, but the value decreases when the beer isn’t consumed in one evening and goes flat after 12 hours. A capped growler can sit for a week or longer depending on how carefully it was filled. But after the first beer is poured from a growler, air flows in to replace the beer. Oxidation leads to bad flavors in the beer just a few hours after opening and the beer becomes flat.

At $50 this is a bargain, the only issue is they don’t seem to have an order page now the Kickstarter has finished.

They are now renamed as GrowlTap and you can order them online at $50 per unit.


These guys are out of Ireland and kickstarted the Brewbot project raising £114,000 from a £100,000 target. Its a bit more expensive than a the Picobrew but it makes a full 20 litre batch, while I like the Picobrew I think 9-10 liters is a little small. Given it takes 2-4 weeks to ferment and then 2-4 weeks to drink only making 10 liters just doesnt seem to be worth the effort, although it is small enough to fit into most apartments I think the Brew Bot is more suitable for the guy who has a garage or shed with running water.

At $2800+ %80 shipping its pretty pricy, however it looks like a great integrated product that is ready to start brewing.

I know there will be a bunch of you makers out there who are looking at the prototype and thinking I can make that, grab a couple of stainless steel bain marees and a gas burner and a pump and you are in business, looks pretty easy, the computer controlled aspects perhaps not as easy but you could get the basics up and running in a weekend.

Brewbot-Exploded brewbot-white-bg



BrewBot Prototype

BrewBot Prototype

BrewBot-050Tell us about your Project

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The STACK Box – A Smart Home Controller

You can pitch your Startup, App or Hardware here

The Pitch

Startup Name * The STACK Box
What problem are you solving? Let’s Talk AboutTechnologyToday user experience is painful because technology makes things complex. The truth is that all our devices speak in different languages.This confusion leads to arguments and dissatisfaction adding unnecessary stress. We created the STACK Box so your technology is easy to use and your devices work together, and work with existing internet services or the cloud.
What is your solution? Our STACK Box connects all your smart devices that control your homes lighting, energy, audio, video, security, healthcare and wearable’s. Unlike any other product in the market, you can now navigate locally and remotely with your smartphone and, or tablet.What Makes Us Different:
Weget lot ofquestionsas to what sets us apart from the rest of the market. Our strength is “Openness”, unlike the competition our hardware is expandable. Ourmainobjective is to support all devices in the market, with the aim to have the best user interface on the Planet.The STACK is the only smart home controller that supports the Apps Store concept and allows 3rd-party Developers toimplement their own applications Consumers now have unlimited choice of Apps and can store their Apps in one place.We also empower small device makers to get their products to work with others and connect to internet, giving more choices to consumers.
Why is this a great opportunity? Who Is The STACK Box For?Due to the vast amount of devicesthatemploy remote controls and programming them, universal remote controls that manage multiple devices are becoming increasingly popular, but none of them really do the job well andlackthe interaction with online internet services.As Intel, Qualcomm, Samsung, Google and many others technology companies and gadgets makers are competing to define the standards. We aim to fill the gap by providing an open platform that allow both device makers and users more freedom of choice without investing huge resources nor time.We created the STACK Box so your technology is easy to use and your devices work together, and work with existing internet services or the cloud.
Target Market Home Automation
How will you make money? Selling Our Hub
Founders Names TL Lim
What type of funding has the company received Bootstrapped/self funded

Startup88 Verdict

This device solves a problem we have known about for a long time. Everyone talks about Internet of Things devices and how they will connect everything in your house to the internet, measuring and controlling, reporting.

Stack Box is running a Kickstarter campaign, they have managed to get 500 backers, $50,000 of a $65,000 goal with 10 days to go, so it looks like they will be successful.


What not many journalists understand is that most of them use Bluetooth or Zigby or similar low power comms chips.

The problem in this situation is that these are all tied to someones mobile phone, as almost no routers shipping today support connecting these devices via bluetooth, there is no glue to stick all these devices together.

Add to this the complexity of trying to make TVs, Wireless Speakers and other home devices work together, normally its a big mess with multiple remote controls and no way to make this all work together.

Stack Box appears to be a good solution to this problem, I am a fan of the concept and for a kickstarter project it appears to have a very good chance of success.

  • They appear to have built numerous prototypes and can demonstrate this
  • They are using components which are commonly available (in their own boards) but they dont appear to have to manufacture any particular component types, just build the PCB with known components), this greatly reduces risk
  • It is probably more a software execution issue rather than a hardware execution, it appears they have hardware under control
  • The team has a successful hardware business with the Popcorn media players Cloudmedia already shipping and appears to understand the manufacturing process far better than most kickstarter projects

I think on its own this is a useful product and over time this capability will be critical in the market.

It is however very early, not many people have got automated devices and IoT components in their homes, its coming but its not mainstream yet but at least this gets a functioning product into the market that can support this.

If I had a wishlist I would like to see the Stack functionality integrated with some of the other devices I need in the home.

I believe the killer product would be Stack Box + DSL Router with WIFI + a 2Tb cloud synced Hard Drive for playing/sharing movies/photos/backup like a Apple Time Capsule but one that lets you use it like a harddrive and a media player. This would solve most of the problems I have at the moment with media while getting me ready to use the Smart Home features.

Stack-Hardware-Explode Stack-feature-protocol Stack-Apps


3 Equity Crowdfunding Platforms Australians Can Use Now

Three months after the submission of the CAMAC Crowdfunding Legislation recommendations we are expecting further delays of 12 – 18 months before we see meaningful change in Crowdfunding legislation in Australia.

Clearly this government has more pressing issues at hand including passing even a few of their budget measures, acting on the recommendations doesn’t appear to be a priority as nothing has been heard of the recommendations since being lodged some months ago and CAMAC has now been disbanded.

Unless it’s a legislative change the Government of the day is sponsoring the process will probably go something like this

  • Government delays action for 6-12 month until the noise gets too loud
  • If they are being pushed into the change it will take two years to work out what they want to implement
  • Political announcement to gain mileage Month 1
  • They form a working group and terms of reference – Month 3
  • Working Group calls for submissions – Month 6
  • Working group study the submissions Month 8-12
  • They complete their report and submit their recommendations to the Government, Month 12
  • The Government reviews the report month 12-18,
  • They work out what is manageable given the political tone of the day,
  • They make pubic political mileage announcements Month 18
  • They request a draft amendment to the relevant Act to be drawn up Month 18-20
  • It goes through many rounds of negotiation, review and amendments in the party room and then the Lower and Upper house Month 20-24
  • Gets stopped at the Senate so they can bend the Government over the pork barrel to get whatever that particular Senator wants for his district that month,
  • Gets amended again
  • Then 18-24 months after the initial a watered down version emerges from the mess, but by the time it is enacted the party is now in election mode and a few months later after a either a leadership or Government Change the amendments get pushed aside…….

Despite this local Crowdfunding players are not sitting on the sidelines waiting, these companies are getting on with crowdfunding or near-crowdfunding platforms or establishing their platforms overseas.

Pozible, i-Pledge, The Crowd (as proposed by Mark Carnegie) and CrowdfundUP have all announced they will provide equity platforms when legislation allows.

The delay in updating Crowdfunding legislation is causing major headaches with some of the Crowdfunding platforms deciding to focus their efforts overseas and others using non obvious paths via New Zealand to provide a workaround.


After raising $140,000,000 over the last 6 years ASSOB is claiming its place as the oldest and most successful equity crowdfunding platform (Ed: ASSOB was crowdfunding before it was called crowdfunding). They have been operating in accordance within a well-defined exemption of the Corporations Act.


ASSOB can only act as a business matching service and can’t advertise deals publicly or allow participants in the market to do so using social media tools that have become “tools of the trade” in crowdfunding generally.

ASSOB however is ready to transform Crowdfunding locally and recently struck a deal to license its IP to OfferBoard in USA and OfferBoard now has active fundraising campaigns underway.





Yes it appears that despite our home-grown world-class Crowdfunding talent and technology, we can only export it at the moment.

ASSOB has also started a Regional Hub strategy that allows the local community to fund local businesses within the processes of ASSOB and the existing law.

They have started with Far North Queensland (Cairns) and have plans for another 7 Hubs in the near future.

ASSOB is well positioned to spread the word and capacity of local businesses to get funding.

Local Businesses and communities rather than high tech businesses may have a greater appetite for Crowdfunding judging from some of the results from both the UK and USA.


VentureCrowd is the well-backed fund-of-funds operated by Artesian Capital – one of the most active VC’s in the country.



Their platform is only open to Sophisticated Investors ($250k, PA income + or net assets of $2.6m).

This method is legal and probably very good for high net worth individuals that want to play in the startup ecosystem and “pick winners’.

But this model necessarily leaves out a crowd of people that are not Sophisticated and who would like direct equity in the company they support, its a very narrow base.


Probably the most interesting player at this stage is Equitise . Equistise has launched a licensed equity crowdfunding platform within the NZ regulatory framework.

Equitise - NZ Based Crowdfunding Platform

Equitise – NZ Based Crowdfunding Platform

The Australian Law Society advocated such a strategy 3-months ago which is achievable due to the longstanding bilateral trade agreements between Australia and New Zealand that encompasses aspects of financial products and markets. As a result Equitise can now offer a Crowdfunding platform to Australian companies and investors as long as their plans include a NZ branch of the business.

They are in effect an Australian equity crowdfunding platform with access to the Australian market but governed within the New Zealand laws.

This is not a situation any proud Aussie should ignore. We are losing talent and markets for funding businesses to New Zealand!

When we hand New Zealand the mantle of being more innovative than us we might as well collectively pick our sorry butts up and go back to mining.

By delaying Crowdfunding Legislation Amendments Australia has stupidly and unnecessarily ham-strung our startups at a time when sophisticated capital markets of the USA are evolving quickly and the red-hot Asian markets like Singapore or Hong Kong are taking off.

For many years our established startups have had to move to the US to access growth capital, while access to local Angel & early stage funding market appears to be improving Crowdfunding holds the promise of allowing startups to access a wide base of local funding, but continued delays along with the destruction of Commercialisation Australia means that the startups of 2013-2015 will probably have to go offshore to get funding.

Despite the self harm our government is causing with the delays to Crowdfunding legislation it is great to see the likes of ASSOB, VentureCrowd and Equitise finding ways to meet the market needs.

Is this the best place in the world to prototype hardware? Visiting Shenzhen

SEG Plaza Shenzhen - Credit Wikipedia

SEG Plaza Shenzhen – Credit Wikipedia

Shenzhen is the best city in the world for Makers, Hackers and anyone who needs to build physical product. After two visits I am convinced you are crazy to build electronics or hardware in any other part of the world.

I just returned from a trip to Hong Kong and Shenzhen. It was my first time into China, I found Hong Kong exciting but exhausting and despite the stories I had heard about Chinese cities I found Shenzhen to be very clean, safe and it just seemed to work really well as a city, traffic was ok, the metro was very efficient, streets were clean and the people polite.

Large buildings on spacious green city blocks stretched for as far as the eye could see for such a populated hub of industry it is very pleasant. 30 years ago Shenzhen was a small regional centre, now its estimated that there are ~19 million, 4 million above the official estimates as Chinese from all over the country come here for work because it has become one of the growth Chinese cities.

In my day job I run a team of people prototyping inventions, primarily electronics based devices. I had heard Shenzhen was the centre of the universe when it comes to electronics and making just about anything.

I was in Hong Kong for a short break and I decided to take a few day trips to across the border to see for myself. You can easily do it in a day and I will shortly publish details in another post to show you how but for now think of it as a 45 minute suburban train trip from Hong Kong with a low stress border crossing. If you look at it on a map, its like travelling from San Francisco to the Valley.

SEG Plaza Markets Shenzhen

The highlight of any day trip is the SEG Plaza Markets, they are absolutely amazing. If you work in Electronics, are a hobbyist or have ever dreamt of building your own electronic hardware you have to visit.

SEG Plaza

SEG Plaza

It is simply mind-blowing, the SEG centre is one of the largest markets, has 10 floors of electronics, with the bottom most levels given over to every imaginable component you would need to build any electronic device. All the surrounding buildings have similar arrangements, I lost count of how many of market buildings there are in the zone however it would be upwards of 15 surrounding the SEG Plaza.

Across the 10 floors there are literally thousands of little booths containing every chip, IC, memory, screw, bolt, nut, LED, reels of components ready for Surface Mounting (SMD), strips of LEDS in reels stacked 6ft high.


Adhoc soldering on counters is the order of the day, workers are soldering components together, mounting chips or LED onto boards etc with Children running around as the day gets later. Occupational Health and Safety is not really a known concept.

As you get higher up the floors (there is a maze of escalators, with no apparent logic to it) the floors start to progress from components and accessories to fully assembled computers and notebooks, many are touting that they are from major brand names like Samsung, Acer (they probably aren’t) Lenovo (they might be) and then hundreds of motherboard resellers which may or may not be as described.

There is an amazing buzz to the place, literally it doesn’t stop, every moment there are dozens of people running from trader to trader, or wheeling trolleys stack with reels of components.

But unlike markets you will find in tourist ares the markets are really not for Westerners to buy a few gadgets, although they are welcome but they are not really looking for tourists.

The markets exist to trade components between suppliers and factories in the surrounding districts. Thousands of these little booths represent factories in the province, and other factories buy and ship whatever they need to each other.

Most of the traders are friendly

Most of the traders are friendly

Aside from just about every component, nuts, bolts, LEDs, lights, switches, SMT Rework stations, SMD ovens, CNC Routers just about anything you need to build an electronic project can be had within a few city blocks. The amazing thing is that they are just taking orders and shipping product all day, non stop people wheeling trolleys stacked high with reels of electronic components whizz past every few seconds.

CNC Routers

CNC Routers

A few words of warning

I don’t want to be alarmist or negative on doing business here because I think from my short visit the place is amazing and we will be establishing a presence sooner than later, but it was clear to me after a few days in the markets you could easily get taken for a ride.

Its not clear to me the sort of consumer and legal protections you expect in the Western world are available here to a Western visitor.

Whilst there are many honest suppliers it pays to beware. Many are selling used components, many sell substandard or even mislabeled products. No one is particularly worried about your needs, they may not give you the time of day to get the right thing for you or may not understand you, understandably most don’t speak English, Spanish, German or whatever you speak. Its very much caveat emptor.

Some might be genuine brands, and may actually work. Others less so. In their defence the Chinese Authorities are apparently trying to stamp out blatant counterfeit products according to some of the senior business people I spoke to.

Some of the companies do a great range of knockoffs including this very well engineered Jambox knockoff, interestingly there are many vendors of very cheap iPhones and Samsung phones, story is that they work and they have real smart phone components inside them but they are not at all the genuine article.


I think the secret is that if you are looking at phones that cost less than costs for Apple or Samsung to make them then its a pretty good bet that they are not genuine.

The companies who make these knockoffs are known as Shanzhai which comes from the old stories of bandits who live in the mountains and evade the authorities, their products used to be mostly poor quality, however many of them are now making much higher quality products and starting to produce products which match the big guys for quality and innovation and some of the first double SIMM phones came from these companies. Some of these companies are turning into major brand names for the domestic Chinese market.

Successful Manufacturing in Shenzhen

It would seem that if you want to build product, you need to build solid relationships with local businesses, in my opinion the best way to start these relationships is to find yourself a fixer or sourcer of components who for a fee can introduce you to suppliers and manage the process when you are not in country.

To quote one of our guides,

“Product comes first it must be the right thing, then relationship, then price. Relationship is much more important to us than price”

To be successful manufacturing here I think one of your team has to be here regularly, many Kickstarter projects appear to have come off the rails for this reason, they completely underestimate the complexities and costs of managing the manufacturing process offshore.

Some of the expat old hands in the area talk about quality fade, where what you specified and ordered is gradually (or suddenly) substituted with lower quality or cheaper components and you might not get the good news until its in your customers hands.

Perhaps the only way to guard against this is to find someone who is trusted and recommended by a western manufacturer you know and trust and to have someone on hand inspecting the factories on a regular basis.

I think you also need to take some risks, check out some of the suppliers but not bet the farm on them until you build a longer term relationship.

If it is important that you know the exact components you are getting and where they came from for quality control reasons or certification requirements ie Medical Devices or other such, there is every chance this is not the right way for you to obtain components or develop new products.

Shenzhen is FAST

The upside is when you have someone here managing the more intense aspects of the development cycle such as rapid prototyping or getting the assembly and manufacturing process right you can rapidly accelerate your product development. As an example you can build prototypes at 2-5 times faster in Shenzhen than you can if you are sitting in Sydney or San Francisco (SF might be a little easier).

The convenience of being able to walk down the street and pick up the parts you need cannot be underestimated especially compared to being in a western city where you could face 1-2 weeks delay to get components in from overseas and $70 in express airfreight fees.

In Sydney if I want to order a new board, it can take 3-5 weeks to be fabricated, assembled, tested and then delivered.

In Shenzhen PCBs can be ordered and delivered within 2 days, assembly can be turned around in a few days, and if you have your engineer there you can have them work through the process with the assembly guys rather than 10,000 km away waiting two weeks for it turn up not knowing if it will work.

Its difficult to imagine building products in China and not having a member of your team here monthly if not during the whole process, certainly if you manage to get any level of success with your product you will need to establish a presence here.

Getting to the SEG Plaza Markets

Getting to Shenzhen from Hong Kong is fairly easy, but you need to do your homework before you go as once you are in the China its much more difficult to get access to Google Maps and many of the online Google tools you might be used to. If you are coming from Hong Kong take the metro from Luohu to Huaqiang Rd, its very cheap and very fast. I will post a separate article on getting there and through immigration later this week.

At the time I wrote this, 5 day Shenzhen Special Economic Zone Visas are available to most nationalities who wish to visit the city but the fees vary depending on your country (basically China just treats your citizens the way they your country treats their citizens). Note there are some nationalities that cannot get in via the 5 Day visa, in particular the USA. You should confirm your eligibility before you hope on the train at Hong Kong.


Helpful Resources

There is a very active expat hardware community making cool stuff.

The guys from Dangerous Prototypes run these great Hacker Camps where for a very reasonable fee will take a group through the details of getting established and building product in Shenzhen, factory tours, where to eat, live, the markets and all the things that on your own you probably would struggle with for months or years.

They have another camp 3rd week in Sept 2014.

They kindly videoed the last one
Other resources

This new prototyping machine will slash the time it takes to make new products

Cartesian co-founder Ariel Briner talks about their new Argentum Circuit Board printer at Sydney Maker Faire . About six months ago I wrote an article 5 real problems I really think need solving for our readers who may have been looking for a problem to solve and new business to create. Turns out it is one of the most popular articles on the site remaining in the top 10 read every day for the last 8 months.

One of the five problems/opportunities was creating the new tools of the next Industrial Revolution by building Rapid Prototyping and Small Volume Manufacturing Machines that could afford to be purchased by a local hacker space or even individuals.

I am nearly finished a (not so) rapid prototype for a wearable hardware device and one of the things I can say with some conviction is that the faster you can find errors in your designs and correct and test them the cheaper and faster the overall production will be.

But to find errors you usually have to build, if you have to build you usually have to send it overseas or to your local guy, most of whom dont both build and assemble the boards in the same place, none of this is easy and can take weeks to months to get a finished assembled board.

You can breadboard designs but most newer components are too small for breadboards and many new components are only available as surface mount which need to be soldered directly to a PCB to work. You can send it to your PCB guy in China, but even with fantastic service it still takes 4-5 working days to get back bare PCBs.

What if you could build and test your circuit in your office or garage in a few hours on a Rapid Prototype Machine?

Enter the Cartesian Argentum Circuit Board Printer. Essentially this prints circuit traces using a conductive ink made from Silver onto a paper substrate, you can then surface mount components straight onto the substrate using solder.

Ariel Briner, one of the co-founders explains the product

Originally launched as a Kickstarter Project named EX1 they managed to raise $137,000 with a $30,000 target and have just started shipping their first batch of Kickstarter order pledges this month, you can buy an Agentum as a kit for $1600 or fully assembled for $2000.

Cartesian Prototypes

Cartesian Prototypes

OpenROV at Sydney Maker Faire 2014

The guys from OpenROV had their underwater explorer on display along with some videos of how it operates.

The project is based in Silicon Valley and a year ago ran a Kickstarter campaign which was oversubscribed with 484 backers and $111,000 of a $20,000 goal raised.

You can order parts and assemble yourself, order a fully assembled unit or download the design files and laser cut and 3d print the parts yourself. I know some yacht owners who would love one of these.

OpenROV Parts Breakdown

OpenROV Parts Breakdown



Ownphones – Custom printed Bluetooth Earphones




Startup Name * OwnPhones
What problem are you solving? OwnPhones (#ownphones) today went LIVE with a Kickstarter (#kickstarter) campaign ( to help complete the development of its revolutionary product – the world’s first wireless 3D printed, personalized smart earbuds (#earbuds) and an accompanying mobile app for iOS (Android to follow).The campaign, which has a funding goal of $250,000USD, features limited Early Bird specials of 50% off all sets of earbuds (regular retail prices range from $299USD to $449USD).Designed to fit perfectly and built exclusively for each individual ear, OwnPhones earbuds represent a combination of the very latest in 3D printing, Bluetooth technology and personal audio.Along with being custom 3D printed according to the user’s personality and choice of activities, they’re also completely wireless, cancel noise around the user and can even be made to fit their lifestyle with an ergonomic custom fit. And with thousands of combinations of features and four different models (“Fit,” “Designer Fit,” “Smart Fit” and “Jewelry Collection) to choose from, OwnPhones earbuds can be personalized for each user.
What is your solution? “Ears are like fingerprints – each one is unique, so it is time that consumers were able to get earbuds that actually fit their ears properly,”OwnPhones Personalization Technology• A Custom Fit The OwnPhones mobile app turns a phone’s camera into a 3D scanner. By following a few simple steps, users create a short video orbiting the phone around their ears. The OwnPhones servers will then convert the video into a 3D model of their ears. This creates a custom ergonomic fit so every time the user wears them, they’ll fit perfectly and won’t jiggle when they run or jostle when they dance!• 3D Printed Each pair of OwnPhones earbuds offers a precise fit down to the millimeter. The printer can assemble 3D objects out of many different materials. This allows OwnPhones to match the cartilage in the user’s ear and can build any set of OwnPhones earbuds, one-at-a-time.• True-Wireless The earbuds are integrated with Bluetooth 4.0 technology, so there’s no cord to get tangled and no plugs to fumble with. OwnPhones gives users the freedom they need without the restrictions of a cord and will be the world’s first 3D printed wireless earbuds.• SoundScaping Since OwnPhones are perfectly fitted to each ear, they can be used to block out noise. But not all noises. A built-in digital signal processor can filter ambient noises (Soundscaping) and the user can use the OwnPhones mobile app to let through requested sounds – from a beeping alarm to a friend’s voice (OwnPhones calls this “Real World Notifications”).• Own Status Using red, yellow and green LED lights, the OwnStatus feature can let OwnPhones communicate for the user. A red light tells people, “Leave me alone,” a yellow light says “I’m busy” and a green light says “Let’s chat.”• Versatile Advantage Since users have two separate earbuds, they can push music to one side and let the world in through the other. Now, there’s no need to buy another headset to make and receive calls in the car… users can use their OwnPhones both as earbuds and as a headset.YouTube Video:
Why is this a great opportunity? Kickstarter Details and Availability OwnPhone’s Kickstarter offering is now available at: OwnPhones is seeking support to complete the development of its revolutionary wireless 3D printed, personalized smart earbuds and an accompanying mobile app for iOS (Android to follow). Early Bird Specials include: for a $149USD pledge, users can get the “OwnPhones Fit” model. For a $175USD pledge, users can get the “OwnPhones Designer Fit” model.For a $199USD pledge, users can get the “OwnPhones Smart Fit” model.Additional rewards include: for a $799USD pledge, users can design (in their own brand look and style) their own custom branded earbuds. As part of this reward, contributors can sell their branded earbuds on the OwnPhones online store. Another rewards option includes a pledge for $9,999USD, which will see OwnPhones commissioning a local artist who will meet with the contributor to custom design a Gold & Diamond studded fashion earbud.
Target Market Anyone who uses earbuds
How will you make money? Via sales of the earbuds
Founders Names Itamar Jobani
What type of funding has the company received Bootstrapped/self funded

Startup88 Verdict

A few days ago I reviewed the NORMAL 3D Printed Custom Earphones, which look great. Ownphones pitch and presentation isnt quite a smooth or polished as the Normal, however they seem to have put the effort into the product rather than the marketing. The key difference here is the Ownphones are bluetooth where are the Normal earphones have wires. In addition the Ownphones have created a whole range of style options where your earphones can be completely customised including probably the first set of hea act as jewelry. As at 20th July they have 536 backers and $106,000 towards their $250,000 goal with 35 days to go. Looks like they have a shot of making their goal. There is probably enough space for a bunch of custom earphone makers, certainly given the size of the existing market and how much that has grown in the last and the propensity to pay $100-300 for their earphones so they probably have a good chance of making it but I am expecting a rush of custom built products of all types over the coming months and after the first 5-10 it will start to get repetitive. What’s not clear to me is how any of these customised hardware businesses will scale when they have to produce 1000s of devices a month, its tough to build little bits of hardware, little bits of custom hardware sounds diabolical.

Ownphones Status

Ownphones Status

Ownphones Soundscaping

Ownphones Soundscaping

Ownphones Custom Fit

Ownphones Custom Fit

9 Cool Drone & Quadcopter Startups & Kickstarter Projects

Personal Drone Detection System

Personal Drone Detection System 6 months ago I predicted the need to defend yourself against drones invading your privacy and security (my solution was slightly more aggressive, basically a system that would shoot them out of the air).

Aplus mobile has a Kickstarter campaign that frankly is not going so well $1500 pledged out of $8000 target with 3 days to go,Personal Drone Detection System I would have thought that every celebrity would be backing them.

Essentially this allows you to detect the presence of Drones, maybe the kickstarter project is stillborn because Drones are essentially loud buzzing things that are pretty obvious, what you need is something to actually disable the drone, perhaps some stealth defence drone that can shoot down other drones (yes I think it will come to this, if I was a celebrity being hounded by press this is exactly what I would do)


Virtually Indestructible Quadcopters


These guys have created a Virtually Indestructible Quadcopter they fly it into solid surfaces, launch it from the water, hit it with a paintball gun and a shotgun and it still intact.

Having smashed a bunch of quadcopter parts with my kids over the years, we ended up giving up on it as the cost of keeping one the air with children flying was prohibitive, not to mention the fact it spent more time waiting for parts than it ever did flying.

Industructible-Quadcopter &

These guys & are the pioneers and leaders in the semi pro enthusiast market making and selling ardupilot open source autopilot software for drones as well as all the hardware and software to enable this along with ready kitted out airframes.DYIDrones

The interesting back story behind this company is that the founders met each other online and founded a company before actually physically meeting. Former Wired Editor Chris Anderson explains how he accidentally kickstarted the drone industry on Wired



OpenPilot is a competitor to Ardupilot but is aimed at the more professional end of the nascent commercial drone market.

OpenPilot was started at the beginning of 2010 and is a serious use platform aimed at civilian and research purposes, with emphasis being placed on making the platform especially suitable for aerial photography and aerial video applications.


Beer Delivering Drone

The aircraft engineer in me (yes I was, once upon a time in another lifetime) says that this video didn’t have a full case of beer below it, but the beer drinker in me loves the concept.

Drone Deploy

Drone Deploy is a hardware and software solution to enable cloud based mission control for drones. By including an LTE comms unit in the device it gives you the ability to tap into the mobile phone networks and extend your range literally across the globe.



Parrot BeBop Quadcopter

Parrot one of the more successful enthusiast quadcopter manufacturers is about to release their latest version the new Bebop quadcopter with built in rotor guard and 14 megapixel gyro stabilized video camera.

The Bebop Drone analyzes data from numerous sensors automatically: 3-axes accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer. one ultrasound sensor with an 8 meters reach, one pressure sensor and a vertical camera to track the speed.


Parrot-Bebop-Drone Parrot-indoor


Penguin B UAV

The UAV factory builds the Penguin B UAV which it the closest thing you can get to a military drone without putting on a Uniform, when launched from a car and landing on skids that form part of the tailplane this baby holds the flight record for 54.5 hours aloft.


Tilt Rotor Quadcopter

Tilt Rotor Quadcopter is an experimental project which allows the rotors to tilt forward thereby transferring rotor thrust forward without having to tilt the entire airframe forward, exposing the top of the quadcopter to a massive amount of drag and an unstable mode of flight (there used to be a phenomena with early helicopters in particular the Bell Iroquois called the Huey roll, where by a sudden take off with extreme nose down attitude would result in massive pressure to the top of the cabin forcing it into a situation it could never recover from).

By tilting the rotors forward this Quadcopter has managed a top speed of 53mph