Finding Your Purpose, the 2018 Maker Faire Forum Documentary: Part II

When the Maker x Speculation session ended, it was time for Kun-Lin Hsieh from UniHub to talk about his experience in education integration in the forum’s second session. Today we live in a world of artificial intelligence. Jobs like production, design and analysis are being carried out by robots, and new demands are also surfacing. How should we react to these changes?

What matters most is not knowledge or technology but why we learn and whose problems we are trying to solve. Hsieh believes that issue-based interdisciplinary integrated education can solve our problems, so he started the Issue-based Hackathon, where they help people to solve their problems using methodology. As long as you have a target, you can find out what you need to know and how to implement it and make a difference.

Some people become makers just for fun. But if you actually want to make a living, Hsieh believes that you need to care about society, use design thinking and have the maker spirit so that you can implement interdisciplinary integration. Coming up with solutions is the way to react to the era of artificial intelligence.

Maker x Learning: what is the purpose of maker education?

During the Maker x Learning session, Owen Ou asked Kun-Lin Hsieh about the purpose of maker education and the difference it can make. Hsieh said that you have to think about why you are creating, and whether your creation is worth anything. If a maker is stuck in his methodology and unable to create anything of value, he is nothing but a high-end hammer.

“What is your purpose?” is the core question in maker education. Image via maxpixel

Maker education tries to return to the human instinct of making. Universities have removed the elements of designing and making from their courses, leaving only analysis, and high schools are basically doing the same thing in order to help students get into university. Hsieh explained that he focuses on adult education because only by encouraging students to design and make, can you comprehensively reform high school education and promote maker culture to all age groups.

Kun-Lin Hsieh is not expecting to see maker education become a core part of compulsory education; he’s only trying to help people think differently and turn their ideas into reality. He wants everybody to care about social issues, get motivated and seek to learn new things. When you start to solve problems, you become influential and make a difference.

Understanding the fragmented, bottom-up economy

During the third session, Vincent Lee, COO and co-founder of MakerPro, shared his observations on makers and startups. Lee has been in electronics manufacturing for many years and is now investing in the innovation industry. He believes that the real challenge of starting a new business is selling your products and finding your target market before building your prototype. You have to know what specs your customers need and how to reach them to sell them your products.

Vincent Lee explaining the key elements in the maker economy. Image via Jingyan

The traditional top-down economy seeks to maximize productivity and efficiency, but the rules have been changed by IoT and artificial intelligence. Companies like Apple and Sony could never cover every single network terminal. Products with fragmented demand, small volume and wide variety will bring opportunities to startups. This new model is called the bottom-up economy, in which the focus is on the creativity of your product and how long it takes to research and develop. In the maker economy, open-source software, hardware and small-volume, wide-variety manufacturing are all helpful to startups.

There are too many variables in real-life commerce. Startups have to get used to failure and solve problems through experience. They have to turn their ideas into reality and share them with people. Only then can the maker economy grow in Taiwan.

Maker x Economy: how to increase startup survivability

Speaker Vincent Lee and presenter Sheng-lun Hung answering audience questions. Photo by Jingyan

As a member of Taipei Angels Investment, Vincent Lee has met over a thousand startup teams and invested in about a dozen. However, none of the companies has yet made a profit, so the angels have to date seen no returns.

“We knew this was going to happen,” says Lee. They stayed down-to-earth, kept learning from each other, and over the next five years went on to meet many talented teams with great ideas. Lee encouraged the students and entrepreneurs in the audience to try to meet up with as many investment clubs as possible in order to find the ones right for them.

“How do we help makers enter the market more easily?” asked Owen Ou.

Vincent Lee believes there is no single right answer because there are a lot of variables during the commercialization process. However, he tried to offer a suggestion: finding someone to work with who knows the market. “Knowing the market” means experience of both success and failure, not just an educational background but no insight.

A successful technology is not just a successful product or a successful business. You never know what is important during the initial stages of your business because a having unique product doesn’t guarantee that your team will survive for more than a year. Lee spoke from experience, saying that to increase survivability when you make decisions you have to consider risks before opportunities in order to avoid burning through your money right away.

  • Missed the first half of the forum? You can read about it here: Part I

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