Tom Beckett, a graduate of Hart High School in 2009, is the cofounder, along with Bar Smith, of Makesmith CNC, a technology startup that sells professional Computer Numerical Control routers at an affordable price.
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“About two years ago this summer, someone mentioned to Bar that he could probably use hobby servos to make a pretty affordable CNC machine and, for whatever reason, that caught his attention,” Beckett said. “He decided that was going to be his summer project. He came back with this pizza box that he had laser cut to get the frame going, and over the course of a year-and-a-half it went from that pizza box to the machine it is now.”
Technically speaking, a CNC machine is a tool that can be used to make cuts in various materials, such as wood, and is controlled by a computer program. The hobby servos employed by Smith allow for the motion of the cutting apparatus without the need for a custom designed control system.
Beckett and Smith met in their freshman year at the University of California, Santa Cruz and became good friends while pursuing their degrees in history and electrical engineering, respectively.
Beckett, who also received a minor in technology and information management, provides the marketing and public relations portion of the startup, while Smith, an electrical engineering major, is responsible for the engineering side of things, Beckett said.
After Smith developed a working prototype, he approached Beckett for help with marketing the machine.
“Bar came to me and asked if I had any interest in helping him market his new CNC machine, and that was exactly what I wanted to do,” Beckett said. “I picked up a job to help pay off student loans, and every moment outside of that was spent working on the project with him.“
After developing and publishing the content for his company’s website, he began to work on opening the project up to a crowdfunding campaign, Beckett said.
“I researched similar successful technology campaigns on websites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter to find out the best way to go about our own attempt at crowdfunding,” Beckett said. “We decided Kickstarter would provide the best opportunity for us. We chose a $10,000 goal because $10,000 would be enough for a laser cutter. But, when we had two people buy machines within the first minute, we thought, wow, this is going to takeoff. By the end of the first day, we made $13,000.”
The Kickstarter campaign, which ran from May 8 to June 9, demolished its $10,000 goal and brought in $82,207 in the one-month period.
Beckett said 99 percent of this money was raised from people purchasing machines priced at $195 each, with the small remainder coming from simple donations.
The duo sold 356 machines via the crowdfunding campaign.
Now that the Kickstarter campaign has finished, Beckett said he and Smith plan on attending more Maker Faires, a collection of tech enthusiasts interested in showing off new products, to promote their new machine.
They hope to make a trip to an upcoming Maker Faire in Rome.
“Everything happened so quickly and now we’re trying to make it a sustainable business,” Beckett said. “We’re working on new models, implementing what Bar has developed, and just trying to make it out into the world of business and satisfy this demand that we happened to stumble upon.”
For more information about their business and the product, visit MakeSmith CNC’s website, here.
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Source: Santa Clarita News