‘Maine FabLab’ by Sarah Boisvert, Indie Crowdfunding
– An Interview by Matt Jones aka @CrowdfundBOSS –
I bumped into Sarah Boisvert on the Twitter feed through Coach Karlee and found her indie campaign to raise funds for the Maine FabLab to be very intriguing. Sarah has a completely independent campaign going, not on any platform like Kickstarter or Indiegogo. This approach is quickly becoming a popular avenue for campaigns wanting to minimize fees and increase their control over the campaign and content shared. This one is definitely worth following folks, with 30 day left on her campaign.
Q. Tell me about the Maine FabLab campaign.
A. Maine is a rural state where young people leave when it’s time to get a job. We’ve also suffered the loss of a Naval Air Station that was a big employer and boon to the state economy. We want to crowdfund an open source maker space that will excite kids about STEM education (i.e. Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) and get them making things with their hands as well as their brains. Hopefully it will also get inventors – maybe young ones! – to generate new products and create start up companies that can fill the old Naval Air Station.
So it’s just launched and we need to raise $100,000 in about 30 days!
Q. What are 3D printers?
A. 3D printers are machines that build complete things in plastic from CAD drawings so if you can imagine something, and create a CAD file, then you can have it in your hands in a day or so, complete with moving parts! What makes this viable is that the machines have become very user friendly, so as Neil Gershenfeld, founder of MIT’s FabLab says, “Almost anybody, can most almost anything, anywhere”.
Q. Tell me a little about how you got into this campaign.
A. I’ve worked in the laser industry for many years, and see the maker space as a way to foster innovation across industries.
Q. What’s the main message you want to get to potential backers?
A. If we want successful, sustainable economies, then we need to encourage innovation in our young people around the world, through cooperative projects where we all move new technology-based ideas forward together!
Q. How did you prepare for the independent campaign?
A. I’ve been active in high tech for many years and I’ve prepped by contacting colleagues, customers, competitors, universities about the project. I have a huge network as I was the president of our laser trade association. I’ve also networked with people on Twitter interested in 3D printing & maker spaces. As the US elections are now over, we’ll go into high gear with press releases, etc. I have the local groups, such as chapters of technical societies working on it, so I’m not going it alone!
Q. If you had to pick one thing, what would you attribute your success thus far in the campaign?
A. The timing is right!
Q. What advice would you give to someone out there thinking of launching a completely independent crowdfunding campaign?
A. Prepare well, and have a good support network to help!
Q. And after the campaign is over, what’s your plan?
A. The initial $100k will get our Phase I equipment – lower resolution machines. We’ll get our space set up, and open the doors! We’ll then work on grants and large corporation contributions to take the FabLab to a higher technical level.
Q. How much do you have to pledge to get cool rewards? Which reward excites you the most?
A. One of my personal favorite awards is just $5! It’s a digital download of a song my partner wrote called, “Don’t Be Mean to Machines”. It’s hilarious!! The coolest is the trip we’re doing to the original MIT FabLab in Boston – I have contacts
Q. Nice! So for anyone on the fence about this project, what is so cool about Maine Fab Lab that everyone should rush out and pledge today?
A. The Maine FabLab is part of the digital Revolution that will change the world….especially for our kids.
Q. Any final advice, thoughts, tips or comments?
A. Crowdfunding is a great way to connect with new people who you might not have met otherwise!
Thanks for your interview!
To find out more about this indie campaign, visit http://www.mainefablab.com/