"Makers increasingly create new products and build small businesses based on innovative use of technology, processes, and business models. They represent a growing force of hobbypreneurs contributing to the U.S. and global economy."
At the time we wrote this report,this was controversial.
Makers were considered hobbyists, amateur crafters, tinkerers and the heirs to the DIY consumer movement of the 1950s and 1960s. They weren't viewed as a source of new businesses. The folks from Maker Faire even told us we were wrong to think of Makers as potential entrepreneurs.
Much has changed over the last 5 years.
As the Reuters article Do-it-yourselfers inspire hardware renaissance in Silicon Valley explains:
"a proliferation of high-tech but affordable manufacturing tools and new sources of funding are empowering a generation of handy entrepreneurs and laying the foundation for a hardware renaissance."
The rise of Makers, crafters and others turning hobbies, passions and interests into small businesses is being enabled by a growing support infrastructure that allow these businesses to be started cheaply and easily.
Etsy, of course, is an obvious example of this growing infrastructure. It makes it inexpensive and easy for a crafter to open an online store with immediate reach to millions of potential customers.
In addition to their consumer site, they've also created a wholesale channel for their sellers. This makes product distribution into the retail channel much easier.
They also recently acquired Grandst.com, which is an Etsy-like marketplace for "creative technology". This will likely greatly expand the customer base for all kinds of gadgets developed by Makers and small manufacturing companies.
Other infrastructure services include shipping and logistics services targeted at small businesses, a growing array of cloud-based software systems designed to improve the operations and efficiency of small and micro-businesses and a number of new, cheaper, payment system options.
Financing has also gotten easier. A range of companies are now offering various forms of loans and advances to small and micro businesses. Crowdfunding and more recently equity crowdfunding are also being increasingly used by these types of businesses.
But although it's gotten cheaper and easier to turn a hobby, passion or interest into a business, for most hobbypreneurs it's still about their passions. The chart below - from Etsy's Redefining Entrepreneurship report - shows starting these business is about much more than the money.