cost if you made 100 of these, getting the best pricing you can. Now
allow for a 40-percent profit, or
about a 66-percent markup. Now
add the markup again. This is your
retail cost. So if your project is $10
in parts, wholesale is $16.50, retail
is $27.50. The $25–$75 retail price
range is a good one to start with.
Then, buy enough parts to make 25
projects/kits. If you don’t want to
sell them on your own, use a site like
tindie.com. Decide if you want to sell
internationally. It’s more expensive,
but it opens up your market considerably. I suggest starting off in the
13. Create a support network for
your new customers. Create a forum/
mailing list. Questions should only
be answered once, and then they go
into your FAQ or documentation.
The support needs will eventually decrease, and you’ll have some profit.
Cool. Now, since you added those 40-
percent retail margins, you can go
looking for some resale outlets.
14. Repeat and refine the last few
steps while making new projects. Create a blog and social media properties
to document projects, if you haven’t
done so yet. Try to release a new project every few months. Get better at it,
because you’ll stagnate if you don’t.
Plus, you can look into hiring help,
upgrading your bookkeeping, buying
equipment, and more.
15. If this is working out, you’re
running a business!
This is not the way I was told to do it,
and keep in mind I was told specifical-
ly that it wouldn’t work out. Tell your
story and keep telling it, grow smarter,
and make it a point to work with good
Ten years later, I think Adafruit is a
good cause and a good business. The
public effort of giving away the code
and hardware, and showing our work
with videos, was, is, and always will be
part of our company culture, too.
As the company has grown, we
wanted to have a place where people
could also grow and learn. The directors of the company all started
in the kitting, shipping, or inventory
departments. Now they are C-level executives, developers, managers. They
are running the company they know
Providing great benefits that are excellent for everyone is important to me.
At every step of the company, we decided together on picking one great 401k
and benefit plan for everyone. The benefits given to an executive at the company are the exact same ones offered to
the person who just started yesterday.
All employees have paid time off
for charity work. They can donate
their time to any 501c3; this “scales”
as the good we can do in our local
communities. Transit benefits, paid
time off that isn’t accrued, paid family leave... and more. We talk about
the ways we can take care of employees on our weekly shows and every
week at our all-hands company meeting, called “State of the Fruit.” Being transparent means we can share
what we know works. We have even
inspired other business owners who
watch our shows to offer some of
these same benefits.
A toxic culture undermines and
can destroy a company from within.
But the opposite is also true: Be excellent to one another, and you can have
an excellent company and culture. Being a good cause and a good business
is possible. Adafruit is the proof.
Limor “Ladyada” Fried is founder and engineer at Adafruit
Industries. Her goal was to create the best place online
for learning electronics and making the best-designed
products for makers of all ages and skill levels. Fried
was the first female engineer on the cover of WIRED
Magazine and was named “Entrepreneur Of The Year” by
Entrepreneur Magazine. She was a founding member of
the N YC Industrial Business Advisory Council. Fried was
named a “ White House Champion Of Change” in 2016.
© 2017 Copyright held by Owner(s)/Author(s).
Publication rights licensed to ACM.
it. Use video if that is what it takes.
Learn to use free software available
online to adjust lighting, values, and
anything else to make your photos
look great. Come up with a “hero”
photo—the one photo that perfectly
explains your project. That “hero”
should show the context of whatever
you’re working on. For instance, don’t
take a picture of the parts on a printed circuit board; take a picture of
what the project allows you to do, like
put on a light show, or looking good
on your coffee table, or whatever.
8. a) Do basic documentation of
your project and put it online. You
can even use a free WordPress site, or
Instructables. Put the “hero” picture
at the top of your project page. Below
that, have a one-paragraph description of the project with stats. For example, if you built a DMX-controlled
RGB LED light, your paragraph should
describe how bright it is, that it’s DMX
controllable, how many LEDs it has,
and why it’s cool in general.
b) For your website, go with a template or something simple to get started, don’t go crazy with a mood board
or get hung up on font choices in the
beginning. There’s no reason to put a
lot of design effort into the website at
this point. You’ll eventually scrap the
first one, any way.
c) Make it as easy as possible for
writers to copy and paste your photo
and description, or share your project
on a social media platform.
Okay, now repeat this step for each
of your projects.
9. Fill out the rest of your website
with info about yourself so newcomers have a sense of who you are. Put up
a picture of your cat! It worked for me.
10. Now you’re ready to get traffic
to your site. Make a list of relevant
sites that would be interested, and
send them a short email with a link to
your site and a two-sentence description. Also, post to forums for your
type of DI Y stuff, but whatever you do,
do not spam!
11. Look at your website statistics,
and read all your comments from visitors. Pay attention to what they’re interested in.
12. Find the one project that is
easiest for you to sell/recreate. Figure out what a full price list would
This was not a
it was simply being
part of the open-
and wanting to put
more value in at