Meet the maker: Matt Johnson!

  July 11, 2018  >   Curiosity · Flash en · It happened at MFR · Protagonists

 

Want to build something great but aren’t sure it’s even possible?

Here are the stories of people who have made it happen. 

 

  1. Hello! Tell us something about you…

Hello! I’m Matt, CEO and one of the four co-founders of Bare Conductive. I’m originally from Colorado in the US, but I moved to London to study at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College. Bare Conductive began as a student project there. As for me, I’m a passionate maker, with a special love for anything with wheels or propellers!

  1. …and your project!

Bare Conductive has evolved from project to product to Printed Electronics powerhouse. We began by selling a jar of paint on our website and have built a fantastic community of makers from there. We created hardware to make it easier to take advantage of our Electric Paint’s unique properties, and now we’re working with some of the world’s largest brands, teaching them how to integrate our technology into their products. It’s exhilarating. 

  1. How did you end up joining the “maker” movement?

As a kid who always took everything apart (but didn’t always put things back together) I think I was a maker from the beginning. But my formal entry into the Maker Movement came in 2008 when I found my first copy of Make Magazine at a local bookstore. I was enthralled. I couldn’t believe how this magazine seemed to be articulating something that I had never really said aloud to myself- that’s empowering to have physical agency in the world around you, and for many people that agency comes through creation, modification and repair of the things they choose to have in their lives.

  1. What’s being a maker like for you? What does it mean in the current scenario?

My role as CEO means that the making I do is a bit more conceptual than it is physical, but I can see the connection between building a great place to work and building a great project. You have to think carefully about what you want to accomplish, what resources you have and how you can make up for things you lack. To me, the thinking and organizational skills feel the same. Outside of work though, I have tons of projects at home from motorcycles to drones.

  1. What are the materials, technologies and machines used to project and realize your project?  What innovation does it carry?

Bare Conductive is an amazing business because we get to interact with so many different technologies. We manufacture chemicals (our Electric Paint), we make hardware (our Touch Board, Pi Cap, and Light Up Board) and we work with companies to combine the two in their products. The diversity of materials and processes make for some fun and exciting challenges. One of the most significant challenges that we have is that we fundamentally have two different production processes at work, continuous and discrete manufacturing. Continuous manufacturing is a process where you measure the output in mass or volume, like our paint. We might make 100kg of paint in a production run for example. A discrete manufacturing process measures the output in units. For example, we might make 1000 Touch Boards in a day. The gap between these processes is more significant than it seems! Continuous processes have a lot of waste (you don’t get all of the paint out of the mixer), but they scale up fast. Discrete processes don’t have any waste, you get what you order, but it’s much slower to scale. These challenges are the kind of fun stuff we get to figure out every day!

  1. You applied to participate in Maker Faire Rome – The European Edition 2018. Why did you decide so, what are your expectations?

Make Faire Rome is our favourite Maker Faire! It always feels the most diverse and the most enthusiastic. We would love to be at Maker Faire Rome again in 2018 to connect with and inspire our favourite group of makers.

  1. What kind of advice would you give to those who want to turn their ideas into real projects and impact on their market/society? 

Wow, that is a big question! I could talk for hours about what someone might consider, but if I had one piece of advice, it would be to remain open and remember that for an idea to grow it cannot just be yours. You have to let other people own part of your idea in order for it to grow.

Practically speaking there are tons of tools available for Makers to get their projects moving and engage others in their ideas. The most powerful might be crowdfunding. We’ve run three crowdfunding campaigns, most recently a campaign for our Electric Paint Lamp Kit which allows anyone to make an interactive paper lamp with our Electric Paint, our Light Up Board and a few pieces of paper. Crowdfunding in general and Kickstarter specifically is a powerful tool to bring your project in the world while creating a community of people who will help your project succeed. But as a small caveat: do your research and think carefully before you run a campaign, the transition from project to product isn’t easy and trying to do it too quickly can result in disappointed backers and exhausted Makers. 

  1. What are your plans for the future (apart from seeing us all in Rome, clearly)? How do you see yourself in a few years? How do you think you will have changed your world?

We’re excited about the next couple of years. We have collaborations with some of the world’s largest brands like IKEA where we are exploring how our technology can exist in their products. We can’t wait to reveal what we’ve been up to. We’re pretty sure that our community is going to be just as excited about the results as we are, especially as we’re going to make sure that as much as the R&D as possible ends up back in our community’s hands in the form of new products. Stay tuned!

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to know more about Bare Conductive? Follow it on 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BareConductive

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BareConductive/

Instagram: @BareConductive