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Maker Faire and the Growth of Do-It-Yourself

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This story appears in the November 2011 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »
Special Report
State of the Creative Nation
Creative arts entrepreneurs are building new businesses while reinvigorating cities and towns across the country. We checked around to see who's creating what, and how this growing creative class contributes to economies small and large.

Mark Frauenfelder noticed them everywhere he went: bleary-eyed souls peering up over their laptops and monitors, craving something more tactile than a keyboard, plus a measure of control over their surroundings. And then it began: They started making things, things that didn't necessarily have anything to do with 1s or 0s. From handcrafted furniture to bespoke clothing to homemade robots, the took hold in California's geek-heavy communities in the early 2000s and has since grown into an international phenomenon. We asked Frauenfelder, founder of BoingBoing.net and editor-in-chief of Make magazine, to weigh in on the impact and reach of DIY.

Maker Faire--Mecca for makers--is a bellwether of the movement's growth. The 2006 launch of the gathering in San Mateo, Calif., attracted 20,000 creators of varying skill levels, while the 2011 event packed in 100,000 people and now has spin-offs in Detroit and New York. Make's readership is growing, and Frauenfelder sees a future subscription base of 4 to 5 million. "There's room to grow [to the levels of] Popular Science and Popular Mechanics when those magazines were about do-it-yourself," he says.

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