On my way to GeekDad Day at the Wired Holiday Store this weekend, I had the chance to drop in on Limor Fried (aka @ladyada) and Phil Torrone (@ptorrone) at the downtown New York (and I MEAN downtown – three blocks from the WTC) headquarters of Adafruit Industries. A lot of us GeekDads are aware of, and passionate for, the awesome products and kits that Adafruit puts out (both through their own site, and MakerShed) – like the Drawdio, MintyBoost, and TV-B-Gone. But you’d also be blown away by the operation they have set up in a 1,200 sf (or so) loft. It’s really a model for a company that does it all – fab, pack and ship – with their own equipment, and self-designed systems based on a lot of open-source tools.
What’s most impressive (beyond the board-fab machine or the Epilog laser), is their setup for processing orders. Everything is completely streamlined – print out a color invoice (with a bar code), fill the box, scan the bar code – shipping label prints and info sends automatically to UPS – seal it up, and toss it into a bin to go out. Even though they’re a bit swamped for the holidays, it still allows what is basically a two-person (for now) operation maintain a thriving fabrication and fulfillment company, all built on easy-to-recreate tech.
I know there’s not a lot GeekDad about it, but it’s pretty geeky, and it’s one of those times where knowing how something is made is actually way cooler than just having the thing. Thanks a ton to Ada and Phillip for hosting me at their shop! Also cool is that each week on Saturday nights at 10pm Eastern they live-stream from the loft. Now, back to earning these awesome merit badges they gave me!