Maker Faire Shenzhen: The 12 and a Half Things You Need To Know

The final preparations for the Digital Mission to China taking in Maker Faire Shenzhen are being put into place, all that’s left to do is pack our bags, find someone to feed the cat/dog/chinchilla.

And of course some homework, read through this handy guide of 12 and a half top tips from Tom Whitwell, on what to read to be in the know and what to expect from this sort of faire.

Shenzhen, The Hollywood for Makers

1. Hollywood gives you the map to the stars houses, Shenzhen (AKA the Hollywood for Makers) gives you the equivalent with the Shenzhen Map for Makers.

The map includes general information about the maker-related factories in Shenzhen and a map of Huaqiangbei that includes featured products in different buildings and some peripheral information. Is it also available as a PDF from SeeedStudio.

2. HXLR8R also do a Hua Qiang Bei Map for Makers.

2.5 Or for a more detailed map, check out Oomlout’s new photographic and data map of Hua Qiang Bei System. Navigate via the map and find pages and photographs for all the big markets.

We all love a good blog, that’s probably why you’re reading this. Tom’s provided us with a list of handy ones for all things Shenzhen:

3. Here’s a good one-stop-shop for Shenzen food, accommodation, money, phone card and toilet paper tips: Hacking Shenzhen by Lisa Q Fetterman from Nomiku;  ”You will not have a productive time in this town unless you do as the locals do.”

4. Dangerous Prototypes have a huge amount of information on their blog behind the Shenzhen tag. The top dogs include a guide on how to make friends in Shenzhen, how to ship stuff home from Shenzhen and day-by-day guides to the market.   

5. Andrew ‘Bunnie’ Huang, creator of the Chumby, has been visiting and writing about Shenzhen for years; his blog features a ‘Made in China‘ category that goes back a long way.

6. Engineer in Shenzhen is Bob Badderley’s blog; he was on the first year of the HXLR8R hardware incubator program. His blog includes handy hints to avoid getting sick in China and what to eat in Shenzhen.

7. Understanding Shenzhen electronics markets is a great in depth post from 2011 explaining what’s going on in the markets; who the traders represent and how to do business with them; “These guys will happily gives you samples, but the expectation is that you’re trying them out in your design with a view to buying, rather than freeloading for a 1-off project.”

8. Akiba from Freaklabs went on a MIT maker’s tour of Shenzen in 2013, and took copious notes and just shows us how rewarding a trip to Shenzhen can be; “I can feel a lot of my attitudes towards design changing by seeing the manufacturing flows and factories.

Previously I would unconsciously limit myself to different possibilities because things like doing an injection molded enclosure felt outside of my reach in terms of cost and volume. After seeing and talking to the people here, many are willing to take on all kinds of projects and offer a lot of help.”

Chinese Makers

9. A fantastic interview with Mr Chen, Shenzhen SMT Fabricator and rooftop organic farmer’ “He was very business savvy, and even had a slogan: which roughly means spend less and earn more.”

10. The Economist covered the Chinese maker movement last year “shanzhai producers have long adapted mobile phones to the needs of people in the developing world.

For example, unlike mainstream manufacturers, they championed mobile phones with dual SIM slots, ideal for Africa and India where users often switch networks to reduce costs”

11. A long detailed piece about Shenzhen’s first maker space: “Product innovation is the No. 1 differentiator for U.S. companies today. If China’s won the manufacturing game, it’s still lagging behind the West when it comes to original creativity. The impact of this gap is far-reaching for China.

The country earns less than 5 cents on every dollar spent on the global consumer electronics that are manufactured within its borders. The rest is divided up among other companies in the value chain — especially those that hold the intellectual property and brand power.” 


12. Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China, by Guy Delisle, which is a great, but depressing read. Guy spent three months in Shenzhen in 1997, and it will certainly put you off visiting a local dentist.

Making the Most of Maker Faires

Tom has also shared some useful tips collated from those who have previously taken part and exhibited at Maker Faires.

  • Don't rely on talking to people, there are SO many people and the people who actually want to talk might want to talk for 10 minutes which leaves other people frustrated and waiting around like lemons. Have little text notes everywhere inviting people where and how to engage.
  • An iPad powerpoint/keynote slideshow that gets across the point of the display in 30 seconds.
  • Give away free PCBs
  • Eye catching colour cloth for table instead of bare wood.
  • Stand for headphones (two sets if possible) that lift them away from the patch cable mayhem and are more inviting - 'Have a listen!'
  •  Write 'help yourself' on leaflets and stickers
  •  Attach pen to email signup pad
  •  Money box
  •   A4 Handout/leaflets/brochures
  •  More prominent QR code

So now that your reading material is sorted, all that’s left to say is, see you there! 

Photo (cc) inkelv1122. Some rights reserved.