Maker Faire Paris 2016

The third edition of Maker Faire Paris has come to an end. It was exhausting, but totally worth it! Here’s a look back at my first Maker Faire as an exhibitor …

Until now, I’ve always been attending Maker Faire as a visitor. This year, my wife Sarah and I decided to take the step and exhibit my projects on our own stand.
At first, I was a bit reluctant to fill in the “Call for Makers” form, as it seemed to require a specific project or topic to present. There is no real theme to my projects, I just build whatever crosses my mind.  I called my project “Building Electronic Things”, as this reflects exactly what I do 🙂

Beginning of February, I got excited after receiving confirmation that my application was accepted. After a collaboration with the missus (she focused on the organisational side of things while I got the projects ready) we were ready to show our projects and tell our story.

End of April came quickly, and we packed our bags and took the car to Paris. After some difficulties navigating through the city centre, we were finally there! A table and two chairs were waiting for us in hall 5.1 stand A22. Setting up was quite easy once we had electricity. We talked with other makers setting up, curious about each other’s projects. The atmosphere was relaxed, it was great.

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Then came the first day of the fair. We were a bit nervous, not entirely knowing what to expect. When the doors opened, people were rushing in, it was crazy. Our biggest fear doing this, was that few people would stop and look at what we had made. We shouldn’t have worried. There was a constant flow of people looking at the projects wondering what and why we made these things. When explaining it’s for fun or to learn about a certain subject, most people understand, and the majority of visitors were very interested. I also met quite a few people that had seen some of my projects online. It’s great to see the faces behind the nicknames and avatars, grab a beer and have a conversation in real life.

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The most popular project on the stand was probably the Pi Photo Booth. People loved the fact that it could print the photo instantly, much like a Polaroid camera. There was also the big red button, which is an unfinished project. I asked people via twitter what they would do with such a button a while back, and asked the same to the visitors. People were more keen to push the button than to give an idea about it. Children seemed to like the idea to have it as a kind of panic button in case of nightmares, which would temporarily turn on the lights in their bedroom. I think that’s what I’ll be making with it 🙂

In the late afternoon of the first day, someone from the organisation passed by and had a look at our stand, we explained the projects and took a picture with the photo booth. He then grabbed an envelope from his pocket and handed us a “Maker of Merit” blue ribbon. We were speechless. (In case you’re reading this, and I didn’t mention it enough: thank you so much, we really appreciate it! :D)

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We underestimated how exhausting this would be, but in return it was so rewarding to see the visitors’ enthusiasm for the projects. On the first day, the Maker Faire had had about 27000 visitors!

The second day started off a bit more slowly than the first. It was the perfect opportunity to go and have a look around at what others were presenting. Sarah wanted to go solder a Makey badge with LEDs, and disappeared for well over an hour. Turned out she found a stand where she could sow a Makey instead. When she was finally back, it was my turn to walk around. There were so many awesome things, it would be impossible to list them all. I saw a dinosaur, a wookie, a giant mechanical ant, people in a cage getting blasted by a tesla coil, and so much more …

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Eventually, the Maker Faire reached its end. At 19h, the fair closed its doors (after a total of about 65000 visitors!), and we started packing our bags and prepared to head home. We were exhausted, but extremely satisfied with our weekend. To everyone that passed by to have a look at our projects and to have a chat: thank you for making our first Maker Faire as exhibitors so exciting. We hope to see many of you next year for the fourth edition of Maker Faire Paris, and show you our latest projects.

See you next year?

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