Maker Segmentation

As tools and technology became increasingly affordable and accessible, and the business of making ecosystem more expansive, and new makers started to learn basic skills such as soldering and working with Arduino and other easy-to-program development platforms, makers began to segment into three distinct groups. Dougherty identified them as zero-to-maker, maker-to-maker, and maker-to-market. A fourth segment was recently added: maker-enabler, or maker-advocate.

Zero to maker: Every maker has a different starting point. However, the common thread begins with an inspiration to invent, the spark that turns an individual from purely consuming products to having a hand in actually making them. To go from zero to maker, the two most important aspects are the ability to learn the requisite skills and access to the necessary means of production.

Maker to maker: The distinction in this stage is that makers begin to collaborate and access the expertise of others. At this stage, makers also contribute to existing platforms. Powerful undercurrents are at work, both from technological revolution as well as unleashing the innate desire for self-expression and creation. The desire to improve and share with others catalyzes the move to “maker to maker.”

Maker to market: From the workshops and the digital communities, a new wave of invention and innovation springs forth. Knowledge flows and concentrates. Some of the inventions and creations will appeal to a broader audience than the original makers. Some may even find commercial appeal. However, even if only a few makers pursue market opportunities, the impact may be huge.

Maker advocate: For every maker in the above segments there are individuals that foster and support them. Children’s museums and public libraries are promoting more DIY activities and tools to expose patrons to maker culture in the zero-to-maker segment. Family members and maker space staff support the maker-to-maker segment. Many maker businesses have a cloud of supporting personnel that enable their success. Although not makers themselves, these maker-advocates comprise a large segment of maker culture.