1:1 interview with Tristan Bel of NYDesigns


“There’s no better place for hardware prototyping and building in New York City.” 


We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Executive Director Tristan Bel from Long Island-based NYDesigns to discuss how his company is helping Makers get from the MakerSpace to MarketPlace. In our 1:1 conversation, we also addressed how NYDesigns and Atmel can jointly help do-it-yourselfers get from the lab to the fab. You can find our entire interview below!

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Atmel: Tristan, can you tell us what NYDesigns does and how it fits into the MakerSpace to MarketPlace theme that we’ve been promoting for the last year?

Tristan Bel: NYDesigns is dedicated to the success of design and hardware tech startups in NYC. Companies in our incubator get three years of private studio space and access to a network of mentors and advisers. Makers can prototype their design ideas in our safe, secure 5,000-sq-ft fabrication lab. We also produce events and programs for a thriving community of creators and innovators.

Our purpose is help entrepreneurs turn an idea into a product and coach them through every growth stage; that clearly resonates with the MakerSpace to MarketPlace initiative. One never knows where the next good idea will come from, and more importantly, who will have the skills and stamina to lead it through to a viable company.

Atmel: What was the model behind opening NYDesigns in the middle of one of the most expensive areas in America?

TB: We opened in 2006 as an initiative of LaGuardia Community College to promote NYC’s economic development after 9/11, so we existed before incubators were cool and numerous. NYC is teaming up with people with ideas. The density of the city naturally favors connections and exchanges. It is also the home of many headquarters of large corporations that can become clients or partners. In my opinion, that mix is one of the main reasons why tech entrepreneurship here is catching up with Silicon Valley.

Software startups tend to congregate around Union Square. Hardware startups need more space, and still benefit significantly from our proximity to Manhattan — that’s why our large studios, which are located in Long Island City just 15 minutes away from Midtown and are more affordable than other spaces even in the neighborhood, are so attractive to cash-strapped young companies.

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Atmel: We understand you attended the World Maker Faire New York back in September? Are there any key findings you can share with us?

TB: It’s inspiring to see hobbyists of all ages gathered around making. I was impressed by the amount of resources available to anyone with an idea, and how inexpensive these are becoming. Prototypes that required a team a highly skilled engineers and specialized equipment can now be made by a couple of passionate techies on their time off. That opens up so many possibilities!

Atmel: With so many Makerspaces popping up around the United States, let alone the world, why would a Maker go to NYDesigns versus a local Makerspace?

TB: If you want to start a company in the design or hardware tech industry, it’ll be hard to find a beautiful space with amenities, close to Manhattan, and open 24/7 (the lab is open during regular business hours) as affordable as NYDesigns. You’ll have the 5,000-square-foot fabrication lab in the same building, and be part of a community that will help you grow and overcome the obstacles you’ll inevitably be encountering.

If you are a tinkerer or simply need good fabrication resources, the NYDesigns FabLab is equipped with an array of tools both analog and digital, including traditional hand and power tools, a vacuum former, an FDM rapid prototyper, and a large format industrial laser cutter.

Atmel: How can Atmel partner with NYDesigns to help Makers get from the lab to the fab?

TB: Actually, this is great timing! We are about to start a series of workshops around Arduino for tinkerers; we’d love for you to spread the word. Also, we are expanding our development tools for AVR and ARM development. For example, resident companies Vengo, which designs and manages high-tech vending machines, BotFactory, which makes a desktop electronics-circuit printer with conducting ink, and Boston Biomotion, which is developing an intelligent rehab and sports performance device straight out of the MIT lab, would all greatly benefit from such a partnership.

Lastly, we have large spaces within our walls in Long Island City in which we regularly host events related to entrepreneurship, hardware technology, and design. We’re happy to hold joint events or make that space available to the MakerSpace community.

Atmel: Is there anything else our Maker audience should know about NYDesigns?

TB: There’s no better place for hardware prototyping and building in NYC. Email info@nydesigns.org or call us at 718.663.8404 — we’d love to meet you and show you our space. Come build your side project or your company!

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