7 Tips to Start Small Scale Manufacturing

7 Tips to Start Small Scale Manufacturing | Business Ideas for Product Makers

I’ve read already a lot of different books and seen some videos, but this is really getting it to the point.
This very refreshing video has seven tips how to start a small manufacturing as a side-business.
I’m sure this sympatic couple Evan and Katelyn will have soon a great business 🙂

Living in a Tree-House

On Sunday while shaving I heard the following very interesting report and  interview in German on Radio Deutschlandfunk-Nova:

Lilli leben im Baumhaus

As a  Young Boy it was a great pleasure for me to build tree houses… here the story of the 22 year old student Lili from Freiburg/Germany, who built her own tree house in Freiburg and lives there.

Even if you do not understand  German you can look on the  pictures  and maybe translate the text of the Website.


How can Makers help the world?

A very inspiring talk by Jane Chen CEO of Embrace Innovations

Every year, 3 million premature babies die in the first 28 days. Mostly because of undercooling.
Incubators, which hold the temperatures of babies constant, are expensive and cost 20’000$ upwards. They need a constant power supply. They are complicate to operate and to maintain.

The idea was born at a Stanford event, which was about low cost technologies , for people of one dollar or less income per day. How can a low-cost incubator be built, that cost 1 percent of a standard device?

How can the device be built that functions without constant power supply and which is super intuitive to use – useable by every mother.

They developed a sleeping bag with a phase-change-material. While the phase-change happens, the temperature is constant. A wax material was used, that melts at human body temperature.
They went to India with the first prototypes and made different iterations based on the feedback of the people. At the end it was a sleeping bag of one type of sterilizable fabric with a transparent viewing window on the front.

Additional they had a temperature display on it, but the people didn’t trust the digital scale, so they made a simpler display with yellow smilies for good, blue for too cold and red for too hot – another iterations based on the empathy with the mothers which were the endusers.

After thousands of tests the “Embrace warmer” was born and released in 2011. A waterproof bag with an inlet with wax filling, which can be melted with boiling water or electricity. It holds the exact same temperature for up to 8 hours and it can be reheated thousands of times.

On the way to the product release they had a lot of obstacles, everything went wrong: Entrepreneurship is all about doing whatever it takes to pass obstacles to reach the end goal !

“When you truly believe something, the universe will conspire to help you achieve it – Paulo Coehlo”

Until Oktober 2016 they helped over 200’000 babies in 20 countries !

More ideas and products followed and are mentioned in the talk – a must see.

This talk was very inspiring to me and made me think a lot about meaningful work and projects.

Other interesting talks for makers and enthusiast can be found at “Stanfords Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders” Series: http://ecorner.stanford.edu/ ( copies at YouTube ) .

5 kitchen hacks

1 Baking paper for the sandwich maker

Almost everyone knows this problem: once you get out the sandwich maker and make the first few sandwiches, you have a huge mess – especially the cheese lovers. Just place a sheet of baking paper in the sandwich maker or around the sandwich. This almost eliminates the time-consuming cleaning. Wipe the sandwich maker briefly after use and it’s ready for the next use.

2 Kitchen tongs as lemon squeezer

If you don’t have a lemon squeezer on hand, just use a kitchen tong. Clamp the lemon in between and squeeze. In addition you can roll the lemon before, so the squeezing is more easy.

3 Remove pomegranate seeds with a wooden spoon

After many failures, this trick works best for me when it comes to pomegranates: cut the pomegranate in half and beat it over a large bowl with a wooden spoon.

4 Pasta server as a spaghetti portioner

How much spaghetti do I need per person? Hard to estimate, especially with many people. Just use the hole in the pasta server. The hole corresponds exactly to one portion.

5 Make yeast rising with the oven

I often had the problem, that my yeast dough didn’t really want to rise. A trick that has always worked: set the oven to about 30°C to 40°C (86°F to 104°F) and put the dough in until it has risen nice.

If you have any futher tips & tricks, please let us know in the comments 🙂

The dream of your own Café

Some cafes are just wonderful. The delicious smell of coffee at the entrance, the sweet little sins behind the cake counter, the lovely decor and the nice service. It makes you feel good, all the senses are addressed, you become completely human, just wonderful.

Our darlings, hmm .. the cozy museum café on the island of Reichenau with the many books that you can read there and which you can take with you for free. The café on the island of Mainau with the world’s best Swedish almond cake and the large selection of coffee, tea and cocoa – where the very nice service told us from Café Ihringer in Breisach, which we then visited next …

No wonder when many dream of their own Café .  You can only do what you like,  you find joy, freedom, appreciation and purpose.  Being able to enjoy and get to know more people through his own baking and cooking skills, to be able to set up his own workplace and ultimately to be able to live from his dream – would’nt that be nice?

Here is a German book recommendation on this topic “Sugar Girls – 20 Frauen und ihr Traum vom eigenen Café”  by Henschel, Schacht and Werkmeister

A very inspiring book that shows 20 very different cafes of women who live their dream.

All cafés have a very loving and special interior. The book gives courage and shows that everything is possible even  on a small budget.

All women seem to be able to live well from their own business, even if the mentioned extremes are subsistence living or a multi-store café.

Many earn less than they earned in their job before. People often tell how they work a lot more, sometimes 80 hours a week, that’s more than 10 hours a day … but everyone sounds very happy and satisfied. Everyone is happy to went on this adventure of their own business.

For those who want to take this step into self-employment, there are many practical tips in “Sugar Girls”  e.g. That you save a lot of work with the authorities, if before a café or restaurant was there, that you need a health certificate, how you usually calculate the prices and much more.

PS: I got the book from a nice person, whom we might also be able to visit in her own café …

Survival or How to be an Imperfectionist

Lately in a long going big business meeting I had the following brainstorm, what in German means an “Geistes-Blitz”.

What does it mean to have your own business – what does it mean to be an entrepreneur ?

It means to deal with all this imperfect things and to bring all to a good end, what means not 100% perfect but more than enough to fullfill the purpose !

The material, the suppliers, the equipment and the people are not perfect, what the customer said and what we understand was not perfect.

So my “Geistesblitz” was this:
The ART of having a business is to deal with all this real world imperfect things and against all odds bringing it to a good end !
Oh yes, maybe it could have been a bit better 😉

Not only the business world but also our whole life is not perfect. There is a small book about this topic :

How to be an Imperfectionist from Stephen Guise. Quote:

Change what you care action

  • Don’t care about results. Care about putting in the work.
  • Don’t care about problems. Care about making progress despite.
  • Don’t care what other people think.
  • Care about what you want to be and what you want to do.
  • Care less about doing it right. Care about doing it at all.
  • Don’t care about failure. Care about success.
  • Don’t care about timing. Care about the task.

Imperfect process actions

  • Imperfect thoughts and ideas
  • Imperfect decisions
  • Imperfect action
  • Imperfect adaption
  • Imperfect, but successful result!

I got this book from my daughter and it was a real eye-opener for me.

For me it’s clear Stephen Guise got an important point. To realize your projects, your dreams or your simple every-days tasks you just have to start it – even if it’s a really tiny step of the whole tasks and it has not to be perfect – and it’s important to continue with these small, maybe even not perfect, steps.

Perfectionism is very often the real obstacle why so many people don’t even start the smallest project. The target is not perfect clear, not every possible wrong step is considered .. or they start something and because the first result is not perfect they stop it immediately.

The book is very inspiring and I’m thinking a lot about Imperfectionism.
I know a lot of people, who think they have to be perfect, but it would be so much easier for them without it. If they ever would ask me for a recommendation what they should change, I hope I am able to say: Stop meaning you have to be perfect, the way you are is exactly how I like you, perfect imperfect 🙂

Our whole world an life is based on imperfect things – and so beautiful ! Imperfect things are beautiful! There is even a name for it “wabi-sabi”. Quote from Wikipedia:

Wabi-sabi represents Japanese aesthetics and world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”….
Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy, and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.

ZIEL – mental health

Health – the most important thing in our lives. When talking about mental health in everday life, these conversations often focus on our physical infirmity. Back pain, cold, flu, headache, etc. The list is long. However, most people don’t talk openly about mental health, although it’s a huge part of our well-being.

Many of us have had one or more strokes of fate in our lives. These experiences can greatly affect our mental health. Some people deal better with such events, but others can’t stop thinking about them.

A research team of the Universities of Berne and Zurich would like to help these people: ZIELZurück Ins Eigene Leben (back to your own life). With the help of the online program, those affected should learn to help themselves.

Online program ZIEL:

Revel in the adventure of new ideas

A very inspiring talk – Steve Teig :

  • a lot of existing products are just lousy
  • try to improve existing things
  • try to solve problems that matters
  • help people
  • read a lot and make connections that haven’t been made before
  • combine ideas of different fields
  • work together with nice people
  • make a fine place to work at
  • find good metaphors
  • making a quick decision is better
  • ecosystems are full of local optimas
  • data is overrated
  • make a difference – make something that matters
  • have fun


More Videos here : Stanford-Entrepreneurship-Corner

5 Tips to save energy

1 Use LED lamps

Change your old bulbs to LED bulbs. LED lights have very low power consumption and a long life span. Initially they are more expensive compared to, for example, halogen lamps, but this pays off by great energy savings and in terms of cost. In addition, they are immediately bright, can be dimmed and don’t get hot. And while we’re on the topic of “light”: turn off the light when you don’t need it.

2 Use stand-by

Many devices in our household consume energy through stand-by, without us noticing. To avoid this, you should unplug when not in use or use a power strip with switch. You can easily turn off multiple devices at the same time.

3 Save water

In many households unnecessarily much water is consumed. It is easy to save water. While taking a shower/washing hands: If you soap your body, hair or hands: turn off the water! Even with the washing machine and the dishwasher you can easily save water with austerity program.

4 Low temperatures while washing

With today’s detergents and washing programs, the laundry will be clean even at low temperature. 30°C are often enough. Most of the energy is consumed when heating the water.

5 Pay attention to energy classes

If you buy new household aids, you should pay attention on the energy efficiency classes. They specify how much energy is consumed by a device. Particularly economical are the classes A+, A++ and A+++.



With a high degree of probability, the great idea that has come to your mind already had another one.
Ideas are often in the air or the problems that lead to the ideas, so it often happens that two people have the same idea randomly and independently.

Every time I think I have a great idea, I first look at YouTube – most of the time you’ll find that idea pretty fast. Recently I thought, for example You could build a simple engine from a car alternator, the power generator – if you look in YouTube you will find several videos of people who not only had the same idea, but also implemented it.


The largest collections of ideas and technical knowledge databases are online patent databases. Free are, for example:
DEPATISnet Einsteiger-Suche
Google Patents
Europaeisches Patentamt
On the one hand, these are collections of new ideas, i. E. Solutions to technical problems, on the other hand, however, the respective current state of the art is described.
However, you have to get used to the strange language, which I believe partly also serves to disguise – but in principle, the patents are always the same structure, to overview you can also first look at the summary and the drawings.

If you find nothing in the databases and you think that you could earn a lot of money with the idea, you should register the idea as a patent – German patents cost a few thousand Euros, European patents can sometimes cost a few tens of thousands of Euros.
BUT despite you can not find anything in the database, someone else may have already registered the idea, as of the filing date there is immediate protection, but the application may not have been reviewed yet and not yet published – the faster applicant has the rights, not the one who had the idea first.
If you want to prevent the idea so no one else applies for a patent you can also register in Germany a “Gebrauchsmuster” it’s about 600Euros.

Another way to prevent someone from applying for the same idea is to publish an article about it in a journal.

If you have the patent and somebody violates it, you have to be financially strong enough to sue your right in court.
With the patent, the idea is also known ie. published and mostly described exactly. Sometimes it is better to try to keep the idea secret for as long as possible and to use the time advantage over the competition.
Once products have been sold with the idea or has been reported on the idea somewhere before the application was made so a patent is no longer possibel