In the spirit of transparency and the anti-stealth movement, this cycle we wanted to try something different. Instead of keeping our newest companies “under wraps” for a month or two until Open Coffee Club (which will be July 22nd btw), we’re going to introduce you to a new AlphaLab company each week. First up we have MakerCraft.
The MakerCraft team from left to right (Justin Endler, Corissa McClay, Dan Dwire, Nicholas McClay)
MakerCraft is building an app where users can design customized jewelry that can be shipped to them pre-made or–in the spirit of DIY–as a kit they can put together themselves.
The idea for the company came out of a personal pain Co-Founder and CEO, Corissa McClay, experienced when she was designing her own jewelry: “I was frustrated with the idea that when I was making jewelry I had to actually use my materials to figure out if a design was good enough.”
Luckily Corissa had an understanding husband who was also a seasoned programmer that could build a program for her. But after thinking about it, the couple realized if Corissa was having this much trouble with the issue, she probably wasn’t alone.
With only a month before AlphaLab’s application cycle would be closed, the husband and wife team got all their stuff together and applied to AlphaLab. The program’s hands-on mentoring and creative co-working space really appealed to Corissa and AlphaLab had always been “on their radar” from being involved in Pittsburgh’s startup and gaming community.
Once they got accepted to AlphaLab’s Summer/Fall 2011 program, Co-Founders Corissa (CEO) and Nicholas McClay (Platform Architect) signed on Justin Endler to work on their API and web development, and Dan Dwire to work on mobile design and development.
The team is taking an agile approach to development. As Corissa explains, “It just makes sense…why build something no one wants to use?” To ensure the team doesn’t waste time building features that will just collect dust, Corissa has been holding focus groups where she talks to groups of women about their habits surrounding jewelry and crafting, as well as familiarity and comfortability with technology. After these sessions, the participants get to make and take home a piece of jewelry both as a thank you and as a way for MakerCraft to discover their target market’s price points. Before they leave, each person is asked what they would be willing to pay for what they just made if they designed it using MakerCraft’s app.
You can stay current with MakerCraft’s progress through their blog, twitter account and facebook page or sign up to be a beta tester to help them hone their app (and make some awesome jewelry in the process).