As the “making experts” at the Indiana IoT Lab, 1st Maker Space assists members building products for various uses such as demonstrations, proofs of concept, marketing, or fund raising. Founder Kim Brand and his son Adam launched the company in 2015 out of their 3D printing business after discovering a passion for hosting educational 3D design and printing camps for students. This evolution now includes designing, building, and sustaining makerspaces and STEM labs in schools, libraries, and community centers state-wide, with equipment ranging from laser cutters and 3D printers to drones and microcontrollers.

We sat down with Kim to learn more about his business, their partnership with the Indiana IoT Lab, and what drives him.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I’ve always been a tinkerer and inventor. I studied mechanical engineering at IUPUI because that’s what I thought I had to do be good at that.

What prompted your involvement with the IoT Lab, and what do you hope to gain from the relationship?
The IoT Lab exists at the intersection of digital and physical research and development. The physical component almost always requires making something. That’s where our expertise can be most helpful. The Lab also combines the best of ‘creative collisions,’ a location in a vibrant ‘innovation-focused’ community, access to all kinds of technical/business and logistical resources and association with one the most cutting-edge R&D centers in the state. We think residence here will give us better visibility and productivity as we pioneer our maker business model and scale it across the state and soon the region.

What does your typical day look like?
On any given day you’ll find me at the Lab collaborating with my team, communicating with prospects and customers, reading and solving problems. On a good day I get to promote a maker mindset among educators and doing maker training in the makerspace at the IoT Lab.

We also maintain the Lab’s maker equipment and manage supplies, upgrades and utilization – with an emphasis on monitoring adherence to the Lab’s maker safety policies.

Where do you find your drive?
Educators call it ‘self-efficacy’ – the feeling that you can solve problems, invent solutions and persevere through challenges to achieve your goals. Contributing to a better world and a prosperous community is motivating!

What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
The book I would write about entrepreneurship would be titled “No Filet.” The filet is the most tender cut of beef. It gets that way by never being used. THERE IS NO FILET ON AN ENTREPRENEUR. You use EVERYTHING you have to succeed.

In general, my advice to any aspiring entrepreneur is to:

  • Read constantly (and learn something new every day).
  • Network – the best way to get lucky.
  • Tell the truth – to others and especially yourself.
  • Hire people smarter than you – and for things that you don’t want to do.
  • Know the Law – ignorance is no defense for not knowing the law.
  • Know accounting – you should be able to T chart most any business transaction.
  • Marry someone who is practical and realistic – probably just the opposite of what you are! Listen to them. A happy marriage pays better dividends than any other investment you’ll ever make.

You mentioned luck. Is it better to be lucky or smart?
LUCKY. Teachers can’t just tell you to be lucky or they’d be out of a job! Being smart may get you a good job but to dodge disaster, synchronize your timing and exploit opportunity you really need to be lucky. The question is, “What do you do with it?”