Partial transcript: Episode 32 (Emile Patron of Tindie)

Andrew: We should get into a little detail before we get Emile on the phone.  Tindie is basically Etsy for electronics.

Nick: Built hardware.

Mike: And he’s started doing Kickstarter-type stuff.

Virginia: Are we ready to patch him in?

Emile: Hello!

Nick: Hey there!  We’re all makers, so we have a little bit of knowledge about the stuff you’re trying to do.

Virginia: We read the Reddit background where you posted about the idea of starting something for makers.  Can you describe what you’ve done over the last year or so?

Emile: The original post on Reddit was back in May.  I launched the site in June.  Since then, it’s been pretty crazy.  The site’s been growing every single month.  We’re at a point where it keeps growing.  We raised funding to grow the company.  That wasn’t in the plan if you saw the post.  It’s basically gone on from there.

Virginia: I read you were at UNC.  It said you majored in science.

Emile: I majored in political science.

Andrew: Wow.  A little different than what you’re doing now.

Emile: I don’t know how much science was in there.

Virginia: Maybe I read it wrong.  How did you get into programming?

Emile: I had worked at Yelp and at Red Beacon, two companies down in Silicon Valley.  It was basically at my time at Red Beacon where I was doing sales and signing up businesses.  The exposure to the other guys made me want to learn.  I had the natural inclination.  In middle school, I had learned HTML.  But, that was it.  I just picked it up.  I left Red Beacon, took a year off and learned Python and Django.

Virginia: I’m just curious how you did it…

Emile: I think the resources you need to do it efficiently: “Learn Python the Hard Way.”  It was simple introduction to Python.  It also helped having friends who were Python developers.  I was able to ask them questions whenever something came up.  They would help me work through it, so I didn’t have to bang my head.  Taking advantage of StackOverflow.  Thinking through what you think the bug is will help you walk through the problem.  Then someone else can help you get closer.  Those three things are crucial.

Andrew: I usually tell people to Google stuff.

Emile: And chances are StackOverflow will be one of the top three.

Mike: So how many lines of code do you have in Tindie?

Emile: Oh… Who knows?  A lot.

Andrew: Probably a better question is, “How many man hours have been put into the code?”

Emile: Months.  I was working mornings and nights while I still had my job.  July, August.  I left early September.  There was like six hours a day for those days.  Since then, it’s basically from about 6:30 to whenever I go to bed.

Nick: That must have been a big decision to leave your job.  I saw you had a few other things you had started.  Did you leave your job for those?  Or did you work through those?

Emile: I founded Knowble when I was still at UNC.  It started out from an entrepreneurship course to finish out my degree.  I needed to fill some hours.  That started as a project there.  Housefed was a project when I was learning how to code.  I needed to apply myself to something.  It was a goal to produce and ship it.  Once you have the basics down, having something to apply yourself towards is important.

Andrew: From the perspective of someone who wants to sell something on Tindie, how do you approach listing?

Emile: There are a few differences between Tindie and Etsy.  There’s no listing fee on Tindie.  You can list stuff for free.  There’s no barrier to trying.  The other thing is that we also launched the fundraiser feature recently.  If you’ve got a project, but you can’t afford parts, you can see if the demand is there for the project.  This way, you build one and then see if the market is there.

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