Starting a business is no more difficult than determining that you have the risk-tolerance and temperament for such an endeavor, and deciding to just take your idea and go for it.

There's no single recipe for starting a company.

Despite the catchy title, this Instructable is more personal story than authoritative how-to: It chronicles how and why Squid Labs, Instructables, and our sister companies were started, and what we've learned along the way. Squid Labs is a research and design firm that did innovation consulting, and built prototypes for services and products, many of which have since spun-off into separate companies: Instructables, this project-sharing website; Potenco, which is making a hand-held generator for cell phones and laptops; Howtoons, comics showing kids of all ages how to do things; Makani, an energy company seeking to harness high-altitude wind; OptiOpia, a vision-correction business developing low-cost portable vision-testing and lens-fabricating devices; and MonkeyLectric, which makes LED lighting systems for bicycles.

I hope to inspire the creation of more businesses and companies like Squid Labs by telling you how we did it. Take all the information in this Instructable for free; there's no franchise fee! The world needs more people dedicated to having a positive impact.

Step 1: Motivation For Writing This (Now)

Squid Labs has spun off several companies from technologies developed in the lab, and those companies are still in their early stages. My definition of business success for Squid Labs would be any (hopefully all!) of the spin-off companies positively impacting both their customers and employees, and through that, becoming wildly profitable, going public, or being acquired and successfully integrated into a larger entity to enable the company to grow faster than it could on its own.

Squid Labs is still an ongoing experiment, though we've made it through the first stage (achieving spin-offs), and all signs point to success.

So, why have I chosen to write about Squid Labs now?

First, since Squid Labs is an experiment, it will undoubtedly need to be repeated multiple times, and hopefully improved upon. There are people even more risk-tolerant than the Squid Labs founders out there -- I hope they can learn from the Squid example, and start sooner than they otherwise would. So, this Instructable is primarily written for technical and creative people, early in their careers, but I've tried to make it accessible to anyone. I'd be flattered if it inspired just a few people to take their ideas to the next level!

Second, Instructables, the first of the Squid Labs spin-offs, has reached a small internal metric of success: over a couple of months, it has brought in enough revenue through advertising and related sources to cover its expenses during that same time period.

Even if cash neutrality is all that Instructables ever achieves, and it never actually provides a meaningful return to its investors, I would still be proud of my company. Instructables by its very nature has, and will continue to have, a net positive impact on the world. It's a valuable tool for anyone with a project or idea to share, and we're building a fantastic community. However, don't let me be too humble: Instructables is at the center of a very big trend, we're growing fast, and we have unmatchable authenticity. So, as a member of the inside team, I assure you things are going really well and you can definitely bet on us.
<p>This is such an inspiring story! I like step 15, in which you suggest attracting and going with other opportunities. Continual growth is vital. One thing I'd like to suggest is doing market research. Making sure there's a market for your business and then figuring out how to approach it can be so helpful and important. Best of luck to everyone in their future ventures!<br><br><a href="http://www.cfrinc.net" rel="nofollow">http://www.cfrinc.net </a></p>
<p>When a business a <br>started strategically, it runs smooth, its chances of success are high. Taking <br>prior guidance for starting a business is crucial for its success. I myself own <br>a small proprietorship. I had no time to attend regular college, therefore I attained <br>online business course from <a href="http://www.cob.ac/programmes/" rel="nofollow">http://www.cob.ac/programmes/</a> <br>. It helped me a great deal in understanding and gaining insights on how to <br>start and smoothly run a business.</p>
<p>Having prior knowledge related to the industry and the dynamics through which it operates are a mandatory feature through the help of which learning related to a business can easily be conducted and exercised. This can be extremely helpful if the person is well versed and has knowledge or a business management degree from an accredited university that can help them in initiating proper business in the long run. Here is one thing that can help you in doing it </p> <br> http://www.gulfhighered.com/business-school
<p>Eric; You heard it from other followers but you haven't heard it from me. </p><p>Thanks bro !!!!! For inspiring and sharing. Laura = ) </p>
hahaha.,.thank you great guys..I like your set up ..but my place is messy eer though, but i love it the way it is..use of all available space for that precious little useless part until you need them immediately like now..
Awesome story, Eric! Thanks for sharing!
What a great story. Thanks for sharing. Wish I read this 20 years ago...
Instructables is one of the best websites on the Internet... I hope it is around for 500 years. Wish I though of it.
I've wondered before, and still would like to know, <br>Who drew the Instructables Robot?
So far, really great read. I've been a huge fan of Instructables and the whole DIY movement for a few years. I don't have any kind of fancy degree, and some of the projects are way over my head, but I really like your point about if you want to succeed you need to find liek minded people. There is definitely a difference between &quot;founders&quot; and employees&quot;. <br> <br>I have been an &quot;employee&quot; my whole life, but I've always wanted to be part of something bigger, but you hit the nail on the head in &quot;why would anyone want to give me an important part in their new idea&quot; if I didn't have the initiative or the ability to do it myself. So last year, I bought some tools and started leather working, and actually have a pretty successful business at www.TheBrassWardrobe.com, and it feels SO much better to be a creator in this world, as opposed to a consumer. <br> <br>But sincE I am only part time, I am having a hard time moving forward and growing(which is not a big deal really..). All of my friends say I need to start hiring some employees to do the simple stuff, but I still feel that I am at the ground floor, and as you stated, I need to find &quot;founders&quot; if I'm going to be successful. Of course this makes me seem like an elitist perfectionist to my friends, but it was nice to see some confirmation on what I have been thinking. <br> <br>I'd like to post a 'Structable someday, unfortunately, most everything I've learned has been from here, so I don't think I have any wisdom to share that hasn't been covered...yet ;)
Fantastic story. Thank you very much for sharing it.
Can you please give me any hints as to start a business as I already have a webpage and an idea and a brand name and BTW, I'm only 13 ;)
i'm 15 and going to try to star my own rc car buisness. <br>what's your idea?
I was going to start an alarm company or a home automation company.BTW your idea sounds good :)
just need to find a good website to buy rc cars in bulk
inspiring story... thanks...<br>
Hi Eric, <br>This is a great story. Can't wait to meet you and Randy. <br>See you in february!<br><br>Sam
Thanks for your story Eric. My brother and I are <strike>talking about</strike> going to be starting a business sometime in the near future, and it's good to read someone else' experience.&nbsp; I'm sure our experience will be nothing like yours (it's going to be a restaurant of sorts), but it's helpful to read about someone who jumped into the pool and found out they could swim after all.<br>
Beautiful write up, thank you so much for posting it!<br><br>What you guys did with Squid Labs is what I always dreamt of doing and am finally trying to get off the ground.
&nbsp;Absolutely inspiring stuff. Thanks so much for sharing.&nbsp;&nbsp;
one of the best 'ibles i've read so far. <br /> <br /> there might not be a proven formula for success but this article lays down what is exactly needed and to watch out for when starting a business. <br /> <br /> thanks eric!<br />
Get a team to play that!
That would be a super conductive ring a half mile in diamerter with diode gates and towers&nbsp;to take incoming bolts cycle them around the ring and siphon off power as needed.
&nbsp;A very interesting and useful read. As &nbsp;someone coming from MIT myself, I always find it really refreshing when people admit that &quot;Well, the first contact we got really came from our insane connections at the Media Lab.&quot; The start-up community in general does the world a disservice in downplaying the importance of luck, an encouraging environment and meeting interesting and/or powerful people (in addition to,passion, enthusiasm, and all those other things you bring up, of course). I know it'll help me at least as I try to figure out how much of my talent is my environment and how much of it is my underlying personality (it's clear that you folks are blessed with both.)
Thank you for allowing the pubic to know how instructables was made.<br />
Updated of your &quot;Schematic for a balloon/kite based observation system designed for forest-firefighters.&quot; FYI The water hose would be massive so therefor remove it LOL Shooting stuff is just way cooler in the long run. LOL<br />
<style type="text/css"><![CDATA[p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0.0in; font-size: 12.0pt; font-family: Times New Roman; } div.Section1 { page: Section1; } ]]></style> <p class="MsoNormal">On a different note where did you start when looking for grant?</p>
<em>bolts of lightning to usable </em><em>energy easy I&nbsp;know how LOL. </em>
Nice Squid bus LOL<br />
From orange cars and head trauma, to collaborative brainstorming and direct worldly impact&hellip;What's not to like about this story?&nbsp; All you need is a catchy title for your book.&nbsp; Thanks for the reading suggestions too.<br />
sweet i wish i could be on the ibles team
Great story, 5 Stars. Do you think it's necessary to have studies before you start your company? I say before because I want to do my engineering studies after starting my business and, perhaps paying my studies with the money the company will bring in...
That's a tough call, and maybe something I should add to the Instructable. I personally know of several highly successful people that never finished college. I decided to do 9 years of college and graduate studies first because it was fun and was learning so much, and second because I wanted the benefits of being "vetted by society."
I think it really depends on what your company will do. I have a bachelors in Entrepreneurship (BA) and have been a senior in Mechanical Engineering for 3 years now. I've taught CATIA V5 for 3 years now and do CNC Programming as a career though I recently started a product concept development firm that provides Manufacturing and Design Support. I can do this because of my experience and my studies, though not complete, have given me a much better understanding of the real-world engineering requirements beyond a simple let's draw this widget and make mindset. My CNC Programming has developed mostly from experience and personal desire to learn, so I can do it without any formal education but without my existing proof of concept designs I have nothing to go on to validate my knowledge in design. I was surprised to hear that Tim started ZCorp. I used to run the 3D Prototyping Lab at the National Institute for Aviation Research at Wichita State University. We had a ZCorp 406 printer. Eric we need to stay in touch more... My personal email is brianjherr@yahoo.com.
Well I have plenty of time to think about it, maybe I'll do both at the same time, who knows.
I read this and I have Started My Business it is a Site Developed to Getting kids into electronics etc Making gadgets and Ideas for inventors Etc WIll post a link when domain is sorted
It hasnt been made yet still writing Scripts etc
ok please tell me when its finished
I will try i have alot to do at the mo Lol
i started a website a couple of weeks ago its all about ghosts<br/><br/>the link is <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.matandchloe.webs.com">http://www.matandchloe.webs.com</a> <br/>
How do you pronounce "MITERS"?

About This Instructable




Bio: Eric J. Wilhelm is the founder of Instructables. He has a Ph.D. from MIT in Mechanical Engineering. Eric believes in making technology accessible through ... More »
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