“Apple never open-sourced the iPod, right? But if you go down to Canal Street

in Manhattan, there are copies all over the place. It doesn’t matter

 anymore whether your product is open source.

Someone in another country is going to

open it up and  reverse-engineer

 it anyway.”



Limor Fried, founder of Adafruit Industries




The outcomes of the interviews, along with the information available online, played a very important role in explaining how users interact in the OSH ecosystem and the businesses beyond it. In particular, the sixteen informants helped to draw the picture of the features of users who eventually became entrepreneurs in OSH, as well as of the strength of different personal drivers and levels of ambition showed. Equally important, the results shed light on the different theories about User Innovation and Open Source, highlighting how the End-User Entrepreneurial process in this ecosystem differs from the one described in section 1.3. Finally, the personal interaction with Arduino’s co-founder, Massimo Banzi, helped in understanding the role played by Arduino and to outline possible directions in which the OSH seems to be addressed.

Before presenting the cases take outs, it should be recalled that physically embedding an Arduino board inside a commercial product does not require users to disclose or open source any information about the product’s design, but only to release the modified files under the same Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license. Therefore, users have easy access to the tools which stimulate their innovativeness and eventually they manufacture and sell the final product. In this sense, Arduino seems to foster User Entrepreneurship and the results shown in the following section confirm it.  A brief summary of the interviews is reported in table 4. In each case, the most interesting peculiarities of each business and the role of the user entrepreneurs were highlighted. As anticipated, companies fact sheets are reported in Appendix 3. As a result, it was possible to make comparisons as well as draw some business models in accordance with those peculiarities showed.

Table 4 Take outs from analysed sample.


Take outs Role of Arduino Position in OSH


They offer hardware, technical support and OSH tutorials. The community is huge: new and unique kits are developed on a weekly basis shared within users. Revenues of $2M, Arduino is quite relevant is sales with positive estimation for the future

They worked together since the beginning. However, Limor started her first projects before the introduction of Arduino

Leading company, they played a key role in the OH Summit. The support of Make Magazine is relevant



50 dollars for prototype a channel, instead of (up to) $5.000, therefore people are willing to pay 200-300 dollars for it. There is a market inefficiencies on that, there are few products at expensive prices.

He did not want to sell it, however people started to mail him after he put online the schematics; he encourages his students to develop and commercialize derivatives products and new versions

As a researcher, he needed to make large amount of tests. Arduino was the cheaper solution at that moment. Strong support of Arduino team in spreading the project. Willing to pay royalties for using the ARDU name

Expert of OSH, however he has no time to perform these activities. Still an ongoing project that gives him little revenues. He Is a professor and he does not want to change his job.


It is a very small project so the numbers are not substantial. If it will become larger they might need to move away from the Arduino chip towards something less costly

The Arduino system was very helpful in prototyping interactions quickly. It was used in lectures at NYU

Never intent to commercialize Currently the founders are not entirely focussing on this activity

Bug Labs


Shift from hardware to services. Business clients: AT&T, Verizon, Accenture. Solutions in several industries (manufacturing, automotive, and healthcare). The online community does not play a big role. More enterprise software-based, and therefore more Red Hat like (software based subscriptions). End-users could be individuals, like elderly people that will use a BUG gateway to connect to medical devices in their homes

Their customers use Arduino for simple adapters They use the Von Hippel module to connect to Arduino. Bug Labs has no agreement with Arduino, nor pay royalties

Main organizer of the OS Summit. They are planning to concentrate more on the business aspects: it is likely to be one of the key player in the future


Among the others it seems the project  that follow more the classical entrepreneurial process.

The role of community is essential, it helps also to figure out the right price that in this context is challenging

They use if for prototyping

They may affect the entire OSH ecosystem given the  partially closeness


DIY is the starting point for entrepreneurs: “community has solutions that we would never think of”.

Started to use Arduino intensively only from January 2011

One of the top 13 OSH companies

DIY Drones


the website is built as a social network: the community has more than 12,000 users and  has 3 main functions: education (collect new field of technology); support (free 24/7 technical and development support); information (new ideas). Brand and technology are the others main competitive advantages

Problem solving as a starting point, Arduino fits exactly Anderson needs; it gives them social advantages rather than performance one that’s why they want to stick to them

Being Wired editor in chief definitely supports the project. Speaker at OH Summit


No commercial interest; however a company contacted him to commercialize a kit for doing the product. He is a graphic designer; nevertheless OSH is pushing him to become entrepreneur, that is why he is also planning to do a MSc in Management. In case of commercialization, he would use his “core competence” to design and develop the process, leaving to someone else other tasks

Alternative projects were high technical, he has expertise in OSS but not in OSH, so Arduino is perfect and “very cutting edge”

Limited role played, a very new project. He is working with his wife in order to combine the development of software and hardware


Enthusiastic geek, he made several projects. He has no time to do it, not sure if he wants to work full time on these projects

Arduino is the core of all its projects; no royalties are given

He is a user graduated in entrepreneurship; keep doing similar projects

Laser Harp


Users within the community recognize the business opportunity, who support him also to set up the price. He is now willing to exploit this business opportunity

No background at all, he learnt how to use Arduino in his spare time in several years

He is just a user who might be interested in commercializing the product


They have 4 business lines: Waspmote, MeshLium, Nvio and Cooking Hacks. Related to Cooking Hacks, the tree basic stones: Fidelity of users, Good documentation, increase of catalogues

Arduino Contest is a way to launch the work of their community in order to show their projects to all people.

A secondary OSH platform that allow users to find easily projects to share creativity and knowledge

Maker Shed

Social media has played a key role enabling organization, conversation and collaboration between communities of makers across the globe

The peculiarities of Make’s business model are that they are also a publisher and a producer of Maker Faire events. Most valuable assets is to have a huge network.

As a publisher they have covered the work of Arduino’s creators. They were moved by the potential of Arduino to empower non-engineers to create relatively sophisticated interactive projects. Arduino inspired sales about 30% of the total

Make Magazine is on the top for OSH users. All the projects are easily illustrate with pictures, step by step and also supported by videos on websites


They allow people to build from home any physical devices. Winner of CES[1]. They support people becoming small scale manufacturers and prototyping ideas, possibly adding fun to it

They had trouble to use existing microcontroller, then they came up with an Arduino derivatives

Big player that can radically change the manufacturing industry


low IP regimes enhance diffusion of OSH; the brand is the main asset, they just protect it. The community is the key for any aspect: suggestions of new products, brainstorming, feedback on development process;

Future expectation: large growth, more accessible to people, easier to use, thus bigger market

9% of their royalties are coming from Arduino products. However future strategies aim to reduce the impact of Arduino products on total sales: Arduino substitutes are not only better in terms of performance, but also cheaper

110 employees, biggest player who predicts for the future: “Arduino will not run forever. It is a part of a community, and there are now much better platforms”

blind Theatre

Designer, funded by a Norwegian organization

Arduino allowed them to prototype, they might move to something bigger in the future

Interactive designers who make several projects, but they just started

Word Clock

The founder decided to re-develop the version for the Arduino challenge on Instructables He sells both kits, as well as ready-made projects – his focus is on enabling people, so he provides them with whatever they need

The Arduino was simply a rapid development platform – he did not ask for, nor did he expect support from the Arduino team

The model is particularly constrained, limited demand, and the cost of production is high


On the whole, several elements can be considered as key factors that lead users to translate their innovations into a business opportunity, questioning the stability of the End-User Entrepreneurial model, discussed in the next paragraph.

[1] Consumer Electronics Show, the world’s largest consumer technology tradeshow

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