Modern Contemporary Design


Love Your Way: MasterPlanDesignWorkshop

love_your_way_masterplandesignworkshop.jpg What does it take to make the break from convention and follow your heart? Our crew of passionate iconoclasts have taken many paths – artisanal chocolate, radical local vodka, DIY electronic music machines, hand-crafted leather gear for your bike – to find their Way. So the question is, how DO you start earning your living by doing what you love…?

This post is part of a content series presented by smartwater… smartwater, simplicity is delicious. Click here to learn more.

With a PhD in Comparative Literature in hand, and music-making electronic circuitry in his heart, Travis Feldman is making the leap from academic worker to full-time 21st-century high tech indie inventor. It’s quite the gamechanger. He’d been an educator, at university, college, a year as a high school English teacher, and writing a book on William Blake, all the while hobbying away building his own electronic instruments. But when one project began shaping up as the possibly-ready-for-the-world Molecule Synth, the balance changed…

The What: Travis’ MasterPlanDesign Workshop is the maker of Molecule Synth, a sound construction kit that lets you snap together modules to create your own custom gear, easy as Lego or playing with a chemistry set. “I was inspired by experiences with circuit bending toys and building my own instruments,” says Travis. “I wanted to make something with sounds that were more wild and less predictable than what comes from traditional keyboards. I also wanted to get away from the black box pre-fab technologies that make us all passive consumers using someone else’s designs.” The result is open source, totally hackable, with all the innards in plain sight. Simple to use. Fun!

The Why and the How: Getting from pastime to prime time took a simple act of recognition…and then, of couse, ACTION. “I wanted to place what was a hobby at the center of my life instead of at the periphery of it. I had this project going, and I could see that I could make a Kickstarter project out of it.” Which is exactly what he did, tackling all entreprenuerial duties head on. In order to secure crowd funding via Kickstarter, he had to create a compelling web and video investor sales pitch, which in turn meant nailing down packaging, manufacturing, fulfillment, every last endless detail.

Molecule Synth - Travis Feldman

“It’s been a bit stressful. I’ve been doing everything myself, the photography, designing the web site, things that are challenging me outside of my field proper. For example, the packaging. I’ve spent days on the phone with packaging companies, with people who spend all their time dealing with nothing but boxes, learning about packaging, so I can ship the Molecule Synth all over the world, securely, with the right presentation, and in my budget. It’s not like researching William Blake, but it’s research that I’m enjoying. So it’s a…good stressful.”

The Payoff: “The Molecule Synth is the first project I’ve tried to deliver into the world,” says Travis. On Sep. 9, 2012, it received well over twice the requested funding from 203 enthusiastic investors, half of them also the very first MasterPlanDesignWorkshop customers. Production is now getting ready to roll. Further on, hopefully life as a successful modern independent inventor, producing more electronic, art-based creations. And…why not?! The first big steps have been taken, only a wide open road lies ahead!

Travis Feldman…we love your way.

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