When I started here back in June, one of the major decisions SparkFun was grappling with was trying to find a way to implement a platform to allow our user community to post and show off their projects. The SparkFun user community creates some pretty amazing projects using our boards – I love seeing the projects in the wild, and we wanted this community project.
The question we were trying to answer was, “What are we as a company?” Did we need to build and host our own community platform, or should we keep focusing effort on engaging the community through our learning content and tutorials? Ultimately we came to the conclusion that we needed to stick with the core of what got us to this point: showing people the way forward. We couldn’t commit to creating our own platform and still maintain the same level of quality that our customers expect for our products and content. For us the message was more important than the medium.
What we needed to do was find a platform that really spoke to SparkFun in a way that our users could positively engage with. What we wanted was our message on a solid, stable, professionally managed platform. During AVC weekend I had the pleasure of meeting a few of the people who work for Hackster.io, and I was impressed. Alex Glow and Adam Benzion of Hackster both attended and stuck around after the event. We started having conversations about SparkFun leveraging the Hackster platform for community engagement. What followed was a series of long conversations about what a partnership between SparkFun and Hackster would look like.
During that time, Ben Larralde of Hackster helped create and update some APIs for us. These APIs allow us to push our products to Hackster when they go live. This means SparkFun can guarantee the quality of our products on the Hackster site is the same as our site. Juan, our internal photographer, does a great job of shooting photos of our products, and Topher from our catalog team writes great product descriptions. Ensuring we had an easy, seamless way to link all of that information to the Hackster website was a priority for us. Now, every Friday when we launch our new products, they appear on Hackster.
When our customers create great projects using our products, they will now have the option to load their projects into Hackster. Users can still use the standard Hackster interface to create projects, but we wanted to create the ability for users to build wishlists on SparkFun and then create a project using the wishlist. This should also simplify the buying experience if someone wanted to recreate your project themselves. Since we already have the ability to add entire wishlists to a cart, this functionality has been extended to Hackster.
The main aspect of the integration we hope our customers enjoy is the project connection functionality. SparkFun is currently pulling images from projects that leverage our products; these images will be displayed on our main product page. Now people who make great projects have the opportunity for everyone on our website to see them in action. We encourage users to upload their projects on Hackster, and the best projects using our stuff will be displayed on our website. Every month, we’ll feature a different project from Hackster on our blog as our Project of the Month.
We want to thank Hackster for working with us and for being patient, and we want to thank our users for the work they’ve done to inspire us, and the work we know they’ll do moving forward.