What are “Kitables?”

Kitables are kits that include all the components and instructions needed to build something. Kind of like “paint by numbers” or a model car kit. There are a lot of people who love the idea of the maker movement but feel intimidated by the idea of building. Kitables give you the fun and satisfaction of making without the intimidation factor.

Where did the idea for Kitables come from?

A few years ago I found myself wondering, “How is it we seem to lose that effortless ability we have as kids to play and explore?” Put a kid in a room and they’ll immediately start poking around and playing with stuff. Put an adult in that same room and they’ll be SO uncomfortable. Adults freak out when they have unstructured time and space.

We’re all born explorers and builders. It’s a big part of what makes us human. But our institutions focus pretty relentlessly on teaching us to structure our lives so we use our time for productive purposes. Structure isn’t a bad thing but too much structure makes it hard for us to adapt, explore, and learn.

By the time we’re adults there’s a kind of inertia that keeps us from jumping in and trying things out. Think about it for a moment. You may think, “I bet I could make a fidget spinner,” but that’s as far as it gets because to make that fidget spinner you have to do some research. You have to turn buy components. You may have to turn off the TV, get up off the couch, and go somewhere to get help. There are a lot of barriers between the idea of making something and actually making it.

The idea behind kitables is to give people everything they’ll need to make one item so it’s a lot easier to get started and complete a project. Pieces that require technical know-how are pre-assembled so if you can follow instructions, you can successfully put together a Kitable.

We think the world needs more builders and Kitables is our way of encouraging people to rediscover their inner builder.

You’re doing a presentation at the Maker Faire called “STEM is not the goal.” What do you mean when you say STEM is not the goal?

I see a growing emphasis in our culture on the idea of “tracks.” For example, choosing a career track in medical technology or business or whatever.

In our education system, there’s a lot of pressure to build a STEM curriculum because the economy of the future needs workers with skills in science and technology.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting a career in science and technology but we risk turning people into ultra-specialized technocrats who solve a limited set of problems in prescribed ways.

The world isn’t a series of neat little problems to be solved by a defined set of skills. The world is, if anything, becoming less predictable and chaotic.

In such an environment we need people who can reinvent themselves, think critically, and creatively.

This requires a “whole person” mindset. You are a person with skills and talents that are valuable and can be applied to a wide variety of fields.

What is your big audacious goal?

In four years I want Kitables to be a $10 million dollar company with a small team of ten people.

In addition I want an organization that takes work life balance seriously. I would love it if we can all work a 20-30 hour work week and be earning good salaries.

What are your goals for the next couple years?

Raise another round of funding so that we can create an internal marketing team. There are other companies that create maker-oriented kits. We want to emphasize that our kits are a means to an end: creating people who are confident, effective builders.

Additionally we want to expand our B2B arm of the company that makes custom kits for marketing or promotional purposes. We have already made kits for Pinterest and Arrow Electronics and want to add more awesome clients!

What is your greatest challenge?

Finding the right people for our growing organization. Having the right people with the right skills, talents, and values is what will enable Kitables to thrive over the next few years.

And being in the trenches as an entrepreneur is messy and scary. Yes, I love what I do and at the same time, I’m human. I spend most days rapidly alternating between “Yeah, we rock!” and “OMG what the hell am I doing?”

What is something that would surprise people to know about you?

When I was a kid I got shot in the leg by a high caliber bullet. I grew up in south interior Florida which contrary to many people think, is guns and pickup trucks country.

I was in the woods riding a gokart and got hit by a bullet because a guy at a nearby shooting range thought it would be fun to shoot in the direction opposite the targets. Luckily I was moving because a few seconds before or after that bullet would have hit something more vital!

Check out Arieann and Kitables at the 2017 Maker Faire on Oct 14-15 @ The Denver Mart. Tickets and details are available at denver.makerfaire.com/faq/