What’s Your Latest? Studio Neat’s Mark One Pen (Episode 102)

Welcome to a mini episode of The New Disruptors, “What’s Your Latest,” in which I ask creators just about the most recent thing they made. Dan Provost and Tom Gerhardt are Studio Neat, independent industrial designers and app developers for nearly a decade, and an early Kickstarter success.

Their latest product is the Mark One, an all-metal retractable pen with a simple exterior that masks the complexity of how pens click. They went to Kickstarter as they almost always do to launch the product, and raised over $230,000 towards a $30,000 goal. We talk about the challenges of design and manufacture, and how this pen was designed and how it’s being made even as we spoke.

Listen to more of Dan and Tom’s conversations about independent product development on Thoroughly Considered, a podcast on the Relay network, in which they talk at intervals with host and Relay co-founder Myke Hurley.

Two colors of the Mark One




Shipping Is Violence with Jesse Genet and Stephan Ango (Episode 101)

Jesse Genet and Stephan Ango co-founded Lumi almost a decade ago. It first made wallets and prints and dyed material, then developed and distributed a light-sensitive fabric ink. Now it's a company that manages the production and ordering of packaging supplies. This might sound unrelated, but it's a natural transition resulting from interrogating one's interests, figuring out what your real business is, and learning new things. We talk about Shark Tank, fulfilling one's dreams, and why 10,000 shipments a month is small potatoes in the packaging world.

Sponsor: Community Theatre

This episode brought to you by: The Concept of Local Community Theatre! Our Sponsor-level crowdfunding backer for this episode has donated his sponsorship message to encourage you to see comedy and drama and musicals staged in your area by community theatres! Check out the listings online and in your local papers today!

Support the podcast!

The crowdfunding campaign brought back The New Disruptors, but I could produce more episodes and keep the show running after July 2019 with your help! You can contribute monthly via Patreon or become a yearly subscriber directly on this site—and get nifty bonuses and rewards. Read more about supporting the podcast.

Show notes



99a: Embrace Your Inner (Cute) Critic

We're still raising funds to restart The New Disruptors! At this writing, we're over 55% of the way there with a couple weeks to go! Visit our Kickstarter and back at any level.

In this special bonus pre-reboot Episode 99a of The New Disruptors, I'm in conversation with Lucy Bellwood, Adventure Cartoonist!, at Brick & Mortar Books in Redmond, Washington, in front of a live audience. She and I talked about creativity and independence, and about our latest books: hers, 100 Demon Dialogs; mine, London Kerning.

Lucy is an adventure cartoonist who I first interviewed in episode 82, almost four years ago. Since then, Lucy has had two more successful Kickstarter campaigns to fund books, taught cartooning in Denmark, sailed tall ships, had an artist's residency on the R/V Falkor oceanographic research vessel, and became a finalist in the New York Times 52 Places correspondent search.

Thanks for listening and thanks for your support!

A few links from the talk:

Fit to Print with Andy McMillan (Episode 92)

Andy McMillan makes things that bring people together: the Build conference, the XOXO festival, and The Manual, a series of books with thoughtful essays about design. After producing three print volumes of The Manual, he's trying to take it to the next level, and produce something openly, broadly available across many media, that's a collaboration with those who want to make it happen — and is funding it on Kickstarter. We'll talk books, ebooks, community, and hugs and kisses.

Sponsors and patrons

This podcast is made possible through the support of sponsors and patrons.

99designs: Have dozens of designers from the over 310,000 that are part of 99designs's network submit ideas for your logo, Web site, T-shirt, car wrap, or other design project, then pick the best and have a finished, professional result in a week or less for a flat price. Our listeners can visit this special destination page to get a $99 Power Pack of services for free!

Thanks also to our Patreon backers Gordon McDowell, Ready Chi, and Bryan C. Clark for supporting us directly.

(Photo by Ian Linkletter.)

Nice and Neat with Dan Provost and Tom Gerhardt (Episode 89)

Dan Provost and Tom Gerhardt are Studio Neat, a small design and software group that produces nifty products. They began with the Glif, and when I talked to them last over a year ago, they had launched their second software product and were deep in planning on a new, more complicated item: the Neat Ice Kit. They funded the kit on Kickstarter in September 2013, raising $156,000 against a $50,000 goal. We talk through the challenges of fulfilling that campaign, more lessons learned, and their recently launched follow-up, the Simple Syrup Kit.

Sponsors and patrons

This podcast is made possible through the support of sponsors and patrons.

99designs: Have dozens of designers from the over 310,000 that are part of 99designs's network submit ideas for your logo, Web site, T-shirt, car wrap, or other design project, then pick the best and have a finished, professional result in a week or less for a flat price. Our listeners can visit this special destination page to get $99 Power Pack of services for free!

Thanks also to our Patreon backers Ben Werdmuller, Ready Chi, and GravityFish for supporting us directly through Patreon! You can help keep this podcast going for as little as $1 per month. At higher levels, we'll thank you on the air and send you mugs and T-shirts!

Show notes

How to Feel Real App Appeal with Garrett Murray (Episode 87)

Garrett Murray is the founder and creative director of Karbon, an app-development firm. But software isn't his whole life; he also happens to be an award-winning filmmaker. His firm developed the apps Scratch, a quick-input notepad for iPhone, and Ego, for tracking all your Web status in a single glance. Actor Tom Hanks just singled out the app Karbon designed and built for Uncrate as one of his two favorites apps. We'll talk about the windy road to app nirvana.

Sponsors and patrons

This podcast is made possible through the support of sponsors and patrons.

99designs: Have dozens of designers from the over 310,000 that are part of 99designs's network submit ideas for your logo, Web site, T-shirt, car wrap, or other design project, then pick the best and have a finished, professional result in a week or less for a flat price. Our listeners can visit this special destination page to get $99 Power Pack of services for free!

Thanks also to our Patreon backers for supporting us directly through Patreon! You can help keep this podcast going for as little as $1 per month. At higher levels, we'll thank you on the air and send you mugs and T-shirts!

Into the Bellwoods with Lucy Bellwood (Episode 82)

Lucy Bellwood is a Portland cartoonist who started her working life with a crowdfunding campaign. She's a member of Periscope Studio, a loosely affiliated working space and collective of which I've interviewed other members. True Believer was the outcome of her Kickstarter project, and she's built a career from there.

Sponsors and patrons

This podcast is made possible through the support of sponsors and patrons.

Swiftly.com, a new service of 99designs.com, gets small design jobs done fast. For just $19, they match your small design job with a professional graphic designer and complete it in less than one hour. All designers handpicked from the talented community at 99designs.

Thanks to Cards Against Humanity, which is helping underwrite our indie ads. CAH just launched a site where you can buy directly from them, including their Bigger Blacker Box and their 2012 and 2013 holiday packs, the profits from which are donated to charity.

Our indie advertisers this week are:

Thanks also to patrons Ben Werdmuller, Alex Bond, and Garry Pugh for supporting us directly through Patreon! You can back this podcast for as little as $1 per month. At higher levels, we'll thank you on the air and send you mugs and T-shirts!

Show notes

Jony Ive in an interview with the New York Times: "We all see the same physical object. Something happens between what we objectively see and what we perceive it to be. That’s the definition of a designer – trying to somehow articulate what contributes to the way we see the object."

In Tom the Dancing Bug, Pablo Picasso is told to stick to his popular clown paintings. Lucy's mentor during her formative pre-college years was Eben Matthews. Erika Moen's mentor was Lin Lucas. Erika appeared on Strip Search, a reality web TV show created by the folks behind Penny Arcade.

The monthly comics newspaper Funny Times was an awesome window for decades for me into all the cartoons published independently, in alt weeklies, and beyond. It's where I first read Alison Bechdel's Dykes To Watch Out For, long before her Bechdel Test had become a popular trope.

Savannah College of Art and Design offers a sequential art program that Lucy considered attending. She went to Reed College instead. We also talk about the Independent Publishing Resource Center’s Certificate Program in Comics and Independent Publishing and her attendance at the Center for Cartoon Studies summer session.

Here is my obligatory link to Kevin Kelly's "1,000 True Fans" essay. He and I had a great talk for this podcast in February 2014, of which there is a complete transcript.

You can find Lucy's talks on cartooning in audio form on SoundCloud.

T Minus Zero with Gary Chou (Episode 79)

Gary Chou launched Orbital Boot Camp to accelerate people's product ideas into reality in a 12-week intensive session. He knows from startups from his work at Union Square Ventures and The Product Sessions, but his particular interest is making sure that people with traditionally fewer opportunities are included.

Sponsors & patrons

This podcast is made possible through the support of sponsors and patrons.

Thanks to Cards Against Humanity, which is helping to underwrite our new indie ads: inexpensive, short advertisements designed for independent artists, makers, programmers, and others. Thanks to Cards Against Humanity, which just launched a site where you can buy directly from them, including their Bigger Blacker Box and their 2012 and 2013 holiday packs, the profits from which are donated to charity.

Our indie advertisers this week are:

  • The Cotton Bureau, enablers of well-designed screenprinted shirts.
  • The Velocity app for faster reading — up to 1,000 words a minute!
  • Ensembles, a Core Data sync framework, which works with iCloud and Dropbox, and is extensible
  • Games by Play Date, an indie tabletop game development studio supporting their new game, Pack the Pack
  • Sparkle, a Mac app for painless Website creation
  • Promoter, a Web service for indie game developers — get 10% off by following the link

Hey, Cotton Bureau has a special one-day sale, its first, on June 12: $4 off every shirt on its site! And, from June 12 to June 18, New Disruptors listeners can be entered for a drawing by tweeting #disrupt to @cottonbureau. Five winners will be picked on June 19.

Thanks also to patrons Alex Bond, Rönne Ogland, and Andy Baio for supporting us directly through Patreon! You can back this podcast for as little as $1 per month. At higher levels, we'll thank you on the air and send you mugs and T-shirts!

Show notes

Gary taught a School of Visual Arts with Christina Cacioppo, once a colleague from his venture capital days. Here's a picture of the old Kickstarter offices that Gary's occupying.

Stewart Brand's How Buildings Learn is a favorite title for understanding the utility and drawbacks of informal and formal spaces, told through the lessons of how buildings evolve over time.

Gary posted information about the breakdown of applicants that shows he met his goals for inclusiveness.