After a month in the lab we had managed to complete our prototype and had secured our residency! Feeling lucky I decided to focus my attention on the funding we needed to complete the project as proposed. You see when we applied to the DesignLab with this project, our proposal included a 40 cabinet limited edition run, with the intention of sending these 40 cabinets to an unsolicited group of influential, nerdy and socially conscientious creatives to inspire and activate them into helping us fight the planned defunding of the NEA, NEH, and CPB by the current Presidential Administration. In total I calculated we'd need to raise about $95k to make the project as proposed. This total includes costs associated with moving from the current MDF prototype to a final model made out of our targeted build materials (hardwood and plastic), the creation of a custom printed computer board, shipping, taxes, honorariums, and the streamlining of the workflow/processes (the design, engineering play testing and finalization of the cabinet's design) as we scale-up and get ready to transition into the production of the cabinet's limited edition run through this Fall as proposed to Dan, the DesignLab's Resident Engineer.
I first started out by making a list of companies who's products I was either currently using/planning on physically using in the project, or using to create the physical artifact. Starting online (in a Google search), I tried to find articles and mentions of the companies I was targeting talking about them sponsoring projects that were art + technology and/or social-action focused. When I found an article that made sense with what we were trying to do with this project I looked for the targeted companies employees handling (usually executives of some stripe) that had a hand in the initiatives mentioned or interviewed in the article. I then turned my attention to LinkedIn specifically looking at the companies I wanted to work with while looking at roles I thought touched on what I was doing, or who's roles at the company in question made sense with our project (eg, Marketing, Business Development, and CSR type of executives), and after my initial round of research (about a week in total) I widened my search to include nonprofits, foundations, and corporations supporting initiatives and projects like ours. I also talked to and met employees at companies I'd already made contact with, and reached out to friends and mentors I knew with the intention of generating new leads. For almost a month straight I spent my time researching, crafting emails+proposals (samples of which can be found in the "files" section of the hackaday page), cold calling people, and planning+having meetings with executives I'd made contact with. Using this process I managed to contact a little under 100 different individuals, groups, corporations, and foundations!
Thanks to the hard work I put into the business development side of the project, rinsing and repeating the process above through the month of April, I was able to confirm: the ArtCenter College of Design, Epilog, Next Thing Co, Pimoroni, and Sparkfun as project partners who have all agreed to give us various kinds of support! Oh, and let's not forget SupplyFrame by extension through the DesignLab! Thanks again to Dan, the Resident Engineer, who immediately saw value in our project after I presented our foam-core to him! Dan has been an ardent proponent and supporter ever since (honest hermano, he's kind of an awesome hombre, please don't tell him I said that!), putting us in front of multiple colleagues and acquaintances we could pitch the project to ever since! We're grateful to know that the many people like him I spoke to at the companies and organizations mentioned above found value in our project and call-to-action. We are proud to call them project partners!