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Thoughts on closing Ponoko ID

Kristen Turner
posted this on September 19, 2012 12:00

http://www.ponoko.com/ponoko-id

Ponoko ID is a feature  on our site that lets someone fill out a project request that can be fulfilled by someone with a Ponoko account.

It is essentially a match-making tool to connect people who need something made with the people who have the abilities to make it.


While Ponoko ID is an interesting concept, there are several reasons for why we are considering closing it:

• Under-use: An average of 5 legitimate requests are made per month with few to none of those requests being fulfilled.

• Spam: Lots of requests are spam links, requiring manual monitoring and deletion of those requests.

• Focus: As we continue to grow, we want to focus on what we do best — custom manufacturing. That means improving the service and features people want and cutting loose the ones people don't want.

 

We want to hear from you before we take action.

Before we decide to close Ponoko ID, we want to give you a chance to tell us your thoughts.

•  Is Ponoko ID important to you?

• How would closing Ponoko ID affect you?

• Do you know of other websites that would provide an alternative to Ponoko ID?

 

Thanks for your time. It's your feedback that steers us right!

 

Comments

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Catter Wallin

I monitor the bids and of the 5 legitimate monthly requests many are not viable with Ponoko's make or materials.  I agree keeping it open is not the best ROI

September 21, 2012 17:03
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Colin Murchie

http://hbr.org/2006/10/strategies-for-two-sided-markets/ar/1 - you'd probably have to heavily subsidize (or manually go out and affirmatively gather) the requestors in some way...and hard to think of who's in that box of "wants custom mfg" but "not willing to do it themselves."

September 21, 2012 17:15
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David Hoyt

I'd like to give it a try, but school has just started and I do not have time to complete my designs at the moment while I adjust to my schedule.

If it is left open, I will certainly try it out in the near future.

Thank you,

dhoyt

September 21, 2012 17:28
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Phillip Zentz

I can see where this would be a great community feature, and I understand the issues as well. What if you solicited suppliers who would register with you and then THEY would be the only ones that could provide the servvice, or just provide links TO their request site? This would cut your spam and fakes to virtually nothing. I would suspect there would be few to sign up just by asking, it would need some marketing and personal contact by you at first, but after getting a dozen or so willing to make parts or objects for others (which I will be doing when evrything is up and running) I suspect even more legitamate suppliers will show up.

Giving examples of what one could order would maybe help as well. (like auto parts, repair  pieces, ashtrays...)

just my two cents.

September 21, 2012 19:43
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Mark Schafer

I thought the idea was great and I got some work out of it. But just as often the work became open ended as people got designs made but didn't order anything. It was a worthwhile experiment.

I think the role needs to be filled somehow but maybe Ponoko as a manufacturing hub is not where Ponoko is now aimed. It seemed like it was at one time.

Given you're dropping this - I'd be i nterested to know where Ponoko is heading ?

September 21, 2012 21:54
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Wendy Lynn Staats

I, too, like the concept, but it comes with many questions.

It's advertised as a perk for Prime (you get first access to projects), so I was surprised and disappointed when I clicked on the link and discovered a list that consisted mostly of jibberish/spam links.

The legitimate projects did look fun/interesting, but I kept wondering if it would be worthwhile to invest time in one. I'd be concerned that the customer would be dissatisfied and/or want the result tweaked; who would cover that expense? As mentioned in many places throughout the site, it's useful to do test runs for desings with cardboard, and/or experiment with materials as one develops a design... The time and cost required for this, in most cases, wasn't within the budget of the requester.

In the end I decided that, although it would be a fun exercise and probably a good learning experience, it might be more hassle than it is worth.

September 24, 2012 09:06
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Kristen Turner
Ponoko

Thanks everyone for your comments. As @Catter mentions, a lot of the projects aren't possible with Ponoko's making methods and materials.

As @Colin & @Phillip say, to increase the # of legitimate orders would require us to go out and promote Ponoko ID to people/clients who want other people to make stuff for them. And that's not really our audience. We want to make it easier for people to MAKE things. Not necessarily easier for people to commission things to be made. : )

Which brings me to @Mark's question. We are definitely focused on custom manufacturing. Closing Ponoko ID has nothing to do with a shift away from manufacturing, but a stronger focus on it *for people who want to make stuff*.

We set up Ponoko ID as a way to give our customers an opportunity to make money making things. But as @Wendy brings up, there's a whole can of worms with getting involved with a client.

Lots of our customers DO make stuff by request, but they do so by marketing themselves as such a service. For example, one of our customers makes custom lasercut wedding decor and cake toppers.

That's a far more successful approach to making-money-as-a-maker than using Ponoko ID, which is kinda like the "gigs" sections of Craigslist.

We will keep this forum topic open for another week before we start working on closing ID.

September 24, 2012 13:56
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Ellen Langsetmo

I think you should keep ponoko id going.

September 25, 2012 18:01