How A Brooklyn Co-Working Space Is Looking to Compete on the Global-Manufacturing Stage
“Ideas are cheap and execution is everything,” says Marcel Botha, a resident of co-working space New Lab and founder of Spuni, a company producing spoons uniquely designed for a baby’s mouth. And thanks to the rapid development of sophisticated manufacturing processes, Botha’s ability to execute quickly and efficiently is faster than ever.
Botha works in New Lab, a technology and design center at the Brooklyn Navy Yard where entrepreneurs and innovators work with new manufacturing processes to concept, refine and prototype ideas. The development of New Lab has brought the Yard full circle, as the area was once the pinnacle of manufacturing in the U.S. and after decades of disrepair and struggle, the Yard is being rebuilt and re-energized with the goal of once again making the waterfront industrial zone in New York City a manufacturing hub for the U.S. — and beyond.
But the New Lab space and its tenants are not looking to unseat the incredibly cheap mass manufacturing that has flourished in countries like China and Indonesia. Rather, New Lab is specializing in what Botha calls “boutique” and “specialist” manufacturing, or the tinkering and development of a new product before it goes on to a larger manufacturing run. For example, Botha used 3-D printing technology, or additive manufacturing, to prototype four spoon samples in eight days when he was brainstorming the idea for Spuni.
To get more of an idea of what New Lab has to offer, Entrepreneur.com visited New Lab’s beta space, which currently houses around 40 entrepreneurs, artists, and designers across 16 companies, on one chilly Thursday in December. The beta space is the precursor to an 84,000-square-foot facility, which is currently being constructed in a warehouse where ships were built in the Navy Yard’s first heyday. While the New Lab’s beta space has been opened since February 2013, the larger, more mature New Lab space is expected to open by fall of 2015.
Watch this video to hear Botha talk about rethinking the baby spoon, what it is like to work at New Lab and how he expects to see manufacturing in the U.S. becoming competitive.