The Rise of the Do-it-Yourself Economy

Here’s a development sure to appeal to fans of Atlas Shrugged-style industriousness:

It?s doubtful that Steve Jobs ever faced these kinds of interruptions. “Daddy, I want to take a picture,” says Owen Misterovich, motioning to a digital camera on his father?s desk. “Okay,” says Pat Misterovich, handing it to his 5-year-old son, who proceeds to snap a few self-portraits. Then it?s back to the work at hand: producing the next great MP3 music player. Only instead of the simple, elegant lines of the iPod, Misterovich?s device will look just like a Pez dispenser. Oh, and instead of working from a corporate campus in Cupertino, Calif., with nearly 12,000 employees, Misterovich is a stay-at-home dad, creating his Pez MP3 player from the basement of his Springfield, Mo., home.
Misterovich is the former head of IT at the University of Detroit Mercy. He has few of the engineering skills necessary to build a device like this, no marketing experience, and absolutely no corporate infrastructure. And yet he?s got two factories?one in China, one in the U.S.?vying to build the player. He has a small Austin company started by an ex-Apple engineer designing the innards. And on his blog,, he uses prospective buyers?some 1,500 people have already expressed interest?as an R&D-center-meets-focus-group. What?s better, he asks, AAA batteries or Li-Ion? In come dozens of replies (“Go for the AAA with a USB NiMh recharger if possible,” suggests one reader). What?s a good slogan? Some 50 ideas roll in (one of the best: “Candy for your ears”). By the end of this month the first prototype should be in Misterovich?s hands. “I don?t know that this product could have come to life years ago,” he says. “I seriously doubt it. And if it did, it wouldn?t have come through a guy in his basement.”
It used to be that a tinkerer like Misterovich could, at best, hope to sell his idea to a big company. More likely, he?d entertain friends with his Pez-sized visions. But a number of factors are coming together to empower amateurs in a way never before possible, blurring the lines between those who make and those who take. Unlike the dot-com fortune hunters of the late 1990s, these do-it-yourselfers aren?t deluding themselves with oversized visions of what they might achieve. Instead, they?re simply finding a way?in this mass-produced, Wal-Mart world?to take power back, prove that they can make the products that they want to consume, have fun doing so, and, just maybe, make a few dollars.

See the full article, “The Amazing Rise of the Do-It-Yourself Economy” at Fortune. Thanks to InstaPundit for the link.