In anticipation of the Louisville mini Maker Faire held in conjunction with IdeaFestival later in September, Venture Connectors will host a panel of local “makers” at its Sept. 3 luncheon meeting. Panelists will discuss a brief overview of what the local “Maker Economy” looks like, as well as how the movement is positively impacting the city, its business climate and the lifestyles of its citizens.

The grassroots Maker Movement launched in 2005 and now comprises millions of do-it-yourselfers and entrepreneurs dedicated to creating and selling self-made products. Modern technology has made it easy for a single individual to create and distribute unique, customizable items without engaging middlemen, such as manufacturers. Many makers are tech enthusiasts, crafters, scientists, garage tinkerers, students or other amateurs. They are of all ages and backgrounds and offer a wellspring of innovation that adds value to their communities.

Panelists include:

Campbell BoyerCampbell Boyer is a consultant and entrepreneur, who will also serve as moderator. After a number of years spent working as a turnaround consultant with troubled small and medium-sized companies, Boyer took a break to work as a community volunteer with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, RiverCity Housing and Metro United Way. Now, he is involved with two startups that focus on harnessing the drivers of the New Economy. Boyer and a group of friends launched the Louisville mini Maker Faire in 2013 to bring attention to the creativity and innovation of his local community. More than 17,000 people attended the first event, and more than 90 individuals and teams offered demonstrations and activities, from a “Nerdy Derby” to power tool drag racing and fire-breathing ponies.

VenkatNatarajan Venkatakrishnan (Venkat) has served as director of research and development for GE Appliances, a division of GE Appliance & Lighting, since 2006. He also leads FirstBuild, a new model for the manufacturing industry that brings together engineers, designers, scientists and home enthusiasts from around the globe via, an online community. Launched in 2014, FirstBuild is using co-creation and micro-manufacturing to create a new world of home appliances. Under Venkat’s leadership, FirstBuild will help reduce the time, cost and risk for products to go from mind to market, and will enable GE to move select products to larger scale production with more confidence because they have already been vetted by the new platform.

Brad LuysterBrad Luyster is a Louisville native, engineer and maker. He currently serves as president of the LVL1 Hackerspace, in addition to organizing the Louisville Hardware Startup Meetup and assisting in organizing the Louisville mini Maker Faire. Luyster is interested in building communities that help Louisville makers of all types, and connecting prototyping and manufacturing resources to the people who are working to build the future. Now at Techshot Inc. in Greenville, Ind., Luyster is working to build the future of spaceflight-borne experimentation.

Mitchell, Deanna-croppedDeanna Mitchell is senior visual designer at Mad*Pow, a design agency founded in 2000 that uses human-centered design to create strong, multi-channel experience strategies, intuitive digital experiences and streamlined processes for its clients. A self-described “artsy kid,” Mitchell is passionate about creating intuitive experiences and designing products that make life better through their simplicity and ease of use. Her clients have included Lahey Health, Cigna and Aetna. Her commitment to the creative community in Louisville spans 16 years. She launched the Louisville chapter of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) in June 2014.  She’s also been instrumental in organizing the recent tactical urbanism project, Resurfaced, and finding ways to integrate technology and a better user experience for the experimental space activation.

The Louisville mini Maker Faire will be held on Saturday, Sept. 27, from 10 a.m. -10 p.m., in the 800 and 900 blocks of East Market Street. The Faire is an affiliated event of IdeaFestival, operated under a license from Make Magazine, and will again be located adjacent to NuLu Festival. It is free and open to the public.

Venture Connectors’ luncheon meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month at the Muhammad Ali Center, 144 N. Sixth St. Doors open at 11:30 a.m., and the meeting runs from noon-1:15 p.m. Registration is required at: