Zach Kaplan is co-founder of Inventables, a Chicago company started in 2002 that provides a source of materials to inventors. He’s a supplier and adviser to other Chicago entrepreneurs who build novel things.
“The process of product development, the process of product design is now accessible to anyone with ambition,” he told Blue Sky. “Regardless of age, regardless of background, regardless of how much money you have.”
Kaplan sees sophisticated manufacturing technology, along with new crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, turning the old industrial model on its head. Where once large corporations and retailers determined what was made and what was sold, now smaller manufacturers can both make things on their own and take advantage of online funding and distribution channels, from Etsy to Amazon, to test the market and eventually sell their product, he says.
Prior to Inventables, Kaplan created Lever Works, a custom web application and hosting company that sold to multimedia firm Leo Media in 2001. He has spoken about product development and innovation to audiences at the TED Conference and the Industrial Designers Society of America National Conference.
Kaplan sits on the advisory committee for the Museum of Science and Industry’s Fast Forward Exhibit. He is also a board member at the Tinkering Lab of the Chicago Children’s Museum. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois.