How I got started...
I originally started just wanting to build my own handheld PiGRRL 2 and PiGRRL Zero when Adafruit first released them. I ordered all the parts and purchased 3D printed parts through an online crowd sourcing website that 3D printed the plastic parts for you locally. I was really happy with the end product, but I looked at my 3D printed parts and said to myself, I can do this better.
After purchasing my first 3D printer and spending hours and significant investment modifying the $300 printer to print $3,000 printer quality prints, I decided to start modifying the PiGRRL Zero design to make it better. I ultimately came out with a modified design that included audio and then came up with my own iteration that increased the screen size. After posting my designs open source on Thingiverse, people started asking if I could 3D print them a case, so I opened a Etsy shop and just start selling to cover my cost and time. Soon people started asking for me to complete full builds for them, so I added that and people soon were purchasing them!
Why do I do this?
I absolutely love the open source community, in fact every design I release open source ~ every circuit board in EAGLE, every 3D model in Fusion 360 ~ all of them are release for folks to take, modify and create their own design. I DO NOT want to create "proprietary" designs that have custom parts that can only be purchased from that one individual or the designs aren't released to the community. I do have an Etsy page where I sell parts and 3D prints, but I do this as a service to the community and keeping the open source projects going. I don't turn a profit, all of the funds I make for projects get sunk right back into my equipment and future projects.
I also realize that a lot of people are interested in the DIY space, but don't necessarily have the advanced knowledge or resources to complete all of these super awesome projects you see in the design space, but are very difficult for beginners. I want to create projects that are easy enough with instructions clear enough for beginners to get started on a fun design that they can do. Making instructions means creating a website, spending time answering questions, dedicating time away from family and work to help. I want to do more.