Mike Hogarty

CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER — RED BLUE COLLECTIVE

“Similarly, we'd like to help the entrepreneur community engage with the industrial community at IMTS 2018.”

The son of an aerospace engineer, Mike Hogarty was home educated and heavily influenced by other aerospace engineer friends.

“I've been building since I was five or six,” he says. “We would design and print our own balsa aircraft, figuring out the dihedral and wing profile. We joined a woodcarving association and a model rocket association. Both turned into remote controlled drones. I've been making things for a long time.”

Today, as Chief Operating Officer of Red Blue Collective, Hogarty spends much of his time helping others improve how they make and market their products. At IMTS 2018, Hogarty and Red Blue Collective President Callye Keen have organized a Maker Meet-up to share IMTS resources with the maker/entrepreneur community.

Mike Hogarty

“Makers who want to turn their passion into a small business might not have considered going to IMTS, or they didn't know the show existed, so that's why we're hosting the meet-up,” says Hogarty. By attending the IMTS meet-up, entrepreneurs can learn about new technologies, make connections, share ideas, find solutions, avoid common mistakes and increase their chance for success (learn more about the Maker Meet-Up).

Street Cred

Hogarty's involvement with Red Blue Collective started three years ago when he attended a SOLIDWORKS user seminar given by Keen. Where Keen comes from an industrial manufacturing background (learn more about Keen's role as a Design Manager at Kform, a manufacturer of rugged enclosures for defense electronics), Hogarty became a business entrepreneur.

After high school, Hogarty obtained an associate's degree in automotive technology. Ever the tinkerer, Hogarty began machining spare parts when they became hard to obtain or when he envisioned a design improvement. Wanting to see what the front end of shop work was like, he became a service writer for a high-volume tire and auto store. After six months, he gained working knowledge of the automotive business, installed two hydraulic lifts in his home garage and started a business called Hotrods to Hybrids. At one point, he had four part-time mechanics working for him.

On top of all this, Hogarty became involved in Nova Labs, a makerspace in Reston, Va., where he helped teach others about welding and mechanized plasma cutting while learning about printed circuit board design and rapid prototyping.

End Hype

Hogarty quit his automotive business “cold turkey” in late 2016 and today designs and produces products for defense applications. While he can't disclose those details, he can talk about his role as COO for Red Blue Collective and his time spent traveling to shops, engineering firms and organizations in northern Virginia.

“Red Blue Collective has built an ecosystem for connecting people with good shops, engineering services, marketing companies, financing, business development and business administration,” Hogarty says. “IMTS represents a bigger version of what we do. The best way to figure out how to accomplish something is by talking to someone who has already solved your challenge, and those are the type of relationships you can make at IMTS.”

He explains that many small businesses in northern Virginia don't talk to each other, possibly through fear of competition or non-disclosure requirements related to defense contract work.

“Many shops have the same type of equipment, and they get in a rut if they stay too isolated,” he says. “Red Blue Collective recommends new techniques that will help them improve efficiency and save money, such as using carbide tools, high-speed machine tool paths, different CAM strategies and new workholding — just like attending IMTS will help them keep up with modern techniques and technologies.”

Hogarty, who is somewhat militant about initiating action and not just talking about problems, often wears a shirt that says “End Hype.”

“You can talk about that new diet plan and exercise routine all you want, but until they become part of your routine, you won't get healthier,” he says. “A business strategy works the same way. You need good methodologies, daily habits and a strong network. These are the types of things we'll discuss at the IMTS Maker Meet-up.”

Steps to Success

Red Blue Collective's work on developing new methodologies also extends to world-class companies who want to create entrepreneurs within their workspace.

“I'm teaching them advanced prototyping and thought strategies so that they don't waste time,” says Hogarty. After encountering a problem, the first step is to go through a quick process to determine whether the problem has merit, which can include determining if other people within the community have the same problem. Next comes evaluating the potential cost of fixing the problem.

“If the problem is worth fixing, we'll go through a rapid prototyping ideation, then prototyping, engineering a solution and finally producing the solution, which may include outsourcing,” says Hogarty. “We've had huge ROI on those training programs, by improving equipment uptime and lowering maintenance costs on older production lines.”

One take-away for manufacturers is that they don't have to do everything in-house, especially when outsourcing solves the problem more efficiently because Red Blue Collective can help manufacturers find the best resource.

Fidgeting for Fun and Profit

Hogarty and Keen also work together in another venture that channels their passion for tinkering and entrepreneurship.

Revolve Makers is a business where we make products with people we want to make things with, but it's really an organization we use to help prove the methodologies and training provided by Red Blue Collective,” says Hogarty.

Revolve Makers produces industrial objects as wearable and portable “carry art.” Their first project, appropriately named Alpha, is a premium spinning fidget toy CNC machined from 954 bearing bronze. Stainless steel buttons hold a full silicon nitrite ceramic bearing. The project went from concept to fully Kickstarter funded in 20 days. Alpha cost $200, and the first run sold out.

Taking the concept one step further, they engaged an industrial artist they admired, Chris Bathgate, and together produced the Bathgate Artifact Spinner. Combining sculptural aesthetics and aerospace-grade machining creates a unique experience — and one that people will pay $700 for. It, too, sold out.

“We thought there was a market for premium machined carry art, and we proved it,” says Hogarty. “Similarly, we want to prove to the entrepreneur community that they need to engage with the industrial community at IMTS 2018.”

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