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What Teams Need To Know About Make48 Competitions

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

Typically product development starts with a brilliant idea that is built out and tested during months of research and development, figuring out manufacturing, followed by pitching to investors and retailers, and marketing the product until success or failure is realized. Make48, the world’s most unique invent-a-thon competition, compresses this process into a 48-hour weekend and gives teams a chance to see the work it takes in a short time commitment and with lots of help in the process.

A new round of regional competitions begins this summer. With a new set of competitors, and new product challenges for teams to take on, you may be thinking it’s time for you to compete at Make48. Here is a quick look at the steps and process teams will have to take to create that winning prototype idea.

Teams, tool techs, and mentors collaborate during 48 hours

Competitions at Make48 begin before the clock starts counting down. Orientation night (usually Thursday) is held the night before the competition begins . This is a chance for the teams to sign-in, meet the Make48 team, see the host location, get to know the tool techs and each other! Competitors also receive their team t-shirts, hear about the rules of the competition and get a bite to eat before the weekend starts.

Friday is the first, actual day of a Make48 competition. This is a busy morning, where we ask participants to arrive around 9am with their team t-shirts on. One thing you will notice is that the cameras will be prevalent throughout the 48 hours. Every moment of the competition is filmed and photographed by our crew. Unlike most reality shows, we won’t make you look bad! Before the competition even kicks-off, the film crew will take your team to get photographed and filmed.

Stellar Image Studios (SIS) interviewing team

Around 11am, teams and guests will gather in the pit room where the challenge will be unveiled. Each team will have a folder with information needed for the entire weekend. After we start the clock, between 11:30 -12pm, the brainstorming begins. Researching your idea is important before the building begins and you should be using your mentors which are experts in the challenge category industry to gain knowledge. Nobody can infringe on any existing patents. Patent attorneys will arrive Friday afternoon to consult with you on your idea. Once you’re ready to go, feel free to speak with the tool techs about getting your idea off the ground.

Patent Attorney's Chris DeBacker and Andrea Evans

Due to safety concerns, makerspaces will close down at Midnight and will reopen at 6am. Coffee will be ready to serve at 7am!

Saturday is a big building day. Each team has access to incredible resources during the competition to help them create a working prototype of their product. Make48 Tool Techs work hand-in-hand with teams operating 3D printers, CNC machines, welding, woodworking, textiles, and any other needed fabrication styles to transform the team's ideas into realities.

Tool Techs Dana Renay and Scott Oram at Fishers Maker Playground

Once product ideas are determined and building processes are underway, teams face the next aspects of the competition challenge – creating a sales sheet, product video script/storyboard, and determining who will pitch to the judging panel.

A great idea alone is not enough to secure a win at Make48. The judging criteria for the competition can include: product originality, problem/solution, target audience, marketability, manufacturing costs, options for expansion, packaging, and product demonstration.

Sales sheets relay information about the most compelling benefits of your product and lists features as well as the product name, logo, manufacturing and retail costs, and a clear-cut call to action. Product videos need to be 1-minute and can be filmed on your phone or tablet. Storyboarding allows teams to clearly present their vision, before the actual filming takes place. Most teams will film their product video on Sunday, but it’s best to get as much done on Saturday. Make48 has examples of sales sheets and product videos that teams can ask to see.

PBS Wisconsin, Stanislaw Luberda, speaks to team re. pitch

Sunday is the last day of the competition! The morning is a bit of a rush, whether it’s last minute touches to your prototype, creating the product video and getting it edited or finishing the sales sheet. It’s also the day to work on your pitch to the judges.

The clock will stop at the same time the competition began on Friday. After the competition ends, teams will be asked to take their prototype to a private room and do a 1-minute explainer to the videographers. This allows the camera crew to get very close shots of the prototype prior to judging.

After a short lunch break, teams can rest until it’s time to head to judging (around 2pm). Here are a few tips on pitching your prototype. As a team, you do not all need to speak. Do what is comfortable for your team and what gives you the best chance to communicate your idea to the judges. One person should speak and ANOTHER person should demo. Do not attempt to speak and demo at the same time, as the mic will drift away from your mouth. The team's pitch can be fun or serious!

After all teams have pitched, a light dinner will be served and the judges will have an hour to determine who won. There will be a few announcements before the awards ceremony. The winning team will be awarded a custom-made trophy, $2,000, and a seat at the National competition.

Milwaukee winning team, Dreaming DeNicolas!

The weekend is fast and furious, but there will always be support for questions. Here are a few other tips about the weekend.

  • Two items that CANNOT be shared are photos of final prototypes and the winners.

  • NDAs: Everyone who participates or is a guest to the competition has to sign an NDA.

  • Photos: Take LOTS of photos, just make sure you aren’t taking photos of yours or others final prototypes!

  • Safety First! Hand tools are ok but anything with a cord should be used by Tool Techs only.

  • Prototype building MUST be done at the host location.

  • Please remember this is a closed event and only invited guests are allowed.

Lastly, have fun! There will be memories you’ll take with you to last a lifetime. Feel free to network with sponsors and tool techs who come from around the country. Representatives from some of the world’s largest companies, such as T-Mobile, Harley-Davidson, Lincoln Electric and Onshape are present throughout the competition to lend industry expertise and personal experience.

For more information about how Make48 began and to apply to compete in upcoming events, visit:

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