The Lemnos Shop – “Learning to Fish”


We recently expanded and rebuilt our shop, and I couldn’t be happier with the improvements. Shivani, our Associate, really brought the project home, and now both our portfolio teams and Lemnos staff can enjoy the benefits of her hard work.

For me, there is no “perfect” or “right” shop; shops reflect their owner’s values. Our shop reflects a core Lemnos principle first attributed to the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Our shop is tuned for rapid prototyping during the earliest stages of your company, as you iterate daily to find product market fit. When startups find that fit, they must rapidly transition to work with multiple, outside partners on production quality and quantity parts. Our lack of production-grade tools intentionally forces that transition.

New Lemnos portfolio company founders sometimes ask, “Why don’t we transition or ramp here in the Lemnos shop so there are no delays or issues?” We don’t because miscommunication, customs delays, ill-defined product specifications, and every other problem you will face are the norm, not the exception, and you need to learn how to deal with them as early as possible. Your survival as a startup depends on learning how to adapt to challenges while making physical products. You must learn how to make things in the real world with multiple, geographically scattered partners—not in a safe and simple shop environment. You must learn to fish.

We also don’t have dedicated staff to maintain shop machines or make parts for our teams. We strongly believe that the way to learn something is to do it, over and over. Nothing trumps experience and expertise. If only Lemnos staff maintained the tools and if we were to make your prototypes, you wouldn’t know how to do this when it counts. You wouldn’t have the critical knowledge you need to understand what’s happening on your assembly line hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away.

It’s amazing how the simple process of owning and maintaining shop tools as a community member makes you respect their complexity, value, and role in the manufacturing process. When you not only design a part but also cut the initial prototypes on the CNC machine yourself, you understand what the DFM process will really be like and what the line operator will go through when they have to work with your parts every day to make hundreds, if not thousands, of your product.

At Lemnos, we give you unrivaled access to the knowledge, capital, and tools needed to succeed. Only you can provide the most important elements of success: the passion to learn, build, and work harder than you’ve ever worked before. Here you will have the financial capital and deep connections to learn the things that matter and hire the team members to scale your company. You will have the best hardware family on the planet around you to help you with any problem you will face. You will solve the myriad of problems associated with a production-grade complex system ramp surrounded by the best resources, but in the end you will solve those problems yourselves. The knowledge, experience, and expertise you gain belongs to you and fuels your success.

Our shop represents the physical manifestation of our ethos and our core beliefs. I love visiting other shops to see what they represent. I can see the shop owner’s philosophy in their tools and process. There is no “right” shop, but when you visit the Lemnos shop for the first time, you are truly seeing part of the philosophy that helps our startups be as successful as they are.

I can’t wait to kick off new projects in our shop. I’m working on an electric go-kart with Shivani and others, and work continues on my “wizard staffs” for EDC and Burning Man. I look forward to bolstering my knowledge as we tinker, as I too am always learning how to be a better fisherman.