Entrepreneur Of 2012: Limor Fried

Jennifer Wang | Entrepreneur | December 18, 2012

Limor Fried notes that once upon a time, it might have seemed strange for a person to spend an afternoon building something like the MintyBoost, a portable USB mobile-device charger assembled from an Altoids tin and bits of electronic hardware. But if the 50,000 MintyBoost kits sold so far by Fried's company, Adafruit Industries, are any indication, the world is now a different sort of place.

Recognizable by her signature vivid-pink locks, Fried (or Ladyada, as she is known on the internet) is one of the dominant forces behind the maker movement--a legion of do-it-yourself-minded folks who create cool things by tweaking everyday technology. Last year New York City-based Adafruit did a booming $10 million trade in sales of DIY open-source electronic hardware kits, so-called because project designs are free and publicly accessible, and customers are encouraged to modify or "hack" the final product. In addition to MintyBoost ($19.50), the online catalog includes in-house designs like the iNecklace ($75), a pendant shaped like an Apple gadget's "on" button, complete with a pulsing LED light; and third-party products that have earned the "Adafruit seal of approval," like the MaKey MaKey ($49.95), a device that can turn any object that conducts electricity--a coin, cat, banana--into a functioning touchpad or keyboard.