Digital Open Winners: From pocket-sized Altoids tin hack, big dreams emerge

Institute for the Future teamed up with Sun Microsystems and Boing Boing Video to co-host the Digital Open, an online tech expo for teens 17 and under around the world.

In this video, you'll meet awesome 16 year old Nick Brenn. His crafty Altoids tin hacks led to a winning "Electronikits" project for the Digital Open, which sells electronics kits for pocket-sized tin-mod flashlights and other DIY oddities.

I loved his answer to the "Who is this project for?" part of the Digital Open Questionnaire: "Anyone with a passion for being a DIY-er and a fiend for building cool projects. Who wouldn't want a sweet Altoids LED Flashlight? You could have the freshest flashlight on the block! Or an Altoids night-light! It is rare to find someone with such cool projects as you would have!"

Nick tells us more about how "Electronikits" came to be, below and after the jump:

It all started with instructions that I posted on, on how to build a "Super Awesome Altoids MINI Flashlight." Soon after winning a contest on Instructables, I was contacted by a sales associate at the science supply company Edmund Scientific. I was like, "WOW!", someone wants to buy kits from me that I don't even have! This was an opportunity too good to pass up.

I created my business known as NGB Enterprises. To sell to Edmunds, I needed a tax i.d, and since I was a minor, I created a "dba" (doing business as), under my mom's business. So in just months, I had established a business based on instructions I submitted that could be viewed by the whole world! So I then bought the necessary components for the kits that Edmunds wanted to buy, and I shipped them out to the company. I was paid, I had a profit and life was good! I wanted to keep this going, and I did not want this to be a one time thing. So in order to keep with "openness," I did not take down the instructions that I posted on the Instructables website, because I was confident that I did not have to worry about anyone trying to do something silly with my work, and I used those instructions for my kits.


Read more of Nick's story here, with links to features about his projects at HowStuffWorks and other science-y sites.

Read more about the youth competition in IFTF's press release announcing Digital Open winners.