I should have done this first thing. But, better late than never.
My name is Cătălin Voinescu. I am a computer scientist by training, software developer by day, CNC enthusiast and small-time entrepreneur by night. I live in the UK, in Camberley, Surrey. I am married and we have two sons. I was born in Romania (in Brașov), and I moved to London some fifteen years ago. I also spent a couple of years in Chicago, and I still go there now and then.
I learned about Edward Ford’s Shapeoko and Bart Dring’s MakerSlide from a friend in July 2012. I read the entire Shapeoko forum (back when that was still possible to do that in a couple of sittings), and loved both projects. At the suggestion of my friend, and with fairly enthusiastic encouragement from my wife, I decided to try to make the kit more easily available in the UK and the rest of Europe. Of course, I could not resist making changes. Some were based on upgrades seen on the forum, some were my own ideas, and a few were driven by cost, or availability of materials and fabrication methods.
Edward suggested the name eShapeoko for the new machine. I liked it. The now woefully obsolete FAQ [note to self: update it!] jokes that the e in eShapeoko stands for European, extended, enhanced (so far so good), excellent, extraordinary (your call) and fabulous (oops).
The first ten kits were made with MakerSlide from Inventables.
On the Shapeoko forum, I met Harry Raley, who was planning to have MakerSlide made in the UK. He ran a successful Ulule campaign (Kickstarter was still US-only at the time). He searched for potential suppliers, got quotes, talked to them, selected the lowest quote, ran the Ulule campaign, and used the proceeds to pay for an extrusion die and a first batch of MakerSlide. A few months later, he had the unenviable task of handling, packing and shipping some 500 metres of rail. I helped by selling him V-wheels, bearings and eccentric spacers at cost; in return, he sold me cheap MakerSlide for the eShapeOko kits.
Once the campaign was over, Harry and I ran an online store together, known as both Amber Spyglass Ltd (my existing company) and MakerSlide Europe (the latter with Bart’s kind permission). Harry would stock and ship MakerSlide, eccentric spacers, V-wheels and a few other items, and I would stock and ship eShapeOko kits and all the other items in the store. Logistically, this was a bit of a nightmare, but Harry and I got along well and made it work. (Fun fact: to this day, Harry and I have never met in person.)
Last summer, Harry got the opportunity to pursue a career that would not have left him enough time for MakerSlide Europe. He sold the extrusion die and his remaining stock of rail to me, effectively retiring from the business. Harry had ordered two or three batches of MakerSlide before this, and I ordered a larger one after Harry left. Since then, MakerSlide Europe has been myself and my wife (with my younger son helping occasionally). Given that it’s now a single company, I need to settle on one name at some point, but I’m still dithering between Amber Spyglass (which I like but it’s not related to the domain at all), MakerSlide Europe (which has a copycat ring to it, and feels like it would limit the domain, but is obvious and helps in search engines), or an entirely new name (no ideas, though).
The rest of the story, especially the MakerSlide saga, you probably already know.
And, in the unlikely case you ever wondered about my avatar here: many proud parents use their children’s photographs as their avatars, Facebook profile pictures, and so on. In keeping with Internet trends, and to brandish my parenting credentials, my avatar is a baby picture too. It’s cropped from a photo of my younger son when he was five days old. What you see is a small bit of his blanket.