top 10 moments at studio 45 in 2023

building the home for hardware builders and creatives in sf

michael raspuzzi
8 min readDec 22, 2023

san francisco has an unmatched social fabric of collective connectivity that pushes innovation and creativity forward.

  • serendipity is the social currency.
  • discussing where the future is going is often the opener.
  • vibes are in the decision making matrix for where to spend time.

the shut downs from quarantining during covid unravelled that fabric. it challenged what spaces, people, and reasons there are to gather.

the ecosystem in sf is only recently starting to build momentum again finding it’s electric rhythms around gathering. a core part of my own personal journey of searching for belonging and a platform to build community in the city has been at studio 45 this last year.

quick intro on studio 45

studio 45 is a professional co-working space with full fabrication shop. it’s also a community space for events ranging from founder demos, hackathons, monthly speaker series, art exhibits, and more.

there are different tiers of membership depending on what people are looking for and the owners bring a flavor of new york style gathering that consistently bring people together throughout the whole year.

it’s one of the few spaces that isn’t solely venture focused, even though many founders build out of the space, and support artists working in physical mediums as the shop is conducive to physically making art rather than digitally.

this is the first full year in operation, and i’ve been on the team to help build the community from the ground up.

here are my top 10 moments from this first year:

1. raise robotics ships their prototype in <2 months with a pilot on site

on site demo for a robot to help screw in bolts for floor plates

the saying goes that building hardware is hard, but with a strong founding team and set of resources to build, it doesn’t have to be.

gary chen + team shipped their first robot in <2 months showcasing the high velocity prototyping that the studio space is set up for.

2. fusion + ai alk with national ignition facility, dcvc, and lowercarbon capital

this was one of our best set of guest speakers discussing the future of fusion and ai. speakers included:

clea kolster, head of science lowercarbon capital, sharing their new q>1 fund

brian spears principal investigator at lawrence livermore national laboratory who helps lead their deep learning initiative

∙ rachel slaybaugh principal at dcvc with prior experience as a professor in nuclear engineering

one big topic was how current machine learning models help speed up simulation, data processing and analysis times from 3–6 months to 3–6 days in some instances.

3. weekend climate iot hardware hack during climate week

we brought together climate and hardware communities for a weekend of hacking iot devices aiming to solve different challenges in climate.

top three projects built included:

  1. native nest — an urban bee keeping hotel kit for the restoration of one of the most valuable species: local bees.
  2. nutri-cycle — exploring ways to turn waste into usable minerals for fertilizer more efficiently and locally.
  3. leek detector — uses bioacoustics for a hand-held leak detector for natural gas inspections.

full project list here and debrief here

4. healthtech hardware during a16z tech week

our first event to hit 400+ rsvps led to a full house discussing ideas at the intersection of hardware and healthcare. speakers included:

  • sneha, engineer working on perception systems at zipline
  • torrey, ceo of endiatx, makes robot pills for telemedicine.
  • ashley is a tech lead at google alphabet’s x, the moonshot factory.

torrey did a live demo where he swallowed a remote controlled pill bot!

5. npc solar ships their autonomous robot for installation within 90 days

with prior experience at tesla, nick has been exploring ways to automate large scale solar installation with robotics. above is their first product demo and they shipped another update later in the year.

6. ai in motion hardware hack is a peek of what’s to come in 2024

using the momentum from the climate hack, we designed a second weekend long hardware hack in the fall. the idea was simple: take the latest in machine learning and combine it with the latest in hardware.

it was fun to bring two communities that don’t usually build together and the demos felt like a precursor for what’s to come in 2024, especially with the latest multimodal models.

top builds included:

  1. C.H.I.P. is a digital CNC microscope with zero-shot classification for bad-chip detection.
  2. XR is a smart learning hearing aid that can capture surrounding information, like who’s around the user and what’s being done.
  3. Dex (overall winner) scans and queries a room for lost objects. They added a webcam to a Roomba and made it so you could chat with the image data.
  4. Spotsight (the crowd favorite) was a robotic seeing-eye dog for the visually impaired. It could both help navigate an environment safely, at a more affordable price than professionally trained seeing-eye dogs, as well as do additional tasks between owner and environment, like get the mail.
  5. Jarvis is a robo-mechanic assistant. Think Tesla manufacturing arm, but in a small-scale garage, and one you can talk to.

full debrief here

6. founder show n’ tells: tarform, spira, sarama (yc), and pulsejet studios

many experiences with founders are optimized for an investor’s attention span to explore the possibility of investment in a few minutes. we flipped this on it’s head and explored founder based events designed for founder’s priorities as well as ensure a great experience.

other inspirations include adobe’s demo focus in 2023 ai sneaks event and tesla and neuralink have helped pioneer the public show n’ tell (see here).

we had:

  • taras from tarform, nyc based electric motorcycle company
  • pulsejet studios demo their live time 360 video media
  • sarama show current state of dog bcis and machine learning for behavioral recognition
  • spira demoing their engineered algae based colors and future of bio manufacturing.

behind the scenes of how to do your own founder show n tell here

7. supporting the creative community with exhibits, showcases, and jam sessions

on the music front, studio 45 was home to pop up jam sessions, so far sound music concerts, and synth meetups.

on the visual art front, studio helped different local artists exhibit their work and showcase different projects throughout the year, including sxf’s first sf show.

8. new mural, new porch, and a finished lab

the large warehouse wall got scrubbed, primed, and a fresh mural from cole, super extra fancy (artist name).

jack, who is the the studio’s shop lead, is also the design build fabricator who’s help build out all the furniture in the studio.

this year the electronics lab finished, porch was opened, and other spaces finished for full opening.

9. ai x art hack

a full day event bringing in local professional artists to jam with developers on the future of machine learning tooling for creative production.

top projects built:

  1. artist legacy — gpt 4 extractive brushes for users to paint their own stylized art from their favorite artists. a tool that helps componentize creativity and could work in music as well
  2. personalized av art experience — biometric data for feedback for what music gets played. it can help bump things up or cool things down
  3. kindergarten — playful experience of taking drawings and doodles to render new art forms, especially music paired visuals with diffusion models

full recap here

10. celebrating year’s end with a hardware holiday party

this year’s holiday party line up was fun:

  1. hardware startup demos included, @amogha + the @CarbonOrigins team demoing telepresent bobcat construction vehicles through a vr headset and video game controller. @rohildev + the @NimoPlanet team showing their spatial computing headset for 6 screens all in one set of glasses @oliverxzhang + the @InstantHouse tiny box team share their first off the grid tiny houes that can be assembled in <48 hrs.
  2. live music from bands: the sheep + walking hands
  3. southern comfort food from our friends at @thefrontporch with custom holiday mixed drinks

that’s it for this year, here’s to more in 2024

2023 was rich with experiments and exploring what type of experiences work as well as who to collaborate with for events that are greater than the sum of their parts.

some ideas for next year i’ll be exploring include:

  • studio based cohort programming
  • hardware angel collective
  • more hardware hacks. always more hacks.

if you want to explore the studio as a space and community for you, check out more here, including the event calendar.

if any of the above look enticing to you and you want to collab in 2024, send me a note to

shout out and big thank you to the studio 45 team for making the space so awesome: nate + tyler for leading the way, jack for ensuring everything is set up, and kat for the support on all things marketing.

the studio 45 team

hey, i’m michael, while i teach + coach during the day, i host events in sf nights + weekends. connect with me on linkedin to see what’s up next.



michael raspuzzi

building something new. previously @tks @harvard @culinaryai