Almost 50,000 followers on Twitch, daily streams, lots of robot fails and some laughs. Nina from achNina builds robots and thousands of users watch her do it. In this interview, she tells us what she wanted to be when she was a kid and why her current job as a Twitch streamer with a penchant for robotics is the perfect fit for her. Get ready for Nina’s incredibly good dry humor and some insights on streaming and Spreadshop.
Twitch is her home
Hi Nina. Thanks for taking the time to answer some of our questions. Tell me, did you actually fall into a robot tank as a kid?
I’ve always been interested in technology. When I was a kid, my constructions were made of cardboard and duct tape. Not much has changed, except that electronics have been added.
And lots of video cameras! How did you come up with the idea of streaming?
That’s a good question. During my first degree, I started using YouTube on the side and tried all kinds of things there. At some point I started my first stream on Twitch and I liked the interactivity of the platform.
Everything is live and you can interact with the community. Currently, that’s very beneficial to me, because if I have questions, for example about programming, there’s always someone there who can help.
That’s right, Twitch is a platform based on exchange. Do you feel more comfortable there than on YouTube?
I would actually call Twitch a kind of home by now, because the platform and the community have been with me for years. I stream almost daily in the tech corner and when I’m in other streams, it’s often “oh, that’s Nina building robots.” Twitch is big, but if you’re in certain topics, you’ll know each other there eventually.
Robots, talking plants and talking kitchen scales
One of your experiments is talking plants that tell you when you need to water them. How many green creatures have you actually killed in the course of your career?
Many. But now they’re calling out for me.
Haha, robot plants! That’s so cool! Tell me, how do you actually build a robot?
You think about what it should do, assemble electronic parts, write the code for it, and then spend the rest of the time trying to figure out why it’s not doing what it’s supposed to do yet. At least that’s how it works for me most of the time.
We think trial and error is a good method. What was the most useful thing you ever built?
I think the most useful thing I’ve built so far was the talking kitchen scale. The scale doesn’t have a display that shows the weight. It has some recipes stored in it that you can select and then it tells you what to do. Exact gram numbers are not needed. It just says stop when you have enough of an ingredient in the bowl.
We would definitely like to try your banana bread, which hopefully doesn’t scream when you bite into it. What was the most pointless thing you ever made?
I have a deer picture with google-y eyes on the wall. You can now make the deer look in different directions.
Nina has found her dream
Who do your fans love more: your robot “Fogel” or your dog Alice?
Dogs are simply the better robots … And now to your Shop. We really like it! Who makes these funny designs? Or are they blueprints?
Thanks! I only had a rough idea of what I wanted at first, and asked a friend from college whose drawings I had seen on Instagram, if he could draw something to go with the talking plant. I put the parts of the plant on the table for him and waited to see what would come out. That’s how the first designs for the projects came about. I still find the idea with the blueprints incredibly fitting today and you can apply it to all future projects.
We think so too. Did you always know that you would build robots via live stream?
I used to want to be a radio host. Or have a profession where I could build something. That’s why I studied “something with media” and architecture.
But I think what I’m doing right now is exactly the mix of radio hosting and building that I always wanted. I just didn’t know it. I’m excited to see where this path takes me.
Women and technology? Nina explores new horizons
As a woman, you’re very active in a field that’s still male-dominated. What does your audience look like?
My audience is very mixed. It consists of a wide variety of people who can relate to the subject matter. There are even families with children watching. That was not always the case. I often get messages that I have inspired people to dare to study or start a new hobby. I think it’s great that I can take away the fear of new horizons for others here.
Ich: Wir bauen jetzt was Cooles!
Hund hat gewonnen. pic.twitter.com/UwqvszxE98
— achNina (@achNinaa) February 10, 2021
We find you incredibly inspiring too! And funny! But you’re always getting stupid comments about the fact that you’re a woman. How do you deal with that?
I think every person on the internet has heard something before like: “You better go back to the kitchen where you belong.” I had some thoughts about how I wanted to deal with it in the beginning. I have good moderators for the chat who take care of that sort of thing, so I usually don’t have to deal with it at all. Since children are also watching and I want to model a certain normality for them, such comments simply have no place in the chat.
In any case, we think it’s great how you inspire (not only) women to study “something with technology;” or more generally, that you take away the fear of dealing with technology for many! Can you actually build a robot for Spreadshop? What can it do?
The decision maker 9000. You don’t know what to buy? No problem, the decision maker fills your shopping cart with things you didn’t even know you needed.
Alright, we’ll take it!
The only Spreadshop Merch Command in the world
How do you promote your Spreadshop to your fans?
I use the products myself during the stream. I look forward to picking out a mug or thermal mug from the shelf every morning. In the stream, people often ask where they can buy them. For that, there’s a merch command in the chat with the link to the Shop.
You are probably the only person at Spreadshop who has set up a merch command to their Shop! A great idea for marketing. Which of your designs is actually the most popular?
We recently added a new design with my dog Alice and the robot bird. That’s very popular.
How did you end up at Spreadshop?
I previously ran a store by myself and did everything – from printing the products to shipping. For this year, I had my heart set on giving things away.
I quickly landed on Spreadshop because it still gives me the option to personalize my own Shop, and I can continue to pay attention to organic textiles. And I fell in love with the thermal mug, I had to have it.
Oh wow, rad that you printed and shipped your own merch before. We’re glad we can take some of the work off your hands. What tips do you have for streamers who want to set up their own Shop?
You should love your stuff yourself. I think the best advertising is to use your products yourself. And for that, you have to like them. It sounds obvious at first, but merch on Twitch often seems like you have it just to have merch.
Great tip! Thank you Nina for the interview. We wish you all the best for your future at Twitch, Spreadshop and elsewhere and are very excited about your next robot. Maybe it will be a decision maker 9000?
See what achNina is building next: