“Always move forward; never sleep like a shark, bro”
-Who’s That? Brooown!, Das Racist
This is going to be a short post. Basically, I’m a little over half-way through with this semester and I think that it would be a good idea to make a quick update regarding the status, what I’ve accomplished, and what I have left to do.
So, if you’re just joining me, about 8 weeks ago I decided to embark on a journey into the hear of entrepreneurship by taking a product from the idea phase all the way to market, ideally before the end of the semester.
Since then, I’ve accomplished the following:
Where I Am Now
- I’ve researched bringing products to market and building a business, consulted with mentors on manufacturing and marketing, and I’m continuing to read and gather insights.
- I have filed a provisional patent application for my design.
- I have attended an interview with Mass Challenge, a New England Inventors Association meeting, a SCORE mentor session and sat down with Emily Worden, author of “Make, Sell, Repeat” to discuss my business (I’m also reading said book and it’s definitely going to get added to my recommended reading list).
- I have begun pricing out prototyping and moving in the direction of getting a physical model made.
- I have written the business plan, calculated rough market size, considered the competition, sales channels and tried to approximate price. I wouldn’t say this is a finished, water-tight document. But it’s getting there.
- I have been consistently moving forward on the design, specifically getting it ready for manufacture. Removing expensive features and undercuts, putting in draft, thinking about tolerances and material choice, sketching and re-sketching, rethinking work-flow and modifying the CAD over and over.
Honestly, this last line-item is a real bear.
It’s the one thing that I have to have right, at least mostly right, before I can seriously move forward. It doesn’t have to be perfect, that’s what the prototype is for, but the closer I can get to perfect, the less money I’m going to be wasting ultimately. It also means I can start talking seriously to manufacturers (which I hope to be doing by the end of the week). It kind of feels like I’ve been trying to run through mud for the last few weeks, going back over and over through different iterations, re-sketching, tinkering with the CAD,then throwing the CAD away entirely and starting over when I realize something’s going to be unrealistic for manufacture, or the product work-flow I was designing around has to change.
It’s all good, and it’s all important, and it’s probably better that I’m trying to bootstrap this because if I had infinite money, maybe I would have rolled forward on something sub-par a couple of weeks ago, but at the same time, I’m starting to realize just how labor intensive this part of it is.
Being a little guy, I’m supposed to be quick, nimble, maybe a little reckless, but it’s turning out that the road to product launch does indeed have speed limits.
Where I Want to Be
I’ve got less than 8 weeks to go, and a lot of my time is going to be drawn away by Merit Awards, IDSA, and the arrival of the sun and Spring in Boston, and other important distractions. But I’ve got a feeling a lot is going to start happening soon and I just have to break on through to the other side. Here’s what I have to get done still, and some of my goals for the end of the semester:
- Finish the product design
- Contact manufacturers and get quotes on tooling
- Create the prototype
- Test the prototype with users
- Communicate with potential buyers, sources of funding, etc.
- Run the numbers jewels
- Become an LLC ($500 later….)
- Create a website
- Launch a crowd-funding campaign and simultaneous media blitz. The IDSA Regional Conference is coming up on April 24th and it would be great to have the project launched (AND FUNDED) by then
- Continue to document and work on the sum-up. The final product, in addition to starting a small business and putting out a product; some kind of document, lecture, etc. based on my experience.
Just seeing that list makes me a little lightheaded, but I think things are going to start falling into place soon, and then it’s just going to be a matter of going with the flow (hopefully). Oh, and at some point I’m going to have to graduate and find a job, unless I somehow become profitable in my first month of business. Stranger things have happened, right?
Until next time, hustle hard.