limited production :: hand crafted :: high performance :: rechargeable :: premium flashlights

This is my blog about creating a startup LED flashlight business. I'm a designer, fabricator, and strategist and I'm passionate about making ideas real. I believe that products are about people, that they should be built to last, deliver real value, and that we need to do a better job than we have in the recent past.

Most of my career has been contract or freelance work and I've crafted products and strategies for both big international companies and startups. I also used to work in the "industry" fabricating special effects for film and TV, along with the occasional hot rod. Bottom line, I love making things.

I'm starting this blog so you can follow along, from day one, and see what it's like to start a business, or fail in the process. Only time will tell, but I hope you find this interesting enough to stay tuned, comment, link, like, tweet, and (most importantly) participate in turning this idea into something tangible and valuable.

For a good place to get started with general info about who, what, why, etc., check out the "Stickies" on the left side of the page. Thanks for stopping by and please don't hesitate to ask questions and get involved!

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Kathryn's question answered!

Kathryn said...

"What are your adjacent markets? Do you plan on only doing flashlights even a few years out? Will you be expanding into other markets like theater lighting?"

The blanket answer to all of your questions is, "Who knows?" Okay, I actually have better answers for adjacent markets. Honestly, anything that requires a light source. Some obvious choices are specialty applications like dive lights, bike lights, head lamps, and other standard stuff. Probably some money to be made there, but there is also a lot of competition.

This is a smart-alecky graphical answer to the question of horizontal markets...
but take a look at the larger image. It's actually incredibly fascinating. For one,
take note of China's population and how little lighting there is. 
I'm more financially and philosophically interested in markets that have relatively low competition in the LED space: fixed outdoor lighting, interior lighting, industrial lighting, marine lighting, automotive lighting, and as you suggest, theatrical lighting. For me, the flashlight market is a strategic entry point into the market pictured in the photo above.

Today, technology is at a point where performance and cost have entered the sweet spot for innovation. I'm not aware of anyone (qualifying the statement to follow) that is really innovating "the lighting space." I do want to point out that high performance flashlights are not innovative from a product standpoint. Similarly, a car with better gas mileage or more horsepower is not an innovation, it's just an improvement. You are going to have to stick around for a while to see the really good stuff :)

This is an accidental discovery and fascinating science at work.
Not an innovation of any kind...but more of an experiment.
Experimentation is the precursor to innovation.  
There are technology companies dumping out tech that has no real application yet. That's what tech companies do. And there are product companies that apply technologies that are several generations old. That's what (many) product companies do. It's safe and helps executives meet quarterly earnings and sales goals. Snooze.

The most fascinating part of this entire scenario...the really interesting stuff is happening in the private sector. Really private...on the individual level. I think the "guy in the garage" model of innovation will be making a resurgence shortly.

Want to see a hand-held light that is brighter than a car's high beams (18,000 lumens)? Check out this build by "overdog" on Candle Power Forums. It's an experiment but it is precisely this kind of back yard engineering that will help us begin to look at the world in new ways. Maybe Audi should give this guy a call.

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