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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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bloy's question answered!

Bloy said...
"How many of these will you be making before you retool/progran and offer a second piece? What do you have in mind? Maybe a flex-head torch for increasing the range of usability? Or maybe an item completely remote from the first flashlights utilizing your skills? How will you be marketing these works-of-art?"

First, hi John! Excited to see a name from way back. Bloy had some really good threads on CNC Zone about getting his Shoptask machine set up. That was my first metal working machine.

Anyway, "how many will I make before making changes?" That will always be different. The lights might change from batch to batch or not change for several batches. I expect there will be more changes in the beginning. Fewer changes down the road...and then perhaps a big leap in a new direction.

The evolution of Coke...notice you only see the changes on the outside.
Coke, I forgive you for coming up with "New Coke." 
Now a lot of changes in the beginning might make people freak out. For example: you just bought a light and I made some improvement on the next batch and you would rather have that. Think of it this way, the same holds true for any product: cars, computers, cameras, books (new editions), bicycles, etc. We've been conditioned by the current market to think that changes should only take place, what, every year or so? We are "comfortable" with that particular time frame...but shorter starts to make us feel anxious. I have this feeling a lot, particularly when dealing with computers.

The only problem is it doesn't make sense from a product development standpoint. Large organizations have long development cycles because they are large organizations. So what's the other end of the spectrum? How about a guy like Bob Kramer that makes one-off custom kitchen knives. Every single knife is different. The end user might not know, but as a craftsman I can tell you that Kramer learns something every time he makes a knife, and that changes the way he makes the next one. Me, I'm somewhere in the middle of mass manufactured and one-of-a-kind. Much closer to the one of a kind end though. If you haven't seen Kramer's work, you should really check it out. Ever wonder what a $15,000 kitchen knife looks like? Just follow the link.

These knives are INSANE! in a good way. 
To answer the rest of your questions in a lump: I'm not sure where this experiment will go. I think flashlight are really cool, but if things go in another direction that is fine. There are certainly a bazillion different kinds of lights and an equal number of possible applications. At this point I expect to stay in the light industry because I think there is a ton of potential there. However, it will be hard to balance what I want to do with what makes good product and economic sense...or at least it might be. I think marketing will have to be another post :)

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