24/6/19 – I’m brain dead from working on the tender docs all day, but at least I’m done. I’ll do one more review in the AM and then send them out to three manufacturers to provide quotes.
When I used to write Request for Tenders (RFTs) or Proposals (RFPs) for a living (especially for the government), the process I went through was intensive and thorough. I’m not doing that this time. For one – it takes months of research to write a perfect doc like that, and I don’t have that kind of time. Second, I’m not going to pretend to know everything about the manufacturing process. Instead, I’ve left plenty of room for the companies to provide me with advice and assumptions in their response while still trying to get apple to apple comparison. Hopefully this short-cut to knowledge and prices works.
23/6/19 – It’s Sunday. We continued to finalise Product #1 today. Between emails though, I spent most the day rereading the advertising classic “Ogilvy on Advertising.” It was written in 1983, in the days when television advertising was king. Nevertheless, many of the truths about advertising remain especially copyrighting.
While my To Do list is long, I think that it’s really important that I take some time out weekly (if not daily) to download new ideas and information. Fortunately, this is one good habit I enjoy.
22/6/19 – I saw the first draft CAD design of Product #1 today. Even though this was my first product idea, I waited to do this one last because it needed the most thought to get it right. The manufacturers’ engineers could disagree, but I do think this turned out well from an aesthetics and functionality point of view.
This means that we should have the design finalised this weekend, and I can send the tender docs to the manufacturers early next week with their quotes back by hopefully the following week. With that information, I’ll have a go/no go decision to make based on whether or not we can manufacturer the products in Australia with recycled plastic at a reasonable cost. If not, I’ll have to reevaluate the whole business model and product line. Fingers crossed I don’t need to do this.
21/6/19 – Today, I procrastinated on writing tender documents by working on one of my new websites instead. The software to make them has come a long way since I first used Microsoft FrontPage about 20 years ago. Even so, for a non-store site, I prefer WordPress over the easier ones because of the ability to really customise the functionality and fields. However it does come with a price. Today, I had to reach out to their help desk twice to fix the layouts further. I’m sure it won’t be my last time given my lack of programming skills.
20/6/19 – I realised late last night that I need to give the three manufacturers more than just design documents if I want to get apple to apple comparison quotes and everything else I need from them. Fortunately, I used to write tender documents for the government and large companies early in my career. Unfortunately, I never liked writing them. Sigh… Nevertheless, this will have to be my primary focus over the next few days while I’m waiting for the last product design to be completed.
19/6/19 – Design workshop on Product #1 today with my uni student designer and mechanically-minded friend. I think we sorted a decent solution, but will test it with manufactures.
Good chat with Manufacturer #4. Sent him a NDA so that he can bid on work too.
It struck me really hard this afternoon that there’s a chance that I can’t make these products at a reasonable price in Australia at any quantity. This is what happened with my previous tea company where I was being forced to package it elsewhere. Is it worth continuing if I have to outsource the work to China and screw the social mission of using Australia recycled plastic? Most people would tell me yes.
I hope to know the estimated product and set-up costs in the next two weeks. In the meantime, I’ll slow down my spending on the company until I know for sure. Last night, I just spent another $2k on a premium domain I really needed. Fingers and toes crossed that the product manufacturing costs are in line with my budget projections.
18/6/19 – I spent most of the day researching both Australian and international patents for anything close to my products. It’s exhausting especially since I’m not an expert in “legal-ese” or product design. There doesn’t appear to be any active ones in Australia which is good. It’s hard to know for sure for the other countries though. As much as I want to consider everything while finalising these designs, I can only spend so much time and money on this now. I’ll have to revisit once the products are proven here, and I’m more serious about exporting.
Today, I also had a good chat with Manufacturer #3 which took forever to organise with them. I have a phone call with Manufacturer #4 (referral from a friend) tomorrow. I want to have a competitive process for selecting my manufacturer to ensure I get the best price and engineering team on board. This is especially important since I’m looking for a long term relationship with them, and the cost of stuffing up a design could cost me 5-figures for a new mould.
17/6/19 – Nasa, my 18 year old, bossy cat made it impossible to work at home without constant interruptions today. I finally grabbed my laptop and drove to the lake – working from my car all afternoon. Not a bad place for an office, though I don’t want her to think that she’s in charge either.
Despite having to take up office space in my car, we finalised the design for Product #3 today. If I can only afford to fund one product at a time, I reckon this is the one to help all the others just because it’s less complicated from an installation point of view.
Today, I was also contacted by an executive recruiter for a large international charity CEO role. I respectfully declined. I already have a job – even if it’s not paying yet. 🙂
16/6/19 – Everyone keeps reminding me that I need to protect my intellectual property (IP). So, today I spent a few hours looking at the patent process. I know I need to do this, but I’m constantly weighing the cost of protecting ideas and designs that haven’t resulted in a cent yet. Still, if I want to attract investors, I know that my company will be worth more if I have protected IP.
IP Australia has lots of great information on its website. They’ve suggested that the “application to a standard patent” process can cost about $12k per product just in Australia alone, but I’m not sure if that includes legal fees. Ouch! Afterwards, I still have to apply and pay separately for other countries.
15/6/19 – We’re still working through the design of Product #1 today as I have been going back and forth via email with my more mechanically-inclined friend, “B”. While we do have a workable solution, I still feel like the product assembly for the customer can be simplified.
I think I’m going to ask my uni student designer and “B” to do a wipeboard session with me to see if we can do it better. I’m just waiting for my designer to finish his drawings of Product #3 first.
14/6/19 – Spoke to three female friends today who gave me some good advice about financing my business. One’s a successful entrepreneur who has built and sold a company. One’s an investment banker. And one’s been in the angel investing / start-up world for as long as I’ve known her.
It’s interesting to hear their different perspectives about the risks of taking external money. The big thing is the loss of control including the potential to lose the environmental mission if my investors’ values are not aligned with mine. I’m so lucky to have friends like these as supportive advisers too. I’m sure I’ll seek their advice again when I get closer to that decision point.
13/6/19 – I’ve been rethinking the design of Product #1 before I give it to my designer to put into CAD. It is certainly the most complex of all my ideas. My concerns with the current design is that I don’t feel like it’s flexible enough to allow the customer to install it without some above average DIY skills. I want to simplify it, and the answer isn’t obvious. Therefore, I feel like the only way to do it is to rethink the entire concept starting from the customer’s needs again.
After a lot of googling and drawing rough sketches, I have a new idea that might work, but I don’t feel 100% certain about it yet. Sent an email to my mechanically-minded friend to ask his thoughts – using my food metaphors again to try to describe the technical bits I don’t know. In this case, “like two donuts stuck together,” I tried to explain to him.
Received an early morning message from my father advising me to bring on investors and not use up all my savings on the business. Poor dad – I really hate worrying him!
12/6/19 – Finally received the signed NDA from Manufacturer #3. I was starting to give up, thinking that I was too small for them. I sent them the rough CAD design for Product #2 and asked for a phone call to discuss it further.
Received the first draft of my Product #3 design. Wow! This crazy idea is feeling more like a real business every day.
11/6/19 – I decided to simplify my branding strategy. Rather than promoting each product’s brand individually, I will only promote the brand line itself. Otherwise I think it might get too confusing for the customer. Good thing I made this decision before all the design work was done on the products. I’m sure that I’ll find some other good use out of the logos I’ve already had designed.
Told Manufacturer #1 that I would be back in touch when I have all three draft designs done so that they can give me a proper quote on all three. Once contracts are signed, they need between 5-10 days to update/test the designs (apparently called the DFM process) and to produce a 3D print prototype. I need at least one prototype ready for a grant that I’ll apply for next month. It would be great to have all three.
10/6/19 – Last night, my parents asked me how I was going on a video chat. I told them I was just working on the product designs still. Suddenly, they went deadly quiet. I realised then that I hadn’t told them that I started a new business. Oops! I’ll write a proper article about this under “What I Learned Today.”
I received an invitation to join a business accelerator program today. This is after I pitched my start-up to them a few weeks ago. It’s a real honour to be considered, and I certainly wish that I did have some help. After all, it’s been a pretty lonely journey so far. Though, I had a quick read of the T&Cs this afternoon, and I’m not convinced that I need as much support at they’re offering, especially for what they want in return in terms of time and comms. I’ve asked for a meeting to chat.
9/6/19 – Thinking ahead – one of the challenges of starting this business on my own is the need to always be present to answer customer service calls and mail out orders. While this will be fine at the beginning, I will eventually need to take some time off – like to visit my family back in the US. I might not have enough sales at the time to warrant hiring someone though. So, I was chatting with a fellow entrepreneur about this today, and he gave me some info about drop shipment companies that he considered. He just saved me a lot of research time. I still need to find a way to cover customer service though.
I’m still going back and forth with my designer about Product #3. Better to take the time in the design phase now to avoid unnecessary costs in the future.
Note: this is Sunday of a long weekend. I’m glad that work doesn’t stop for weekends while I am in the Start-up Phase. Each day is costing me money until I start selling products.
8/6/19 – Realised this morning that I can’t take the cheaper mould option for one of my products because I’ll likely create too many extra parts the customer won’t need – resulting in more waste in the process. This is obviously against the mission of the company.
Closed out Microsoft 365 ticket. Good enough for the moment. The help desk guy refunded me for accidentally adding another user. We can’t seem to fix the final issue, and I don’t have the patience to work on it any longer.
7/6/19 – Received rough pricing estimates for the moulds of my “easiest” of three products (Product #2) from Manufacturer #1. Two options above the $30k mark with GST. Yikes! That’s expensive. The cheaper of the two ($9k difference) combines two parts into the same mould. The other option is for 2 separate moulds. I’m going to need to rethink my funding model. I could go broke with the moulds before I even have a product to sell.
Approved early design work to start for Product #3.
6/6/19 – Sent email to manufacturer #3 asking if he had received the NDA I sent on Tuesday because I hadn’t heard back. He responded stating personal reasons for the delay. He will review next week.
5/6/19 – Spoke to Social Traders to make sure my social enterprise met their criteria for certification later. They said yes – just need to get 2 clauses into my corporate constitution.
4/6/19 – Spoke to Manufacturer – #3 – referral from Manufacturer #2 that didn’t want to sign an NDA. They appear to be much bigger than Manufacturer #1 and have a strong in-house engineering and R&D team. Will be good to know if they really want a little company like me as a customer.
3/6/19 – Received final pdf files from my local designer for Product #2. He’ll send CAD files tomorrow. This is just what I need to send a manufacturer. The manufacturer will go through a full review of it to ensure that it will actually meet the functional and technical needs in the best way. I’m sure there will be changes. I already have some concerns about its robustness.
2/6/19 – Spoke to my 17-year old cat sitter about doing some additional work for me in the future, especially since she graduates at the end of the year. She was interested. It’s good to have some people in mind for when I do need an extra set of hands.
1/6/19 – Received the referral for a new Manufacturer #3 from Manufacturer #2 – the company that wouldn’t sign my NDA to discuss future business together.
31/5/19 – Received next version of design files for Product #2 – asked designer for more changes.
30/5/19 – Spent another 1.5 hours with Microsoft help desk trying to fix email issues. Ugh! Not fixed yet. I think we’ve already spend about five hours just trying to get my new business email to work.
Provided more feedback for design of Product #2. He completely understood my question about “toasters and bread” versus “hotdogs and buns.” He even answered me using the same terminology!
29/5/19 – Spoke to Manufacturer #2. I liked the work that they were already doing in the recycled plastics space. Unfortunately, they don’t want to sign a NDA – saying that they have only signed one in thirty years or so. I can’t live on a handshake with my designs. I have more to lose than they do. They agreed to refer me to another manufacturer instead.
28/5/19 – Had a chat with a website development company that a contact recommended. I’m concerned already because they didn’t keep any of their promises over the last few weeks of contacting me when they said they would. I think that I’m too small for their attention even though they tried to convince me otherwise.
I mapped out my website needs for both my company and product line earlier today, I think that I can do most everything myself via WordPress and Shopify. This will save a ton of money.
27/5/19 – Saw first CAD design of Product #2. Looks amazing when compared to my horrible hand drawings. Provided feedback to my designer for some changes. Because I don’t know what the technical terms are for the various parts, I questioned the use of “toaster and bread” connection pieces versus the “hotdog and bun” connectors we had discussed earlier. I’m sure he’s laughing at me!
Also, provided design changes feedback for my extra product logos. They look great.
26/5/19 – Looked at options to turn my sole trader business into a corporation which I need to get investors, as well as liability protection. I would have done this already, but decided to wait until the new financial year to save time on tax paperwork. Cleardocs and Legal Zoom are two easy options for under $1000 which includes the ASIC and ATO fees. I need to go back and look at how I did this before with my previous business. I don’t think it was that complicated. I also need to file for trademarks about the same time – more expenses.
25/5/19 – Went to a women’s “green” conference in Sydney over the weekend. I was hoping to see what other products were being made that were good for the environment. Unfortunately, it was really hard to see anything with the large crowd and the way the booths were set up. I tried to buy something at one booth, but found they couldn’t break a $50, nor did they have EFTPOS options. They told me to come back later and maybe they could make change. It’s a wonder that they’re even in business.
24/5/19 – Met with a university student that a friend recommended for some design work. He seemed to “get it” and he has previous experience by working with his father who is a metal fabricator. I think he’ll be great. I love working with young, hungry minds. I’ve asked him to start drawing Product #2 because I think it will be the easiest to manufacturer.
23/5/19 – Gave a business pitch to a bunch of mentors and investors at a local business accelerator. It was a really good experience, and it validated my business concept. The question now – what support do I need from them? Honestly, I’m not sure yet, though I know that I will eventually need some investor support.
22/5/19 – Finally picked a product brand logo from my design contest. I asked specifically for an original design with no clipart. Despite this, out of 144 designs submitted, probably 95% were in fact clipart. Ugh! The good thing was that the few original designs submitted were actually pretty good with one clear winner in my mind. So, it was worth using this process again. My designer is from Serbia this time.
21/5/19 – Spent the morning with my mechanically-minded friend. He was using words like “grate channel coupling” and “hinge buttress.” My head still hurts after two or so hours of this. No wonder Manufacturer #1 was having trouble understanding my requirements after I sent them my Word document.
20/5/19 – This product development stage is taking forever, and I’m the one to blame because I don’t know what I’m doing. I need local help, or it’s going to cost even more time and money!
I just begged a friend to help me draw out my product ideas. It’s clear that the manufacturers need pictures, not words. He agreed to meet tomorrow.
19/5/19 – Finished preparing the presentation slides for my pitch to a different business accelerator next week. My first draft budget is promising if I can indeed manufacturer the products at my target cost. Though this ignores the amount of cash needed to just get to that point as the moulds will have to be depreciated over time rather than expensed. So possibly profitable in Year 1, but cashflow poor for sure.
18/5/19 – Started another online logo contest for my first product line brand. Also asked my other corporate logo designer to do the business card design for me.
17/5/19 – Attended a product development workshop all day. At the end, I had to do a 1 minute pitch for my business with no slides. One minute isn’t a lot of time! Good practice though, and people are still positively validating my product idea.
16/5/19 – Shared my business idea with a good friend. He thought that it made a lot of sense for me personally and to fill an obvious need. It’s good to get that kind of confirmation from people that know me well.
Mocked up Product #3 with some random things that I thought might functionally operate in a similar way – it worked. But… DAMN IT! I have to fix my wall now. Better that I tested this is my house than a customer’s.
15/5/19 – Interesting day – 1) I sold my investment property so that I now have some cash to invest into this business; and 2) I received a rejection notice for the last job I interviewed for about a month ago and was promised a second but was ghosted – so fucking unprofessional! I feel like this day has just confirmed my path forward as an entrepreneur (again). And I truly hope that was the last job I ever apply for.
On a different subject, I also selected my new corporate logo from the online design contests. So many great ideas came from this process. My designer is a woman from Bangladesh.
14/5/19 – Confirmed phone call with Manufacturer #2 when the owner returns to Australia at the end of the month. Also spoke to Manufacturer #1 about Product #1 – they said that the design cost alone could be $10k because it’s so complex. I told him that I would send him some info about one of my more simpler products instead.
I really didn’t think it was that hard. I must not be communicating it very well. I need to figure out a better way to do this or end up spending unnecessary money and time.
13/5/19 – Posted a design contest on DesignCrowd.com for my new corporate logo. I hope this results in some good work. I chatted with an university teacher about a month ago to do something similar locally, but she never responded to my emails afterwards.
Spoke to a friend about my product ideas. She really liked Product #3, and offered to make an introduction to a group of people that were likely to buy it. I told her it was too early right now as I just came up with the idea the night before, but I’d love to grab that contact later when I have something to show them.
My brother sent me a link this morning for the CEO job at the Humane Society in Oahu. Hawaii has always felt like a second home to me and the problems they are experiencing there are similar to the ones I dealt with at RSPCA ACT when I started as the CEO there. In many ways it feels like a dream job – except I don’t want just another job for the next 4-5 years. I want something that has the potential to challenge me for the rest of my career, and I feel like my new business can provide that. So, I can’t believe I’m doing this, but I won’t even apply.
12/5/19 – I was laying in bed late last night when I finally figured out how to solve another consumer problem with a Product #3 – still in the same product category as the others. I also think I can mock up the idea from parts to test it.
11/5/19 – Decided not to apply for the accelerator program which is due on Friday. I had my application pack ready, but with my business background and experience, I don’t know how much value I’ll get out of all the mandatory workshops, etc. Plus, the cost of entry (equity) is greater than I want to give in exchange right now.
A start-up like mine will appear nearly worthless when it has yet to make or sell one product. I’m not ready to exchange capital for investment dollars yet, but it would awesome if I can still hang out with these smart people and network. There will be a time in the future where I need more help, and hopefully my company is worth a bit more then.
9/5/19 – Met with a friend who gave me some new product ideas to research. Chatted with another friend on the phone about Product #1 – he had some ideas for how to design it better and also told me about some external variables that I wasn’t aware of at all that could impact the product. I admit that it’s complicated.
8/5/19 – Signed the NDA with Manufacturer #1 and sent them a 4 page Word document with Product #1 functional and technical requirements.
A friend made an introduction for me with Manufacturer #2 – a company that I wanted to talk to for a while because I appreciated their work with recycled plastic. We’ll chat soon.
7/5/19 – Spoke with owner of Manufacturer #1. I promised to send him the Product #1 requirements tomorrow after they sign the NDA.
6/5/19 – Received back 43 market surveys within 3 hours of it being posted on that Facebook group’s page – almost all very positively in favour of my product idea (#1), and just as many were willing to test my prototype. They also brought up a need for a Product #3 in the survey results. How can I not do this if so many people are looking (and in some cases begging) for these types of solutions?
Bought the business and product domains that I think I’ll need. I’m into this business with both feet now. I feel certain that I can help both people and the environment now.
5/5/19 – Heard back from that Facebook group that offered to post my product survey page. Yeah! I nearly gave up on them.
4/5/19 – Found some metal parts available online in bulk that will likely be needed as part of Product #1.
3/5/19 – Went to hardware store to see if there were any standard parts that I might be able to use for Product #1 or #2. Nope! And nothing like these products really exist there.
Put together a rough budget with no real idea about how much it’s going to cost to get these products manufactured. I heard that simple moulds could cost about $20k each. This is definitely going to be the most expensive business I have after started.
Found an Australian product designer/manufacturer online – Manufacturer #1. I liked what they had done for another business in their case studies – makes me think that our values are aligned. I need to put together some sort of product requirements doc for a prototype before I call them. I’m not really sure how to do that, but I suppose I can use a similar format that I would have used for software development in my old IT days.
2/5/19 – Did more market research for competitor products for Product #1 and #2. There are a lot of DYI projects, but very few options off the shelf even in the US.
1/5/19 – Heard back from a local product designer – he’s busy for the next few months. Damn! There doesn’t appear to be many here in Canberra.
30/4/19 – Attended a women’s entrepreneur networking lunch. There were so many interesting women doing amazing things. One trait that seemed interesting to me – most of their businesses were purpose-driven even if not set up as a social enterprise.
29/4/19 – I haven’t heard back from the Facebook group since I sent them the survey. It’s doing my head in because despite doing months of research and initial actions towards this business idea, I still don’t feel like I have fully validated the need. What if I’m just wasting my time?
I also haven’t heard anything from that circular economy company that said I was going to have a 2nd interview. They won’t reply which is honestly SHIT especially since I offered to fly to Sydney on my dime to meet their CEO!
I finally took a hike up Mt. Ainslie around 3pm and feel so much better now. I must make sure to get my daily endorphins, especially when I’m having a bad day.
24/4/19 – Asked a Facebook group with my target customers if they would consider posting my product research survey. They said yes! I worked late into the night to get that survey ready on Survey Monkey and sent it to their administrators.
23/4/19 – After considering a huge number of potential corporate names over the last 24 hours, I finally picked one: The Refoundry. I applied for a sole trader ABN just so I could get the domain names.
Met with a friend of mine that works in the building industry and asked her about products that might be better in recycled plastic rather than wood or metal. She pointed out quite a few, but we both know that other manufacturers are already making these. She did like my consumer product ideas though.
22/4/19 – Looked at the application for a business accelerator program. I need a company name!
21/4/19 – Did some market research on the street asking strangers about their needs. I haven’t done anything like this in ages, and I get the same strong desire to procrastinate like when I have to cold call – ugh! I didn’t get a good enough answer to support my product idea from this process, but I’m still convinced that the need exists – just perhaps not with the random people I surveyed. I need to figure out a better way to do this market research.
From an useful perspective, I did get an idea for another product need in the same category – Product #2 which is likely easier to make.
19/4/19 – Prepared some market research questions so that I can survey people. Also did some more research on 3D printing and CAD. I wish I had these skills. It would make my product design process so much easier. There doesn’t seem to be any classes locally unless I want to enter an actual degree program. It’s probably for the best that I don’t waste my time in learning this skill when I can hire experts that will always be better than me.
18/4/19 – Took a tour of the local recycling plant. It’s a big operation with a lot of manual labour requirements to sort our waste. It also appears that sorted bails of plastic are starting to accumulate. It’s common industry knowledge that there aren’t enough local buyers of recycled material now that most of the Asian countries are no longer taking our rubbish. The price per ton of bailed plastic (pre-processed) has dropped because of this. This only confirms my view that more manufacturing must be done with Australian recycled plastic to avoid it going to the landfills.
17/4/19 – Read the ACT Government Discussion Paper about a proposed single-use plastic ban. A similar proposal is being considered around the world right now. Single-use plastic, particularly soft plastics are the hardest to recycle and now there’s less demand for even the recycled harder plastics since the Asian plastic export bans. Something must change to avoid bigger environmental problems in Australia. It’s good that this government is looking at proactive measures.
Met with the business accelerator. They invited me to apply for their program. They also asked me some good questions like – why haven’t I already started prototyping my product idea? I guess, I’m not 100% convinced it’s a good idea yet.
16/4/19 – Product/market research continues. I feel like the majority of my time is spent on Google these days. It feels wasteful, but I don’t know a faster way to learn about this industry and potential business opportunities.
12/4/19 – Did a phone interview for the first and only job I’ve applied for in the circular economy. It went well, and they said that they would recommend me for a 2nd interview. The problem – it would be a huge pay cut from any job I’ve had for the last 15 years, and a step backwards in terms of role. However, it’s a way in to learn more about the industry. So, I told them that I’m still interested because of the learning opportunity.
In fact, in my head I was thinking that less responsibility means that I will still have the brain power to do this business as a side-hustle.
11/4/19 – Spoke to a former colleague who is a manufacturing expert. I asked him – what’s the minimum, viable manufacturing capability he would recommend? He said, one machine that’s flexible and able to do small batches because Australia does not have the demand to keep a bigger machine at capacity. He also warned me about the price of moulds. I had no idea that they could be in the 6 figures for some.
He just reiterated my view that I should outsource my manufacturing (at least for now). I still have way too much to learn which makes the risk intolerable for me personally and to any potential investor.
10/4/19 – Learning about manufacturing moulds today. If I understood it correctly, a mould is used to produce a product that needs to be hollow in the middle. A die is used to make solid pieces – often with materials such as steel. I’m not sure which one I need right now for my product idea.
9/4/19 – Tough head space day. I’m so sick of doing research! I just wish the universe would give me some confirmation that I’m heading in the right direction – that my next “purpose” is right around the corner.
8/4/19 – Attended an event to hear a local panel of successful entrepreneurs talk about their businesses and how they got started. It’s motivating to know that it’s possible to grow something big and meaningful locally.
Saw a job ad for a middle manager role in the circular economy industry – first one that I’ve seen. I think I can provide them with real value too. I’ll go ahead and apply since it could help me learn about this industry faster if I get it.
4/4/19 – Confirmed a meeting in two weeks with the accelerator group. Gives me time to prepare some materials and do more research.
3/4/19 – Finally found some retail pricing for industrial products made of recycled plastic. I can work backwards to figure out how much it might cost to make the products.
Ugh! With these margins, I can’t see how I can possibly sell enough industrial products in the ACT to justify the cost. And if I go beyond these borders, I will be directly competing with established brands and manufacturers that can do it better and likely cheaper.
I had coffee with some friends this afternoon that used to work for the ACT Government in the waste management space. I explained my dilemma with industrial products ,and then I mentioned a random idea I had about another product – one for consumers. They liked that idea for Product #1.
Went to another networking event with the entrepreneur group tonight. Told one of the organisers about my consumer product idea, and he suggested that I set up a formal meeting with their business accelerator group.
29/3/19 – Spoke to a friend about my idea of creating a recycled plastic manufacturing capability here in Canberra. He suggested that I look at leasing machines rather than buying them. I had already looked at used machines, but not leasing yet as prices aren’t readily available on websites.
There’s so much I don’t know about this industry. I think the learning curve is too high and risky to try to do manufacturing myself at this stage. It would be smarter to design something and outsource the manufacturing to someone else. I can always reevaluate building this capability later when I know more.
27/3/19 – Was invited to be a guest speaker for a work group to talk about “Change” today. It’s funny that people think of me for this topic. I do take more risks than most, especially when it comes to my career choices. Still, it’s a lot easier to talk about change than to do it. My change – this current “looking for purpose again change” is hard right now.
25/3/19 – Found a wonderful not-for-profit called Precious Plastic. They have figured out how to make small batch products from recycled plastic using simple machines that they have built from spare parts you can find at the tip. And… they have given away all their designs for free so that others can do something too. Brilliant and generous! These are the kinds of people who are changing the world! And, I learned so much about the plastics manufacturing processes by watching their simple videos – so much better than generic manufacturing ones I’ve already viewed.
I would love to have access to some of these machines. I’m not that mechanically inclined to make them myself even if I have the blueprints. But, wouldn’t it be great to do something like this at a city scale so that entrepreneurs could make great things by keeping plastic out of the landfill?
24/3/19 – I think that I want to create a company that makes things out of recycled plastic – to avoid things going to landfill and waterways. What kind of products would I make? Not completely sure. It seems like recycled plastic is mostly used for making industrial or outdoor parts like roof tiles, outdoor tiles and furniture – at least here in Australia. There must be some restrictions as to what you can use the product for? More research to do.
21/3/19 – Attended the Circular Fashion Conference. I didn’t realise the extent of the environmental impacts of the fashion industry. I was only looking at it from a waste perspective. They have way more work to do to fix the environmental aspects in their design and manufacturing processes first before it even makes it to the landfills. I think that any business opportunities here (at least that I can see immediately) will take a significant investment and years to achieve some wins. At least they’re trying to address these types of environmental concerns with conferences such as these, but I’m moving on.
16/3/19 – Started putting together a slide deck of potential business opportunities that I have found so far in the recycled plastic space. There has to be something here that hasn’t already been done or perhaps a new product? Maybe I can work with companies already manufacturing great recycled plastic products?
13/3/19 – Been doing lots of research. I have an idea about doing some private label work with an established recycled plastics company. They’re already doing great things. Perhaps they would be a good partner, and I can market their products locally?
7/3/19 – Registered for the Circular Fashion conference in Melbourne. There seems to be a lot of textile waste going to landfill, and I don’t know that much about this industry. I wonder if there might be some business opportunities in this space?
6/3/19 – Attended the award presentations for the hackathon tonight. Afterwards, there was a networking event for what appears to be the entrepreneurs and start-ups of this city. I ran into a few old contacts and had some really interesting conversations with others. This group of people – they might be my tribe. It felt – well, comfortable and exciting to be around them – positive, motivated, go-getters wanting to change the world with their ideas!
5/3/19 – Was a mentor for the environmental hackathon today. There was one group that was looking at waste. The other ones seemed to be more interested in green energy. Hopefully, the groups felt that my business advice was useful. I don’t feel any closer to finding my tribe though.
22/2/19 – Met with a friend who works with social enterprises today. I told her what I wanted to do (stake in the ground), but I wasn’t sure where to start. She suggested that I needed to find my “tribe.” It so happens that there is an environmentally focussed hackathon coming up, and they are looking for mentors. She suggested that I apply to help out.
I applied for the hackathon mentor role tonight. I also started doing some research on the ACT Goverment’s Waste Management Strategy. Seems like I should first understand what’s going into the local landfill right now and expand my knowledge from there.
20/2/19 – I met with my executive recruiter contact today, and he advice was really useful. He asked me what I wanted to do, and I gave him a few ideas about the areas I was most interested in, but told him that I was afraid to close off job options. He said that I needed to put a stake in the ground, and that once I declared my direction it was more likely that these types of opportunities would come to me.
For months, I have been posting articles on LinkedIn that have to do with the circular economy and environment concerns with waste. In fact, in December I even organised the clean-up of our local lake. At Christmas time, I was chatting with my brothers about business ideas for plastic alternatives. Yet, I had not decided to work in this space.
I admit that I also feel like no one will hire me because of my lack of industry experience. Regardless – if this is where I want to be, I should just go for it rather than waiting for some other miracle opportunity to come to me. So… here I go. Stake in the ground.
7/2/19 – I’ve considered new job opportunities for about 8 months now. Before Christmas, I still felt really burned out from my last job, but now I feel ready to start something hard again.
The problem is that I have been watching the job boards and occasionally applying for roles throughout this entire timeframe without finding what I want.
What do I want? Nothing I’ve done before – because I want another big challenge, but with purpose. However, it appears that recruiters only think I’m capable of doing the things I’ve done before in the industries I’ve worked in before. So, I’m stuck in a hard place of wanting to do something meaningful, challenging and different when the “choosers” want me to do the same old thing.
I’ve just asked for a meeting with an old contact, an executive recruiter. I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t have the right role for me, but I feel like he can perhaps help me figure out my next step.