Testing my resilience as an entrepreneur

Yesterday was an interesting day: one of highs and lows that are testing my resilience and fortitude as an entrepreneur to push through with this business idea.

The first was finding out that I wasn’t short-listed for a local government innovation grant. I really thought I would at least get past the first round, but I can only guess that it had to do with the fact that I was trying to crowdfund the rest of the money.

If I were in their position, I can see the risk of their money not being used for an actual outcome. I’ll follow up with them next week to try to get some feedback. In the meantime, looks like I’ll have to pay the patent lawyers out of my savings… again.

The other was a good thing – a major milestone yesterday! I finally got to see the prototype of Product #3 for the first time. It looked fantastic. In fact, it looked to be of higher quality than I had expected which means I need to revisit my pricing strategy.

There was a problem though as the connector pieces were made from a different process and plastic than the main pieces (just for the prototype), and they don’t hold tight enough right now. It’s a simple fix in the manufacturing phase, especially since we expected some things to fail in this first prototype.

However, I’m on a pretty tight deadline at the moment, and I start shooting video on Sunday. We don’t have time to go back and have the connector remade just for the video. As such, we’ve come up with a decent work around in the meantime, but it does mean the assembled pieces aren’t quite as robust as planned at the moment.

The other challenge that we recognised yesterday was that the Chinese New Year shut-down in China is going to delay the moulds. Fortunately the holiday is in late January this year (rather than February), and so we’ve looked at the calendar and believe that we can get everything shipped to customers in March 2020 if the campaign is successful. That’s about a month longer than I wished.

In any case, I’m certainly testing my resilience as an entrepreneur this week as I got home at 10pm last night from Brisbane and jumped on the 6am flight to Melbourne this morning for some other meetings. As tired and a bit stressed as I am, it still feels way better than having a job!

How much do I need to raise for my first product?

From the beginning of this adventure, the most asked question has been, “What are you making? The second most asked question has been, “How much do I need to raise?” If I tried to answer the money question back in April when the ideas first came to me, my estimate would have been off by a mile.

The answer now that I have real info as of today? About $200k for Product #3!!

Yes, that’s a lot of money! The moulds will be made in China. If they were done in Australia, it would have been three times the price.

However, the manufacturing will be done here in Australia with Australian recycled plastic. We are currently trying to see if we can do it mostly out of milk jugs. Wouldn’t that be a great story where we can say that X number of milk jugs are used in every product?

Today, I just signed off on $7500 in prototype costs. That too is a lot of money out of my pocket personally. My manufacturer asked me if I wanted to sleep on it ,and I told him that I have been waiting to make this decision for 4 months.

It’s essentially all or nothing at this point. How much of the $200k do I need to raise? All of it.

If the crowdfunding is not successful, then I’ll need to look for a job and pursue this business as a side hustle. So, I might as well and go all in now.

Moving forward…

The challenges of working at home with a pet

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.  

Manufacturer #3 onboard

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.

When your mock-up product destroys your house

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.

Product design mock-up failure!

It’s a go!

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.