Sweat, Tears and actual Blood

The last week has been pretty stressful getting ready for my product launch and crowdfunding kick-off. I’m way behind schedule with a mile long list of tasks that can’t be delegated to anyone. Nevertheless it’s getting done, and after testing about a dozen ideas, I finally found a work-around for the prototype issue – but not before shedding some sweat, tears and actual blood.

Bloody injury
A little blood from attempted Fix #9 for the prototype

The most stressful part has been putting myself out there to invite people to the crowdfunding kick-off. If this business fails, I will be going down in massive flames along with the savings I’ve already put into this business, my reputation and perhaps a few relationships.

This self-doubt has probably caused me to procrastinate a few times. I suppose, it’s not necessarily self-doubt, but also concerns about the public’s reaction to my product ideas.

Will the product solve some of their pet problems as I had imagined? Can they overlook any deficits in the prototype knowing that these issues will be be fixed in the manufacturing process? Do they think it’s value for money? Will there be enough interest to meet the funding goal so that I can buy the moulds?

I’m at the pointy end of what I call milestone 1A. If we fail to get through this check-point, the entire business concept collapses, and I will be looking for a job sooner rather than later. Maybe the potential loss of a dream is actually what I’m more afraid of – the inability to see this business idea with an environmental mission through to fruition.

I can only hope that the potential customers can see what I can see – products that can help keep pets safe while protecting the environment at the same time.

Workaround for Prototype

After speaking with my manufacturer, I think that we might have a new workaround to properly test and show the functionality of my prototype. This problem will be obviously fixed once the product is manufactured, it’s just a pain right now due to my time constraints.

In some ways, this issue has likely resulted in a better outcome. Because I was concerned about how hard it was to properly show the product working within a normal home, I’ve hired a carpenter to build a portable display so that I can demonstrate this product live at the launch, as well as for the video.

It seems like everything I touch these days requires me to draw something, and God didn’t give me that gift. I hope my carpenter understood.

Rough sketch of product display for carpenter
Another rough sketch

I also have a meeting this afternoon with a company that will edit my videos for the crowdfunding campaign, and it will be good to hear what they think of my revised storyboard idea.

This is just proving to me once again that a roadblock on this entrepreneurial journey might actually be a detour to a better route in the end!

First prototype tests failed

It was an incredibly frustrating day as my first prototype tests failed. While I didn’t expect the prototype to be perfect, I did believe that any failure would be a fault in my specifications, not because it wasn’t made properly.

As mentioned last week, my new prototype won’t stay together because the connector piece is still failing off. I thought I solved it last night by putting painter’s tape around the pin to make it slightly larger, but it didn’t hold.

The only good thing about today is that I did learn some new things about what the customer needs. The product itself also showed all promise that it would solve the intended problems with their pet. Oh yes, I also got a lot of doggie love.

Robert the Dog as Prototype Tester
Prototype Tester – Robert the Dog

Nevertheless, I’m clearly going to have to come up with a different solution over the next few weeks to avoid another prototype test failure. I only have a little bit of time left to demonstrate it properly on video for the crowdfunding campaign.

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!