Tag Archives: AutoCAD

Proud To Be a 3D Printer Beta Tester

With the growing improvements in technology and the resultant resolution that is now coming from the desktop 3D printers, I decided I needed to start looking at purchasing one for use in rapid prototyping client projects.

For Odyssey Solutions, the most critical three factors I was using to select our printer were: reliability, print resolution and overall print build volume. The reliability and resolution seem obvious enough but, in order to be able to accommodate the largest possible parts I had to narrow down the list to just a few.

When you Google 3D Printers you will most likely come across Makerbot (recently merged with Stratasys), 3D Systems or a seemingly endless list of small start ups. Makerbot for example is probably the most notable name in the industry as they were one of the first to really perfect the consumer 3D Printer. The Replicator 2 and now 2x are sleek, eye-catching products that had some serious time spent in the aesthetics department. However, it seemed that there were far too many people complaining about reliability and print consistency.

Makerbot Replicator 2 3D Printer

Makerbot Replicator 2 3D Printer

So I then looked at the 3D systems Cube and Cube X systems. Both are rather pricey for what they deliver. The Cube X is a larger printer with a very sizable build volume, it also comes in an optional multi-extrusion head system.

3D Systems Cube 3D Printer

3D Systems Cube 3D Printer

3D Systems Cube X 3D Printer

3D Systems Cube X 3D Printer

Another thing that tends to differentiate the 3D printers is the print media that is used. Most commonly used is a extrusion filament process that draws a small diameter plastic thread from a spool through a heated extrusion head and out onto the printing surface. The two most widely used materials are ABS (plastic) and PLA (biodegrable plastic made from plants). There are many advantages and drawbacks to both materials but, most people would agree having the capability to print both is preferred. PLA is a fast, non-toxic material that can be recycled. ABS on the other hand tends to produce finer resolution prints and more suitable for parts where stress will be seen.  Both the 3D Systems and the Replicator 2x models can accommodate both printing materials but, the price tags were what turned me off.

I then came across a smaller start up company called Type A Machines, a San Fran-based tech company that is focused on the open-source side of things. From reviews I read, their first generation machine the Series 1 (a primarily wood-based skeleton) performed well for the mid-range of users. The price tag was almost half that of the aforementioned models. I then heard they were going to be rolling out a Pro model which would be constructed of high strength steel and glass making is more suitable for high volume, high resolution print users. I contacted them directly by email to find out more and see when the release date would be. The following day Sara from Type A invited me to become a Beta tester for this new system. Not only would I get the latest and greatest model from them before anyone else but, I would also be prioritized for any upgrades later on (heated build platform, wifi and modular wire management systems). The best part about this was the build volume was 12″x12″x12″, much more than any competitive product out there. This meant that I would be able to handle many of my clients prints in-house as opposed to using a third party. So I decided to take them up on the offer. The order is placed and being filled at the moment.

In about 4 weeks I will have the machine and I will then post a follow-up blog on the results.

Here is a quick glance at the new Series 1 Pro

Type A Machines - Series 1 Pro

Type A Machines – Series 1 Pro

As always, thanks for the read.

Sean

Odyssey Solutions New Product Development Consulting

 

 

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Shark Tank Weekly Review – Episode 409 December 4th Holiday Episode

Happy Holidays Shark Tank fans. The much anticipated holiday episode of The Shark Tank aired this evening and as expected, the show was very entertaining. We saw some great product pitches with solid sales, some niche business models that need more time and some hard headed Entrepreneurs that didn’t want to listen to the Sharks had to say. As always read through and make comments with your takes on the products and whether you would purchase any on your own.

Lets get started…..

Inventor: Lucinda Lent and Juliet Boydstun

Pitch: The Coop (www.thecoop-la.com)

Requesting: $150k for 15% stake

The Coop LA

The Coop LA

The pitch began with the two ladies describing how they met and how once they became Mothers, the options for social locations for their children and themselves was limited. Most of the play areas were dirty, outdated and with no focus on the Mothers. They came up with the idea for The Coop, a modern play spot for kids with a coffee bar and deserts for the parents. They opened the first location after securing a $125k loan from a bank. They cater to high end clientele and movie stars but want to roll out the idea to all budgets. The typical cost for a 2 hour party rental is $595-4000 and weekend sales are typically around $5k currently. They recorded $350k in revenue and booked between $125-150k in profit after taking in a salary (pretty nice!). They would ideally like to franchise the concept and the money would help fund another location. Kevin said he was very impressed with the numbers but he would be out. Daymond added that he wouldn’t be able to add anything to the business and for that he would have to be out. Robert followed out. Mark thinks the business is god but it needs more time and he worries about the price and the amount of competition, he was out. Last was Barbara who offered an iterating counter-offer. She would give the $150k for 15% with a personal guarantee to be paid back in 2 years. After some discussion between the two ladies, they took the offer. Congrats!

Feedback: Well I can tell you as a father of a 3 year old daughter, this business is one that parents (Mothers especially) will pay for. Take a look at Gymboree or the Little Gym, while they are competition they do not offer a parent friendly aspect which is unique. I do agree with Kevin in the idea that they need to test a few more locations (outside of LA because LA is not a good representation of the rest of the country because of the amount of affluent citizens). I already have noticed Barbara doing a good job of promotion of The Coop on Twitter and Facebook which will have an immediate impact. The reality of the loan terms are pretty harsh with the fact they need to pay in full the loan in 24 months for relinquishing 15% stake in the company but, the marketing they will get from Barbara is worth it. Look forward to seeing The Coop come to Texas!!

Inventor: Donna McCue

Product: Fat Ass Fudge (www.fat-assfudge.com)

Requesting: $250k for 5% stake

Fat Ass Fudge

Fat Ass Fudge

The flamboyantly energetic Donna McCue entered the Tank to pitch her unique fudge company to the Sharks. What makes the product so unique is that it is Lactose Free, Gluten Free and made with goats milk. She began to make chocolate many years ago and the name came from a family nickname. she has been selling mostly locally and has 2 Whole Foods stores she is working with at the moment but has yet to break into their nationwide reach. They recorded $60k in sales over the past 12 months. Kevin offered her $250k for 1000% stake, she is confused then he says he is out. The rest of the Sharks do the same. Donna leaves without a deal.

Feedback: Energy, passion, enthusiasm would be some very accurate adjectives for Donna McCue. She undoubtable has a good product that tastes good and touches on the Gluten, Lactose-Free segments which are growing. The problem once again is her valuation of her company. Valuation can only be accurate when it references either sales history or pending / accounts receivable. Having said that, unless she has an enormous amount of non-cash assets such as equipment her valuation of $5 million dollars is just silly.

Inventor: Scott Martin (a.k.a., Scotty Clause)

Pitch: The Living Christmas (www.livingchristmas.com)

Requesting: $150k for 30% stake

The Living Christmas Company

The Living Christmas Company

The Tank was full of Christmas trees as a jolly Entrepreneur approached with a long Santa cap and a handlebar mustache. Scott talks about the issue of the annual tradition of cutting down a tree then only weeks later after the holidays have passed it is thrown out. He created a sustainable solution to the problem of deforestation by delivering a living tree with a pot that is only temporarily brought into the home. After the holidays, his company picks up the tree and returns it to the farm where it is fed throughout the remainder of the year until the following Christmas whereby the process repeats. The average cost of the tree rental is $100-200. He had $150k in sales last year with a profit of $33k (no salary taken). He is in need of money for further infrastructure growth to take on more business. Kevin doesn’t like the business because it is seasonal. He is out. Daymond owns a tree farm (yes apparently he does) but thinks the business model has too many unknowns. Robert and Barbara are also out. Mark then asks about how many jobs could be created with the money and offers the $150k for 40%. Scott takes the deal.

Feedback: I really like this concept but, i think he needs to diversify into other non-seasonal products / services. Since I don’t know the first thing about the costs to operate a standard tree farm I would be out of place to provide too much insight here but, I see from the website that Scott has garnered the support of various corporate sponsors and partners which is a good sign. The other thing that concerned me with the finances was the amount of profit (~20% without his salary taken). I think with Mark Cubans support they will be able to find a lean solution to the cash problems. Updates on this one will be greatly appreciated since it is that time of year…

Inventors: Julian Jaccard and Connor Pastoor

Product: Partie Poche (http://96.0.165.69/partiepoche/)

Requesting: $100k for 20% stake

Party Poche

Party Poche

Julian and Connor (two MBA students) are pitching a fashionable, discrete holder for a woman’s cellphone, money, etc,.. The Partie Poche is worn on the leg of the user and virtually out of sight to others. They sold 200 units with prices ranging from $17-36/unit (pricing was incrementally increasing towards the end of the 200 units). A Provisional Patent is in-place. Every time the Sharks began to talk to them about valuation and finances they became very argumentative and arrogant. Julian said she had a meeting with a Nordstrom VP but, didn’t receive a PO because she didn’t have any product. They said the initial product inventory was sold and designed by a freelancer and they didn’t have any more product to sell. A late investment of $50k from some college colleagues which was enough to retain 40% stake of the company (leaving Julian and Connor with a 60% net stake). Kevin was furious and said he was out and forbid the other Sharks to do business with the two. Daymond told them that they were hard headed and he was out. Robert said the two were arrogant and stubborn and he was out. Barbara doesn’t think it will sell and bows out. Mark was left and asked the two to stop talking as he requested them to explain the infrastructure and after the same type of responses as before he says he is out.

Feedback: So many things rub me the wrong way about these two. The first is the attitude of they know it all because they are studying for their MBAs (this was evident when Julian started throwing out financial buzz words). While I am a strong believer in higher education, street knowledge and learning from your failures is far more valuable. The other issue here is that this project does not appear to be a full time venture and the lack of focus on getting additional product manufactured with the $50k investment is perplexing. If I had $50k from an Investor I would find the fastest way to pay them back and that would be through product inventory and sales generation which they appear to have none. This pitch should be an example to other aspiring Inventors to listen to those with knowledge and experience in the business world and don’t talk over them. The final thing, with the airing of the show in the works for some time now, their website is still in Beta mode. Ridiculous! Even bad publicity is publicity and if they couldn’t turn the Shark Tank publicity into money they shouldn’t be on the show.

Thanks everyone for reading this weeks post. Stay tuned for weekly reviews of Shark Tank.

Sean Yakeley

If you are an Entreprenuer with a great product idea but, have not made any progress with the development, my company Odyssey Solutions can help. We offer a full turnkey suite of services to help turn that great idea of yours into a product. All while you retain all intellectual property. To see our full list of services click the link below.

New Product Development Consulting

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Shark Tank Weekly Review – Episode 312 November 24th

Ok so with Thanksgiving week upon us we were forced to watch a re-aired episode from last season. All is not lost since this episode was in fact a good one and I can provide a little bit of an update to each company / Inventor.

The sharks in the tank this week included: Kevin (Mr. Wonderful), Mark Cuban, Robert Herjavec, Barbara Corcoran and Daymond John.

Without further ado, lets get on with the review. Oh and as always, please leave comments if you have any more updates or comments with regards to the products and services on the show.

Inventor: Ryan Custer

Product: Cougar Unlimited (www.drinkcougar.com)

Requesting: $150k for 30% stake

Cougar Unlimited Lifestyle Drink for Women

So considering time has past since the original recording of this episode, there are a number of developments that I will mention at the end. So Ryan entered the tank with a beautiful blond women by his side. He started to pitch the Cougar Unlimited brand by saying that the term Cougar (as it refers to a woman between the ages of 30-55) has become a bit of a pop couture term and that more and more men are seeking the accompaniment of an older women. The product is a energy drink (ok it is actually a lifestyle shot) specifically designed for women with ingredients that benefit women. Ryan also said that the shots can be mixed with alcohol to create mixed drinks. He has recorded $60k in sales over 3 year period. Daymond immediate bows out as he doesn’t want to waste any time. Barbara thinks the drink tastes like chalk and asked what was causing the taste, Ryan responded with “Niacin” she was out. Kevin then talked about how he already trimmed the market too much by excluding men and women above and below the target age group. Kevin is out. Mark follows. Robert is last and after some hard push from Ryan he also bows out leaving Ryan empty handed.

Feedback: First, this market is so flooded with competition and I honestly think it will all dissolve as more and more scrutiny comes down from the FDA. Having said that, Ryan has a unique pitch with the female market but, in reality he should also offer a male-only shot to cover the remaining market. We recently saw a pitch by a military gentlemen for www.ruckpack.com for a energy drink without the caffeine designed for the military and civilians. This is to me a much more well-rounded concept.

Inventor: Gary Gagnon

Product: Remyxx 100% Recyclable Shoes (www.rekixx.com)

Requesting: $50k for 10% stake

Rekixx (aka Remyxx) Recyclable Shoes

Gary enters the tank to pitch his company of Remyxx which is a fully recyclable shoe idea that takes into account the materials used to ensure that the shoe can be recycled with zero waste. He has some prototypes that he passed out to the Sharks and they appeared to be pretty fashionable to me. He does not yet have any sales as this is in the start-up phase and has invested about $30k to date. He is asking for the money to purchase the individual molds for each shoe size. Robert, Kevin, Barbara and Mark all bow out but, each seemed to like the idea. Daymond is last to speak and he says “you may not like what I have to offer” then says $50k for 80% stake (ouch!). After some emotional discussion, he takes the deal but, requests that Mark Cuban wear a pair court side at the Mavericks game.

Feedback: The product is not only unique but a trendy topic so I think it will ultimately do very well in the long run. The deal of relinquishing 80% of the company is painful but, he really just got a licensing deal for 20% return with one of the more successful fashion brains in the industry. The $50k was not nearly enough to get the product off the ground and I will elaborate. First individual molds for each  size shoe sole for the injection molding of the rubber would probably cost about $3000 per size (made in China) and if we figure sizes form 6-14 (half sizes included for mens only) that means that it would cost $51,000. This does not account for sample runs, shipping and testing of all samples as well as the cost to cut and assemble the upper portion of the shoe. So lets say for a shoe retailing for $65 as it is on the website the non-domestic cost is probably going to be around $18-20 per pair. If you can imagine a box box retailer such as Foot Locker, they will likely order a sample run of 2 pair per size per store which may be in the neighborhood of 5-10k units. That means Gary needs to be able to handle the order, front the inventory cost since the retailer is not going to pay for probably 90 days. He would need $150k conservatively to take on that order. I can tell you from experience that selling online is easy but, moving to the big retailers is a gigantic step that needs capital. Don’t let that discourage you because I do think Daymond will help it off the ground. By the way it appears that Daymond decided to change the company name to Rekixx from Remyxx (good call).

Inventors: Frank Campitelli and Debrae Barensfeld

Product: Nitroforce Titan 1000 (www.thenitroforce.com)

Requesting: $250k for 10% stake

Nitroforce Titan 1000 All-in-one Gym

Both Inventors enter the shark and approach the Titan 1000 all in one gym. The most unique part of the product is the usage of gas shocks for resistance instead of weights which makes it far lighter and more versatile. Frank mentioned intellectual property in the pitch but it was not clear if they actually own the patents to the concepts or what? Anybody want to clarify? The 1000 in the product name comes from the amount of total resistance that the system can simulate much higher that the competitive products (Bowflex, Bioforce, etc,…). They have 90 machines in their warehouse, sold 26 for $1299 and invested about $200k so far between the two. Unfortunately all of the sharks chose to bow out and they leave empty handed.

Feedback: After looking at the website in great detail, I don’t know if they have any further sales to date since the episode but I would be interested in hearing more if anyone can provide more info. I also noticed another product in their pipeline (golf training system). Also, the product is retailing on the site for $899 plus $399 shipping!! This to me is typical of an eCommerce company, low price with an inflated S&H which ultimately goes into their pockets. I can verify this because actual ground shipping would only be $100 at most. Not a big deal but, consumers are not easily fooled. Best of luck Inventors!

Inventor: Phil Dumas

Product: Unikey Technologies (www.unikeytech.com)

Requesting: $500k for 33% stake

Unikey Wireless Locking Systems

Phil entered the tank to present his company Unikey Technologies which is a wireless, keyless locking system for the home. The technology utilizes a Bluetooth signal from the cellphone or key fob to verify the homeowner is in range to unlock the door. A simple touch to the top of the lock will unlock the mechanism. He already has a provisional agent filed for the invention. The system is fully refit table to the existing door holes 2 bolts out 2 bolts on. The expected retail will be $149-199 each. He is currently in licensing discussions with Black and Decker and seeking a 7.5% royalty. Money will go towards patent protection and bluetooth application package. Kevin starts out by offering $100k for 10% if he can get another shark to fund the rest. Barbara offers $250k for 25% but, needs Mark to finish the deal. Daymond says $500k for 40% and Robert offers a staggering $1 million for 75% stake. Finally Mark Cuban turns down Barbara because the technology is not “in her wheel house”. He finally agrees to deal with Mark and Kevin for $500k and 40% stake with two seats on the board.

Feedback: Phil not only brought a very good technology to the table but his back ground is perfect for a start up company as he spent time in the start up business. This product is one that I scratched my head to ask why has nobody done this before? I wonder what the patent looks like and as soon as it publishes I will provide more details. From looking at the website, the product is still not available but is pre-ordering. He also updated the site to say he has partnered with a legal counsel and filed the non-provisional patent. I also did not see anything about Black and Decker which makes me wonder if the deal fizzled. Any updates anybody? I am sure this product will do very well assuming the cost is below $150.

Thanks everyone for reading this weeks post. Stay tuned for weekly reviews of Shark Tank.

Sean Yakeley

If you are an Entreprenuer with a great product idea but, have not made any progress with the development, my company Odyssey Solutions can help. We offer a full turnkey suite of services to help turn that great idea of yours into a product. All while you retain all intellectual property. To see our full list of services click the link below.

New Product Development Consulting

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Shark Tank Weekly Review – Episode 411 November 16th

Hello readers, thanks for stopping by our weekly review of Shark Tank. This episode had a nice diverse range of Inventors and products and services. This weeks Shark were: Kevin (Mr. Wonderful), Barbara Corcoran, Daymond John, Robert Herjavec and Mark Cuban. Below you can read a brief summary of the pitch and also my feedback from a product development strategy stand point. Please as always feel free to leave comments and subscribe for future posts.

Inventor: Jackie Courtney

Product: Nearly Newlywed (www.nearlynewlywed.com)

Requesting: $35k for 10% stake

Nearly Newlyweds by Jackie Courtney

Jackie Courtney (Fashion Editor and Entrepreneur) led off the show by entering the tank with a dress model wearing what appeared to be a wedding gown. She approached the display and greeted the sharks. She immediately began telling a story about how most women have an idea of what dress they want but, often cannot it. She tells the sharks that her company Nearly Newlyweds is a online boutique for wedding dresses where women can come and purchase the high end dresses of their choices for a fraction of the retail cost. She tells that not only are the dresses discounted but her company guarantees a buy back at 50% the purchase price. She further explains that her company operates essentially as a consignment and has little to no out of pocket expenses. Furthermore, when she purchases a dress she already has 30% profit built in. Her current sales are 4 dresses but she is limited by inventory at the moment. Jackie also mentioned that she is working with Klein Felds on an exclusive partnership. The money would go to more inventory for her company. Barbara jumped in rather quickly and said she was out because it was too early to invest in as there was little track record. Robert immediately followed out. Daymond said he was not interested. Kevin then said that he would offer $35k for 40% stake so that he had a larger influence on the company (even saying he would have offered 51% and fired her, harsh). Mark bowed out since this was not his expertise. Jackie regretfully turns downs Kevins offer and leaves empty-handed.

Feedback: Considering I know nothing about wedding dresses except that my wife looked amazing in hers, I turned to her for some opinion on Jackie’s business model. We both agreed that it was very unique and most likely appealing to some women but, that most women she knows are particular about keeping their dresses and not buying used. Having said that, there is definite value in this market segment as women are wiling to spend exorbitant amount of money on wedding dresses. The biggest issues for me is the amount of inventory needed to satisfy all of the women that come to the website. The partnership with Klein Felds is a great idea and I think this will not be the last time we see Nearly Newlyweds. Best of Luck Jackie!

Inventor(s): Nathan Buffett and Shane Cianciolo

Product / Service: CorksAway (www.corksaway.com)

Requesting: $105k for 20% stake

Nathan and Shane with CorksAway

Nathan and Shane entered the tank in see captains uniforms with a bottle of wine and tray of appetizers. They then offered both to all of the Sharks and all accepted the free booze and food. Nathan and Shane then talked about how their company CorksAway was an exclusive cruise with food and wine. The cruises are much smaller that what is currently offered. They also said that they offer different themed excursions such as: beer cruise, wine and mimosas, etc,… Next they talked about the appetizer they were presenting as the Pesto Tort. They had made $250k over the past year on one boat (not bad). They said that the endeavor is part of a 4 stage plan:

Stage 1: Growth of the CorksAway cruises

Stage 2: Franchising for $175k including the cost of the boat (boat only costs $35k)

Stage 3: Food retail of the Pesto Tort

Stage 4: Indoor cruise in Las Vegas

This eclectic presentation and business plan was not what the Sharks were interested and they all regretfully did not offer anything.

Feedback: I think the biggest issue with the pitch is actually the lack of focus on the primary initiative of growing the cruise business. The 4 stage plan was a turn-off to any investor because it displays an appearance of looking down the road for the next thing as compared to focussing. I do like the cruise idea but, the franchise concept is probably the best idea considering the minimal capital. I just think the $175k is too much. It would be better if the price to buy-in was more like $100k and they received a back-end royalty on all cruise sales. This to me would bring more interest to the table. Best of Luck!

Inventor(s): David Powers and Scott Tindel

Product / Service: Tietry (www.tietry.com)

Requesting: $100k for 25% stake

Tietry by David Powers and Scott Tindel

David and Scott are Attorneys and both wear ties on a daily basis, they mentioned that they spend a lot of money on ties and wanted to offer a service that allowed people the option of having a different tie whenever they wanted. The business model was compared to “Netflix for ties” and they guys said that other products would be offered eventually such as cut links, etc,… The way the service works is the user pays a monthly membership such as $15.99 and they will receive a tie in the mail. They wear the tie and return it. After a few more days a new tie arrives and the process is repeated. Currently they have zero advertising and yet have 110 subscribers with a retention rate of 85%. They mostly rely on referrals at the moment and have no new clients in the pipeline. Robert is first to drop out then, Kevin says he will offer half ($50k) if and only if he gets another shark to come in with the rest and state the stake requested. Barbara also drops out. Daymond then says he is particularly not interested because the guys didn’t come in with a great deal of passion for he fashion side. Mark then says he is out and that means Kevin has to withdrawal his offer too.

Feedback: While compared to Netflix, this is a very inventory dependent and I would imagine the people that do not renew the program it is mostly due to selection. This means David and Scott would need to have an enormous inventory of various patterns and colors to satisfy all buyers. I think there needs to be an extensive study performed on the most common ties by color, brand and pattern to determine exactly the best product to stock. Also, I would imagine the company retains rights to charge the user for the full value of the tie in the event it is not returned on time and in good condition? Not bad really but it needs to have some of the bugs worked out to be a return, low-risk model. Good luck guys!

Inventor: Rob Dyer (Marine Major)

Product: RuckPack (www.ruckpacks.com)

Requesting: $75k for 10% stake

RuckPack by Rob Dyer

Rob in full camouflage military uniform, enters the tank and approaches the display. He begins by telling a story about his military experience and saying that one of the biggest challenges of being in a remote location and up long hours is the nutrition. So he developed RuckPack nutritional shots. The idea behind the shots is they are loaded with nutritional content and not caffeine as the Snipers would not like the jittery feeling. He wants to translate the marketing to the civilian but he is out of inventory. The mixture is proprietary. The shot currently costs him about $0.80-0.85/bottle to make and he sells it for a couple of dollars but, would like to drive the costs down to improve his margins. All of his profit goes into inventory orders (paid upfront, ouch). He has invested $90k and holds 40% stake in the company while the remaining stake is held by various military families. He has 80,000 units arriving soon and 20,000 units of the caffeinated version. He is only in a few stores at the moment and needs to grow. But, he needs more inventory to handle demand. Daymond bows out, Barbara also says she is out. Kevin says he will offer the whole amount requested. Mark is out too. Robert then says that he thinks Rob Dyer needs more money to build inventory and he offers $150k for 20% with Kevin splitting the investment. He accepts the offer.

Feedback: First off, Oorah! Thank you for your service, we are deeply grateful. I like this product for a number of reasons 1) it is a proven high demand segment 2) margins can be high and 3) the military spin without caffeine is great. I don’t like energy shots for the main reason that I don’t know what is inside and having read the latest claim that 5-Hour Energy shots may have led to some deaths. This however it a nutritional shot. The fact that he already has a lot of demand that he cannot fill is a good sign. I do wish to see him work out agreements with the suppliers to allow Net30 or Net60 credit terms to free up cash flow for other investments. I don’t doubt that RuckPack will be on shelves soon in a store near you. Great job Rob!

Thanks everyone for reading this weeks post. Stay tuned for weekly reviews of Shark Tank.

Sean Yakeley

If you are an Entreprenuer with a great product idea but, have not made any progress with the development, my company Odyssey Solutions can help. We offer a full turnkey suite of services to help turn that great idea of yours into a product. All while you retain all intellectual property. To see our full list of services click the link below.

New Product Development Consulting

 

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Shark Tank Weekly Review – Episode 408 November 9th

This weeks episode was nothing short of entertaining as we saw entrepreneurs from all corners of the consumer market present their products / services to the sharks. The sharks for this week were: Kevin (Mr. Wonderful), Mark Cuban, Robert Herjavec, Barbara Corcoran and Daymond John. The good diverse backgrounds was sure to yield some offers (assuming the product and presentations went well). Without any delay here is how the show panned out in chronological order.

As always, if you have another past episode you wish me to review or to comment on please make suggestions following the post.

Inventor: Drew Baumier

Product: Drive Suits

Requesting: $150k for 20% stake

Drew Baumier with DriveSuits

Drew entered the tank with 3 other colleagues all in full body automated body suits similar to the Transformers. The company called Body Suits is a unique costume concept with powered wheels that are worn on legs and arms. A single hand control is what triggers the motion of the Body Suit. Drew mentioned that he simple wanted to create a new way of getting around and after making a prototype, he had won various prizes in costume contests (totaling $35k in income). Aside from the contests, he does not have any sales history. His provisional patent had expired and the concept was currently not protected with a patent. Rather immediately three of the sharks dropped out (Robert, Barbara and Daymond). Kevin stressed that Drew really needed to partner with a toy company that could package the product into a smaller footprint and drive down the costs. Kevin extended an counter-offer for $150k for 30% stake (contingent on the toy company partnership). Mark Cuban then jumped in with an offer of $150k for 40% stake with the purpose of being the bank for Drew and guaranteeing money without any contingencies. After some thought Drew chose Kevin.

Feedback: I thought the product idea is one that could definitely attract the younger generation but, this would be dependent on the retail price of course. What surprised me was that neither Mark or Kevin had much of an issue with the lack of patent protection. I did really like that Drew said he essentially created the prototypes himself with little expertise. I always appreciate seeing the true innovators bring such ingenuity to the table. Ultimately he got a Shark to bite and is on his way to fulfilling his dreams of begin a successful Inventor. Congratulations.

Inventor: David Cox

Product / Service: PC Classes Online

Requesting: $150k for 15% stake

David Cox and PC Classes Online

David walked into the tank with comedy writer Bruce Vilanch as his guest presenter. On the table in front of the sharks was a display with a couple of laptop computers and a flatscreen display with the company logo for PC Classes Online. David began to frame a story about how so many people (elderly especially) struggled with computer literacy. His company would be providing on-demand classes for computer training for all types of programs and systems. Behind the scenes would be experienced Instructors that would teach (for free) the topics of choice. The Instructors would make their money when they signed up the student for one-on-one lessons of which PC Classes Online would take 30%. The monthly cost for membership would be $99/month. When asked how he would market this concept he responded saying by partnering with retailers and computer vendors that would be charged $49 for the service (making $50 in profit each month on referrals). He said that to date he has 115 members signed up totaling $35k over a 6 month period of time. Almost immediately, Kevin, Barbara and Daymond dropped out after there appeared to be very little valuation considering David thought the company was worth $1 million with only $35k in sales. Kevin was a little rough on David for knowing the difference between bundling and up-selling. Mark being the IT expert on the panel questioned that what he was pushing has been developed for over 2 decades, he was out. Last but more of a formality Robert also dropped.

Feedback: This one is though for me because while it could very well be a solid company in a local market with a personal approach to training, David truly was replicating what was already on the market (see www.videoprofessor.com for example). Services are very difficult for people to buy into as they are hard to claim as proprietary.

Inventor: Bill Lyons

Product / Service: Revestor

Requesting: $250 for 10% stake

Bill Lyons and Revestor

Bill entered with the room and approached the display table with a company logo banner and three home placards between silver food domes. His pitch was around there not being a single source for evaluating a real estate transaction for its profitability. Revestor claims to have a proprietary algorithm that helps find and assess various MLS and foreclosure listings to determine whether the property is a good buy or not. When asked specifically what figures the algorithm looks at, Bill struggled to explain the details to the Sharks. Bill at times was a bit defensive even saying that he started a $20 million financial services company that went broke during the crash. His software is in beta mode in 10 cities but with no revenue yet. Barbara who has a solid real estate background asked is the software for the seasoned shark investor or the newlywed couple. Bill replied “both”. In almost rapid succession all sharks dropped out and Bill was sent leaving empty-handed.

Feedback: I don’t know if there is more to the story that what was shown on TV but it seems that either Bill didn’t know all aspects of the business or was somewhat protective of the details but, the presentation did not go very well. The fact that he was expecting people to pay nearly double what other sites charge seems a bit steep. He was confident that the company would be a multi-million dollar company in a few years similar to Zillow. The idea of having some upper hand against the competition when it comes to real estate investing is ideal but, it is hard to prove. Needs some more work.

Inventors: Beth Vines-Haynes and Charlotte Clary

Product: Ice Chips

Requesting: $250k for 15% stake

Beth and Charlotte with IceChips

Talk about saving the best for last. These two grandmothers of 30+ grandchildren started the company a couple of years ago in order to create a sugar-free candy that was not harmful to the teeth. The answer was Xylitol. Xylitol is a sugar-free sweetener that dentist recommend because it cannot grow bacteria, meaning less damage to the teeth. From the video documentary of the production facility (at their home) they appeared to be very experienced with solid demand already. In fact, according to Beth and Charlotte they made $320k last year and $342k year to date (considering the show was filmed in the summer that would be roughly $700k in annual revs). Not bad! Apparently, Xylitol candy is normally pressed into molded cavities because it is very brittle to try and form cold. the ladies were able to solve this by simply breaking the candy sheets into small Ice Chips. The unique shape led to the name of course. When asked what they need the money for they responded “to buy equipment to drive down production costs and enable them to enter the large retail markets”. Currently the candy tins are made for $1.11 each and sold wholesale for $3.12 or $5.00 retail. They would like the costs to be down around $0.77. Barbara was first to jump in with an offer of $125k for 33% with another shark matching the offer. Kevin then said he would pay the other portion of Barbara’s offer if they each claimed 20%. Daymond said would instead offer $250k for 30% without another Shark involved. Robert was out. Daymond then said he would join Kevin for a $250k – 35% stake. Daymond must have had an moment of enlightenment because he immediately decided to go solo for $250k and 25%. Finally, Mark and Barbara said they would join forces for a $125k and 20% / person and the ladies agreed.

Feedback: Not only were the two grandmothers extremely professional and knowledgable but, they came across highly credible and with a proven track record which in this business goes a long way. It was a joy to watch them explain their business as the sharks all showed some interest. The product is also in a highly desirable segment (sugar-free candy) and has a unique shape which is very much a novelty. I feel like this is definitely something we will see on store shelves or in the check out aisle of our local grocery store. Lessons learned from this case: build some track record with revenue before approaching investors, know the product in and out and be prepared to defend against the those who want to pick it apart.

Thanks everyone for reading this weeks post. Stay tuned for weekly reviews of Shark Tank.

Sean Yakeley

If you are an Entreprenuer with a great product idea but, have not made any progress with the development, my company Odyssey Solutions can help. We offer a full turnkey suite of services to help turn that great idea of yours into a product. All while you retain all intellectual property. To see our full list of services click the link below.

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Developing a New Invention on a Budget

When I hear someone with a great idea procrastinate because of the cost, it frustrates me for a number of reasons. First, an idea for a new, novel product is not something that should be taken with such a lack of motivation. Second, when looking at a new product, cost is a necessary part of getting it off the ground but the results can quickly pay dividends. I always tell my clients and potential clients that you must not look at the up front costs as a burden because there are ways to help elevate some of the sticker shock for product development consulting fees. If you are considering using a consultant to help get your product developed, I would look at the following priorities in order of importance.

1) Provisional Patent – estimated costs ranging from $110 (direct USPTO cost) – $500 (service fees added)

“Do this first so that at the very least, you will have 12 months to get the formal patent prepared, lowering your costs. Plus you will be creating a date of filing which can protect you in the event of infringement”

2) 2D and 3D Drawings – estimated costs ranging from $1000 – over 20,000 (depending on the complexity)

“Getting the formal drawings created is the next most critical phase in the development of the idea. You should make sure that you receive electronic and printed versions of all sub-components and assemblies including the Bill of Materials (which will state what each piece is made of that will help the manufacturer)”

3) Prototyping – services fees range from $2000+ with the actual machining costs additional

“Make sure that you have selected a durable material to make your prototype with so that during the market research phase, it will hold up. Also see about getting 2 or more prototypes made so one can be used for marketing and the others used for demos”

4) Market Research – usually $50/hr is a good rule of thumb

“To say you have the next million dollar idea is hard to justify without a good test run. I would typically take a prototype and demo it with a small sample of users (minimum of 100) to gain their feedback, likelihood of use, purchase price, etc,… This phase can often be the the most critical, don’t cut corners here. Feedback on some minor changes may mean the difference between the next fad and the next flop”

5) Refining

“Because this is sometimes included with some drafters, I have not shown additional cost. check to see if iterations are included in the design”

6) Manufacturing

“This is very much specific to the product so I would hate to state a cost estimate. Depending on your desired goals, you can seek a production facility to turnkey the product for you while you handle the marketing and sales. Most people are looking to have someone actually manage the sale of their product and that is where licensing or sale of the patent may be a better option. Partner with an expert in the field of your invention to make sure you get the maximum return”

7) Sales and Marketing

So if you think about the things you are most inclined to buying, a lot of your decision is based on the marketing and packaging design. I would suggest you work with a cutting edge young firm here to get the most modern packing possible. While the upfront print and tooling costs can cost over $10,000, it truly is necessary if you are looking for retail exposure”

If you just look at the above steps as one big expense it will be enough for anybody to steer clear and opt for the less risky path of procrastination. However, product development can take well over a year from concept to production, this will allow for costs to be spread. I might also suggest to write a business plan and try gaining some investors from you network of friends, family and colleagues. Every little bit can help and providing a little share of the profits is usually enough to get some followers.

Follow my blog as I will be adding to this post in the coming days…

Thanks for reading.

Sean

New Product Development Consulting

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Solidworks 2012 Installed and Running Well (on a MAC)

Ok, so I am about a month into the newest version of Solidworks 2012. I am seriously impressed with the simplicity to generate full, complex, photorealistic assemblies. Prior to pulling the trigger on the Professional package (~$6000), I had spent countless hours comparing the likes of AutoCAD, ProEngineer, etc,… While they all had their own pro’s and con’s, Solidworks really seemed to be the industry leader in terms of 3D design and rendering. I have extensive experience in both AutoCAD and ProE and figured at first I would end up with either one on my computer. Another thing I need to tell you is that my computer setup is a Mac Pro so I was fortunate to be able to run Parallels 7 to create the Windows environment for the purposes of installing the CAD program of choice. Solidworks is very similar in the way that a part is created to ProE which is by way of extrusions and rotations, etc,… However, SW is leaps and bounds ahead of the competition when talking about ease of use and intuitive user interfacing.

I had a couple of simple parts I needed to create and assemble to inspect the clearances and fit of the assembly. It was a matter of 20 minutes from start up to completion. Ok, this assembly is rather simple indeed but, if I had been using the other programs, it would have taken me nearly twice the time. In my business as in most others, time is money. For that reason, I highly recommend taking a look at Solidworks 2012 when thinking about purchasing a 3D CAD software.

Sean Yakeley

Odyssey Solutions – Product Development Consulting

**12/26/2012 UPDATE: I wanted to share some information to anyone reading this post that since posting the above, I have chosen to upgrade the RAM to help with the rendering and overall video performance on Solidworks in the Windows VM. I now have 16gb of DDR3 RAM installed and 4gb allocated to the Windows VM. This appears to have helped a lot with the quality and performance.”**

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