LESS… What Customers Really Want
By Geoffrey A. Fowler via online.WSJ.com Article
Build a Better Mousetrap—Fast
“New facilities let entrepreneurs create physical products at speeds and costs that were once unthinkable
… Max Gunawan spent evenings and weekends at a TechShop Inc. workshop in downtown San Francisco. There, he used computer-operated laser-cutting and milling machines to test a few ideas. Several months later, Mr. Gunawan had a prototype lamp in the shape of a book that he called Lumio. He quit his day job and raised nearly $600,000 in funding from the website Kickstarter to build his lighting-design business. … At TechShop, he had access to … more than a million dollars’ worth of wood cutters, metal punchers, 3-D printers, design software and other equipment—for a membership fee of about $125 per month.
Over the past six years, TechShop has attracted more than 4,000 members to facilities in six cities, from Round Rock, Texas, to Pittsburgh, and it has three more in the works. On most Friday nights, they hum with dozens of hobbyists, academics, students and artists sawing, blasting and carving. They have their own version of a “genius bar,” with experts in tools and manufacturing on standby.
Elsewhere, about 40 communities in the U.S. and more than 100 in other countries now have Fab Labs, workshops born from a project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that gives youth and adults access to about $100,000 worth of tools like laser cutters. Some cities have homegrown nonprofit hacker spaces where inventors can share tools, such as Brooklyn’s NYC Resistor; Artisan’s Asylum in Somerville, Mass.; and Chicago’s Pumping Station: One.”
22 Crowdfunding Sites (and How To Choose Yours!)
“It’s not just Kickstarter anymore. Here’s a road map.
Today, there are scores of crowdfunding sites. Indiegogo, Bolstr, Fundable–the list goes on. With the SEC poised to allow projects to offer equity, crowdfunding has the potential to revolutionize how entrepreneurs raise money. (For now, you have to offer some kind of reward in exchange for donations.)
But all sites are not created equal. Some specialize in nonprofits, or in certain types of products; others offer consulting services in addition to sourcing funding. In an increasingly crowded and complicated marketplace, where should you turn to fund your endeavor? Follow our map.”
3D printing is nothing special
“Before I share the story let me share a terrific definition of technology:
Technology – Something that was invented after you were born.
So I was playing with my 3D printer in my home office when my 3 year old daughter entered the room. I asked her if she wanted me to print her something. Maybe a toy or some jewelry. She replied simple ‘Ok daddy’ and seemed pretty excited about it. Who wouldn’t be, it’s a 3D printer for crying out loud. So we picked one of the bracelets from the picture below, and sent the file to the printer. A pressed the print button and it started printing. I was pretty pumped. …
I quickly said’Look, Look, it’s printing it.’ To which she replied in a nonchalant manner. ‘Ok, thanks daddy’ …
‘Look, here it is, I printed it for you!!!’. … She said Thanks daddy’ and then put it on her wrist and skipped away to get on with her 3 year old life.
3D printing to her is as ‘normal’ as cars, TV, airplanes, computers and microwave ovens. How can it not be, it was invented before she was born. … by the time she is 13 years of age, yourself and every person we know will have a 3D printer.
We’ll all be printing things in our homes on a daily basis. And if you think that isn’t possible, let me remind you that every social media channel you currently use today didn’t exist 10 years ago … 3D printing is NOW – get on it and don’t regret you let this entrepreneurial opportunity slip you by.”
By Brian de Haaff via the Aha! Blog Article
Hey Product Managers — Stop Pissing Off The Engineers
“So you are the product manager — CEO of your domain — and the go-to-guy for everything that matters. You help set the strategic framework for where your product and the business are headed and lead a cross-functional team to greatness. You see the big picture and can muck around in the minutiae with the best project manager around. … You are a rational force and a creative artist. You converse with every tribe, including customers, marketing, sales, support and every other stakeholder group that your product depends on to win in market.
… great product management is usually the difference between mediocrity and awesome. While nobody would miss product management if it (and you) disappeared in the short term, ensuring product alignment with business strategy, market opportunity, and customer need is what superstar PMs do in market leading companies.
However, the reality is that you need engineering more than they need you. They can continue to crank out product without you (and be happy doing it), but you can not write a line of code yourself. Engineers are the manufacturing engine that drives the business forward and are the most important non-customer asset in the company. You are overhead.
… consider the following five common ways that PMs piss engineers off every day. It’s a chance to pause and truly reflect. Be honest, which ones do you do? It’s a bit like body odor, self examination and fearless honesty matter.”
Everything you’ve heard about starting a business is wrong
“Starting your own business is a daunting, complicated task. Most people, after incubating an idea and mustering the courage to venture forth, spend time trying to perfect a business plan before they actually interact with a customer.
This is the wrong approach, say Dave Llorens and Ryan Ferrier, four-time entrepreneurs …
Consider … an example. Michael Armenta, Barrett Purdum and Michael Maher decided they wanted to make clothes. They knew nothing about logistics and spent the better part of a year trying to plan around that, getting nowhere. Eventually, the three got creative, measuring their friends in bars. They opened several pop-up shops around the city once they gained a little clout. …
The lesson? Interact with customers first, say Llorens and Ferrier, and plan your company around their feedback. … ‘Don’t plan forever and build the perfect machine. Listen to customers, all good comes from that.’
… the three T’s: Talk to the customer, Translate what you’ve learned into an offering, then Try it out. …
Whether it’s actually measuring strangers in bars for shirts, Llorens and Ferrier’s message is to listen to customers and not to plan too much without real information. ‘Don’t put the cart before the horse,’ Llorens says. ‘It’s about momentum.'”
The logical limits of product innovation
“Innovation appears stalled in many industries because the product or service has reached its point of diminishing marginal returns for innovation. … We’ve perfected the brewing of beer. We’ve created thousands of types of beer – lager, stout, porter, hefeweizen (my favorite), bock, etc. Have we reached the point of diminishing returns for beer innovation? I think the signals are flashing “yes”. Here’s why.
Coors recently ran an ad that highlighted the beer can. The can had three significant attributes they wanted to call to attention. First, the mountains on the can change color when the beer is cold. Second, the can has a liner to keep the beer cold. Third, the can has a new pop-top to improve airflow and drinkability. All of these things may be labelled “innovation”, but they are innovation in packaging, in marketing and in information signalling, not beer innovation. …
Note that some of these “innovations” are a bit perverse. Many beer drinkers will tell you that beer shouldn’t be too cold, otherwise you lose the flavor. And does anyone need a more technical pop-top? Were there unacceptable incidents of beer spillage or individuals who failed to get the beer from can to mouth previously?
When product manufacturers start innovating the packaging, the information about the product, the channel or the business model, it’s a good signal that they’ve reached a diminishing return on innovation in the product itself, and only a significant disruption will spark new product innovation in the sector.
Innovation itself isn’t stalled, it’s simply on hold for the next disruptive evolutionary cycle. Innovation isn’t a smooth, continuous process but a spiky discontinuous process made up of long period of incremental innovation punctuated by short bursts of disruptive innovation.”