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Get help, and assist others in with open source kits and running a business! Do not ask for legal advice or for consulting services in this forum, only general biz questions!

Re: What are we doing wrong?

by itcamefrommars on Fri Aug 19, 2011 11:34 am

adafruit wrote:
nootropic wrote:... others geek out on shipping and logistics (we do, we love it).


I'd love to see more about that! I'm totally geeking out playing shop. It's all play to me! That's why I like the idea of taking a shot at kitbiz.

I always do, but this is the first time I've done anything requiring regular shipping. I used to specialize in medical databases and hospital net security and writing bills got so boring I started to only end up billing about 50% of my clients at the end!

Anyhow, that's tangentionalating, but something I've found useful while getting prepped to open shop is selling on eBay to fund stocking and studio rental.

It's getting me into the swing of shipping, and helping discipline a schedule and workflow that works best for me.
I'm not selling kits on eBAy but vintage vacuum tubes, vintage computer and video game items, and some components I've gotten huge quantities at stupid prices using the biz name and logo to pre-promote. It works great and I have a following waiting for shop to open!

Anyhow... that's some thoughts about getting into the swing of selling, pricing, getting into a workflow, and getting free advertisement and market exploration.

Still, I'd love to see a discussion about shipping hacks that was stickied or something to see a nice long list of ideas.
Another one on marketing for the "just getting started" level would totally rock too! I love guerrilla marketing techniques - And I think that the kitbiz has alot of potential for some creativity and fun!

- Cheers - Mars - Looks like I rambled on a little again :) It's the way I roll I guess.
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Re: What are we doing wrong?

by cstratton on Sat Oct 15, 2011 12:36 am

Well, one thing is the website design doesn't really seem organized to promote the kit or quite give a sense of what it is.

There are pictures of applications (food) but most of the main page info is electronics. What about something that splits into two sections - one about the primary things you use it for, another about the technology, openness, etc (and maybe a third about other process-control uses)

The primary assembled picture on the main page is a sort of odd 2-d perspective. How about something where you can actually see the box at an angle, maybe in front of (or big "+"-signed to) the coffee urn?

The front panel graphics are kind of odd too. If you don't really have a front panel, you could go for a minimalist product, but do a picture with captions pointing to the control, readout, connections, etc.

You probably want to do something to educate about this type of cooking too... I have a vague sense of it as sealing fish in a bag in a low temperature water bath for a long time.
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Re: What are we doing wrong?

by kevbo on Thu Oct 20, 2011 10:11 am

Looks great to me, I just ordered a kit based on this thread! I am an engineer and use a lot of PID controllers at work. I have never bought one for home use because #1 they are WAY overpriced IMO, and #2, the user interfaces are all designed by asian masochists. Your kit, with included SSR, beats the prices of typical PID stuff by a wide margin, and if the user interface is good, then it is a winner.

I think most of what is wrong is the lack of intersection between electronikers and banned people, and not just any banned people, but serious ones interested in what is still an exotic cooking technique. Such cooks will most likely need to find someone to build this for them, and that is most likely your problem. You could start a forum trying to hook up cooks with geeks to build the things for them.

What you have here is a nice cheapish PID controller. So you could try to sell to more than just sous vide cooks. Here are some things where I have wished for a cheapish PID controller:

Meat smoker. Most of the run too hot , when run cool with a water pan, I think it is very similar to sous vide cooking. I think I could even make this work with a charcoal smoker by using the PID to control a combustion air fan. Charcoal smoke is nice because the Carbon Monoxide gives the meat nice color!

Crock Pot. Due to food safety concerns, modern crock pots cook WAY too hot. Even on low, they totally overcook the food during an 8 hour workday. Dry potroast BLECH!!!

Bullet lube heater.
Truck engine preheater.
ceramics kiln controller.
metal heat treatment furnace control.
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Re: What are we doing wrong?

by qandabe on Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:01 am

Just wanted to follow up and thank everyone so much for the advice. We've been pretty busy since the fall, after moving to the bay area and having classes here, then going to Maker Faire.

I have to say I think the number one improvement that made a difference was fixing up the website. I think it still has a ways to go in terms of presenting the kit, but because it looks more professional now it has a much higher conversion rate. Pictures definitely make the kit easier to grok.

We've also gotten some press from NPR and (and adafruit! Thanks!) that I think turned more people on to this idea.

In December we sold out of our first run of kits, and we're doing a brisk pace on our second run. We thought we would be selling through retailers, but we couldn't get the cost down as much as we needed to make a margin. Maybe the next round we'll have to raise the price a little.

We are looking at expanding our scope to higher temperature devices, but because we have been running on thermistors limited to 100C, it's not an easy conversion.

So thanks again to everyone on this thread, and to ladyada's generous wiki pages!
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Re: What are we doing wrong?

by lyndon on Tue Feb 21, 2012 10:54 am

Congratulations. Are you selling mostly for sous-vide cooking or are people using it for other things?

BTW: should fix this "It has all stainless steal construction "
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