Week 2: MVP & more thoughts on funding

I had a lovely chat with Roberto Bonanzinga yesterday morning who talked to me about being able to prove that there is a market for the lamps. This led me straight back to thoughts about MVP (Minimum Viable Product). If I didn’t manage to find funding, how could I still manage to sell the product? I’ve been thinking about DIY Arduino kits, but it would make a niche product even more niche. Buying something that requires soldering is already a barrier to entry even for the most enthusiastic geeks. A lot can go wrong quickly and explaining to someone how to solder things properly is an activity best done face to face as I learnt from the years of watching Nick, John and others run our Arduino workshops. I have been thinking about a very very basic version that would be a sort of Arduino-already-in-a-box prototype and will try to make some designs this week and get a functional prototype that I can get rapid prototyped and put together easily.

I had a nice meeting last week with Christopher Pett from Makers talking about industrial processes. I have also been in touch with CES in Las Vegas for their show next year…the costs are a bit scary (£4.5K for a 10 square feet booth) but the exposure to the American market would be priceless. I’m also thinking about the New York Gift Fair in August, a part of which is called A+ which showcases new design products and prototypes. The deadline for the main show is in 2 days but for this competition it’s June 15th which should really be enough time.

Yesterday, I learnt that InnoTech Summit (an entrepreneur event in London in mid-April) is running a competition for start-ups so I’ve submitted the GNL …the only local start-up in the top 5! This might give me the chance to maybe be selected and given business advice and present to potential investors…good practice. If you get a chance, please vote for it!

I also gave a talk last week at the London IA community meetup hosted at the lovely SenseLoft. As I’ve been working through ideas and emailing VCs about the product, I’ve realised how different this must be from a web startup for them. It’s much harder to bootstrap this sort of product / digital based business without ultimately compromising the idea or service I think.  The idea of being always in beta is much more expensive unless you play the game like Apple does and release a new product every 3-4 months. This just means I’ll have to be smart about growing the product. A nice challenge.