It's important to make this distinction of where the product sits amongst alternatives because it helps to define the intended target market. They are most likely to be young professionals with some manual capabilities that value unique products and derive pleasure from building/constructing things.
Q. What has your journey been so far?
My entrepreneurial journey started seriously when I moved to Auckland from Australia and was looking to furnish my rental. I was really surprised by the lack of an active second-hand furniture market (there is quite a healthy one in Melbourne).
It was really going to cost a lot of money to buy something that was both portable and good-looking. I felt that I could do better and build something of quality and worth lugging around.
I have been exposed to advanced manufacturing techniques at a commercial level professionally through my work as a civil engineer, and I have been a member of many hacker/maker spaces around the place - HSBNE in Brisbane and most importantly in the Santiago Makerspace in Chile.
I was in Chile for a sabbatical year and had the opportunity to join the Santiago Makerspace and do some exploratory learning. I did some courses in Parametric Design with a Mexican architecture collective called Chido Studio. They use parametric design processes with software like Rhino and Grasshopper to produce incredibly striking and complex forms.
I also gained some exposure to 3D printing and laser cutting which were important tools in the makerspace. This opened up the world of digital manufacturing to which I am still very much a beginner.
More recently I have been inspired by my sister who is a more serious furniture designer currently working for Freedom furniture. We have had some discussions about projects she was working on and it got me thinking about furniture and the interior environment as an interesting place to try and problem-solve.
Q. What made you start the CO.STARTERS programme for your idea?
In Auckland I had been going to the odd Android conference at GridAKL. I mucked up the date one day and accidentally gate-crashed an event from Mum's Garage. Natalie trapped me in her pipeline tractor beam and I was signed up for a course she was running at the time by the end of it.
At this particular course I had to define and communicate my business idea, which helped consolidate some of my thoughts and made me really claim the idea as my own. This helped it to become a reality in my head.
6 months or so went by where I was really busy at work but hadn't developed the idea at all. I got an email out of the blue from Natalie (I must have fallen into another list) and she told me about the program. I signed up straight away. CO.STARTERS has really helped me because it has helped me maintain focus and keep working towards the goal even though the time and energy I have for my business idea is scarce.
Q. What are your next steps, and goals for the future?
I want to make some serious sales to really start to refine the product and test the market robustly. The next operational stage is to get a CNC machine. I am flying to Brisbane in late April to inspect a machine to import to New Zealand. This will allow me to drop my unit cost and do more experimentation. I want to setup a proper working space and start to do some events at markets to speak to more customers and make some sales. I am hoping to add more items in the $50-$100 dollar space that people will buy on impulse. Future goals would be to set up workshops in other cities, i.e Wellington and East Coast Australia. I'd also like to make the products customisable from your browser.
Q. How can we help you?
If someone wants something in particular, please hit me up. Also, i'll be looking for more designers to partner with, and i'll need to find a developer in the future to help me set up true customisable options for the customer.