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Indiegogo

stevetam

(Steve Tam. Image from: http://100ac.re/steve-tam/)

Questions:

  • How do you ensure that the campaigns on Indiegogo are legitimate and not a scam project to get money?
  • Does Indiegogo connect individuals for specific projects or do teams apply together?
  • Is Indiegogo a good company to start kickstarter campaigns? A group of us have various projects and ideas in mind like building iOS apps or cross platforming applications, and are in need of some funding to progress the research. Would Indiegogo support projects like that? Would Indiegogo help with the campaigning

 

Summary:

A speaker from Indiegogo, named Steve Tam, came to speak with our class about crowd funding. He was sharing experiences and tips as to what and what not to do when one starts a crowd funding campaign. He expressed six essential steps: 1) Don’t define the audience to the board room, 2) Forget the focus group, 3) Create exclusivities such as memberships, 4) Finding your niche and not worrying if people understand the concept or not, 5) Create the sense of urgency, and 6) Dethrone the gate keeper. He explained that ideas couldn’t grow when it is set in stone for a specific audience. When starting a crowd-funding project, it is important to expect the unexpected, meaning that audiences outside the target range may be interested in the project. Creating membership deals can make people feel the need to join to be part of a certain community, which can tie into the sense of urgency, where people are given a “limited edition” version of the product and have a set time to buy the product. Opening up to communities or trying to make people understand the product, however, can alter the original idea. It is essential for crowd funding projects to create something that fits the creators’ original thoughts. Lastly, dethroning the gate keeper refers to having the ability to say no to businesses, banks, lawyers, etc. when they make suggestions or statements about the project. It is possible for them to be wrong, and it would take some stepping up to prove “the gate keepers” of their mistake.

 

Personal Response and Reflections:

In Steve Tam’s presentation on how to make a successful crowd-funding business, I thought of possible flaws that may contradict to his statements. Although I agree with majority of his methods, I disagree with his comment about ignoring if people understand the product or not. Assuming majority of the audience does not understand the point or usage of an item/product, the item would not sell. It would be a more effective method by creating an idea that is within the creator’s thoughts, as well as making it clear and understandable to the public. With clear communication of what the product is intended to be, the creator may get more support from the community. Steve Tam also specified special procedures in order to start a crowd-funding campaign. In order to start an Indiegogo kick-starter, one can just apply an idea, write a proposal and business plan, and submit it. However, Steve Tam stated that anything related to health couldn’t be funded through Indiegogo. Many applications and projects are based around health, to either better daily lives or help keep track of needed values. If it is not because of a legal issue, I would like to see more health applications be publicized, as it would help the world a little more.

Hot Pop Factory

founders of HotPop

(Image of Bi-Ying and Matt. Image from: http://www.makerbot.com/blog/2012/07/30/why-these-architects-love-their-makerbot/)

Questions:

  • Hot Pop Factory does a lot of 3D printing for jewelry, figurines, etc. Does Hot Pop Factory 3D print things that are potentially for technology? i.e.: cases for working components
  • What is the future of 3D printing? Is it something that would open to artists and non-artists?
  • A lot of places charge an expensive fee for 3D printing. Pretty sure printing materials costs a bit. What is the production for the models like?
  • Bonus Question: I got the impression that Hot Pop is similar to those who are within the Maker’s Economy. The maker’s economy makes creations by themselves, and sells the productions online or elsewhere. However, Bi-Ying was talking about the production using robotic arms. How would the robotic arms play into the idea of Maker’s Economy? Would it typically become another small factory, or would it become a hybrid of both?

 

Summary:

When the class arrived to Hot Pop Factory, we were greeted by Bi-Ying, one of the co-founders of Hot Pop Factory. She started by presenting to us how the company started, and what their business essentially provides. Hot Pop factory is a customize production company that specifically uses 3D printers and laser cutters. They were established when they tried to use 3D programs such as Rhino to build architecture that cannot be found in daily society. They tried to create buildings that replace walls with fabric, and get eccentric shapes to form on the building. The idea was shot down by their professor, but they continued to pursue the idea, which eventually lead them to help produce a building in Ottawa that plays on that concept. The whole idea behind Hot Pop factory is to use machinery in modern day society such as 3D printing and laser cutting to create customization and art that would be opened to anyone with the interest.

 

Personal Response and Reflections:

Upon going to Hot Pop Factory, I went in with the mindset that the small company is the start of promotion for technologies such as 3D printing and laser cutting. I also saw them as a part of the makers’ economy, which creates art and products of their own, and sell them in the market. However, Bi-Ying expressed the idea of using the technology to create the art, and the benefits to creating a robotic arm to assemble the piece created together. In using robotic arms to assemble the art together, human labour would be manipulated. Thinking upon this idea, I do not believe that robotic arms would be a good idea because assuming that not only Hot Pop Factory uses the technology, a lot of labour intensive jobs would be cut. In a monetized world such as ours, with jobs like these being cut, and technology replacing people, the economy may crumble due to lack of income. It also makes the business into a small production factory because the robotic arm would also speed up process, making it easier to mass-produce products. Assuming that the business does not use the robotic arm to mass-produce, it is possible for the company to be a hybrid of both a factory and the makers’ group. It would be intriguing to see how Hot Pop Factory would further grow if the technology of the robotic arm is build for them.

3D PEZ dispensers

(3D PEZ dispensers. Image from: http://blog.gessato.com/2013/02/03/personalized-pez-ead-dispensers-by-hot-pop-factory/)

Week 4: Sales

After the sales that executed at OCADU’s lobby, I learned a few things about sales. First off, it is very hard to break even with the amounts spent to produce the products. It took about a quarter of the cookies being sold to break even with the production costs. Without some sort of attraction, people simply walks past the tables or stares at what we are selling from a distance. Also, it was even more challenging to make sales because there was another table selling more varieties of baked goods right next to our table. They lowered their prices when we set our table up, which helped them gain more customers. The other bake sale my group faced was one competition that we did not account for, which possibly also lowered our number of customers. Overall, it was difficult to sell our products.

We sold our products successfully to people who saw our posts on Facebook and became interested in the cookies. Another method was Afonso selling cookies to his friends who stopped by the booth while we were selling. That worked because they were people he knew and wanted to support our trip. To do a better job next time, I would consider packaging the cookies nicely in little bags. I would also darken the icing colour to make the colours more vibrant and attractive. Our group definitely needed more advertising as well as the consideration of going to people and asking if they would like to buy cookies, rather than waiting for people to come to us. One factor that would help would be to not sell cookies when another bake sale is happening because with our tables side to side, customers assumed we were fundraising for the same reason.

A company with a successful strategy in the Maker’s Economy would be Erin Baker’s Wholesome Baked Goods. Erin Baker, the founder of this company, started the business by baking cookies herself. This maker’s economy is both interesting and successful because it is leaning towards something that most major food businesses do not tend for, which is healthy eating and lifestyle. Erin Baker spent her time creating the healthiest breakfast cookie for Americans who are too busy to eat breakfast. Her strategy targets most people in today’s working society, aside from the fact that all of the products are freshly baked by herself.

Week 3: Writing and Reviewing Business Plans

In this week’s second half of the Atelier classes, the class reviewed some key points to writing and reviewing business plans. I learned that a lot of considered when writing business plans. One must sound not only professional, and get straight to the point, but one must also sound as if the proposed business is prepared and has thought out all of the benefits and risks it must take. It is also important to research any needed information to understand the industry, the competition, as well as the companies’ expenses.

The feedback from my peer evaluator helped me catch my grammar mistakes, which will enhance the language being used in the proposal. She also made suggestions as to what I should add in my proposal to build on the information provided, and also provided what to remove as it sounded redundant or is irrelevant. Not only did peer evaluation build on grammar and the information, but also it managed to catch any disconnects between statements. For these reasons, receiving feedback helped improve my report significantly.

Since I was peer evaluating a team member, I noticed there were some information that I have missed in the report, while she got. On another note, her report was a lot more condensed than mine. These were the primary factors that will help me improve on my own report because the length of my report could potentially mean I have repeating facts or that it has redundant information. Meanwhile, by condensing my report, I would have more space to add in any extra information I have missed.

An example of a successful business in the Maker’s Economy would be objects that are sold on Etsy. For example, a lot of DIY pendants are advertised on sites like Facebook, Instagram, DeviantArt, etc. and are sold on Etsy to make a profit. I mentioned a very successful one in my first blog post, called KeyspersCove. They are successful because they have a good advertisement strategy, and have gained over thousands of followers. It is hard to buy products from them because they sell out too fast for certain designs. For this reason, investors would be convinced for their business because one of their weaknesses becomes a strength. They are making quite a bit of money off of their business, and continue to grow each day. There are other pendant-making businesses out there with similar selling strategies, but with lesser marketing. The success of a business seems to highly depend on its business plan and it’s marketing strategies.

Week 3: User Testing

In this week’s Atelier, the class looked into different types of data research. Two common types of primary research are by surveying people and by observation. Surveying people requires an online or physical form that contains questions relevant to one’s business/service and is distributed amongst the masses. For example, OCAD would always like to receive feedback about their services in order to improve it. At the end of each semester, they send out a survey to all of the students, where students were asked to send back their honest reviews. Observation, on the other hand, allows people from the company to focus directly on the audience to see their initial reactions and opinions of the product or service. Many game designers have game testing positions where they watch the tester play their video game. They are able to ask questions along the way about the game, spot the strengths and weaknesses of the games, and spot any initial reactions the tester has while playing. In the development of technological interfaces, user testing is important because users are able to catch the minor bugs and errors of the technology that some builders cannot. It is mainly for debugging purposes, as well as to make any upgrades to the system that would best fit the user.

Comparing the results of our survey to what Loretta mentioned to us, the results were completely similar. The critical feedback we got was to show how decorating the cookie with the spinner is different from the actual effect we could get from generally using the icing pump. To make the cookies more interesting, the design of the cookies has to implicate that it only works well with a spinner. It is harder to figure out how different people reacted in the results of the surveys, as well as harder to gain insight of the particular reason as to why people said what they did, or to ask for more clarification. We were able to question Loretta one-on-one to further understand how to make our product better. It was a much more effective method to get someone to comment about the product in person.

The Spin Cookies have a lot of flaws, much less to the design of the product though. We generally know that our contraption had to look cleaner and professional, but it also plays against our idea of bringing self-made technology into the general and culinary arts. Most of our flaws were more technical, where the icing was too thick or the cookie was too brittle, or crumbles easily. These are factors we can consider when we bake our cookies, and create the icing. As for the contraption that spins the cookie, we will build a clean base for it so that it will work better. All of these improvements are feasible and it would not cost us anymore than the materials we already have. Since the user does not have to try the cookie spinner itself, there wasn’t anything strange that the user did that was out of the ordinary. However, we assumed that the users would look at the art before eating the cookie, but most people ended up eating the cookie without looking at what is on it. We are hoping that it is the art that attracts the audience to buy the cookie, despite the fact people are attracted to cookies to begin with.

An example of bad UI/UX interfaces is some websites found online (a service that promotes products/ businesses). For example, some websites have large menu icons where the user would spend a lot of time scrolling through the page in order to find an item they would like to look at. Assembledge+(http://www.assembledge.com/portfolio/) is an architecture service that requires this because it is to show the differences between each project through images. Other sites tend to have it just for aesthetic purposes, but did not consider the UI/UX of the site. Reddit uses a linear menu pattern where their options go off-screen. This takes more effort for users to find out the genre they want to view. Some other sites have ads that play videos and sounds. This is bad UI and UX because users generally don’t want to hear the ad when they click into a site. It is not their purpose to look at the ads. The ads act as a distraction or disruption instead of getting the user’s attention properly. For sites that promote businesses/products, the design heavily affects the success of the market rate because the design of the site tells a user how professional the business is. It also helps users to have a good UI to prove that the plans were well thought of.

Week 2: Business and Business Planning

When organizations start a business, many first start drafting business plans to help achieve their goals. A business plan is a formal document that displays the business goals, the means to achieve these goals, the difficulty and risks, and any planning in order to start the business. Depending on the type of industry, each business plan is different. For example, the business plan for Swifters duster towels would differ from the business plan for a new smartphone because dusting products are essential to every home. They are products that people would buy every now and then, and is also a lot cheaper to get than a smartphone. With smartphones, the product is a much long lasting item that has many more features to consider, making the business plan for smartphones much more complex.

The advantages to compiling business plans are that it organizes the business leader’s thoughts and ideas. It gives a clear outline as to what the project should be and what are some of the things to consider when planning for that specific business. It also could provide all the possible information needed, as well as research, to investors, sponsors, banks, etc. to show a clear idea of the business. If in the future more employees were to pick up on the business, they would have a clear idea as well, since everything would be laid out for them and it shows them that this particular business has done their homework, which makes the business look professional. In terms of research, businesses would have richer ideas about the possible trends, environment, and competition when they write out business plans. This allows them to update and review these trends as their project goes on.

Although many business plans are advantages, some business plans tend to fail because they copy exemplars from Google, or other sources when the example could be for an entirely different industry. Business plans then fail because of the lack of sufficient information. Some business owners also avoid taking risks or believe that there are ways around risks, ignore flaws and problems, put irrelevant information in the plan, etc., which are fatal flaws to business and business planning. Other times, business owners may make too many high risks and gain minimal profit in return. These types of flaws makes business plans insufficient to start or continue a business because it creates too many uncertainties to the business itself.

In reading Sahlman’s and Pirouz’s articles, these articles helped me determine not only what good business plans should have, and some things to avoid when writing. Although both articles were dated back to 1997 and 1998, some of the factors mentioned within the articles, such as the failures of business planning, were facts to be considered even today. It gives me a general idea what to include in my final report if I were to create a business plan for it.

An example of a successful indie game would be Minecraft. Minecraft is one of the most popular games that have been launched for the Xbox, computer, mobile systems, etc., and are played by over 20 million people. A possible reason as to why Minecraft became so successful is because they have a very good platform. The player is allowed to move around freely and have his or her own independent choices as to what to do in every “day and night” cycle in the game. The player is able to explore the world on his or her own, build structures, mine, and fight monsters in the game, which targets to audiences who are interested in adventure and action genres. Aside from the good gameplay and platform, the game is successful because it probably had a very good business plan behind it. They probably planned out how long it would take to build the game and how much labour will be put into it in order to create Minecraft. The business also took excessive amount of time perfecting and balancing the game, in order to make it playable.

Week 2 Post: Business Structures and Business Functions

The first industrial revolution happened in 1760 when mechanized machines were invented in order to increase the efficiency of production. An example of a mechanized machine would be cotton mills. Later in 1850 (2nd Industrial Revolution), machines started evolving, as people started to focus more on mass production. After Benjamin Franklin’s discovery of electricity some time in the 1700s, people in the 1800s started creating steam engines and production lines to further increase the efficiency of production. In the present (3rd industrial revolution), we are developed around the web culture. Materials have become easier to access than it was in the first and second industrial revolution with people selling merchandise online, making it easier for people to get materials for their own DIY projects as well. As for technological changes, people are inventing more complex machines to create efficient and unique items such as a 3D printer, or a laser-cutting machine.

It has become important for businesses to understand the history of business in the maker economy because not only can they avoid similar business mistakes, they are also able to follow the trend of each revolution and understand how to improve products that are being created. For people who are trying to fundraise or create a business like us, the history of business in the maker’s economy greatly helps us with a better judgement of budgeting, pricing strategies, marketing techniques, etc.

In many cases, it is also important to have a solid financial breakdown of business activities because having a record would allow businesses to reflect on what they have done in order to build the business. People are also able to manage the expenses coming in and out of the business, as well as fix any expenditure in future cases if the previous project cost too much to build. Thus it is a wise idea to keep a good costing analysis and good financial records in order to keep track of the budgeting for the business.

In business, the 4P’s are four important aspects to consider. It stands for product, price, place, and promotion. It is important to consider all of these factors because based on the product one is trying to sell, the business needs to target the correct location and advertise an appropriate promotion in order to gain the most customers. Depending on the “want” value of the product, as well as it’s production cost, the price can be confirmed with two or three times it’s production value. Considering all of these values, as well as using a vast range of marketing communication techniques are crucial to having a successful business, as it helps businesses with planning the production strategically, market to the right audience, budget costs, and gain better experiences in business for future opportunities.

An example of an organization that has an interesting and effective marketing/sales strategy is Doritos because rather than coming up with their own advertisement, as well as putting forward money to create these ads, they made a contest that lets their fans create their own commercials. This allowed the company to get many interesting commercials that not only saved them some budgeting from hiring people, they get a unique commercial to advertise their product. This technique is effective as it allows them to gain very diverse advertisements. The Doritos Create Your Own ad campaign’s fan ads were shown at the SuperBowl, where over 100 million people were watching, making them to expand their target audience all over the world to those who enjoys watching the game. With a large target audience, and budgeting from the ads created by fans, this ad campaign may be one of the largest effective marketing and sales strategy created.

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