A look at startups from the back. Part 1

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen!

The topic of startups in the last, and not only the last, time is very popular. That startup was successfully sold, this startup received funding, they came up with a worthwhile idea, but here they are already realizing another idea at full speed. And so on and so forth.
It just so happened that by the nature of my activity from time to time I work with startups. In this case, I'm talking about start-ups in which something material is created, something that you can touch with your own hands at the exit (or tamper with someone else's).

How do I work with them?

I am the head of a team of mechanical engineers in one of the largest electronics contract manufacturers in German-speaking countries. We have several factories in different countries. One of the plants is located in China. Here, in the south of China, I work.
The interaction consists in the fact that I either directly put startups into mass production, or independently develop mechanical components, or components are developed under my strict guidance. And sometimes I have to rake what remains of the dead startups.

Below are the details about some startups, to which I related to one degree or another.

I want to make a reservation right away:
1. All products are available or were available, information about them is public and can be found in the public domain;
2. Startup (read the client) is anyone. It’s easier to work with someone; it’s more difficult to work with someone;
3. In any case, regardless of the result, the guys who have gone from an idea to a company and translating their ideas into life are well done!

Interesting? Then go under the cut!

This is the first part of 2, and here the stories of 5 startups will be examined.

Startup 1. Microclimate system
Current status - stirs weakly

Plans were like Napoleon's - to recapture 15 million investments in 2 years, make a lot more from the top, buy everyone a new car and still have ice cream left. Not fused.

Specifically, we made a humidifier for this system. It was required to produce a control board and a number of mechanical parts. The production methods are plastic injection, stamping in progressive dies and stamping in a simple stamp.
The idea of ​​the device, in my opinion, is rather strange. There is a device that automatically maintains a certain level of humidity in the room. It seems like nothing strange right away, but there are such devices on the market, and much cheaper. Perhaps a competitive advantage was considered water filtration and specials. additives to plastic that prevent mold.

With this special. the supplement was a separate saga. The additive is produced in Europe (price of 1 euro per 1 gram, by the way) for import to China must be officially imported. To import, you must provide the chem. composition to regulatory authorities. Manufacturer provide chemical. the composition refused, they say, a trade secret. As a result, we could not import it. It’s clear that it can be imported into Hong Kong through Hong Kong, but we don’t. As a result, I found an alternative from Japan that is worse, but available in China.

Testing showed that the air flow inside the device is not sufficient, as a result, the water condenses where it is not necessary and in total everything does not work.

Some design decisions were controversial enough:
1. An adapter molded from TPU, later replaced by TPV, was used to connect the two plastic cases. Why was it necessary to fence the garden instead of the usual rubber pipe at 5 kopecks per meter and two penny clamps - I still do not understand. Someone apparently messed with the design.
2. The design of the humidification module itself is overcomplicated - in any Chinese humidifier there are 2 times less parts.
3. And all the other little things.

Brief conclusion:
1. The technical solution is not well thought out and complicated in comparison with analogues;
2. Investments have not paid off. At least for now, after 3 years;
3. It seems like the company is still alive, but there are not many signs of life.

Startup 2. Automatic watering of plants
The current status is bent.
There is a sensor that is stuck in a pot with a plant, measures the humidity of the earth and, if it is dry, turns on drip irrigation.
It didn’t take off. There was no demand for this. It is probably easier for US citizens to take a watering can and water a drooping flower. The startup site, by the way, was still alive 4 years after the death of the company, and now the domain is already for sale.
A brief conclusion:
1. The idea is good, but not all;
2. Still, it is necessary to check whether there is demand, and then courageously conquer the market.

Startup 3. Modular lighting system.
Current status is bent.

There is a pendant lamp, a switch on the lamp that switches the light from red to blue and ultraviolet. Lamps can be assembled in blocks of 4 pieces.

It all ended almost where it started. Constant alterations and new ideas. Startup buried himself. The start-up still crawled up to the production of circuit boards, but the path to the production of enclosures was no longer mastered. Ideas hit with a fountain and this fountain of unrealized ideas buried him.

Short conclusion:
1. Do not drag, bring the product to the market!

By the way, everything turned out pretty good for the startup. After the death of the startup, he got a job as Factory Manager, now Head of Operations. We periodically meet and hang out with the children.

Startup 4. Smart home.
Current status is running up.

For their smart home system, I made cases for 3 devices.

The organization of work was brutal tin in its most insane manifestation. If startup 3 bent quickly enough, then the guys from startup 4 gushed and fantasized for a year. Ideas, ideas, ideas. They changed everything except terms, functions, electronics and mechanics. Alterations in non-stop mode. When I finally sent them everything that they asked for (housings for 3 products, a month of work), they went to the bottom. They showed up after 1.5 months on Skype and asked to remake one of the devices in 1 day. At the same time, they laughed loudly at Skype and said that what I did was similar to the design of Siemens from the 80s.

A day after a sober assessment of the workload for other projects and estimating the amount of work on this, I wrote a letter to them in which I said that I can devote them 1.5 hours a day due to absolute congestion. And that was the truth. They panicked.

They tried to sell (through superiors) the option of overtime, with payment, of course, but I told them that I have a child in the hospital and after the end of the working day I go to him.

When 7 days were left before the startup’s presentation in Las Vegas, they still didn’t know what they wanted. Every day they sent me kilometer sheets with detailed descriptions of their ideas and technical solutions. And this is after a year of work on his startup.
Everyone can independently assess the scale of the tragedy.

As a result, we found a person who in 5 days in the most incredible forms satisfied all their most violent and perverted desires, i.e. design and prototypes. For 1500 (one thousand five hundred) dollars per hour.

Extra touch. When the prototypes were in production and before the prototypes were sent, 1 day remained (and another 1 day before the presentation) Neal called us (the guy to whom we fused this madness). He said that they just got a call from startups (they had a deep night at the time) and asked to remake one product, because they just got an idea that needs to be implemented immediately, because the presentation in Las Vegas in 3 days and have to hurry!
These guys, by the way, still collected loot on Kickstarter. On the presentation video, you can even see one of the details that I designed them. Money, of course, is collected, but with this approach I don’t even know how it will end. I very much suspect that since January (when the collection of money has finished) they are still spinning in a crazy dance of change and wild ideas.

A brief conclusion:
1. If development, not development, but constant alterations, then immediately abandon this.

Startup 5. Robotic toy
Current status run up

This startup is worthy of a separate article about what kind of rake you can step on. You can learn a lot.

For the first part, my startups are over.

The next time we will talk about several startups of varying degrees of success. There will be good stories, honestly, honestly.
If you have any questions or would like to know something additional next time, then write in the comments.

PS In startup No. 4, the figure was $ 1,500 per hour. Everyone can relax, because Hong Kong dollars.

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