A few years ago I thought I would make my millions opening a restaurant. A friend who had opened several of them explained the idea of operating lean to make money. The start up capital required is significant, he said. Upfront costs include building out the store, purchasing furniture and a starting food inventory, and hiring and training staff. All of this investment prepares your new business for opening day. But, after that, success requires time and energy making the books balance. Trimming the fat, my friend calls it. Control your food costs. Efficiently schedule staff. Maintain your equipment. And, when times get tough, really look to see where you can save a dime or two. It gets as detailed as choosing the cheapest forks and switching to the cheapest ketchup packets. Every cent you save moves you closer to your goal of a profitable business.
Working with the design process for Wedgy reminded me of that advice. I had thought that Mako designers would whip up a design, have it made in the factory, and we would be ready to sell in a matter of weeks. Instead, what occurred was a much slower process. The prototype was made in China and took several month to get to the US. And, as you can see on Episode 7, we didn’t get to give critical design feedback until we saw the actual prototype at Mako. Our first impression? Too big and bulky and too expensive to make.
The solution that helped with both the bulkiness and the expense was to eliminate pads. As we played with the prototype our suspicions were confirmed. There were panel pads that we didn’t need. No matter how it was positioned, the short panel and back panel were never used. There was no reason to pay for those panels. So, we worked with Mako to come up with a new design that “trimmed the fat.” As you can see in these pictures, we can keep the frame for support for the short side and back and omit the panels. Not only is this cheaper and less bulky, it actually looks better and will be easier to use.
Kevin Mako agreed to do the CAD redesign to set us up for our next prototype. We love the new look and think this moves us one step closer to a desirable product. But, we still have hurdles to overcome. Where and when will we get a second prototype funded? How long will it take to get our hands on it and will it be production ready or need even further refinements? Will the next design be within our price range so we can offer it on QVC and at Ace Hardware? Or, will we need to go through another round of revision: How do we trim the fat from Prototype #2?