EntreCity Team Blog

Week 7 – Business Breakdown: MakerBot 3D Printers

I read about MakerBot in 2010 and I was very fascinated, because 3D printers were really expensive. Why the interest in 3D printing? Well, I have many ideas in my head and a lot of them require some kind of fabrication for some new parts. So either you get access to a 3D printing machine (which are expensive, around $100,000++) or you find a fabricator (better for me, cause I can’t draw to save my life).

Why Schuyler Loves his 3D Printer?

With MakerBot, it becomes much easier to do bring the things in my head to life. The machines start from US$750 to around US$1799, which makes it decently affordable to run them at home. Of course you should be able to draw and use CAD Software (Computer Aided Design), to be an expert. But the makers of Makerbot have started an online community called Thingiverse, which is a crowdsources website of contributors and freelancers, who will put up CAD design files of the products they have designed. All you have to do is download and print. If you are looking for someone to help you make the design files, you can hire a freelancer or pick it up yourself.

Below is a link to a contributor who printed a quadcopter(helicopter) on his printer, and then attached some electric components to make it fly.

Building a QuadCopter through 3D printing

Why I like this?
The whole idea is to make it easier to experiment and create. By bringing the printers to your home, you have the access to  higher end technology, so there are no excuses to TRY. You may be making something on the small scale or prototyping for now, but if you do come up with something viable, you can then get a proper manufacturer to make it.

Our society needs to innovate more. You can only innovate if you experiment more. Products like this give you the opportunity to do just that.

The Makerbot would be good for you because;

–       You are not looking to mass produce (at least not initially) or you are looking to make prototypes
–       You are looking to make smaller scaled plastic products
–       You can experiment and fabricate things, turning something from my imagination into something tangible
–       It’s Low Cost
–       You can Share and print for others
–       It Encourages creativity and innovation
–       It teaches me more about engineering and manufacturing on a smaller scale

How to build a business around it?
– Sell MakerBots in the region, sell them to schools(Distributorship and training)
– Make designs and sell them online for others to print.(Jewellery, small plastic toys, replacement for broken plastic parts, prototypes)
– Make designs for people
– Print for people (buy a couple of machines and charge people to print)
– Design and build your own products in smaller quantities. Car models, house models etc…
– Jewellery
– Use it to make cakes(mmmmm)Chocolate (with their frosting attachment)

There are a lot of uses that can come out of having such equipment easily accessible to people, I am sure there are many more things that you can do with it. So do drop us a comment here, on our Facebook page. Bring in those great ideas on what else you would do with the MakerBot 3D Printer.

MakerBot in Schools
On a final thought, Imagine how different you would view subjects in school, if you had the ability to take things from your imagination and turn them into something tangible? Would you enjoy your subjects better if you could see them applied in something real?

Check out the video below.

 

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[toggle title=”Week 6 – DollarShaveClub.com”]

I came across this advertisement on Wednesday night. It was for Dollarshaveclub.com, and it was hilarious. After watching it and looking up the company, I started to realize that the company has some potential. You can watch their advert on their website (http://www.dollarshaveclub.com/), It cost around $4,500 to make and with over 1.6 million views it has gone viral in 3 days, giving them over 5000 orders. WARNING: VIDEO CONTAINS SOME COLOURFUL LANGUAGE

What I like about the advertisement?

  • Funny
  • Honest, straightforward and genuine
  • Message hits the spot
  • All it took was a bit of creativity to make
  • Looked decent, yet cheap enough for me to make such a video

Why the Video went Viral?

  • The message hit the spot: Clearly they understood the needs of the customer and targeted their message to them directly.
  • People love a David vs Goliath story (small guy takes on the big guy). Dollar Shave Club brought up a point that big companies are spending excessively and passing the costs to the customers (bigger company=bigger overheads=cost passed on to customer). So in essence you are paying 5 times more for a $1 blade to cover the big boys overheads.
  • The video was made to seem that the common man ran the company and it was for the common man.

What about the Business?

This is not a regular model for the razor business. Normally you would purchase them at supermarkets, pharmacy or general stores. As you would not change the type or brand of blades you use often, they automated the process, such that you get your blades delivered to your doorstep monthly, taking the hassle out of forgetting to buy them.

Compared to the big named brands the pricing here is pretty low, $1 a month for 5 razors is really cheap. Now lets assume their quality is good then how come they are so cheap? One reason could be better sourcing, and the other is low overhead cost. It cost $4,500 for them to make the advertisement, it got viral immediately and there are over 1.6million views at the moment of this writing. They are also removing the middleman and sourcing their razors directly from manufacturers in China and Korea. It is nice, because the cost savings is passed on to the consumer, compared to the big brands.

Now that is disruption at its finest.

For the customer

The company sell subscriptions for razors, delivered monthly to your doorstep, so there is no need to go and make a purchase. They are targeting people who would like to change their razors often to have better shaves, instead of using the same blade for months on end.

I personally do not have use for the product, but I like the business model. A subscription based business model to automate a certain task for people. All they need is to make sure that their product is of good quality and they have a great business.

The reason for it being picked up by so many startup blogs, is that the advertisement clearly showed the company’s understanding of their customers needs, the market and their competitors. The video above proves that it does not take much to have a great advertising campaign. You do not need a budget in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. All you need is to understand your market better, know the problems their facing and how you can make their lives better. Once you understand your customers and market (including suppliers and competitors) thoroughly, you will be able to better word your advertisements and marketing, hitting the target audiences on the spot and grabbing their attention. This video has proven that you do not need a massive budget to disrupt an industry. It’s time you got started too. Have a great weekend. Gurpal Singh EntreCity Team

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[toggle title=”Week 5 – Know What You Are Getting Into”]

Starting a business and running it is very hard work. There is a lot to understand, a lot to research and things to prepare for. If you think the business will run by itself and do well, then you are very wrong. Contrary to what it may seem, big and successful entrepreneurs are very involved in their businesses, even when they are big successes. The difference is that an entrepreneur will be involved in the company, and an investor will take a back seat. You need to understand and decide which one you are.

A lot of work goes into starting and growing a business, you need to know what you are getting into, and what you are running. You have to be there while the company is starting and when the company is growing, then only you can make it big.

I was asked in an interview once, are you a ‘Big Picture Guy or a Detailed Oriented Person’, I said I am both, as when starting a new project I need to refine the details and finer points, at the same time I need to work on the bigger picture to make the vision succeed.

When I was running a t-shirt design business a few years ago, there were many aspects that I needed to look at such as the website, marketing, tshirt design, shipping, manufacturing, sales, growing the company. Some of these tasks were delegated and outsourced later on, but initially I had to be there to understand what the work entailed. Only then was I able to tell the rest of the team what I wanted. I could only share my vision and manage, when I knew what I wanted and understood the business better.

This week we looked into:

Tuesday: Are Entrepreneurs Born or Bred? How do you build the entrepreneurial characteristics in yourself? How do you change your mindset to think differently?

Wednesday: We understood that having a flexible plan will give you room to make decisions better. Especially in the beginning of the business, where there are many obstacles that may have you take different routes.

Thursday: We learnt that understanding the business domain and focusing on the customers/humans really matters in designing a product. The benefiting customer(one who pays) will always be human, and you should look into catering to their needs.

As I mentioned earlier, it is a must to understand that when working on a new idea or startup business, you will have to put in a lot of hard work and effort. As an entrepreneur you need to be prepared(to work hard) and be happy to go on that journey.

Have a great weekend.

Gurpal
EntreCity Team

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[toggle title=”Week 4 – Reflecting The Week”]

I returned to Temasek Polytechnic yesterday to look at the final year projects of the students from the Business Information Technology Course. 9 years ago, I was one of those students. It was great to see young and fresh faces, eager to show their projects and it was nice to see that they had a vision of where they could take their projects.

It was the support of the lecturers and the people around me that got me through some of the tougher times in my past businesses. Even though you have to be strong internally to take on the entrepreneurial journey, the people around you can make a difference, especially if they are supportive in what you do.

This week we looked at:

Tuesday – Team Entrepreneurship
We saw the importance of the need to build a right team for your business. There is a need to have a good mix of visionaries to lead and plan the business, and executors to get all the work going, to keep the business running and growing.

Working partnerships are like marriages, you have to stick with each other through thick and thin, braving all the storms together. There is a need to complement each others skills and to compromise with each other to reach your goals.

In a startup, there will be a lack of funds and resources, so everyone will have to chip in, in any way they can. People will have to wear multiple hats and take on more than they signed up for. So if you do hire people, make sure they understand the needs of the company and are willing to take on that additional responsibility.

Read the article here

Wednesday – What is Calculated Risk?
Entrepreneurs are risk takers, but they do not take risks blindly. They work to cut down as much risk as possible. By starting small and taking smaller risks, you can afford to build your business up with less risk.

A business is risky when you know less about it. Study the business better, look at it from all diffferent angles, the more knowledge you have, the better the chances of you clearing any obstacles along the way.

Read the Article Here

Thursday – Creativity vs Innovation
People do not celebrate ideas, they celebrate innovations. Everybody has great and creative ideas, but not everyone does the work to materialize them into great innovations.

Innovation is about taking a creative idea and materializing it into an actual product or service for the real users. It is about solving problems and making peoples’ lives better.

You do not have to start from scratch, you could take an existing idea and tweak it to make it something better.

Read the Article here

Surround yourself with people who will be there for you, who you can talk to openly about your problems and those who will be absolutely and bluntly truthful to you. Honest feedback and critique will help you build a better business and it will make you a better entrepreneur.

Have a great weekend.

Gurpal
EntreCity

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[toggle title=”Week 3 – A Look Into Failure and Risk”]

We did a project last year on ‘Management and Mitigation of risk’ and as we studied different areas, my group decided to focus on Entrepreneurship, where taking risks has to be second nature.  We started by looking at a few entrepreneurs who failed and analyzing their failure. As we dug deeper, we realized that many entrepreneurs fail because they do not understand how to mitigate their risks. We felt that we could increase the chances of success by exploring some of these risks and helping to mitigate them using effective risk management strategies.

The word risk would turn many people away as it involves taking the route less travelled which could result in failure. As a new entrepreneur, I am also afraid to fail. I would like to make my project succeed but as failure is a part of life, I have learnt to accept it and work with it. Moreover, we can also draw valuable insights and lessons from failure which should not be frowned upon. The team understands that taking on the EntreCity project would be challenging and it may not guarantee success, but we feel that it will add value to society.

As such, we have chosen to bootstrap the whole process. We want to mitigate as much risk as we possibly can. For instance, instead of putting down thousands of dollars initially, our web portal was built in house for around $300. We decided that once the portal takes off and a bigger community has been established, we would invest in more infrastructure and design. Our area of focus will be to produce quality content and build a strong community.  Until then we will continue to build and test our systems, while scaling it up slowly, as and when required.

This week we began by looking at risk and failure and how changing our perspective will enable us to understand that failure is not the end. If we plan ahead and anticipate the possibility of failure, we can prevent being crippled by it.

On Wednesday, we saw that execution plays a big role in transforming an idea into a business. By looking at more factors in detail, we can execute more successful businesses.

On Thursday, we explored the area of funding, understanding that venture capital is not the only avenue for funding and it may not even be the right route for some companies. On the other hand, entrepreneurs also have to learn to appreciate the funding they receive. They should be responsible and not take advantage of what was given to them.

As this is my first attempt at being an entrepreneur, I must admit it is a bit intimidating. The good thing is that from the onset we took the time to brainstorm all the important considerations and anticipate the possible shortcomings which we have set off to address. The journey may not be smooth, but being prepared will help along the way.

Rashvin
EntreCity

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[toggle title=”Week2 – This Weeks Recap”]

Week 2 – This Weeks Recap

Looking back at this week, we started going deeper into building ourselves as entrepreneurs.

On Tuesday, we looked into the 10 Traits of an Entrepreneur. Studying the characters and the inner workings of entrepreneurs. We got insights into how entrepreneurs work and we also started to discuss how to build these traits further in the EntreCity Classroom.

On Wednesday, we began to look at how businesses are made from ideas. We have come to realize that there are many factors and angles to look at things. We now can see that to start building a business, we need to look at many different angles and we need to ask many questions.

On Thursday, we were taught that an idea alone does not make a business execution plays a very important part. Taking an idea and making it work is not easy, it does take quite a bit of effort to become an entrepreneur. But with the right team and mindset, you can turn a simple idea into something very successful.

Our conversation on Building Entrepreneurial Traits is still open in the EntreCity Classroom (Instructions to Sign Up Here).

Do join us in the EntreCity classroom and follow us for future updates.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/entrecity
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/entrecity

Have a great weekend!

Regards
The EntreCity Team

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[toggle title=”Week 1 – Let’s Get Started”]

So it’s the end of the first week. We have just begun with the lectures and classroom activities. As you can see, the aim of the platform is to help entrepreneurs grow the right mindset, gain the relevant knowledge and to get access to the right tools to build their ventures. We hope to share and grow as much knowledge as possible, so as to help entrepreneurs succeed.

On a weekly basis, we will have lectures and activities. We intend to share our knowledge with our readers through the lectures, whilst the activities should equip you with some experience in starting and running a business.

Our lectures are split into 5 main sections:
Monday: Mentor’s Thoughts – Our mentors will be blogging about the week’s lectures and other related topics. The intent would be to share their personal thoughts and insights about the topics. This will bring another perspective to the curriculum. With personal insights and experiences, our readers will be able to understand and apply the lessons better.

Tuesday: The Art of Entrepreneurship – These lectures are aimed at building entrepreneurial mindsets and creative thinking. We want you to start thinking and working differently.

Wednesday: The Science of Entrepreneurship – These lectures will cover the technical aspects of entrepreneurship. Like starting a business, cash flow, planning and strategizing. The aim of this section is to equip you with the basic skills of starting and running a business.

Thursday: Useful Lessons – This section will contain useful lessons, we picked up along the way. We will be sharing our experiences with you. Showing you the trials and tribulations involved in an entrepreneurial journey. We aim to share as much as we can, in order to help as many entrepreneurs as possible.

Friday: Team’s Thoughts – We have left Friday to share our thoughts and to update you with any new developments. We will also introduce certain activities here to help encourage further learning.

How does it work?
Our LECTURES will be placed on Entrecity.com, while ASSIGNMENTS and DISCUSSIONS will be on Coursekit.com (Sign Up Here with Course Code [PS23RP])

The classroom is there to encourage discussion and collaboration. All activities and assignments will be located in our Coursekit classroom. We encourage collaboration and sharing. We hope you ask tonnes of questions and that you participate in all the discussions, sharing your knowledge with the rest.

In time, we will also put up case studies to have the community deliberate and work on together.

Do come with an open mind and a will to learn. We intend to have you thinking differently very soon. Be prepared for an amazing transformation and to meet a great community of your peers.

Do also join us on Facebook(http://www.facebook.com/entrecity) and on Twitter(@entrecity) for any latest news and updates.

Gurpal
EntreCity.com

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[toggle title=”Week 0 – Welcome to EntreCity”]

Hello EntreCity Citizens

Welcome to EntreCity – City of Entrepreneurial Learning and Sharing. We hope to share and grow as much knowledge as possible, so as to help entrepreneurs succeed in their ventures.

On a weekly basis, we will have lectures and activities. We intend to share our knowledge with our readers through the lectures, whilst the activities should equip you with some experience in starting and running a business.

Our lectures are split into 5 main sections:

Monday: Mentor’s Thoughts – Our mentors will be blogging about the week’s lectures and other related topics. The intent would be to share their personal thoughts and insights about the topics. This will bring another perspective to the curriculum. With personal insights and experiences, our readers will be able to understand and apply the lessons better.

Tuesday: The Art of Entrepreneurship – These lectures are aimed at building entrepreneurial mindsets and creative thinking. We want you to start thinking and working differently.

Wednesday: The Science of Entrepreneurship – These lectures will cover the technical aspects of entrepreneurship. Like starting a business, cashflow, planning and strategizing. The aim of this section is to equip you with the basic skills of starting and running a business.

Thursday: Useful Lessons – This section will contain useful lessons, we picked up along the way. We will be sharing our experiences with you. Showing you the trials and tribulations involved in an entrepreneurial journey. We aim to share as much as we can, in order to help as many entrepreneurs as possible.

Friday: Team’s Thoughts – We have left Friday to share our thoughts and to update you with any developments. We will also introduce certain activities here to help encourage further learning.

How does it work?

Our lectures will be placed on Entrecity.com and we will have our classes on Coursekit.com (Sign Up Here with Class Code[PS23RP])

We intend to have a classroom to encourage discussion and collaboration. All activities and assignments will be located in our Coursekit classroom. We encourage collaboration and sharing. We hope you ask tonnes of questions.

We will also put up case studies to have the community deliberate and work on together.

We hope you come with an open mind and a will to learn. We intend to have you thinking differently very soon. Be prepared for an amazing transformation and to meet a great community of your peers.

Regards,
The EntreCity Team

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