Monthly Archives: January 2011

Monetising Brands through on Demand Bespoke Manufacturing

So my Dad said to me “so you reckon I should order an initial stock of ten?”. I said “it’s the 21st century. You don’t need to hold stock”. We were talking about a new way of monetizing his Greypath brand, because I had just turned my first dollar of profit from selling Churchill Club t-shirts.

The best thing was that after an initial setup that took around 2 hours, I then had to do nothing. Very Tim Ferris, Four hour work week ! So here’s what I did.

  1. I setup an account at http://www.redbubble.com and downloaded their t-shirt template.

  2. I opened up paint.net which I downloaded for free from www.getpaint.net and created a couple of templates.

  3. I uploaded my t-shirt templates, and configured and priced the t-shirts.

  4. I then used the automatically generated t-shirt images at red bubble for advertising in our newsletter and web site, and hyperlinked this to the red bubble sales platform.

  5. I received notification from red bubble a couple of days later that my first t-shirt had sold and $8 was winging my way.

Now $8 may not seem like much, but it’s a start and I don’t have any extra work to do. Red bubble handles the sale, manufacture and delivery. I have a number of designs up, and will add a couple more as digital images cost us nothing but design time.

I’m pretty excited about this concept and thinking about how I can do the same thing with http://www.lulu.com that will generate books for us. Unfortunately my father has issues with this as he just can’t come to grips with the concept of bespoke manufacturing for low priced goods.

By the way, I wrote this article sitting in a deck chair at a camp site in Warrnambool, using and iPad and a wireless hot zone. Starting to get excited about the mobility technology can bring.

3 low tech solutions to managing IT

When my wife first became pregnant, a much older colleague from Fuel Marketing said to me with a wry smile on his face“I suggest you invest in yellow and red plastic”. I thought he was demented, but he wasn’t of course. It turns out he was talking about the way small plastic toys seem to breed in your house once you have kids.

So over the holidays, we had our annual tidy up in the kids rooms, throwing our vast number of unrecognisable pieces of yellow and red plastic. Unfortunately. my wife also directed that my study had to been cleaned up :( She didn’t feel that some of my filing solutions, specifically the towers of paper, were much chop and were in fact devaluing our property. My 101 gadgets were good though.

Being a technologist most of my life, I’ve had to develop a number of low tech solutions for managing all my stuff because I don’t have infinite amounts of storage space and I don’t like to chuck things out. So here are my three top low tech solutions for managing your technology at home, or in the office..

Zip Lock Plastic Bags

Many mums purchase zip lock plastic bags for putting sandwiches in. However what you probably haven’t noticed is that these bags come in sizes up to around A4 at the supermarket. They are fantastic items for storing things in. They are clear, so its easy to find things. They collapse, so you can pack more of them into a cupboard or shelf. They are waterproof, which is handy when things go bad with your coffee cup. I have tonnes of them. Note you will never have to untangle a knotted ball of cables again if you have each cable in its own bag!

Generally when I get some new gadget, I rip off a flat panel from the box with relevant codes and stuff and then stick any bits I am not using in a ziplock plastic bag.

Labeller

I have one of those little Dymo strip labellers at home that I regularly use. The most common use is to name the plugs of the powercords of each device. Under my desk I have powercords for the computer, monitor, printer, fax, modem, ipad charger, ipod charger and some speakers. When your under the desk in the dark, it is somewhat reassuring to know you are pulling out the right plug.

I used to put the label down on the plug, but now I put the label wrapped around the cord a bit higher up as it makes it easier to see when there are lots of plugs jammed into a powerboard together.

Cable Ties

Many computer shops sell fancy cladding to wrap aound the cables coming out of the back of the computer and make them look neat. The problem with this is that its a hideously expensive solution for what it is, its a pain to get your cables inside , and you are for ever having to change things. I much prefer cable ties. They are cheap as chips, I have a pack of 100 I bought at a fete somewhere, and can be easily cut off and discarded when you want to make a change, Tehran than unravelling things.

So my study is all squeaky clean again, ready to be turned into a bomb site over the course of 2011. Thinking about it, I should have probably invested in black and dark grey plastic before choosing a career in technology.

Lessons from Disneyland

Today, I was going to take the kids down to the Water Adventure Park in Geelong, but after realising the forecast for there was 20 C and a spot of rain, we opted for Fun Fields in Whittlesea instead. After promising the kids a theme park, It seemed to be the better “yucky day” option.

It was a big day for the kids, and a slightly grumpy day for the adults as we tried to smile when the demands became unreasonable and the queues became longer and longer and longer. So on the way home, I found myself daydreaming about Theme Parks, and how I felt about them when I was a child.

When I was young my parents always promised me that if they ever won Lotto, two things would happen. Thing 1 was that they would buy my older brother and myself a whole chicken each. The pinnacle of gluttony! Thing 2 was that they would take us to Disneyland. And Disneyland, unlike the chicken, was more than a quick pleasure fix, it was the representation to me of the pinnacle of all things pleasurable to a kid.

Sadly though they never won more than about $40 in Lotto, so the trip never happened. However the concept sat in the back of my mind for decades, as something I must do. So when arranging a trip to visit my brother in San Francisco in late 1999, my wife and I were there for New Years, we decided to drop into Disneyland.

I must say I had a fabulous time, but for completely different reasons than I expected. I learnt a number of fascinating business lessons about managing queues from the leader in the theme park field.

1. Queues that are constantly moving don’t get grumpy.

But here’s the interesting thing, you can artificially make the distance queuing people need to move through longer, by using moveable barriers. Creating a zig zag line out of a straight line means that your queue of people needs to spend more time moving to go the same distance as the crow flies. By dynamic use of barriers, you can make your queue happier.

2. Queues that are being entertained, don’t get grumpy.

As you are well aware, If all you are doing is waiting, time slows down and you get irritable quickly. The Disney solution was to start the ride experience, lot earlier than you would expect. For each ride, there was always a back story to read on the walls, or even a video. There was also regularity moving parts, such as a bridge you had to cross, or a cave that you could see collapsing. It was of course a multimedia experience with automated music, sound effects, voice-overs, steam etc.

3. Queues that can’t see the end point, focus on the entertainment.

I wondered why we could never see the end point of the queue, until it was revealed to us as a couple of metres away, but after a bit of pondering I realised that it made sense. If I could see the end point, I would focus on it and become agitated about how slow the queue was. If I couldn’t see the end point, I enjoyed the trip by focussing on the entertainment on the way.

4. Staff where always part of the experience.

There was not a pimply faced 15 year old wearing an ill fitting uniform combined with a bored/sour attitude to be seen. All ride staff where part of the ride experience. They wore ride appropriate uniforms, and acted out set pieces. They entertained and made the whole ride experience a pleasure.

The consequence of this queue management was that we didn’t even notice until afterwards that in one case we spent an hour & 15 minutes queuing for a 5 minute ride. I would happily recommend Disneyland to anyone.

Unfortunately I’d have to say that although there was a lot of rides at Funfields, there wasn’t a single ride experience that you wanted to tell your friends about.