The making of…

Creating a leather strap with a simple LED light and a metal encasement is not a simple task especially when you want to make it elegant and simple by embedding all the electronics perfectly.This week I am taking the role of the CTO in order to research about other alternatives to produce a high-fi prototype for Raiden.

The LED light that we bought from spark fun electronics a couple of weeks ago is powered by a 12V battery.The only batteries that come in that voltage are super bulky and will look very ugly on the leather strip.

I decided to experiment with other type of LED called 4 Warm White 5050 SMD LED that I preordered from super bright leds.

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Fig1. SMD LED

What is great about this type of LED is that you could use a 3V battery that comes in a  circular cell shape that could be easily embedded into the leather strap.The only problem is that the intensity of the light is very subtle. They are 19 Lumins only.

It would be possible to use this if we could create something called a parallel circuit where we could place 3 LEDs lights, add 3 batteries that would be connected to 3 battery holders. Since 3V batteries are super small, they would perfectly fit into the leather strap.

The light costs 0.65$ each

The batteries costs 0.77$ each

The battery holder costs 2$ each

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Fig2. Battery holder

I found out that these batteries were very practical since they are very popular on alibaba.com which is a great manufacturer resource.I tried to see if anyone was selling this type of light that was already made but couldn’t find anything online. They sell these type of lamps where 20 or more of these LED lights are embedded into the lamp.I decided to go to a store called Canal lighting and parts on Canal Street and found out that they sell these LEDs ribbon strip lights.

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Fig3. LED ribbon strips.

The great thing about this type of lights is that they are already made: soldered and attached to a plastic 3M strip. Daniela and I will be working together this week to combine the leather straps with these LED strips in order to make a high-fi prototype for Raiden.

 

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Revenue Models & How 3d Printing Will Help

As the CTO of Raiden, a product based startup that focuses on producing hand crafted, sleek and  fashionable bike lights for the everyday cyclist, I was tasked in researching technical details of construction and how the product would be utilized within the cycling community. I am also tasked with providing market research in this area as well.   Raiden continues to move forward in designing a bike light that is not only more contemporary and fashionable in design but is also a high functioning and sports driven product. This week I focused my research on revenue models for RaidenNYC and on the technicalities of 3d printing, both items of research are approached  with the primary objective of finding a reasonable cost solution to production means. 

In light of a discussion provided by a representative from Yipit.com , I began researching various business revenue models. As explained, Yipit’s revenue model is based on the aggregation, interpretation, and distribution of information and page views that are created on the web. Raiden’s revenue various tremendously from this.

So, what is a revenue model? To put it plainly, a revenue model is the system design by which a business monetizes its services. Yipit does this, in essence, by selling information. The five most common revenue models are  subscription, affiliate marketing, ad-funded, lead generation, and online shopping.  Yipit’s model seemingly may be a mix of a subscription,where customers can subscribe to Yipit’s services, and lead generation model as Yipit’s primary objective is to corral customers to a specific product or website by aggregating sales data and distributing it online to specific target audiences.To clarify,the lead generation model is a model by which a business creates a method of to generate consumer interest or inquiry into products or services of a business. Leads can be generated for purposes such as list building, e-newsletter list acquisition or for sales leads. Yipit is a software based company and doesn’t deal directly with any physical items, this is where RaidenNYC and Yipit diverge drastically.

Raiden aims to use an on line shopping model and perhaps in the future approach an affiliate market revenue model. Online shopping or online retailing is a form of electronic commerce which allows consumers to directly buy goods or services from a seller over the internet. If Raiden succeeds or fails within the model of e-commerce the next revenue model attempted may focus on affiliate marketing, all though it is likely to be pursued to a simple degree. This method will entail finding a retailer and working out a deal in which for every item sold the retailer receives some form of payment, be it money, advertising, or foot traffic to their location.  Basically, this model has four core players: the merchant (also known as ‘retailer’ or ‘brand’), the agent of exchange(that contains offers for the affiliate to choose from and also takes care of the payments), the publisher ( (RaidenNYC)also known as ‘the affiliate’), and the customer. This method will overlap with Raiden’s online shopping endeavors and more than likely be complimented with an e-commerce revenue model.

So all models considered, how will 3d printing aid our revenue model? Honestly, at this time, 3d printing only seems viable as an advertising tool. The cost to have large amounts of parts created for Raiden bike lights will become too high too quickly. However, 3d printing does enable Raiden to create very detailed prototypes in various materials and colors that will allow us to market our product to customers and manufacturers. This will expedite communication tremendously on the manufacturer side, as our prototype will exist physically.  In consideration, as we 3d print we will also, in necessity to the printing processing,  simultaneously create schematics and CAD product plans that will map out the exact measurements in detail for our products design.This will ease the communication between Raiden and manufacturers.

In summation, while 3d printing may not aid directly within our business models it will enable strong communication and advertising of our prototypes to various manufacturers and to the public. While we may not need a physical prototype to market a product online, if this model fails and our next step is to pursue an affiliate model 3d printing will become an invaluable prototyping and communication tool.

User Scenarios

Creating a user scenario for our product Raiden has been key for us to understand the interaction between a user and the product. It serves as an effective tool to determine the needs the user may have and the tasks he/she completes when using the product.

I have been working with two scenario techniques during the design process. The first technique is to think about user scenario as a business-planning tool. Gathering data based on the research the rest of the group have been doing about the market and target audience. Focusing on costs, marketability of the product, between others. This has served us to identify clearly the target audience allowing us to create an accurate user scenario.

The Raiden user is a man or a woman who uses his/her bicycle primarily for commuting. He/she enjoys acquiring nice accessories for his/her bicycle. Likes for it to look sleek, fashionable and sophisticated but still keep it highly functional. He/she would make an investment on an accessory for his/her bicycle if it were something that will add value aesthetically speaking as well as performance. He/she loves leather goods, products that are elegant and durable. He/she also appreciates portability, acquiring products that make their lives easier by function in more than one single context. Since he/she rides his/her bicycle everyday all around the city as a medium of transportation he/she is always looking for accessories that can be easily detached from the bicycle so that they don’t get stolen.

Other scenario techniques that I am working with are creating storyboards and writing stories. These two have been key to determine the interaction between the user and the product.

Storyboards have been crucial for me to provide a visual description of the use of the product and identify context, product specs and timing and of course for communicating my ideas visually to the group. They serve to show the whole setting, where and when the interaction happens, the actions that take place, how the product is used and how it behaves, and the lifestyle, motivations and goals of the users.

Last week I worked as well on creating a user scenario storyboard but I realized that I needed to be more specific. Since this week based on research we all have done we have identified more clearly the target audience, I am redesigning the user scenario storyboard in order for it to be more specific and visually clear.

I created the following guideline for myself in order to do this:

1. The first step is to create a user character and simulations.
2. Determine what is the message I want to give out through the story of this user character.
3. Design the timeline. Short storylines that describe the user’s routine, needs and likes. In short, he/she lifestyle.
In order to successfully do this I like to start by writing stories. Short descriptions in order to communicate ideas about how and where the user would use the product, under which conditions, with whom, at what time of the day, how often, etc.
For this week I will continue on finishing this user scenario storyboard in order to apply the information gathered from this and the one gathered by the rest of the team to our prototype.

Pushing for Raiden Pre-Orders

At this point of our project schedule, we are running a week behind on achieving the validations we have hoped for and for creating a finalized prototype.  As CEO of Raiden, I have been putting effort into spreading the word about Raiden in order to get to the point of achieving pre-orders.

One method has been doing social media outreach.  I have commented on people with nice dutch style bikes on Instagram and Facebook but do realize that I have not been very good at being active on Twitter.  I will have to explore the success of spamming tweets as well.

The second outreach method is continuing with physical personal outreach and approaching people with bikes and/or leather bags.  Taking consideration of last week’s guest lecturer, Unaiz Kabani, I would approach potential customers ready to make sure that people do subscribe and pre-order on the spot.  I also have developed a means to create an ice breaker by making sure my phone is promote to ease into conversation and to cause interest with the target customer (I have a large phablet LG Intuition phone that people are always amazed by).  However, although we have continued to drive success to the website, we have not been able to create enough impulse incentive for people to pre-order Raiden.  People want to see the product first before purchasing.

I had considered creating a video for our website as a promotion but Unaiz Kabani and from in-class discussions have made me believe that it is not a good use of limited time to market the product.  I have therefore continued pushing for us to have a hi-fi prototype as soon as possible.  We had a problem with looking for simple small switched and I think I found a great small, lightweight button switch that can fit onto Raiden.  It is comprised of 2 components and are tested to be very suitable and adaptable to simple circuits, as seen below incorporated in Plus/Minus modular lighting system.

basic switch 0507130137a

1 subscriber = more validations + more research

After last weeks validations, we got our first customer who subscribed to our list:  Alessandro, was one of the people we extensively talked to when we were in Soho last week.

We were super excited when we received the email of our first customer but we realized that this was not enough. Ashley and I, ventured to Williamsburg in Brooklyn to conduct more validation and discover if  what we call “hipsters” were actually our target audience.

First of all, people were not very friendly over there and didn’t even want to give us two minutes to talk. People were frustrated, in a hurry and pissed off. We found a few generous ones and got good feedback from them. We decided that that we were going to ask very casual questions. All of the people we talked to were commuters, and used the cheapest bike lights and didn’t really care about the aesthetics. We ran into columbian tourists that didn’t even use bike lights but liked our product because of its aesthetics.

We ran into a group of British girls who didn’t carry bike lights but wanted stylish ones and others who were just interested in buying the cheapest bike light.

They were all interested in our product, but were concerned about the price. We tried to gear them towards the site to subscribe but nothing happened.

We realized that we were wrong with our assumption that Williamsburg hipsters were our target audience.

We decided that we are going to target people in Manhattan and especially the ones who live downtown: east village, west village and lower east side .Our target audience are  people who have short commutes, live in the city and like fashionable accessories.

We are officially done doing this informal interviews and need to make the product in order for people to see it live. We will try this method again once we have a high-fi prototype to show.

I have been helping 0ut Daniela and Joe by researching about manufacturers that could potentially make our leather strap and metal encasement.

I subscribed to Makers row: http://makersrow.com and contacted all the following companies:

For leather I contacted:

Walcoleather: http://www.walcoleather.com

Sherryacc: www.sherryacc.com

For metal:

Earwingsnyc: http://www.earwingsnyc.com

Here are general questions I asked in my email and the answers and/or other questions they provided:

-Do you perforate on leather?  Yes but what is the perforation pattern? And are you going to use our leather or ours? If it is yours what type of leather is it?

-Do you perforate thick leather? Yes but please give me the specifics of the thickness and the type of snaps that you are going to use.

– Do you cut leather? I need to create  20 leather straps that are 2.5/6 inch? Yes but please be aware our MOQ is 50pcs/item/color

– I need to produce 50 metal encasement that are 1/1 inch with a 0.16/0.16  cut in the middle, how much would this cost to make? What metal would you need this in? Can it be pewter or white metal ? how will it be used? does it need to be plated? what is the thickness ?

I have also been researching about that and stumbled upon a great website called board of innovation: http://www.boardofinnovation.com/business-revenue-model-examples/

Also, when I went to the field trip at ERA NYC a couple of weeks ago, they had a great system to represent revenue models and showed their financial spreadsheet after each pitch.

It would be great if we can go over this in class for more information.

Raiden NYC / User Scenario

Brainstorming about Raiden NYC user scenario has been definitely key in the development of our product. Since day one we have been accurately imagining how the user will use the product and we have been thinking of different ways for showing this.

It is very important for us to show that Raiden NYC is more than just a bike light. It is a fashionable but still practical and incredibly functional product. It is versatile and unique and it is important for the public to understand how the light could fit in their lives.

This week I decided to explore deeply these user scenarios and portrayed them visually through photographs. Making our first prototype gave us a fuller understanding about how the product fits in a bike, how could the user take it on and off and carry it with him/her. It was important to also consider the user scenario as a narrative and present it as a sequence of events.

RAIDENNYC_scenarios

First, you are on your way home. It is dark outside, you put on your bycicle your Raiden front and back light. It will light your way on the streets. You get to a restaurant for meeting your friends and your park your bycicle outside, but careful you don’t want to take chances of someone stealing your light. Easily, you unsnap Raiden from your bicycle’s back and front and throw it in your backpack. Or you can snap it on it. You go inside and see your friends. The place is dark and loud. Someone drops his/her cellphone on the floor and everyone tries to look and look without success. You remember you have Raiden on your bag. You take it out, wear it in your wrist and turn it on. Whoala! You have light now and it illuminates the dark place. Your friend is able to find his/her cellphone.

Guerilla Tactics It Is.

After creating our first lo-fi prototype of our Raiden bike light last week, and a semi-successful marketing strategy of talking to cyclists and leather aficionados, we decided to not yet pivot our solution but try out a different customer market and area.   As CEO, I laid out the week’s plan of things for the group to accomplish.  The aim was to do whatever we can to gain validation currency, by pushing subscriptions and pre-orders.  Joe and Daniella, as CTO and Design Director was in charge to looking into sourcing materials and work on further promotional materials in order for us to be prepared to fulfill orders and generate more interest when we get pre-orders.  Youmna, along with looking into revenue models aided me with marketing and validation efforts.

Last week, we targeted West Village and Soho and walked around talking to people on bikes or people who were walking around with leather bags.  We also put flyers on parked bikes that matched the cyclist aesthetic of our company.  We were successful in creating a spike in views on our website to 60 page views and at the end had one subscription by Alessandro, an Italian biker in Soho who I offered a heavy discount if he subscribed to our site since he had a nice sleek bike with leather details matching our aesthetic.  People in this area really liked our product but wanted to know more information.  This illustrated that we had to be out on the street more promoting our product but also do more with our website in order capitalize on these visits.

Since getting website views is not enough of a validation, Youmna and I decided to try a different group of customers, hipsters and yuppy hipsters in Williamsburg.  We managed to drive more website visits again, but no further subscriptions.   This indicates that our customer target is definitely located in manhattan.  In the same amount of time that we spent talking to people in West Village and Soho as in Williamsburg, we found that people were not as approachable and willing to spend time talking to us.  We talked to a lot of Brooklyn dwellers who prioritized small and not pricey lights if they even wanted lights at all.  Only one biker who was a commuter valued bike lights and had spent $80 on his current one that is a mounted 700 lumins light.  He was very happy with his product.  Upon looking at our prototype, he liked the design a lot and said that he would be interested to check it out and asked if we had a youtube account.  This comment coupled with feed back from other marketing sessions meant that we really need to create a promotional video.  Joe, Youmna, and Daniella all have expertise in this so creating a video will be our next marketing and validation efforts.

Since the success of our validations also depends on the weather (we see more people on bikes on nice days than not) I have also decided that the next step is to start tweeting at people that have mentioned bikes, bike lights, and LEDs to see what kind of traffic that draws.

Conclusion of this week indicates we need more promotional materials to capitalize on our website visits after talking to people and also to concentrate our outreach efforts in manhattan.