Sometimes You Need to Get Lucky!
Within days of posting on Facebook I had several different people reaching out to me, so I scheduled calls with the most promising candidates. All of them were high quality designers with a variety of different backgrounds, but I chose to go with a gentleman named Mike who had extensive experience with CAD/CAM design work, had done large scale production design work for Maryland Plastics and was completely familiar with the entire design to market pipeline.
Discussing this with him was amazing! He knew multiple manufacturers and thought we could do prototyping through 3D printing which was technology I had not even thought about! Finally, he understood the mechanics of mold manufacturing and could avoid design features that would add to the cost. We agreed to an hourly rate and got started.
We had a long discussion about the purpose of the product. Like everyone else we discussed it with, he couldn’t believe there wasn’t already something like this on the market! I explained that we envisioned a version that had inserts so the customer could decide if they wanted the frames straight or angled, and we were anticipating a variety of different shapes, sizes and colors. He thought that was great, but Mike pointed out that each different “shape or size” would require a different mold. Molds were typically $10,000 each but could be more depending on the complexity.
We decided to start simple with a small straight prototype. We had a lot to figure out and needed to translate it from the design we had done on a napkin to something in our hand. Mike thought it would take a couple of hours work and would let me know when he was done. Two days later I got an email from a company called “Shapeways” which was did online 3D printing. I had no idea that there were such companies and felt like I was very luck to find Mike!
I approved the design, paid the $125 printing fee and placed the order. I recalled that some of the other companies wanted $1000 for each iteration! Finding Mike was a real stroke of luck.
In a few days, the first prototype of the SeaClutch would be transformed from an idea on a napkin to a real product in our hands! We couldn’t wait!