April 17, 2011

Flying with a real Jellypod

Posted in Airlines, CAD/CAM, China, Design, Factory, Frequent Flyer, Luggage, Materials, Production, Security at 1:09 pm by Kilo

It’s been a  bit of a round-a-bout trip to get back, via Singapore and Mumbai over the past week or so, but we managed to get some great snaps of Jellypods in their natural setting –  going through x-ray machines, on board airplanes and arriving at the terminal:

This is the x-ray in Hong Kong airport.

A very welcome business class upgrade using a big pile of airmiles.

Arrival in Munich!

As you can see from the photos, the Jellypod is still a bit too cloudy to be fully functional – that will be fixed as we move to the production grade, high polished forms.

But it was nice to travel with the Jellypod, and it was pointed out to me this prototype was probably one of the most expensive bits of luggage ever flown!

April 4, 2011

Welcome to Hong Kong, en route to the Jellypods factory

Posted in Airlines, Competition, Frequent Flyer, Hong Kong, Marketing, Production, Prototyping at 9:20 pm by Kilo

Well here we are safe and sound in Hong Kong, wrapped in the very welcoming arms of the Mira Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui.

  

With an 11 hour flight and 6 hours of time lapse, we’re adjusting slowly, but it’s hard to stay sitting still in such a vibrant city, so we’re using a day or two to enjoy the sights and sounds: in just one day we managed to see the world’s longest escalators in Soho, scoot around the markets of Gough and Graham Streets where you can buy a bag of frogs (literally), stroll past what was once the world’s most expensive building in Central, visit the former colonial Marine Police HQ at Hutton House, grab Martinis at the 18th floor cocktail bar Cocky, with views across Victoria Harbour to Hong Kong Island, and visit what feels like the world’s largest shopping mall by Star Ferry pier.

 

It’s all very lively and buzzing with energy and once our own bodies catch up we’ll let you know.

*** IMPORTANT NOTE TO BETA TESTER CANDIDATES ***

Those of you subscribed to the Jellypods email news service will know you are the special few who will get the chance to be a Jellypods beta tester, receviing on of the first 25 samples for free – we’ll even pay shipping. So if you haven’t signed up yet, you still have time to do so at www.jellypods.com.

But time is running out, and it’s now important that you sign up right away, as tomorrow’s blog will contain the details of the little challenge we are going to set those of you who want to own a beta sample, allowing you to become one of the first people on the planet to have a Jellypods travel bag.

Because we have more subscribers than Jellypods samples, we have set up a small, fair selection process. It will be very simple, with one component that is kind of skill- based, and one that is kind of time-based. Nothing silly, just a little bit of fun adna fair deadline as we have people reading this all over the planet. But miss the window and you miss the chance to be selected!

So stay carefully tuned in the next 24 hours for an email update!

April 2, 2011

Flying to the Jellypods factory

Posted in Airlines, Hong Kong, Production at 8:57 am by Kilo

Tonight at 21:55 CET we begin our journey half way around the world to visit the manufacturing plant helping us build the Jellypods.

It’s been a fascinating journey to get to this stage, and honestly it was very, very interesting to realize that, just like many other manufacturers, our path led us the the Pacific Rim; it wasn’t our intention, and we interviewed about a dozen firms in Europe, USA and Asia, but the in the end the company that showed the most interest in helping us achieve our goals was one based in Hong Kong.

When other (German) firms wanted literally identity cards to know who we were before talking to us; while some just did not respond to about 10 requests for quotation; while others made it clear they needed huge deposits to even talk to us; and while others just responded with “this can’t be done”; one company consistently responded promptly, carefully and with very useful inputs and suggestions on how to solve production problems.

And in the end, the price of each unit, which is largely a function of the amount of silicone used in the product, wasn’t even a major factor: the choice was simply down to customer service and a trusted working relationship.

So tonight we spend 11 hours in the air and next week we visit our partner in Hong Kong. And as we travel to visit the production facilities over the next few days we’ll be updating this blog with short video blogs and travel notes.

So stay tuned as we see the first 100% real Jellypods coming off the production line!

February 26, 2011

Building a better bag

Posted in Airlines, Business model, Competition, Design, Frequent Flyer, Luggage, Strategy at 3:07 pm by Kilo

When we started researching the market for Jellypods, we discovered pretty rapidly that most of the offers available to the frequent traveller today provided solutions that focused on other aspects of the problem. As we went through the process of refining our own product (using the ERIC framework outlined in last week’s blog), we realized that we had ways to be very highly differentiated.

For example, many existing offers use a PVC vinyl bag with a metal zipper that will deteriorate over time and is certainly not 100% waterproof. In other cases the bags themselves were secondary to the main offer – special bottles to hold liquids.

Many of these limitations are enforced due to the use of off-the-shelf bags or bottles that have been re-purposed as travelling bags.

But because Jellypods was designed from a literally blank sheet of paper, we were able to make some deliberate choices during the design process to use more sophisticated raw materials that give Jellypods many advantages.

As examples, we were able to make Jellypods very strong, but still stretchy to accommodate slightly odd shapes; we could embed anti-bacterial agents in the specially-formulated silicone gel; we were able to invent a unique closure mechanism that is both waterproof and doubly-secure; and we were able to use more complex manufacturing processes such as extrusion and liquid injection molding, allowing us to create a something at another level of quality and precision. In all, a Jellypod that will last a lot longer and be more effective in dozens of ways.

Those choices mean that Jellypods are somewhat more expensive to make, but we think that the benefits delivered are well worth the extra cost, and we hope that those choices will make Jellypods stand out and that potential customers will recognize they are getting better value for their money –  a real piece of personal luggage that will last much longer, survive the toughest handling, that can be cleaned really easily and that will protect the traveller from disease and spillage.

Not bad for a funny little bag!

February 20, 2011

Sizing up the competition

Posted in Airlines, Blue Ocean, Business model, Design, Frequent Flyer, Luggage, Marketing, Materials, Strategy at 12:36 pm by Kilo

When we first started to investigate the market for carry-on liquid bags, we bumped into dozens of alternatives to the simple plastic bag out there in the marketplace.

Some producers took a high road, positioning (and pricing) themselves in the upper reaches, some positioned and priced to get volume. It was interesting to follow the PR efforts of the various positions: some pitching at high end fashion magazines, others pitching at the savvy backpacker.

What we quickly realized is that despite the intended price-based positioning, these various offers were competing on the same basic characteristics. Typically these bags all featured the same basic design: low cost metal/plastic zippers, inexpensive clear plastic sides, a lack of waterproofness, some 100ml bottles, little or no hygiene, and a few minor styling cues.

We saw that with the fundamental concept and design of Jellypods we had a chance to completely innovate the category, changing the rules by which the game was played. We used a couple of techniques such as the ERIC framework (Eliminate, Reduce, Increase, Create) to figure out which elements we would get rid of entirely e.g. metal zippers, and which we would introduce for the first time such as silicone materials; which were expensive additions that added little value such as the plastic bottles, and which areas were under-emphasized such as hygiene.

The result was a completely new product category for Jellypods, one in which certain core themes in most other products are completely removed, and several new attributes are introduced for the first time. We’ve been able to generate something that looks unique and behaves in a way that lifts it above the level of the rest of the market. If this ultimately does turn out to be a success, that basic thinking about product attributes is likely to be a large part of the reason why.

February 12, 2011

Jellypods mould tooling – first technical drawings

Posted in Airlines, CAD/CAM, Design, Luggage, Materials, News, Production at 9:50 am by Kilo

Exciting news in the last couple of days: the first drawings of the mould tools have arrived from our production partner.

Those who have followed the blog for a little while will realize that a massive part of the time over the past year has been finding a production partner able to make this product.

After talking to about a dozen manufacturing firms, many of whom said that making this product was impossible, we were very lucky to find a patient, professional and thoughtful production company.

All our interactions with the excellent staff at this partner have been extremely friendly and they have been without doubt the most responsive and helpful company we contacted. It was pretty easy to award them the business, and it is really great to now start to see the production process move forward.

A Detail from the Jellypods Mould Tool Drawings

How their engineering gurus managed to get this part into production is a closely guarded secret, so we can’t post all the details, but suffice to say that moulding this little pod-like bag is a pretty tricky exercise. The design has several issues for normal moulding techniques that needed some clever thinking and we’ve really been very lucky to find a partner willing to invest some energy into solving these issues.

The really nice thing is that now those issues are solved, the door is open to an entirely new set of products beyond the basic Jellypods, and we’ve been pretty busy working up those designs in the background. More news soon!

February 6, 2011

Designing packaging for Jellypods

Posted in Airlines, Blue Ocean, Branding, Business model, Feedback, Luggage, Marketing, Materials, Packaging, Production, Strategy at 10:56 am by Kilo

Packaging of Jellypods has been something we have considered right from the start, as part of the Blue Ocean approach.

We’ve been through a wide range iterations, from external to internal, from lots to none, but now we have started to zero in on a couple of concepts.

The mainline thinking of packaging Jellypods has always been around allowing people to see and feel the product on the shelf, while also having the benefits and value of the product explained visually to the potential buyer.

It also can’t cost the earth – there’s no point working so hard to cost optimize the basic product only to add 30% extra cost for a wrapper.

That set of goals is encapsulated in the latest designs for a wraparound package which is shown below:

However, one other option that is still seriously under consideration is to avoid external packaging altogether. In a Blue Ocean sense, this makes a lot of sense – it eliminates something that maybe adds little value.

Crocs, a story we mentioned earlier on the blog, deliberately decided to place their products out in the open air, with zero packaging, to show the wide variety of colours.


Jellypods have a convenient little Jelly-shaped hanging hole built into the ziptabs that would make this a very viable option, and because the product is crystal clear, it would be quite easy to put all “packaging detail” inside the Jellypod itself. What do you think?

 

February 5, 2011

The story of Trunki

Posted in Airlines, Branding, Business model, Design, Luggage, Marketing, Production, Strategy at 10:33 am by Kilo

On another of those searches across the vast reaches of the internet looking for information on companies that came out of nowhere and entered the luggage/travel goods sector, we stumbled on the story of Trunki.

Trunki is a product that mixes luggage with play for kids – it is luggage kids can sit on and roll along in the airport. It was invented by a designer called Rob Law, who got inspiration one day while browsing a local store. He took the idea forward and after many challenges has created a multi-million dollar business that has sold several hundred thousand units over the past 5-6 years, despite quite a few major setbacks:

  • a distributor who went out of business
  • the confiscation of his Chinese mould tooling
  • the very public failure of a trivial component on national television

You can watch a short documentary of how Rob got through those problems below.

Despite all those challenges, Rob and Trunki have kept going and kept growing, and it looks like he is now seeing the fruits of all that hard work, with significant growth, new deals in the Americas, new products, and now, according to his corporate accounts, quite a profitable, healthy business.

How is this relevant to Jellypods? Well firstly it’s an entrepreneurial story in the luggage sector, and we can learn valuable lessons from anyone who has done that. Secondly it’s a story about moulded luggage that was designed for a specific niche target market, which is a direct parallel to what we are doing with Jellypods. And thirdly it offers some insight to the timeline required when overcoming challenges, staying focused and ultimately delivering success.

We’ve never met Rob Law, but after hearing these stories, we’d like to get to know him. Let’s hope that Jellypods can benefit from some of those lessons.

January 29, 2011

The story of Senzº umbrellas

Posted in Airlines, Blue Ocean, Business model, Design, Luggage, Marketing at 9:51 am by Kilo

Sometimes when you are just surfing the net, looking for inspiration, you stumble across a really nice product that just came out of nowhere and became a massive success.

That happened on a wet Saturday a few months ago when we stumbled onto this video from Senz umbrellas:

After a little research we discovered the story of how Senz had got started: a young designer, Gerwin Hoogendoorn, gets annoyed at losing his third umbrella to stormy winds in a week, has an idea to build an aerodynamic umbrella. That idea turns in to 3 guys in a room the size of a cupboard who work together for a year to get the first models out the door. They manufacture their new design in China, order 10,000 umbrellas – and sell out in just 9 days in a blitz of media attention. You can read the full story here.

Senz has gone on to win just about every major design award on the planet and has grown rapidly since 2006, while charging about $50-$80 for an umbrella.

We like stories like that – taking a slightly twisted look at an existing, slightly boring category, that is just not designed for the bashing it is taking, then developing a new slant on it, and creating something that just twists the whole category into a new dimension.

Are we that clever? Probably not even close, but we are bringing some innovation to a large market that today is served by a horrible, unhygienic, unreliable plastic sandwich bag. That has to be worth something.

January 21, 2011

We’ve commissioned the Jellypods silicone moulds

Posted in Airlines, Luggage, Materials, Production, Prototyping at 5:56 pm by Kilo

After a lot of talk and about 40 blog posts, we’ve finally taken the first major step to bringing Jellypods to life.

Earlier this week we finalized the alpha design and we’re very happy to announce we have placed our first purchase order for Jellypods mould tooling.

Yes, that’s right – we’ve commissioned the mould tooling, which means we have started the clock ticking to actually getting the first Jellypods samples in our hands a few weeks from now!

This is a major step to making Jellypods real, and the finished tooling should be producing the first samples sometime in late March/early April. We’ll keep the blog as up-to-date as possible as we move forward, and hopefully sometime in the next few weeks we’ll post some video of the first Jellypods coming out of the factory gates.

And once we have those first-born Jellypods, we’ll be asking for a small number of volunteers to take some of the first samples out on the road, testing these sweet, soft, flexible, gorgeous little products out in the field as you travel thousands of miles across the world.

Stay tuned to find out how you can be one of only a handful of people on the entire planet to get one of the first Jellypods ever made.

In the meantime we have plenty of things to keep you entertained – new websites, design registrations, new models – tell your friends!

Next page