August 2, 2011

Jellypods Zipper Mk III

Posted in Design, Factory, Frequent Flyer, Materials, Modelling, Production, Prototyping at 8:33 pm by Kilo

Now that we have identified the strength and weaknesses (literally) of the revised zipper design, it’s time to move forward with what will hopefully be the final design, barring a few small amendments for fit and finish.

The new design seems to be much simpler, and more elegant, and also hopefully includes a couple of rather neat little innovations we’ve never seen anywhere else before on a ziplock bag or similar.

We’ve also taken this opportunity to adjust some things on the bagitself, such as the thickness of the skin and the length of the internal ribs.

Right now the design is back with our friends in Wisconsin, Veritas Forge, for a quick makeover from hand drawn rough technical sketches to full 3D CAD velvet.

More soon!

 

July 22, 2011

New Jellypods website design

Posted in Design, Frequent Flyer, Fun stuff, Luggage, Marketing, Packaging, Web at 10:56 am by Kilo

As we slowly, slowly move forward with the Jellypods product, various other bits of collateral are keeping pace and one of the most critical is the Jellypods website.

We already have one website design in hand, but we have worked with some old friends to create a new look and feel – a little bit more energetic and lively, perhaps.

Here are a couple of the very rough designs, as mockups without text or final graphics:-

The idea is to highlight both the transparency and coloration of the Jellypods in the way they are presented on the website, and to highlight some nice videos of Jellypods in action. The colour of the site will change as you select a different Jellypods colour. Do you like this?

Meanwhile we move forward with new CAD of the revised zipper design – more next week…

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!

March 20, 2011

Filing registered designs for Jellypods

Posted in Design, Frequent Flyer, News, Registered Designs, Trademarks, Uncategorized at 9:13 am by Kilo

This week we spent a little money (about $500) on registering the core design of Jellypods with a European Registered Community Design, also known as an RCD.

This registration, which was granted in just 3 days and is now in force, covers the look and feel of the design in 27 European countries with just one application.

A similar, but slightly more involved process existing in the USA and other major markets, and those are also in progress right now. This is a fairly simple thing to do; all you need are some good sketches of the product from a range of angles.

We’ve written before about how these kinds of simple protections, which are much simpler than utility patents, can help defend the value being created by a novel design. Another good example is the Poachpod by Fusionbrands, who have successfully defended their designs against knockoffs both in the UK and USA. It’s encouraging that these protections can be granted very rapidly, as a real utility patent can take years to be granted, leaving an inventor at the mercy of copycats.

What is fascinating about the Jellypods story is the range of new things we are learning from day to day, with the trademarking and design registration process being just one example.

March 12, 2011

First trial runs of Jellypods on the moulds

Posted in CAD/CAM, Design, Frequent Flyer, Materials, Production, Prototyping at 12:03 pm by Kilo

Exciting news from the factory floor – the first trials of the Jellypods moulds are under way and we have the very first picture of an actual Jellypod!

Below you can see a teaser shot of the very first real, live Jellypods prototype being stripped from the test mould:

How cool is that?

The colour looks quite shiny due to the high transparency of the material of the pod – that shine is the P20 mould tool steel shining through the skin of the Jellypod – and already you can see just how flexible the skin of the Jellypod is.

Already we are seeing some minor challenges in the production process, but nothing that will stop the show.

Getting to this point is a very major step for us, and hopeful in 3 weeks time we’ll be be sitting in a pile of the very first batch of these little products! Stay tuned to have the chance of being a lucky beta tester soon!

March 5, 2011

Jellypods: the global business in a spare bedroom

Posted in Business model, Frequent Flyer, Fun stuff, Marketing, Production, Strategy, Web at 10:34 am by Kilo

Over the past year or so we’ve been working on a wide range of things associated with Jellypods, and it is striking just how easy it has been to find suppliers and coordinate a literally global effort from a spare bedroom.

Just to give some impression of the breadth of this activity, our main location is Munich in Germany, but we have worked with companies in the USA, Argentina, India, UK, Italy, Hong Kong and mainland China to get to this stage.

All of those links and efforts have been created and coordinated across the web, using a combination of tools that simply did not exist 10 or 15 years ago.

The first of these is the web itself. Just thinking back to the mid-1990’s, the internet was a fledgling system. Broadband in those days was a 128K modem. Today there is almost nothing you cannot find on or via the web, at speeds that we take for granted; VDSL at 25mb/s allows almost anybody to connect to the world in high definition, in real time, and it is enabling what Thomas Friedman calls a flat Earth. We’ve been able to make new friends, research suppliers, find interesting stories of similar endeavours, even learn the language of silicone injection moulding all from a Mac desktop at home.

The second toolset is Elance.com. Without Elance it is fair to say we would not have found some fantastic partners, some who delivered the CAD from our original hand-drawn technical designs, which allowed us get to the stage where we could take this product to manufacturing, some who have helped us with various marketing efforts, and others who have helped with some of the design concepts.

Another great tool is Skype. With video and voice calling over Skype it has been possible to liaise with partners 9 time zones away without spending a fortune on airfares. Is it perfect? No, but it is pretty good, and we have been able to establish and maintain great relationships using this medium.

And of course modern email is the core of formal communications. Sending simple messages, instructions, huge file attachments, pictures – all of it enabled by mailboxes that are supplied as part of cheap web domain hosting packages and free of charge email clients like Thunderbird.

Finally social communications tools like this WordPress blog, bulletin boards like Flyertalk, Twitter, and Facebook, all help create a degree of connectivity and intimacy with our friends, fans and future potential customers. It is interesting to see just how much activity we see on this blog when we have done almost literally zero promotion – on some days more than 100 visitors – which is encouraging for when we do finally decide to go public in a bigger way.

All this means we have literally been able to create a small, but still global endeavour from a spare room at minimal cost. And on April 6th-7th we’ll see the fruits of all those labours live for the first time, when we visit the moulding factory and see the Jellypods coming off the machines. Stay tuned for more news soon!

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.

November 14, 2010

Overcoming production challenges

Posted in Airlines, Blue Ocean, CAD/CAM, Design, Frequent Flyer, Luggage, Production, Uncategorized at 9:57 am by Kilo

Now when you just naively look at Jellypods, you might think: “it’s just a simple little bag made of silicone – easy”.

And to be honest that was also our initial thinking; how hard could it be?

Well, we now know the answer is “quite hard”.

Making Jellypods involves a number of tricky steps that are non-obvious and several design considerations took weeks to figure out.

The main technical issue we face is manufacturing the huge internal cavity via a tiny opening. This creates issues in ensuring the materials being used can be vulcanized, and ultimately extracted from the machines being used to make them, and is actually the trickiest thing we have to address. We have even considered inventing a new technique called “inflation molding” to get around this issue, which is a huge problem.

Another issue is ensuring Jellypod stay closed and remain watertight. After dozens of iterations we arrived at a quite novel solution that not only offers a doubly-secure locking mechanism but that also give the user of the Jellypods a much better degree of watertight-ness.

It’s almost silly the amount of thinking that goes into these things – something as simple as the radius of a circular bump on the closure, or the opening pull tab angles – but those details are what will make this product really sing.