March 10, 2012

What the heck has been going on with Jellypods?

Posted in CAD/CAM, China, Design, Luggage, Materials, Production at 5:20 pm by Kilo

So you are probably wondering what the heck has been going on with Jellypods, right? Well, despite the long radio silence there has been progress.

We are now on prototype IV, with new zipper designs, rails and materials.

Here’s a shot of the new zipper slider:

The new zipper solves many of the issues we saw in the earlier prototypes and also contains a couple of really unique features in the design – they won’t be obvious form this angle as they are internal, but they are quite cool from a technical standpoint.

It’s taken a while to get to this stage, but we are finally making some progress towards a working zipper and a Jellypod that does what we want. The drawings have been sent to Guangzhuo for the next production steps, hopefully a new update will be available soon – keep watching!

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!

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!

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