May 12, 2012

Founding the new Jellypods company

Posted in Corporate, Funding, News, Production, Prototyping, Registered Designs, Uncategorized at 10:18 am by Kilo

Yesterday was an interesting day –  we founded the new Jellypods company here in Germany.

The German company formation process is a little bit complicated, involving the founders, three lawyers, a notary, a tax advisor and a bank manager, as well as some initial cash.

But as of yesterday the company is officially formed in Munich, with 25,000 EUR in initial capital and the objective of trading in silicone goods:-

It has taken several weeks to figure out what is the right form – and even country – to incorporate, and needed the help of specialized tax lawyers to ensure we did not screw up any future liabilities by founding in the wrong way or in the wrong place.

Once the basic decisions were taken, the whole founding process is managed by a German Notar – a notary – who makes sure all the key legal points are fully covered during the founding, and affixes a stamp to the documents to show that the founding has been done correctly.

All this process takes several weeks and has cost about 5,000-6,000 EUR in total, plus the 25,000 EUR capital injection into the company, and of course a reasonable amount of our time.

We now have to look at a few other legal steps, like transferring or licencing the trademarks and registered designs, which were registered personally, to the operating company. More tax and legal advice required soon!

But those are largely side issues, and we hopefully can now move on with the next steps, which involve taking prototype IV to a more refined, finished product. It is getting close – not close enough, but more real with each passing day/week/month.

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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!

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!

 

May 9, 2011

Fixing the zipper

Posted in CAD/CAM, Production, Prototyping at 10:13 pm by Kilo

The biggest hurdle we face in production now is the zipper, which to be 100% honest just did not work as planned. Literally back to the drawing board….

But it’s not something to give up on. We’ve studied the issues with the zipper and come up with some nifty observations and found a couple of ways forward.

One of the studies shows how a simple thing like curvature has an impact on the useability of the zipper section. Compare and contrast these two videos:

Highly curved version

Soft curved version

Simple tests like this are key to really understanding what works in the real world and what will make the product clunky and worthless. The next steps are already underway!

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 7, 2011

The world’s first Jellypods

Posted in CAD/CAM, China, Design, Factory, Hong Kong, Materials, Production tagged , at 5:07 pm by Kilo

It’s been a very busy 48 hours that started with a long train journey into the heart of China’s industrial hinterland near Guangzhou.

But what awaited us was worth the wait: the first Jellypods on the planet.

The world's first Jellypods prototype

The world's first Jellypods prototype

These are pre-production prototypes, so they are not yet ready to be used properly – the moulds are not polished, the seams are unfinished, the thickness of the walls is a bit on the fat side, the transparency and colour shading is very rough and not ready for the stringent checks at an airport x-ray machine, and the product itself has several flaws in the design we still need to work on. But still it is a massive step forward and you can see the huge grin of delight in holding that puppy for the first time!

We knew most of these issues were going to be present, along with a few unknown unknowns, as Donald Rumsfeld called them; it’s almost impossible to know if a product like this will work right off the press or not, and we expected some re-work and problem solving. Below you can see the team discussing one of the major issues and trying out a few ideas right out on the factor floor, and it is worth saying that the production and operations people at our partners have been really fantastic, spending a lot of time with us discussing options and suggesting alternatives and possibilities.

Brainstorming on the shop floor

What was really very nice after all this time was to be able to actually see the production process, step-by-step, and really visualize some of the core issues in what we are trying to do with Jellypods from a manufacturing standpoint. Yes, it’s a cool little silicone bag, and you’d think that would be easy to make. But our partners, who showed us some really quite amazingly complicated medical silicone products, are really stretching to find a way to make this thing – it’s not even close to being easy. 

The Jellypods body mould

But despite this issues, which we are confident we will resolve in fairly short order, it was very satisfying to finally hold a complete Mk 1 Jellypod in the hand, and feel that thing for real for the first time. It was a real feeling of success to finally have this prototype in silicone in our hands to squeeze and stretch. 

A row of Jellypods bodies literally hot off the presses

So what are the issues we have to solve?

Well, some are major, and some are minor. On the minor side, as you can see, these Jellypods are quite cloudy and nowhere near transparent enough for the security screening process – that is mainly due to the un-polished mould being used in the prototyping process, but it will not be an issue in final production. The coloration is also an experimental stage, with too much pigment, but it gives an idea of the shape of Jellypods. And we realized we had over-engineered the thickness in several areas, adding too much weight, making the product more expensive than it needs to be, and less elegant than it will be in the final version.

Jellypods Mk 1, with and without the curvy zipper attached

One of the largest issues is the zipper section. It’s a novel design that uses a harder grade of silicone, and to be perfectly honest we need to go back to the drawing board to make it work right, because right now it doesn’t do what we want it to do. But we have a cunning plan to fix it, and that plan is already being put into action.
  
The next steps are to refine the design and troubleshoot the key issues we discovered, then take Jellypods forward to the Mk 2 version – high gloss, polished, fully functional, lighter weight, ready for shipping.
 
But we took some major steps forward in the past couple of long days, and overall we are very happy with the progress and professionalism of our partners.

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!

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!

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