Originally Posted by bwaslo
Well, I think we need to look toward somehow transforming this into a for-profit business for Erich, something that can sustain itself and eventually pay a salary for him. He needs to be talked into that, for his good and ours.
Erich is indeed crazy in a way, and is really into working out how to provide for this DIY community and has a lot of fun doing it (usually....). And I know he really doesn't
like landscaping so much any more, and prefers things that use his organizational and planning skills more, like the SEOS project has.
But there's only so long this can go on absorbing Erich's savings and energy I suspect, he has to get the investment back in some reasonable time. I'd hate to see him burn out on this! And if this stuff is going to be continuously available for diyers, then this operation should become a living (or at least part of one) for him. I think that is what Erich would prefer -- to run an enthusiast's technical business rather than the landscaping business. I'd like to see him become more of a capitalist and less of a charitable provider.
I don't know how to make this transition, he is always set on providing for "the designers" (most of us who are just playing with the hobby for fun and for the joy of posting something we came up with). Maybe a few hours in a week or so most of the time. Erich's doing it "for fun" too, I guess, but $35k+, near full-time effort, and use of most of his not-small building is more than I think we should expect for the long term. Of course, the first person who needs convincing on this is probably Erich....
Right on Bill,
Having been operating on my own for nearly 8 years and fully in this wacky audio business for 11, I can take a good guess as to what he's invested, and I'd be surprised if it wasn't $50k + endless time + all the space taken up by the "stuff". I thumb-to-the-wind guess that based on what Erich has posted of his determined costs and prices charged, over a 6-12 month period I he'll be operating at a 5-10% cash loss *after* he makes the initial investment in parts if he simply keeps stock of parts vs. not re-ordering.
If you factor in expansion/growth of adding other options and new kits (Erich does appear to have a problem saying NO
), that cash loss will be 10-20% of total sold, not including any packing labor, his time not packing things and storage space. Finally, this doesn't include any consideration from a future batch of some component showing up non-functional / not fit for sale.
I've mentioned it before to Erich, but I'd be happy to be a sounding board for whatever options he's considering. I already have a business concept/plan largely sorted that overlaps the more complete parts of what Erich is offering, but of course with an approach for a sustainable operation. Who knows, maybe there is room to find some common ground or to just help build overall awareness and interest in such kits and projects.
The complaining and backlashes from the crowd here comes from two realities:
1) You obviously are putting together things which many people are interested in. If no one was excited about nor cared about what you will be offering, there would be silence.
2) You already have on many fronts, but I would recommend you need to more forcefully *tell* the community what you are doing, and do less chasing of every request.
To the 2nd point, you will never be able to, nor would you want to, offer exactly what everyone thinks they want. I am not saying to stop listening to requests, but rather listen, digest, and then tell everyone what options you are moving forward with first. IMO you should be focused on helping enthusiasts achieve successful builds they can listen to and enjoy. One of the biggest issues in DIY audio is that many buy parts, but many fewer actually complete the project, especially at the speaker level vs. subwoofers. You are facilitating DIYers to build the designs of others. The designer is free to post on your forum, including any design details if they feel inclined to. While a limited set of options can make sense, too much dilution of the kits you have pulled together gets away from the greater vision of having something more guys can assemble and enjoy.
Getting back to matters of sustainability, let me pose this question: If tomorrow Erich encountered some major life curveball making it impossible to donate the time and money into this project he has thus far, which one of you is going to jump in and do the same pro bono work?
Might a few be willing to jump in if they knew there was potential to earn $24k, $40k, or $60+k a year while doing something enjoyable? The current situation is unsustainable, and is just one of life's many curveballs away from moving to liquidation phase. While I suspect you already have done plenty of research, I would strongly recommend you start looking into other crowdsourced and open-source projects and see how their creators moved to a financially sustainable position. Figure out how your project mirrors the path projects in other industries and see what makes the most sense. There are many examples out there, some which have been very successful for the creators, others much less so. If you like, I do have a friend who is a co-founder of Crowdspring, who also happens to be a bit of an audio enthusiast/DIYer who I'd also be happy to put you in contact with for a different perspective.
I'll wrap up this rambling with the observation that I think your biggest stumbling block at this point is getting hung up on the lowest possible price, rather than the greatest possible value. It sounds similar, but sometimes a few $$ added can add lots of value, both tangible and intangible.