The Entrepreneur Forum | Startups | Entrepreneurship | Starting a Business | Motivation | Success

INTRO Better Late than never

BrianLateStart

New Contributor
Jun 11, 2019
8
12
13
Been living the SlowLane most of my life. While most of my friends that are my age are focusing on retirement, I’m trying to start a business. I started working on my business almost 4 years ago, but just read The Millionaire FastLane recently. To be honest, I don’t know if a younger me would have listened to the advice in the book. I enjoyed my career in Engineering. It really is a slow lane though, MJ couldn’t make that point any clearer and I’ve lived that life. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m older or times are that much different than they were 30 years ago, but things feel real different now. I’m 55 and I feel like I have a big target on my back each time layoffs come around. I don’t believe I’ll be allowed to retire when I wanting unless I do something to speed that up and decide for myself. Maybe it's too late, but I'd like to be in the FastLane!

About 4 years ago my wife and I were really trying to watch our weight. One problem we noticed was that we didn’t have room to leave a bathroom scale out without it being in the way. We found we skipped weighing ourselves instead of getting it out of the cabinet. We were talking and we realized that we’ve never lived in a place we could leave a scale out. It didn’t matter how big or small the bathrooms were, the floor plan or traffic patterns just didn’t allow a place for a scale without it being a tripping hazard. I thought that if I could make a mechanism that could attach to a scale and allow it to store the scale above the baseboard and tight to the wall, it would be convenient, easy to use and out of the way. It could even attach to the back of a door and work in pretty much any bathroom, even a tiny ½ bath.

I was excited about the idea, but the idea was the easy part. It took years working on my invention after work and weekends to finally create a usable product. I’m close to having it ready for sale. I have a website (shopify), but it’s not complete. I haven’t enabled the add to cart buttons, they don’t do anything as of yet. Hopefully I’ll have it ready for sale in the next few weeks.

Even though I read The Millionaire FastLane after starting my project, it has given me many ideas and peace of mind. I had a gut feeling that I really wanted to do this, but the book clearly stated why I needed to start my own business. I understand that getting to the fastlane would statistically be better attempting it when I was younger, but I would have terrible regrets if I didn’t follow through on this idea. I welcome any feedback, comments, criticisms and suggestions on my product I call “UpScale”. UpScale Your Bathroom
 

Become a Fastlane INSIDER to view the forum ad free.

BrianLateStart

New Contributor
Jun 11, 2019
8
12
13
That's a pretty spiffy idea, I like it. I hope it sells well.

Any plans for putting it on Amazon?
Thanks Lowtek, I do plan to put it on Amazon. We're also planning a Youtube channel that reviews bathroom scales. I've bought and tested a lot of bathroom scales in the last few years and they are very different from to the next. You don't realize this until you have used several side by side for an extended period of time. Things that aren't listed as features in the product descriptions like how steady do you have to be before the scale will display your weight or how sensitive they are to uneven tile. Before testing a lot of scales, I had no idea that uneven tiles could affect them.

I don't think people would subscribe to a bathroom scale review channel, but hopefully when some is in the market for a new one, we can be the authority and maybe sell some UpScales from it and establish trust with the customer. We'll also have affiliate links to scales that we recommend.

We're also creating some videos on decorating the bottom of your scale so when they're in the stored position they can be a decorative addition to your bathroom. It's very easy to do and looks pretty cool.

Brian
 

gryfny

New Contributor
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Jun 11, 2019
15
7
12
Europe
Great story, and very interesting project/product. Can you tell us a bit more on the development stages? What were your biggest successes, mistakes and what did you learn? I'm also curious to know about the processes of finding someone to make them in bulk after you were done prototyping.
 

B. Cole

In thine hand is power and might.
FASTLANE INSIDER
Speedway Pass
Mar 5, 2017
563
1,678
477
38
East Coast
Been living the SlowLane most of my life. While most of my friends that are my age are focusing on retirement, I’m trying to start a business. I started working on my business almost 4 years ago, but just read The Millionaire FastLane recently. To be honest, I don’t know if a younger me would have listened to the advice in the book. I enjoyed my career in Engineering. It really is a slow lane though, MJ couldn’t make that point any clearer and I’ve lived that life. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m older or times are that much different than they were 30 years ago, but things feel real different now. I’m 55 and I feel like I have a big target on my back each time layoffs come around. I don’t believe I’ll be allowed to retire when I wanting unless I do something to speed that up and decide for myself. Maybe it's too late, but I'd like to be in the FastLane!

About 4 years ago my wife and I were really trying to watch our weight. One problem we noticed was that we didn’t have room to leave a bathroom scale out without it being in the way. We found we skipped weighing ourselves instead of getting it out of the cabinet. We were talking and we realized that we’ve never lived in a place we could leave a scale out. It didn’t matter how big or small the bathrooms were, the floor plan or traffic patterns just didn’t allow a place for a scale without it being a tripping hazard. I thought that if I could make a mechanism that could attach to a scale and allow it to store the scale above the baseboard and tight to the wall, it would be convenient, easy to use and out of the way. It could even attach to the back of a door and work in pretty much any bathroom, even a tiny ½ bath.

I was excited about the idea, but the idea was the easy part. It took years working on my invention after work and weekends to finally create a usable product. I’m close to having it ready for sale. I have a website (shopify), but it’s not complete. I haven’t enabled the add to cart buttons, they don’t do anything as of yet. Hopefully I’ll have it ready for sale in the next few weeks.

Even though I read The Millionaire FastLane after starting my project, it has given me many ideas and peace of mind. I had a gut feeling that I really wanted to do this, but the book clearly stated why I needed to start my own business. I understand that getting to the fastlane would statistically be better attempting it when I was younger, but I would have terrible regrets if I didn’t follow through on this idea. I welcome any feedback, comments, criticisms and suggestions on my product I call “UpScale”. UpScale Your Bathroom
Holy smokes another inventor named Brian! Welcome! Don’t worry about your late start, you’ve got skills and knowledge that are priceless and necessary for fastlaning. As MJ put it to me, if you’re on your way, then you’re already living the dream. It’s not about an event - it’s the process and the life you design alongside it.

Love your product, and have a great appreciation for what I know you went through to get to the point you’re at. I’m at the same point with mine - finished with development, have manufacturing and am launching on Shopify. Watching this thread!
 
Last edited:

BrianLateStart

New Contributor
Jun 11, 2019
8
12
13
Great story, and very interesting project/product. Can you tell us a bit more on the development stages? What were your biggest successes, mistakes and what did you learn? I'm also curious to know about the processes of finding someone to make them in bulk after you were done prototyping.
So, having the idea was exciting, but I really had no idea what the product would look like, I just knew it needed to get a scale off the floor, above a 6" baseboard. When placing it in the use position, I wanted it at least 4 inches from the wall. You can't stand on a scale that's up against the wall.

One of my problems, that at the time I thought was a strength, was that I do CAD design all day long at my full time job. People do what they are comfortable doing. I couldn't get out of the design phase. I could still come up with 20 different versions of the product and still want to change something. I spent too much time iterating on the product, instead of making changes based on customer feedback (should have built a MVP). It started out as a 4 bar mechanism and I finally ended up on a 6 bar (I patented both). I started out as a sheet metal box that lifted the scale off the floor (scale sat inside this box). I completely redesigned it as an all plastic product. Tooling was too high for that many plastic molds. Redesigned again to a sheet metal links with plastic covers.

I spent (wasted) a lot of time trying to license my design to scale manufacturers. If I had read the FastLane sooner, I would have learned that I didn't want to give up control to someone else. It just seemed like trying to manufacture it myself was too overwhelming and licensing it seemed the the correct (easy) choice (it wasn't). I also made changes to my original patent application because I thought I wanted to license it. I added a method of attaching a scale (with certain built in features) to the patent application. Patents are expensive and so is making changes.

Finding manufacturers that would mass produce my parts was difficult. At my full time job I work in Engineer at a very large company and I can request quotes very easily. Companies will bid on parts for us. But me as an individual, no one wanted to talk to me unless I was going to stamp out a couple hundred thousand parts. It took constant calling and emails to find someone that would make sheet metal stampings for me at an initial quantity of 1,000. Now that's 1,000 UpScale units, that consists of 13 sheet metal parts and 3 plastic covers. It's not a cheap product to have tooled.

... To be continued..have some things to take care of...
 

Vadim26

Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Nov 23, 2018
49
77
120
Vancouver, BC.
CAD designer checking in here...

Wow , what an exciting story and a great product you've got here

I am a young fella, and also work in the engineering field doing CAD design all day. Did Sheet metal design before and now working with plastic products as well..It must have been an interesting project for you to work on considering your area of expertise!

Building a physical product myself as a means to switch wealth lanes, I have some questions for you regarding the design of the product:

1) Have you had any outside help with the design or have you completely designed it by yourself? Someone doing stress analysis for example? The mechanism device? Looks a bit complicated from a first look.

2) How much JIT learning did you have to do for a design process?

Your story also shows that opportunities for improvement are everywhere, and the next lucrative idea could be just around the corner bathroom
 
Last edited:

BrianLateStart

New Contributor
Jun 11, 2019
8
12
13
CAD designer checking in here...

Wow , what an exciting story and a great product you've got here

I am a young fella, and also work in the engineering field doing CAD design all day. Did Sheet metal design before and now working with plastic products as well..It must have been an interesting project for you to work on considering your area of expertise!

Building a physical product myself as a means to switch wealth lanes, I have some questions for you regarding the design of the product:

1) Have you had any outside help with the design or have you completely designed it by yourself? Someone doing stress analysis for example? The mechanism device? Looks a bit complicated from a first look.

2) How much JIT learning did you have to do for a design process?

Your story also shows that opportunities for improvement are everywhere, and the next lucrative idea could be just around the corner bathroom
One of the first things I did when I had the idea, I had an attorney that specializes with IP look it over my IP agreement I had to sign when I hired in with the company I work full time for. He told me that as long as what I'm doing isn't related to my full time job (it isn't) then I'm fine. He also cautioned me not to use company time or resources for my side project. All day long I model in Creo Parametric. I decided to design this in a different CAD package and only use my Macbook (Creo doesn't even run on OS X). Made a very clear seperation from my day job and side project. I could have modeled this much faster in Creo, but I learned Fusion 360. It's been non stop learning even on stuff like CAD that I feel I already know very well. I wasn't happy with the built in rendering from Fusion so I bought and learned Keyshot. The renderings on my website are exports from Keyshot.

I consulted an Engineer to help get the pivot points for the mechanism, but the rest of the design is entirely mine. As far as stress analysis, there's very little stress on the mechanism. When your using the device, your hand is lifting and holding half the weight. There's almost no stress on the parts. I considered a damper so that it would slowly lower the scale. That put a ton of stress on the mechanism. It was surprising how much the links wanted to bow. The damper was way too expensive and only an advantage when lowering the scale so I dropped that design early on.

Everything including the design was JIT learning. I'm not a video editor and I know next to nothing about social media, but I'm learning it since that's how I'm planning to promote it. Rivets are commonly used in manufacturing, but I didn't know anyone that has a riveter (not talking pop rivets)? I now have a National Rivet model 600 in my garage and I live in a tiny condo. Had to learn how to use it. Buying a used machine was cheaper than the quote I got for having someone else rivet them.

Everything is tougher to do as an individual. I mentioned I ordered enough parts to make 1000 UpScales. Each UpScale weights about 1.4 pounds. I had a 1,400 pound pallet of parts show up to my condo. Two of these 13 sheet metal parts get powder coated. That's 2,000 parts that weigh a few hunded pounds. The place that paints them wants them on pallets. I have a 2007 Ford Explorer that I put a pallet in the back, on top of a couple 2x4's so I could slide the pallet out a couple of feet so the skids on the fork lift could reach without hitting the hatch of the Explorer. The plastic parts (3,000 of them) came in 39 pretty good size boxes. At least they weren't too heavy. If this first batch is successful, I can't work out of my condo to do a larger order. I'll have to rent a small building. At that point I'd probably quit my full time job.
 

BrianLateStart

New Contributor
Jun 11, 2019
8
12
13
Holy smokes another inventor named Brian! Welcome! Don’t worry about your late start, you’ve got skills and knowledge that are priceless and necessary for fastlaning. As MJ put it to me, if you’re on your way, then you’re already living the dream. It’s not about an event - it’s the process and the life you design alongside it.

Love your product, and have a great appreciation for what I know you went through to get to the point you’re at. I’m at the same point with mine - finished with development, have manufacturing and am launching on Shopify. Watching this thread!
Hey Brian, good luck on your product! You really can't appreciate what's involved until you go through it. I get that it's a process, but sometimes I just wish I thought of this a few years earlier. Can't change that.
 

BrianLateStart

New Contributor
Jun 11, 2019
8
12
13
Great story, and very interesting project/product. Can you tell us a bit more on the development stages? What were your biggest successes, mistakes and what did you learn? I'm also curious to know about the processes of finding someone to make them in bulk after you were done prototyping.
To be honest, the development stage was a lot of brute force trial and error. I knew what I wanted it to do. I knew where the pivot points for the mechanism needed to be, but I had no idea what the product would look like. I didn't even know how I was going to attach a scale to it without affect the scale's accuracy. I needed a lot of iterations of prototypes to try different things. Having physical prototypes was a great learning tool. My earliest design was making the mechanism from sheet metal. It was very expensive to have a prototype made. For cost reasons I made the mechanism plastic and 3D printed them. Even though 3D printing was cheaper, it was still over $250 to have all the parts made for 1 prototype.

After many prototypes, I finally had what I wanted or so I thought. The plastic parts were too complex and needed multiple slides for each part. Tooling was too expensive with 8 parts needing to be molded. But, the prototypes worked so well (wife and I used them daily) that I knew if I could redesign them where I could afford the tooling I would have a successful product.

I redesigned again with the mechanism being sheet metal (stampings) with simple plastic covers that could be molded without slides. The sheet metal parts were still more expensive to to get a prototype made (approx $3,000 for 2 full prototypes) but I knew what the design would be and only needed minor tweaks from there. Interesting side note, which was typical of the entire process, the company that made my sheet metal prototypes also does production stamping tooling. Thought I was set. They wouldn't give me a quote for production tooling. A lot of places don't want to talk to you unless you're making 100,000+ parts.

I wish I had some words of wisdom for you on finding places to have production parts made, but I was constantly searching the internet for companies that did low volume sheet metal stamping. Probably took about a month to find the place I ended up with. They were on the opposite side of the country from me, but at least I could get my parts made at a price I could afford. I had no idea how much it would cost to ship 1,400 pounds of sheet metal parts (39 boxes shrink wrapped on 1 pallet) across the country. In case you're wondering, it was $650 to ship it from California to Michigan.

I didn't have as much trouble finding a place to make the 3 plastic covers once I redesigned them so that they were a simple open and close mold.

Making the first 1,000 units was extremely difficult. If these sell and I need to order larger volumes, it will be very easy. Having the suppliers lined up takes away much of the effort. Although I won't be able to work out of my garage (small condo) for a larger order so I 'll need to rent some space. I may even need to quit the full time job.
 

Become a Fastlane INSIDER to view the forum ad free.

Post New Topic

Please SEARCH before posting.
Please select the BEST category.

Post new topic

FASTLANE INSIDERS

View the forum AD FREE.
Private, unindexed content
Detailed process/execution threads
Monthly conference calls with doers
Ideas needing execution, more!

Join Fastlane Insiders.

Top Bottom