TMBA 250: Designing and Prototyping Your Own Consumer Product

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Bossman and I are celebrating our 250th episode this week. We’re also talking to our good friend Eric Dubs, the creator of Bedphones. Eric has found success in the consumer electronics market, despite facing competition from some huge brands. Eric has been able to build a genuine Four Hour Work Week product business through automation. We’ll talk about what went into the creation of Eric’s product, how he was able to get it featured on platforms like Dr. Oz and Good Morning America, and how his business has evolved to the point where he can operate it remotely.

Listen to this week’s show and learn:

  • What Eric learned from his poor experience with drop shipping.
  • How Eric decided that he needed to create and manufacture his own product.
  • What went in to the prototype for his product and how he found the right supplier.
  • Eric’s strategy of using “Business as your own personal ATM”.
  • Some lessons Bossman and I have learned since we started the podcast.

People on this episode:

Mentioned in the episode:

Oustanding Singapore Eats

Oustanding Singapore Eats

Listening options:

 

Eric Built the First Prototype of Bedphones in His Parents House Using Parts From Hardware Stores

Eric Built the First Prototype of Bedphones in His Parents House Using Parts From Hardware Stores

 

Thanks for listening to our show! We’ll be back next Thursday morning 8AM EST.

Cheers,

Dan & Ian

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Published on 06.26.14
  • Adrijus Guscia

    Thank you for 250 episodes guys! Hope there will be 250 more coming!

  • http://www.CloudVenturesGroup.com Steve Wyman CloudVenturesGroup

    Eric

    So impressed with what you’ve done already.

    If you can nail the design on the stand for notebooks that will be awesome. What’s in the market already sucks. They don’t collapse back flat to then stick back in the backpack.

    I need one now.. So let us know when your ready !

    Dan and Ian congrats on 250 here’s looking forward to 500

  • TJ

    This was really a fantastic episode. Very inspiring. I definitely need that portable laptop stand!

  • http://www.nomadicnotes.com/ James Clark

    Congrats on the 250! It’s been a great ritual of my week to follow the TMBA journey :)

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    :D Thank you James!!!

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    yeah man now I can’t stop thinking about it! I’m tilting my head down as I write this! GAH!

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    thank you for your support Steve!

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    me too buddy!

  • TJ

    There are laptop stands for DJs but they are designed to be used standing up.

  • http://www.tropicalentrepreneur.com Josh Denning

    Hi Guys, great podcast. I would like to ask if you guys could build on this as my wife is interested in drop shipping and I would like her to find a drop shipper that will set up a brand for her that is hers and hers only. Do you guys have any experience with that? I think that’s the best way to ensure that you can add some premium and not end up in a price war or becoming a commodity.

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    Generally you’ll have to build your own brand / audience / relationships / traffic source and then ask a dropshipper to white label one of their products and blind ship for you.

  • Ricardo P Aquino

    Just started listening today, but I’m already working my way through the library.

    This stuff is gold! I’m developing my own product right now and this is an incredibly helpful post. Thank you guys so much.

  • Norman

    This isn’t the Podcast Circle Jerk Syndicte, so I assume I can dissent a little from the “golly everything you guys do is PERFECT!” line of conversation.

    It’s soooo incredibly rare for a first product to go this well. I’d love to hear from/about someone who didn’t send one magical email that resulted in five thousand billion million sales.

    BUT! (and it’s a big but) please don’t turn into another gawd damned interview show. I’d hate to lose you to the syndicate.

    Love you guys.

    N.

  • http://www.ddg.io/ Joseph Hughes

    I love Eric’s story, and especially cool to hear that he stuck to his guns and built an actual business (that can run without him), rather than just a job for himself, which so many of us end up doing. And I can attest to the manual aspect of his business as last year I sat in his apartment among boxes of Bedphones.

    Keep up the hustle, Eric. I’m looking forward to the ergonomic laptop stand, as I always find myself hunching while standing up and working.

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    Thank you Ricardo best of luck with your product!

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    He’s so unique in that respect ! Eric’s got “better things to do” covered :D

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    thank you good sir!!! :D

  • Scott

    It sounds like Eric had quite the bank role when he started, with those hundreds of prototypes and plans on a 2k unit MOQ. After building and trying several consumer products with little bank role, I’ve now decided that you need about $100k min. to attempt this on your own. Does that number sound right? Low?

    Obviously this depends on the product, but my stuff has been similar electronic consumer types, and just prototyping the electronics can take $10k for a simple board (inc all the revisions),… then the enclosure, then FCC, then manufacturing prototypes, then first run… it seems every step is $10k, and we’re not even to marketing.

    As an electrical & software person, it seems so easy at first,… “I can make a blinky LED prototype for $45!” But then after your 10th revision, you decide you don’t want to wait 4 years, so you start over-nighting stuff and money turns to dust :)

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    that would have been a good question to ask but I don’t get that sense since he was rocking low MOQs and had a relatively inexpensive product, the parts are cheap. your figures might be more in line for more complex consumer products… but I certainly think 100K is quite generous… I’ll ask Eric.

  • http://www.bedphones.com Eric Dubs

    Hi Scott,

    I spent less than $20k on all prototyping plus first 2k units, but I did all of the design (CAD) work myself and used http://www.zoomrp.com to get overnight 3D printed prototype Bedphone parts for about $80 shipped per order.

    I put so much work into making handmade prototypes initially that I only had to order a handful of 3D printed versions to get the design right, then worked closely with the factory for small DFM revisions by sending CAD files back and forth.

    Because they’re headphones, the electrical aspect is pretty straightforward. I haven’t worked with PCB’s, but those too can be prototyped fairly cheaply and easily starting with Radio Shack parts and then moving up to professionally-made PCB prototypes with 24-hour turnaround time such as: http://www.sunstone.com.

    Regarding enclosure design, a buddy of mine hired an exceptional CAD guy on oDesk for $8/hour, but you can perhaps find someone even cheaper who can make you exactly what you want. I’m sure you can find PCB designers on oDesk as well who can help out or perhaps the two designers can work together virtually to design a truly beautiful yet functional product. Then with good pictures and a nice website, the marketing almost takes care of itself :)

  • http://www.bedphones.com Eric Dubs

    Also check out http://www.pad2pad.com. And for those prototyping metal parts, http://www.emachineshop.com is really cool

  • Scott

    Even more respect :) Still in disbelief on the $20k including the first run.

    Another pcb company I’ve donated tons of money to is http://www.goldphoenixpcb.com/ . Great for first runs (need to get a panel). http://batchpcb.oshpark.com/ is much cheaper for individual prototypes.

    Thanks so much for sharing the experience. Very inspirational. My first reaction like others was that the free press invalidates all the advice–how could you fail? But thinking more, the press is just a bonus, albeit a big one. The biz wouldn’t be sustainable without the marketing channel development, and I get the feeling the product still would have succeeded without it.

  • Cris

    You the man Eric!

  • http://www.LimitlessMindset.com/ Jonathan Roseland

    It seems this episode (and many others) serve as a precautionary tale against manufacturing in China… I’m about to begin researching sourcing for a physical product that can be 3D printed…
    Due to the pain point my product addresses my pricing can really be 2X – 3X as high as my adcopy writing and marketing skills permit.
    Does it make (way) more sense as an entrepreneur trying to minimize stress to manufacture stateside?

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    ideally 4 x or more! especially if one day you want retail distribution, regarding where you manufacture the stress level and even pricing will depend entirely on what the material and manufacturing process is.. i mean if it’s one piece plastic widgets that are 3d printed and or injection molded, do the test run state-side and send 5 out to differing CN manufacturers they can make an easy lunch of that type of thing, whereas if you were doing multi-material millwork it might make sense to keep it in the USA altogether

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