A hike up Elephant Mountain, also known as the Nangang District Hiking Trail in Taipei, was a great way to finish my trip to Taiwan this month. A light rain trickled through the green canopy as I came upon this little girl holding her pink umbrella. I wondered why she was standing there all by herself, so as I went by I turned to look at her face to see that she was smiling, and then realized she was playing a hiding game with her sister who had a similar blue umbrella at the bottom of the hill. All was well.
This trip gave our project a big boost. But first, I’ll give you a review before updating you on the trip. For the last six months, we’ve been working with another manufacturer, trying to get pricing and tooling costs; the pace was painfully slow. We need these prices before we can start the crowdfunding campaign.
After repeated requests for updates and climbing the managerial hierarchy to find out why the process had ground to a halt, it was time to look for a more interested partner. And I found that partner in Taiwan. This has happened more than once on JogAlong’s journey, where the progress wheels seemed to get stuck only to break free and then we take a big jump. The new partner is a huge leap for us.
I was in Taipei to attend the Taipei Bike Show as a convenient place to meet some of our component suppliers who were exhibiting there. Our new manufacturing partner was also exhibiting its e-bike motor called MPF Drive. Just the week before, I was lucky enough to participate in a testing day for motors on a mountain in southern Taiwan. That MPF motor is incredible. The point is, there is a fantastic engineering team behind this motor development and we now have some members of that team supporting JogAlong. In addition to e-bike motors, our manufacturing partner has been building high quality strollers for decades and the owners are very involved in all the projects.
The week prior to the show we had a productive design review with the owners and the engineering team. Since I’ve been looking at JogAlong’s design for so long alone, I reached a point where I was blind to areas that needed improvement. With new eyes on the design, we discussed improvements to many areas that we are now going to incorporate. Many of these relate to manufacturability, important to consider now. Something that impressed me was their ability to functionally and life-cycle test strollers in-house. One of the biggest requirements for a juvenile product manufacturer is to pass the safety tests required by the countries where it will be sold. In our case, we have not only the tests for the stroller but also those for the bicycle trailer. So having the ability to test and confirm that we can pass all the mandated tests before doing the official ones at the certified lab is of great benefit.
Over the years the crowdfunding scene has changed. It once was funded by very early adopters who oftentimes had to wait for a long period as the entrepreneur continued to develop their idea and then worked through all the pains of manufacturing and sourcing. Today, there is more pressure to deliver product faster. And in our case, we also have the time factor that parents don’t run with their children in a stroller forever. So before we ask for your financial support, I want to make sure we are as far along as we can be in the process to produce a safe and viable product with a known delivery date.
What is the next step? As soon as the new the design changes are incorporated, we will get together with the engineering team and do another thorough review. I suspect there will be a few small changes after that and then we can do a round of cost estimating, not only for the product but for the manufacturing tooling. That will set us up to start building the crowdfunding campaign.
Thank you for your continued support; I’ll keep you posted!