It started in October 2008, planning for my summer 2009 expedition to Pakistan. I couldn't find an ice axe I liked and a friend with machine shop experience suggested I just make one in the WPI shop. After some more discussion and brainstorming, it was happening.
It's a long and boring and most of all painful story to me, so I won't tell it except to say a few things.
I won a business competition, and $1,500.
I spent close to $3,000 of money I barely had on patents, which were both rejected. Thus I am very soured on patents, and I see them as a function of deep legal pockets more than truly innovative ideas. Except for high development cost things like medical drugs, I'm not really sure how patents encourage innovation.
I learned a lot about manufacturing constraints.
I leaned about tooling costs, which ultimately kill any low budget manufacturing startup.
I learned about market size, percentages, distribution channels, customer expectations, certification, value propositions.
I learned that for physical products, it's hard, it takes a seemingly long time, and it's expensive.
I learned it is rewarding, and I want to do it again. But for all of the above reasons it's scary, almost as scary as talking to an attractive young woman.
This is brought up because entrepreneurship among young people in the US is in the tubes, it's really gone downhill, accelerated by the Great Recession. I also bring this up because as time passes it becomes less painful to discuss. I think of myself as the entrepreneurial type, yet what have I done lately even remotely entrepreneurial?
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