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Changing the shop.
  • Vote Up0Vote Down
    February 2014
    Well it's been 2 years running my shop over here in the Philippines.

    I went from a shop in my house, to a shop a couple miles from my home. Beset by a year of electrical issues, water that barely worked, no flush toilet, and a leaking roof.

    My lease came up and I fled to a new building located 8 minutes from my home which is about 2km drive.

    Good electric and all that. Smaller but serviceable. The CNC plasma work is not that profitable, and the locals have no interest in open source machines. I made some really nice gasifier stoves, rocket stoves, and a ton of other stuff. The prices were great, yet people still want discount discount to the point where it is rude.

    So I have sold my CNC plasma table.

    I'm still doing open source, but concentrating on the higher end market. A few months ago, me and another American guy here teamed up to build 3D printers. We came across a really new elegant printer geometry that is so much more suited for mass production than existing g designs.

    We have also teamed up with a inventor to produce a revolutionary printer hot end that is water cooled and can handle up to 400c plastic with ease.

    So as of now I am out of the metal fabrication thing and focused on desktop manufacturing.
  • 4 Comments sorted by
  • It seems that you first bought (and/or built) the torch table and then tried to market it. And again you first buy/build a 3D-printer and think about marketing it afterwards.

    Would it not be better to try and find out what the market needs (and how much people are ready to pay for that) and then think about how to produce that item or service below the market price?

    To me it seems that you like your gadgets more than market success ;-) I can totally understand that. I like my gadgets too :-) But this is a choice that YOU have made and which should not lead you to complain about the market...The market is always right.

    I don't know much about the Philippines. But I have heard that most house holds cannot afford a washing machine and either do it by hand or go to commercial laundrettes. That seems an interesting market. If you can produce a simple but working washing machine that people can afford you are in business.
  • It not the marketing aspect with the CNC plasma. It is the drive towards the bottom in the last year with my competition. I am running up against a local competitor who is willing to take on jobs at a cost that makes no economic sense, along with people wanting CNC work at the same price or less than what a $9 dollar day guy will do with a angle grinder.

    I recently lost a $150k dollar order after doing the samples that got the guy the building contract for making decorative hand rails in a 30,000 person arena. The job was bid and awarded on my work. Then the client put 40% down on the first line item and refused to pay the balance, saying he was going to do it by hand. I told him that he was impossible to create the shapes he wanted by hand. He told me "No problem, I just bury it in concrete, no, one see" I replied that it was unethical to promise a job at one quality and deliver another. He also refused to pay for the samples I made that got him the job in the first place.

    My biggest client swittched to laser cut parts from Taiwan. Also it was just me in the shop. The marketing thing is a full time job in itself.

    With the 3d printers I have switched to a business model with one full time marketing guy (American) one full time tech guy and me handling logistics, and keeping everything tied together.

    Sor far it is working. My demand for printers outpaces the rate of production (although we are catching up fast) 4k page views on my business Facebook page last week alone.
  • Regarding washing machines. They are available at the local supermarket for $100 USD. Even at that price people here I would say at least >75% have the belief that hand washing is better. To the point where families will hire a full time employee to wash clothes by hand. Never mind the fact that the local hand wash method wastes water and causes massive pollution (wash water is thrown out in the street)

    People here will think nothing of spending $500 dollars on a purse but will balk at a washing machine. You see even dirt poor women here who do not have a flush toilet proudly display their genuine Gucci purse or LaCoste blouse, or latest iPhone. Western values about the value of work, human life, quality of goods purchased etc are greatly different in the East.

    This is why when I rode a jeepney 2 weeks ago, the driver lit up a joint, took a swig from a bottle of gin in view of the passengers, I was the only one to exit the vehicle in protest.

    I'm not saying that everybody here is like that. Far from it. The locals grade clients into multiple economic classes. A,B,C,D
    By western standards, that would be calld racist or classist or some other ism. Not here. I have been privellaged to meet and interact with some very smart people here.

    However it is very hard to actually hire someone like that. They either emigrate or they go into business for themselves and go with vertical integration. Vertical integration business models do not buy services.

    It is a cultural thing here. Far smarter people with greater resources than I, have tried to change things here without success. You can only put it in front of someone and they have the free will to choose.

    Marketing to the lower C and D classes a high quality product is a waste of time unless it is fashionable luxury good or one uses the ever prevelant 'celebrity endorser' (their words not mine) The local C and D class clients have a bias against better products. This is why you can buy gasoline powered blow torches and charcoal powered clothes irons at the wet market.

    For example, the inkjet banner printer that became so common in the west back in the late 1990's was not widely adopted until 2008 here. Never mind that the inkjet was cheaper and better, they would still go to the guy hand painting signs with no attention to detail.

    If anything early adopters are punished in the local market. (unless it is a luxury good)

    So for the 3d printer my target market is the upper end makers and builders locally and the export market.
  • Thanks for your report. quite interesting. And it is reminding us westerners that our ideas and concepts do not apply everywhere. Good luck with your business.

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