Who You Are and Why Your Designs are Better Because of It

Forget about designing from a clean sheet of paper.  It can’t happen.  The designer himself prevents brings a tapestry of experience, skills and preconceptions with him.  Embrace that diversity and create better designs, even when you are starting from scratch.  Once you understand you, then you can think on a broader scale and truly innovate on your next project!

This is a podcast I originally created in 2012.

Cheers,
Montie
montie@montie.com

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Audio File Transcript: Who Are You and What Does that Mean

Hello. My name is Montie Roland. And I’m with Montie Design in Morrisville, North Carolina. I wanted to spend a few minutes with you this morning talking about who are you and how does your skillset, your drive, your . . . how you go about creating new product concepts or new product ideas; how does that fit into everything.

We all have our own desires, drives and I want to kind of go through it and talk about it. And maybe learn a little bit about each other as we go through it.

I’m the president of Montie Design and also the president Montie Gear in Morrisville, North Carolina. Montie Design is a product development firm. And we develop products for you. And we fill in gaps. Sometimes it’s a small project; sometimes it’s a large one. And what we do is fill in those gaps in your engineering or your industrial design or your prototyping department; fill in those gaps to help get your product to market.

Montie Gear is a company that provides outdoor shooting equipment, and slingshots and fun stuff. Montie Gear was founded about four years ago as one of those things we decided as an institutional learning tool. And we decided that we wanted to design some of our own products, not just everybody else’s. So we did a couple and then said, well, what would it be like to sell them? How do we sell products without spending a lot of money on advertising? So, we put them on our website, Montie Design website, and then we also came up with the idea – thanks to Carl – of doing a lot of test and evaluation units. And over the years that test and evaluation unit approach has even rolled into a service we now call Social Reviews. And so, I don’t want to spend all day talking about that. Something we’re proud of. Montie Gear line has grown from zero to over a hundred thousand dollars in sales in about four years with very little advertising. So we’re very proud of that and we’re proud of the products we sell.

So it gives us a little different perspective on the product development process. So, not only do we develop products, we also are responsible for some of those products for selling, and manufacturing them. And that’s also kind of spilled over in that we’re now doing that for two clients where we’re providing the backend services – they sell them, and we ship them. We make sure they’re manufactured, that they’re packaged, they’re QC’d and then the customer’s happy.

And so, first question, our first thought is I want to throw out the thought of, you know, who is Montie? Who am I? If I’m going to tell you how other people are, I’m thinking maybe I should go ahead and kind of do a little analysis on myself. Now, Montie Design designs products for a wide variety of situations – manufacturing approaches. We have products that we design – they’re going to go straight overseas. We have products that we design and we get to a certain point and we turn them loose to an ODM somewhere the other end of the Internet and they take it from there; and we read about it in a magazine. We other products we’re more intimately involved with throughout the whole lifecycle. But, you know, it comes down to the “Who’s Montie” and how I think. I think the best example is to maybe watch what I do and not what I say in this case and look at Montie Gear.

With Montie Gear we’ve come at it from the standpoint of we want to have a high quality product that’s what we call heirloom quality-Toublesome Gap tough. Which means a very robust product that’s going to perform well in the field and it’s going to be the kind of product that you want to give to your grandkids because it’s that lasting and hopefully timeless.

So, right there, you kind of have to ask, well, how many of those products are high-volume. And the answer is very few. So we have mainly products that are low-volume, low-capital requirements – and by low-capital requirements, we haven’t built a lot of tooling; we haven’t spent a lot of money to get the products to market. Now the trade-off with that, of course, is the products cost more to manufacture, so you have a higher quality product, higher cost of goods sold, but at the same time that fits in with the Montie Gear approach where what we want to have is this heirloom quality, made local, products.

So, when I go to create a product for Montie Gear, or work with someone on our team that does, or work with an intern or what have you, we’re definitely in the mode of Let’s-get-something-out-there-fairly-fast, without spending a lot of capital investment; without a lot of investment. So, we want to design it, have it work well, but not rely on the fact that we’re going to injection mold it to get the price down or what have you; die cast it, and have to sell gazillions instead. We’re going to plan to sell handfuls at a time. So, in this case, my natural instinct is to rely on local manufacturers for Montie Gear, and to work with those local manufacturers closely to have a higher quality product sold at lower volumes – higher cost, but at the same time the higher quality and also that emotional appeal of having a product that the down the street made (which I think is having more and more value in our society). At the same time, if we’re going to have a higher-end product, we need to provide a higher level of customer service as well. So what we want to do there is to treat that customer well and make sure that we meet their needs on a timely basis.

So if we take that a little farther and look at it in a broad perspective, there’s several different kinds of companies. One company is a company that’s service excellence. They may not be terribly innovative, but you get the same service every time. A great example of this is McDonald’s. You know what you’re going to get no matter where in the United States you go; and to a certain extent, you’ve got a good idea of what you’ll get no matter where in the world you go. So, their goal is to bring you a reliable product at a reliable price, and get it to you quickly and have no surprises. So, it’s a safe bet. You stop and eat at McDonald’s, you know exactly what you’re going to get. That’s not a terribly innovative company at this point. It may have been innovative early on by driving the concept of fast food and so forth. But at this point, it’s a mature company and they don’t do a lot of innovations. They do little tweaks here and there. And they definitely don’t create a lot of new intellectual property; at least, that goes into their products. Most of the intellectual property goes into logistics, service.

So let’s look at other companies that have to innovate. So, kind of break it down into two different types. One is a product excellence company. So a product excellence company is a company where you know that you’re going to get the finest product you can get. You’re going to get a high quality product; you’re going to get service to go with it. So, the whole experience is excellent. They may or may not be innovative, but at the same time, you’re going to get this high quality, high satisfaction product. A good example is that you may go buy a ring for your wife (or your husband); and that ring hasn’t really changed a whole lot. You got a little filigree here and its silver instead of gold, but for the most part, your expectations is very high level of quality. Not a lot of innovation in that industry, I would argue, for the most part. There’s some artistic work but not a lot of what I describe as true innovation. And then another example is a company that’s very innovative, or it could also be very inventive, where they create new intellectual property. And so, in either situation that organization is relying on either innovating or inventing to drive their products ahead of their competitors. And that’s a very important part of the whole ecosystem as well. And that’s the ones a lot of times we tend to really want to get behind. And everybody just wants to always tell the example of Apple, but they’ve come up with some really great products by often by innovating and inventing. And so they’re an example of a company where they try to stay ahead of the curve. And a good example of that is if they don’t, they’re products don’t always compete as well because of cost. So, they want to have this innovative customer experience, these innovative products; but as those products age, there are a lot of times that “me, too” products are a lot more attractive. A good example of that is the iPhone is now starting to be displaced by other smartphones, where at first they were “me, too” – for example, Samsung, HTC – but now they’re starting to actually have some innovation and some invention in what they do. And so they’re competing very well. And if you look at the iPhone 5 versus the latest HTC or the latest Samsung, there’s starting to be a technology gap, which in this case isn’t in Apple’s favor because they really relied on having this amazing edge in the marketplace. Now, they also have a lot of other things going for them, but in the realm of phones, that edge is absolutely critical to maintain their market share.

This also applies to smaller organizations. I like going to the Apex farmers’ market. And there are several folks there that cook different types of items. So, one example is there’s a lady there that makes pies and she makes muffins and so all the recipes she’s using are pretty old school. There’s not a lot of innovation. So, what she’s bringing to her product is quality; its handmade from scratch; these very desirable elements, but there’s not a lot invention or innovation that goes into that. So, if you look at this in the context of the three categories I described earlier, she’s in the service excellence category, or product excellence. So, she’s using her time buying some materials and turning that into a product. Now, in no way am I denigrating that as a model for business. There are a lot of very successful businesses that do that. Think about how many large cookie companies there are. And so, it’s a very valid way of doing business. I think the important thing is that if you’re in that type of business, it’s often handy to understand what your model is to help you make future decisions and current decisions.

So a lot of the folks that we buy stuff from that make pies and pastries at the farmers’ market, there’s just not a lot of innovation there. So, they want to provide a high quality product; they want to provide a friendly face; and it tastes good. You like the fact that the person you’re talking to made it yesterday or this morning, put their time and love into it. And so that’s a good way to look at that. The other categories you find in different places. So, for example, if you’re an inventor, then generally when someone considers themselves to be an inventor, or we consider them to be an inventor as an organization, they have an interest in creating intellectual property, and then selling the concept. So, they’re truly inventing. So, in this case, they’re viability as a service provider (or as a vendor) to someone is their ability to innovate. So, they fall in that last category because if they come up with a concept that’s already out there and it’s a “me, too”, as an inventory they really haven’t invented anything. When you look at entrepreneurs, the entrepreneur – and I want to define the inventor as someone who invents for the sake of invention-to-license later – an entrepreneur is someone who builds a company and an infrastructure that is designed around selling a product; manufacturing and selling it. It’s an important distinction.

So when the entrepreneur does this, the entrepreneur may be making pies to sell at the flea market; may be making cupcakes; and in the last few years there’s been this huge amount of cupcake industry forming. It’s really amazing how many cupcake companies there are. These companies that make cupcakes make some amazing cupcakes sometimes. So you can go and get a cupcake at the grocery for $2.50; or you can go to a specialty store – you might get a $20.00 cupcake. Yes, a $20.00 cupcake. So, could a cupcake company kind of fall into these categories? Well, yes. A cupcake company could be a matter of picking twelve existing cupcake designs, styles, and then making those. And in that case, their appeal is service. They’re providing a product that’s based upon their labor. So it’s not a real inventive product in that case. But there are also cupcake manufacturers and cupcake stylists that provide cupcakes that are very different. And they’ll actually do research into different ways that they can do this. Or maybe come up with their own. So, there may be a new style of icing or a new style of . . . packaging. You know, what can they do different that sets them apart? Now, the question to ask is – Are you selling cupcakes because you have something that’s truly original? It’s a, I don’t know, vacuum-puffed cupcake that no one else can do. And you’ve got this trade secret on how to make vacuum-puffed cupcakes. Or, are you selling products that are just based on your hard work and love? And usually there’s a mixture of the two. But, so, it’s important to understand how your business thrives based on where you are in these models. Because then, all of a sudden, you can make better decisions about how much time and resources and money you should put into these different activities. So if having inventive cupcakes doesn’t drive sales, then maybe you’re putting too much effort into inventing those crazy, new technology cupcakes. If the fact that you sell these crazy vacuum-puffed cupcakes is what is driving your new sales (or your existing sales) in a big way, if that’s what’s driving your growth, then maybe you need to put more effort into the crazy ones.

And so it goes a little beyond just the matter of the accounting; saying this cupcake sold this many, this cupcake sold this many. I think it also goes into the strategic planning. So I think it’s important to plan your strategy around what type of company you are. And so understanding these distinctions and where you fall, and how where you fall helps your business grow, is very, very important. This type of strategic planning and understanding is important at the Fortune 500 level; its important at the small business level. Because it important for anyone in a small business to make sure that you’re always, always – always – making good use of your resources. And understanding, you know, your place in the process of developing new products; or not developing new products helps you make the best decision to maximize your return on investment. Which is critical because it’s a small business; it’s tough enough to survive even if you’re making good decisions. So, making better decisions may be a different between subsistence and true growth and just kick-butt kind of company. And I think how you go about product development, or don’t, is an important part of that and can help you dramatically.

I hope this podcast is helpful. This is a tough subject to sometimes kind of articulate through and work through and walk through with you. So I hope it was helpful. Understanding your spot in your strategic model and what the strategic value of your . . . or what the value proposition of your company is, is something that can really help.

Let me know if you have any questions. Montie Roland, Montie Design. (M-O-N-T-I-E)@montie(M-O-N-T-I-E) .com. Visit us on the website – (M-O-N-T-I-E)@montie(M-O-N-T-I-E) .com. There’s a handy little chat tool and you can click on it and get immediate help. Either way, it’d be great to hear from you. And have a great day. Montie Roland, out.

Podcast: Micromanufacturing In Spring Creek

July – Micromanufacturing In Spring Creek

 

Audio Transcript

Hi. My name is Montie Roland. And right now I’m coming to you [from] about two hundred vertical feet above Troublesome Gap [at an elevation of  approximately 3900 feet].

Troublesome Gap is between the communities of Spring Creek and Big Pond, which is just south of Hot Springs, North Carolina, which is where the Appalachian Trail goes through Hot Springs, and just north of Asheville. And so I had an opportunity to come up this weekend and just relax.

We had a meeting in Spring Creek earlier and a meeting the night before at ASU for the IDSA Student Merit Competition judging. And I was right here, and I said, You know, it might be a good weekend to pitch a tent and sit back and just relax. So, that’s what I’m doing. So, right now, I am literally the only person within three-quarters of a mile of where I am. I think the closest people, from right here, from where I am, are Bob and Patsy Allan, who are down farther on Baltimore Branch Road. And they’re about three-quarters of a mile away. So, it’s nice and remote up here. And then the next neighbors . . . there’s another neighbor about three-quarters of a mile away and then you got to go farther to get to more neighbors. So it’s quiet up here. It’s about to rain, I think. It’s been holding off all day but . . . so I built a fire, pitched a tent, and there’s a stack of wood in kind of a U-shape behind the fire, which keeps the wind off. There’s a lot of wind up here. And it comes from Tennessee and comes up the Spring Creek Valley and it’s pretty energetic. So we have to build this pseudo-kiva structure to keep the wind off the fire. And I’ll tell you that has a really nice effect of pushing a lot of that heat back, I believe. Or maybe it captures it and radiates it, but, whatever, it’s nice and cozy warm here. It was in the high-70’s today and now it’s a little cooler.

So, it’s nice to get away. It’s nice to sit back and relax and enjoy life.

So, we are, as a company, Montie Design and manufacturers of Montie Gear products, are setting (or in the process of) setting up . . . I’m going to call it micro-manufacturing facility for now. Maybe one day we can actually graduate to the mini-manufacturing facility size. But we’re planning on renting a building up here and down in the valley in Spring Creek, and have a couple of local folks that work part time and do some assembly for us. And hopefully grow that into a way to bring jobs to this community. And then also serve our Montie Gear clients better, and our Montie Design clients. And I think I just hear my iPhone beep. Boy, that kills the woodsy mood. Sorry about that. But anyway so we’re putting in this facility and been making arrangements to do that. And what I wanted to do was chat a little bit about my vision for that facility.

My contention is that we can have a facility up here, in this remote location, and bring jobs to a group of people who are struggling to find employment. And that also gives us the labor rate that’s lower than what we can do in Raleigh. And hopefully we can put some of this mountain culture and mountain know-how to use in a way that, like I said, is good for the Montie Gear and Montie Design clients; customers.

So, what we’re setting up is a very flexible assembly area where we’ll do some of the assembly on our Montie Gear products. For example, the slingshot has a paracord handle, and that’s . . . that has to be woven into the aluminum frame. And it takes . . . its time consuming. So what I want to try with that is to . . . it’s just out to here, so it’s not something we’re doing in the office anymore in Raleigh; it’s something we’re doing up here. And I think that’ll work out as a win-win for everybody. You know, that brings some work here. It keeps our labor rate low, which is a win for our customers, too, because that helps our prices reasonable.

So, as a Montie Design client, you know, what’s the benefit for you if you’re a Montie Design client? And that is, now, we have a good way to do that initial prototyping for you, where there is a . . . you’ve not moved it to a full-blown contract manufacturer, but maybe you want to get the first hundred units out while you’re tooling up or what have you. And so I think this is a lot more cost effective way where we can take that product (a lot of times one we designed), shift it over to here to be assembled, tested, debugged. And so that way we’ve got this very flexible facility – very small but very flexible – taking your product and building your prototypes. And I’m thinking this is the . . . you know, we’ll build the first few prototypes in the office, develop some documentation, and then we move those prototypes to here and maybe that’s the first two hundred . . . thousand, what have you. But you get those fairly quickly; we can use to make those . . . maybe they’re cast parts; maybe they’re rapid prototype-type parts, but . . . what have you. So those first market samples go out.

So that’s kind of part of the reason . . . big chunk of the reason we’re doing that is to give us capabilities that we didn’t have before. And a way of keeping that economical.

It’s really beautiful up here; it’s gorgeous. And it’s remote. And, I think the nice thing is that for . . . if your production is up here, you can go meet the people that are building your product. You can see where it’s built; you can see, you know, is this a sustainable model, are we treating people well. And just ask them. And so I think that’s an awfully nice thing in today’s times where we’ve . . . you know, there’s so much, so many times, that it comes over from a boat, and, what was it like when it was made? You know what? What considerations are there for, you know what, how people are treated? Or, you know, how . . . are people paying attention to the quality of your product as they’re putting it together. And so what we’re trying to do here is give you a way to address those concerns. Do it locally and do it in a very cost effective manner.

So I hope as this project progresses you’ll keep track and I will . . . will definitely post information as it proceeds. And that can . . . inspire you to think about, you know, letting us do some of your production here in Spring Creek, North Carolina.

I hope you have a great evening. And I think it’s starting to rain so I believe I’m going to move underneath the picnic shelter to keep me dry.

Thanks. Have a great evening. Bye.

END AUDIO

Maker Faire is Coming, Maker Faire is Coming on Jun 7th


Are you a maker? Who are makers? Lets spend a few minutes and explore this amazing and sometimes wacky world. Keep in mind that the makers are influencing how you do business and that influence is rapidly growing. According to Wikipedia:

The maker culture is a contemporary culture or subculture representing a technology-based extension of DIY culture. Typical interests enjoyed by the maker culture include engineering-oriented pursuits such as electronics, robotics, 3-D printing, and the use of CNC tools, as well as more traditional activities such as metalworking, woodworking, and traditional arts and crafts. The subculture stresses new and unique applications of technologies, and encourages invention and prototyping. There is a strong focus on using and learning practical skills and applying them creatively.

Makers are people how build stuff. Some of these makers are just hobbyists and crafters who use technology to create their products. Other makers are entrepreneurs who use what is now common technology to build innovative products in their garage. It would probably surprise you how many individuals now have CNC machines or hobbyist grade 3d printers in their garages. Over past ten years several technologies and enabling products have had a huge impact on democratizing design. These enabling products and services include:

Electronics Development Platform
Raspberry Pi – http://www.raspberrypi.org/
Adurino – http://www.arduino.cc/
 

3D Printing
MakerBot – http://makerbot.com/
RepRap – http://www.reprap.org/wiki/RepRap
 

Laser Cutters

Epilog –
http://www.epiloglaser.com

CNC (Computer Numeric Control) Machining
Shopbot – http://www.shopbottools.com

Online 3D Printing and Laser Cutting Services
Fineline in Raleigh, NC – https://www.finelineprototyping.com
Ponoko – https://www.ponoko.com

There are even networks of makers like 100K Garages (http://www.100kgarages.com/).

Many people don’t realize that this community even exists. It’s important to keep in mind that this community is and will impact your business and how you do business. A great way to connect with the community is at the Maker Faire at the NC State Fairgrounds on Saturday, Jun 7th, 2014. This is a fun event, and it is guaranteed to show you the coolest innovation and innovators around. Check out the Maker Faire at www.makerfairenc.com!

See you there!

About this blog’s author, Montie Roland and his business Montie Design Montie Design is an innovation and commercialization firm with core competencies in mechanical engineering and industrial design. Active in the product design, defense, and technology sectors, we leverage years of industry leadership and extensive technical capabilities to help clients take products from concept to marketplace that are economical to manufacture, elegant and robust. Montie Design is a North Carolina company headquartered in the Research Triangle region with clients across the country and overseas. We are dedicated to economic development throughout our home state and furthering excellence in design and engineering. For more information, visit www.montie.com or download the capabilities statement in PDF format here.

Podcast: Understanding Economics Helps Us Design Products with Impact

Lets talk about some of the misconceptions about economics and how that relates to the American political and economics systems.  One big misconception is how wealth is created.  Lets spend a few minutes and dive into the mechanisms of creating wealth.  Its important for entrepreneurs, product designers and engineers to understand how these systems work, so we can design and engineer products that have the greatest benefit for our clients and constituents.  Creation of new products is a great way to benefit our clients, their employees and the community.  Lets dive in and swim through some of these issues.

Misunderstanding Of Economics

Montie Design Announces Winter 2012 Student Design Contest

(Spring Creek & Morrisville, N.C.) Montie Design, an innovative concept-to-marketplace product design and development firm, today announced it will be holding a Winter 2012 Student Design Contest for aspiring product designers in community colleges, four-year colleges, or high schools from North Carolina and Virginia. Initial submissions are due on Feb 1, 2012 with final submissions due on Feb 29, with full details available online at www.montie.com/contest. (more…)

Montie Design Participates in Defense Business Event

(Morrisville, N.C.) Montie Design, an innovative concept-to-marketplace product design and development firm, recently participated in the North Carolina Defense Business Association (NCDBA) Breakfast with a Prime event August 25th as one of the presenting companies. Held at the Research Triangle Park Archie K. Davis Conference Center, Breakfast with a Prime featured a main presentation by renowned government contracting group IEM and was well-attended by representatives of private businesses, local government and universities. (more…)

Calling Entrepreneurs – Free Office Space during the Durham Stampede

Durham Stampede

Office Space

The Stampede space will host about twelve startups and is in the middle of everything. Parking is free, along with the area’s fastest wi-fi, office furniture, and meeting space. You’re job is to bring a laptop, cell phone, and a good idea. We’ll take care of the rest.

Free Advice

Durham has lots of successful entrepreneurs who are committed to supporting future all-stars. The Bull City also has plenty of service providers who have worked extensively with startups. You’ll have access to all of this during your 60 days.

The Culture

You’ll be joined by over a dozen other startups so the culture is yours to create. The one guarantee is that you’ll have great coffee shops, nice bars, and tasty restaurants close by to fuel you along the way.

Sign Up at: http://startupstampede.com/#sec1

Montie Design Announces Participation in Major Defense Industry Expo

Montie Design has announced its participation in the First Annual Symposium and Expo April 19-20 sponsored by the North Carolina Defense Business Association (NCDBA). The state’s inaugural tradeshow of its kind is expected to draw thousands of innovators and defense industry vendors to the world-famous Pinehurst Resort, along with numerous high-profile, influential speakers such as North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue, Secretary of Commerce Keith Crisco, and Lt. General Frank Helmick, the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg commander. (more…)

Two New Opportunities for Education and Networking at March Lunch and Learns

Montie Design and the RTP Product Development Guild are providing two new opportunities for high-impact networking and education at March Lunch and Learn events. John Slaughter of Moore & Van Allen will be presenting “Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreements: Understanding their Role and Practical Tips” on March 2. Pam Cardozo of The Ultimate Sales Connection will be presenting “Resetting Your Revenue Future” on March 16. Each event will take place at the Montie Design offices in Morrisville. (more…)

Montie Design Begins Internation Distribution of New RFID Detector Card

RFID Detector Car in Use(Morrisville, N.C.) Collaborative product design and development firm Montie Design is now actively selling its innovative radio frequency identification (RFID) detector card to domestic and international clients. Small enough to fit into a shirt pocket or clip to an ID badge, Montie Design’s product enables users and installers to detect whether an RFID reader is actually sending out a signal.

“We have sold cards in six foreign countries and have interest from distributors in Japan and Sweden,” said Karl Frank, Montie Design’s Business Development Manager. The $20 cards were released for purchase just two months ago. “We have also sold cards to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and users of every kind from research labs to system integrators across the United States,” Frank added.

Manufacturers and retailers utilize RFID tags heavily in supply chain management for identification and tracking purposes to improve efficiency and save costs. They are growing in popularity as replacements for barcode tags due to their ability to be read at a distance without contact. Every RFID tag attached to a product contains an integrated circuit and antenna, and is dependent upon the functionality of a corresponding RFID reader to effectively read and record the information encoded on the tag.

According to Montie Roland, his company’s product – assembled by GRT Electronics in Raleigh, N.C. – helps determine if an RFID reader might have suffered a hardware failure, a triggering sensor may not be working, or communications with a back-end system may have been interrupted.

“The first question during setup or troubleshooting of an RFID system is whether the system is radiating a signal from the reader’s antenna,” he said.

Installers or users need simply move the RFID detector card towards the RFID reader antenna; if the RFID reader antenna is actively radiating a signal, the center of the card will activate a bright blue led light. Depending on the antenna and the power level radiated by the RFID system, the card will illuminate as far as two feet away from the antenna.

The Montie Design card works with European and Japanese RFID frequencies as well.

To learn more, or purchase a card, visit www.montie.com.

About Montie Design
Montie Design is a collaborative product design and development firm with core competencies in industrial design, mechanical design and fuzzy front end services. Implementing a client-centric approach in taking products from concept to marketplace, Montie Design balances vision with usability in realizing products that are economical to manufacture, elegant and robust. The firm operates out of the Research Triangle Park region of North Carolina with access to industry-leading technology, resources and innovative thought. For more information, visit www.montie.com.

Media Contact:
Montie Roland
montie@montie.com
800-722-7987
919-412-0559

NC Product Design Co-Op Lunch & Learn #3

This event is sponsored by the RTP Product Development Guild.

Date: Wednesday, 4 Mar 09

Time: Noon until 1:30

Location: Montie Design / Studio Hagler, 400 Dominion Dr., Morrisville, NC 27560

Purpose of Meeting: Get to know other, potential co-op members in a relaxed environment.  Six attendees will have five minutes each in front of the group to explain their business.  This is an excellent opportunity for us to get to know each other on a professional and personal basis.  If you would like to have your five minutes of fame, please purchase the ticket above with the time slot that you would like to have.

Purpose of Co-Op: Develop a standards-based community that presents a unified public face to the greater business community, both locally and nationally.  Potential clients see the Co-Op and understand that here is a group of design / prototyping-related businesses that already know each other and work together well.

Who Should Come: Local product design, development and prototyping vendors who are interested in working together in a constructiveand substantial way to bring more business to local design community.

This is a great way for entrepreneurs, engineers, managers, and purchasing agents to find local vendors.  If you have a need for engineering, design, or prototyping help this is a great place to not only find new vendors but personally meet the individuals running those companies.

Questions: If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Montie Roland at montie@montie.com, or by phone at 919-481-1845.

Pre-registration is Required:  Register at http://ncproductdesign3.eventbrite.com/

Upcoming RTP Tech Event, 9 Oct

Bill Cox, of ViASIC, To Lead Regional Innovation Economic Forum At October 9, 2008, RTP Tech Event @ Goodnight?s

Bill Cox, CTO of ViASIC, a developer of advanced programmable logic architectures and holder of 18 patents in the field of integrated circuit design to lead discussion about technology innovation and issues confronting the RTP high tech manufacturing community


Raleigh, NC. Bill Cox, an information technologies serial entrepreneur and CTO of ViASIC, located in Durham, N. C., will lead part of the discussion at the October 9, 2008 RTP Tech Event @ Goodnight?s.

Cox is the holder of 18 patents in the field of programming integrated circuits and has extensive professional experience in successful new ventures, such as Quick Logic and Synplicity.


?I came to North Carolina from California,? said Cox. ?I want to contribute to making the regional innovation economy in the RTP stronger, and I think I have some ideas that may stimulate a brain storming session at the RTP Tech Event.?

Cox holds a degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley. His professional experience includes the creation of over a million lines of code ready to be leveraged into the development of world class tools.


The RTP Tech Event is an innovation collaboration network of companies from the manufacturing community in the RTP regional economy. ?Our economic forum features two types of collaboration,? said Tom Vass, the organizer of the event, and CEO of The Private Capital Market, Inc., located in Raleigh.


Each month, local executives from two different industrial sectors present their thoughts on technology, innovation and new product development from their own industry, in an effort to stimulate ideas for technology crossover between local manufacturing sectors. At the October 9 meeting, SIC 73, which is information technologies, will be presenting with Holly Borowy, Senior VP of BMI South, a local metal manufacturing company. (SIC 34).

After the two presentation, the floor is open for discussion about ways to improve the local economy and brainstorming ideas on product innovation.


At the end of each session, the floor is open for a budding entrepreneur or inventor to stand up and give a five minute elevator pitch on their venture. ?We call this opportunity ?Your Five Minutes of Fame at Goodnight?s,? said Vass.

Registration for the monthly event is available at MeetUp.com. Annual membership in the RTP Tech Event is $50, and there is a $10 door fee that includes the purchase of the first drink and a discount on the comedy show that night at Goodnight?s.

About ViASIC. Founded in 2000, ViASIC is a privately held Electronic Design Automation (EDA) company and the leading provider of standard-metal tools and technologies. Our patented ViaMask family of standard-metal (one-mask) fabric is a complete library for building platform ASICs or embedding single via layer configurable sections into an SoC. ViASIC also offers ViaPath, a robust physical design solution for via-configurable fabrics. Contact Bill Cox at info@ViASIC.com telephone 919-405-1345. www.viasic.com

About the RTP Tech Event @ Goodnights. Our events mission is to create more business for local firms and to increase the rate of new product development in the RTP regional economy. We call this “new business idea brainstorming.”Each month, executives from local manufacturing firms, product development engineers and people with new business ideas for new products get together to brainstorm ideas for what types of new products may be successful in the RTP market. http://newtech.meetup.com/115/ Contact Tom Vass 919 9754856.

BarCampRDU 2008

BarCampRDU 2008 was a lot of fun. According to the official website (http://www.barcamp.org/BarCampRDU):

A Bar Camp is an unconference where people interested in a wide range of technologies come together to teach and learn. Unfamiliar with the un-conference format? Heres the idea in a nutshell. Rather than having scheduled speakers, everyone pitches sessions the morning of the BarCamp. Those sessions are put on a schedule, and lots of little groups form for intense group learning. Everyone is expected to teach, to talk, to participate. Yeah, its different from a regular conference – but it works!

The idea of an unconference came together when people realized the best times they were having at conferences were the times between sessions – where people with like interests could meet ad hoc. The goal of BarCamp is to facilitate this type of interaction for an entire day. We supply the food, the space, the wireless, the projectors – you show up to teach and learn.

Much of the discussion at the event involved startups and early-stage projects.

Picture From BarCampRDU 2008

It is important to note that many (if not most) of the attendees at BarCamp are involved in the software, either online or shrink-wrapped. Our firm normally deals with physical projects that involve long lead times and very high prototyping costs. At BarCampRDU many of the projects, or concepts being discussed, revolved around software products that could be prototyped in a weekend. This is a stark contrast to the extremely high prototyping costs that we see associated with many mass-produced physical products.

BarCampRDU 2008 Image

There was definitely an excitement to the conference that showed through in the interactions between the attendees. This is the type of event that provides encouragement, advice and resources for budding entrepreneurs. It is my opinion that we need more of this type of event to help fuel imaginations and sheer force-of-will behind the next wave of product-driven companies.

Montie Roland is President of the Carolinas Chapter of the Product Development Management Association. Roland is also President of Montie Design, a product development and prototyping firm in Morrisville, NC and the RTP Product Development Guild. You can reach Montie by email at: montie@montie.com

Guild Building 101 The Rise of Expectations and Elevator Pitches

Starting a Product Development Guild has been a journey that has lasted about two and a half years. The first two years were mainly discussions. The last five months have mainly involved laying the groundwork for the guild. We have now moved into a mode where we are starting to recruit members and look at project submissions.

Tom Vass first mentioned the idea to me two years ago at Carolinas PDMA event. At the time, I really didnt think much of the idea. It took several conversations for me to realize that the problem wasnt with the concept, but rather in the articulation and execution of the concept. So we spent about two years, off and on, discussing the concept and refining how we articulated a complex sounding concept.

One of the critical questions in developing in the Guild is ?why does the concept seem so complex The concept, in the simplest form I can come up with, goes something like this:

Consultants, and other product design professionals, band together in a contractual organization. This aspect of the organization most closely resembles a volunteer fire department. Guild members pay quarterly dues and an initiation fee to join. Guild members are proudly displayed in the Guild directory which is available online and in a print format next year.

Product champions submit project proposals to the guild in a structured format. The Guild evaluates each submission and picks the best submissions. The Guild looks for product concepts that are going to help launch product-driven companies. Products that combine technology from two different industries are given priority.

Once a product concept is selected, the product champion becomes the nucleus of a seven member team. Project champions can be inventors, entrepreneurs, serial entrepreneurs, a designee from a start-up company, or a designee from an existing corporation that has a product concept that they would like to spin-off into a new company. Six of the seven team members are product development professionals. These members could come from disciplines such as industrial design, engineering, software, electronics, business management, marketing or sales.

Projects run for six months. The goal of the project is to complete the fuzzy front end design of the product. At the start of the project, the Guild receives options for the clients stock. These options can only be exercised upon a trigger event such as a sale or initial public offering (IPO). At the end of the project the Guild transfers a portion of those options to team members.

Projects are structured so Guild members spend two to four hours per week on the project. The product champions (client representative) spend fifteen to twenty hours per week on the project.

The team makes a presentation at the end of the project to selected angel investors and venture capitalists. This last step of the project is designed to help the client get funding for the next step in designing and then commercializing their product.

The goal is to complete twenty six month projects per year (ten every six months). This would add twenty new, high-growth companies to the RTP area each year and significantly impact the local economy. This means that the efforts of approximately one hundred and twenty Guild members can help drive the future economy in the regional area for the next ten to twenty years..

I am still struggling with how to present this in a thirty second elevator pitch. This is not an overly complex process when you consider the amount of work to be done. Sometimes I wonder if the previous presentation is trying to explain too much. Maybe the elevator pitch should go something like:

The RTP Product Development Guild is a confederation of product design, and business, who work together to help local entrepreneurs and businesses commercialize their products. The Guild seeks to improve the regional economy in North Carolina by helping create now product driven companies.

Salesmen reading this article are probably wondering why not just use the shorter version first. This is the difference between salesmen and product designers. Engineers and industrial designers often focus on how wonderful, and cool, the details are. A good salesman wants to convey just enough information to close the deal. They know that giving too much information is a possible way to talking your client out of doing business with you. The role of President of the Guild requires me to live in both worlds. This can be challenging at times. Product developers must always keep in mind that successful products find a balance between design and execution.

The chicken, or the egg, syndrome is alive and well at the RTP Product Development Guild. On one hand, we need a strong portfolio of consultants to attract product concept submissions. One the other hand we need strong product concepts to attract consultants. This means that there is going to be slow progress between now and the kick-off of the first project. We have spent the last month lining up product submissions and potential Guild members. The first inquiries about memberships are mostly coming from sales and marketing professionals. Another high interest area is the service providers. We have a class of Guild memberships that are designed to allow service providers to participate in the Guild without having to participate in a project team.

Another concurrent action item is to promote the Guild within the economic development community. North Carolinas economic development community is heavily focused, and politically invested, in the mode of using massive tax incentives to bring existing companies to North Carolina. There are other efforts that focus on using the universities and community colleges as concentrators of innovation. The Guild believes that there is enough talent, dedication and ambition in the local community to create new product-driven companies. This ?believe in the people? approach is counter-culture. The Guild isnt relying on tax incentives or government grants to drive new products to market. We are relying on our members to work together and help lift new companies from the stage of ?I have an idea? to the stage of ?we just rented office space?. Dreams are best pursued by the dreamer. It is hard to pursue someone elses dream. Product champions rev up your dreams, because you now have a home.

Montie Roland is President of the Carolinas Chapter of the Product Development Management Association. Roland is also President of Montie Design, a product development and prototyping firm in Morrisville, NC and the RTP Product Development Guild. You can reach Montie by email at: montie@montie.com

RTP Guild Proclaims October as RTP Product Development Month

by Tom Vass, Vice-President, RTP Product Development Guild

The RTP regional economy has a unique set of economic strengths in technology innovation. The basic platform for all the strengths comes from the population of scientists and engineers who live in the region. Raleigh tops America for PhDs per capita for a metro city.

The RTP is geographically the largest research park in the world and is home to more than 130 R&D companies, employing nearly 40,000 workers. The RTP is home to IBM, GSK, Cisco Systems, DuPont and Sony Ericsson.

The high number of PhDs, and the location of large high tech corporations sets the stage for technology commercialization in distinct product areas. Our focus at the Guild is on product development because that leads to new venture creation which leads to new markets.

New markets are essential for wealth creation because persistence in the status quo distribution from current markets of wealth tends to lead to economic stasis. We suspect there is a mutually reinforcing relationship between wealth creation and new product creation, meaning that the more of one leads to the more of the other.

However, this relationship is perfectly symmetrical, which means that the longer the status quo of current markets remains constant the longer the existing distribution of wealth will stay the same. The result will be lower rates of innovation and new product development.

New products do not get created without a lot of effort, and our basic business model addresses how to help entrepreneurs commercialize their ideas. Our approach to new product development is different than the existing players in the region.

We focus attention on independent entrepreneurs who are not affiliated with the tech transfer programs at the local universities. We also target small engineering and manufacturing firms, and spin-offs from the R&D efforts of the larger corporations. We suspect that many of the 40,000 workers in the RTP have great ideas that could turn into great products if they follow the business development model of the RTP Product Development Guild.

During the month of October, we are going to target product development in the 4 areas we think will be most beneficial to regional economic growth. Each product area shares a common technological platform in both design and production, even though the end market users of the products are different.

On each Wednesday evening of October, we will host an educational seminar at our facilities in Morrisville, N. C., to introduce our model to budding entrepreneurs in each product area.

Our selection of product areas are:

1. October 10. Consumer technology products for the mass retail market.

2. October 17. Health monitoring and home health care products.

3. October 24. Sports and recreational equipment.

4. October 31. Homeland defense products.

We will charge a small admission fee, and our seating is limited to the first 20 entrepreneurs who register to attend. We are soliciting the participation of individuals and small companies who are curious about our business model of advice for commercializing technology.

We think that participants will gain benefits from meeting each other, and listening to how others are going about the process of commercializing their product ideas. If the RTP Guild model seems attractive, then the next step would be to apply as a project candidate for one of the Guilds product development teams.

While commercializing technology is a great objective, we think that the bigger goal for each entrepreneur is to win the Guilds prestigious annual award for the RTPs Most Disruptive Product Technology, presented in March of each year. But, you cant win the prize unless you get in the game.

Registration for the October events is at: www.rtpproductguild.com