In this episode of The Physical Product Movement, we’re joined by Rob Urry, President & CEO of Kogalla to discuss how to source materials to develop awesome products, travelling to China every month to supervise manufacture and why you should ask people out for lunch.
Listen on Apple Podcasts here or Spotify here.
Don: There’s never been a better time for physical products than now. My name is Don Andrew Bay, and I want to learn from the best minds in the industry. This is the golden age for consumer products. This is a time where anyone can go from zero to financially independent. This is the physical products movement.
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But if you want to get started, there’s no lengthy demos, no binding contracts and the free lasts forever free trials are a thing of the past. So go to fiddle.io/podcast today to see the latest episodes of this podcast and also to get started. Well, Rob, tell me a little bit about yourself. Introduce yourself for our audience. Tell us who you are. Um, and a little bit about your background.
Rob: Yeah, sure. So I, uh, got I’m I’m going to go way back. Uh, so I, I graduated from the University of Utah. And had, uh, all sorts of hopes of being a rock and roll guitar player. And, uh, I got a job at, at the time it was DOD electronics as an engineer and to use my engineering degree.
And I had the same plan as Tom Schultz. Cause it’s like, he was an MIT guy and he was, you know, Boston was big and everything. So I’m going like. Well, my engineering degree is going to be my backup plan and that’s going to be my job until I get my record deal. Right. And so I got this job making, uh, electronics for, um, for a guitar players, which was like, this was like a dream actually in that job.
I had the chance to hang out with some ex like really good guitar players. And I realized that like, if I practice, you know, six hours a day for the rest of my life, I’d never be as good as these guys because they were so good. And so. Um, there was, there was one 24 hour period that I won’t go into the whole story there, but at the end of it, I say a neon lights stick to engineering.
And so, yeah, that’s what I did. So I said to engineering and we design a whole bunch of products and you’ve probably heard products I’ve designed. And if you’ve ever listened to the radio or any music that’s been produced. Um, yeah, so I did that. I don’t know if you’ve been to like that. A stadium where sound is being distributed throughout the stadium or stuff.
So I worked on that, but I did that for, I don’t know, for almost 30 years, but I ended up kind of running the place that I ended up starting at. And, uh, and so I think for maybe a dozen years or so, I was like, uh, uh, I was like the president of like a whole, uh, business unit that like did all this stuff.
And so it’s always awesome. And then, uh, to get to where I am today. So in 2012, I retired and I had this romantic notion of being a ski bum, which I, yeah, I did. You know, I mean, I went and bought my pass to Altec is Altus, uh, is a great place for it’s I, at that time, I don’t even know if it’s a skiers only anymore, but it was gears only because, and so I bought it the alpha because alpha was kind of like the.
Food places more of the local ski in place for like salt lake people. So, yeah, I went by my past to Elton and I was really like on my sixth or seventh day and it was a beautiful day and it was sunny and I was eating lunch and I was eating lunch by myself because all my friends were still working and I didn’t have anybody.
I wouldn’t ski with anybody. I was eating lunch and I was thinking, man, this is like an awesome day. I’m having a great time skin. But I am wasting my time, you know, so, yeah. So I just, I ended up recreating, you know, I, I realized that you can recreate too much. Um, and kind of at the same time I bought a trailer and, um, You know, I’d bet around the, with a business I’d been like around the world and I’d been, I’d seen a ton of places, but mostly the insight of airports, convention centers, hotels, restaurants, and I really hadn’t seen the place.
So when I retired, I bought a trailer and started just going around the, uh, mostly in the west, you know, centered around Utah, um, just to go and see all the stuff that I had really never. Um, I mean, I did a lot when I was, uh, uh, you know, when I was a boy, a boy Scouts and all of that stuff. And then, uh, when we were first married and stuff, we did a lot, but, um, then I just hadn’t, I hadn’t really.
I hadn’t really gone out and done the snow. So anyways, so when I, yeah, so I started doing that and, uh, um, we’ve got a handful of photographers in my family. So one of the things I wanted to do was like, I was going to all these places and they were like so inspiring. And I thought that this is cool. I want to capture a piece of it.
Somehow I bring it back with me. So I thought, well, I’ll start taking pictures. And, uh, and I realized that like, man, you can stand up on a peak and you can look around and you go like, oh my gosh, this is awesome. And then you started taking pictures and you get back and you look at the pictures and you can kind of go, what the heck, man, this was so cool.
But these pictures are horrible. Then I realized there’s a lot of skill. Right? There’s a lot of skill. And so I started realizing that I had to kind of hone my craft on taking pictures. Um, but it didn’t take me too long to realize that you’re either hiking. Um, th th you got two times to really take great outdoor pictures and this kind of like in the, uh, In the, you know, sunrise or sunset and anything other than that, it’s great if you’re taking pictures of people in the outdoors or whatever, but, um, it’s sunrise and sunset.
That’s where you get your really good, you know, landscape shots. And still, I found myself either hiking out in the dark or hiking back in the dark. And so which meant like headlamps and handheld lights. And so, um, you know, I, I was pretty quick. I realized that like, if I spent too much time hiking with a headlamp on.
Um, that, like I got nausea, I started feeling, it just didn’t work for me. So I started trying like handheld lights and I started, you know, I, I must’ve bought four or five dozen different lights try and stuff. And I just got really frustrated because none of them were working right. The light that actually, that I kept coming back to super impractical, but like the light that I was hoping to actually.
Uh, get was something that was like my Coleman, uh, white gas lender. And cause you liked those things up and it’s a nice warm light. Uh, you know, the light, the light is like, it’s, it’s not that harsh blue led light. It’s kind of like warm and it feels really good and it lights up the whole area and you can kind of see, but as far as like carrying one of those things on a hike is like, it doesn’t work at all.
So yeah. Anyway. Yeah, so it just ended up getting really frustrated about that whole thing. And so I said, Hey, there’s really good led technology. There’s really good power conversion technology. And there’s really good battery technology. How come nobody’s making a really good outdoor light. And so I go, Hey, I’m an engineer.
I should probably make one. And so that’s, that’s kind of how Coke, all that got started.
Don: Wow. That’s awesome. That’s, it’s cool to me that you could be hiking along and then, you know, you see this problem and you have the confidence with your background to just go and say, okay, I’m going to fix the problem.
I’m just going to go and solve it. Uh, how, how many years ago did this all start?
Rob: We’ll say, you know, that the process is we’re talking about it, I’m cutting, you know, kind of summarizing it. But that was a process of over, over, you know, two or three years of just really realizing that, like this wasn’t working and I kept trying different things.
And so finally, Uh, you know, finally, after a couple of years we had come out with a light and I was thinking it was a, like a handheld and it was like, we call that the torch. And it was basically, it would light up 360 degrees. And, and then I had, I had this really cool experience with my grandson and I realized it’s like, no, it can’t be handheld.
It’s gotta be like, it’s gotta be wearable. I gotta be able to have, it’s gotta be hands-free. Yeah. And the experiences we were, we, we were down in Moab and we were hiking to Corona arch. And I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Corona arch. You gave bread there.
Don: I actually have. Yeah. Yeah. Beautiful.
Rob: It’s yeah. So it’s the one where they, like, you know, the guys for awhile were jumping off and swinging underneath it and then. A couple of people miscalculated on their weight and their rope late. And, uh, there were some really tragic accidents there. And so the BLM basically won’t let you do that anymore. But anyway, we were going to Corona arch and I was with my grandson.
And there’s a spot where your clinic, your plan and you, you remember you kind of come around and you kind of hike up and then you get into that bowl and you’re walking around the bowl. And then there’s a spot where you’re kind of going up the side of the bowl and there’s a change there. And I’m, I’m imagining just hiking and hanging out at the Archie.
That’s kind of starting to get dark and we’re coming back and I just imagined this going down those chains and I’m going like, okay, I got my light in one hand, I got my grandson’s hand. And the other hand. And I’m coming down this steep stuff, and I don’t know what my grandson is going to do. He’s a little, you know, he’s a little bit, uh, easy kid, you know, make kids like to do stuff and I’m going, like, I I’d hate for him to like, you know, pull us off balance or something as we’re coming down.
So I’m thinking like, well, I want to hold on to the chain. And, but I don’t have it. So I kind of imagined putting this light under my arm and holding it and holding it out of the chain. And I go, wait, that’s, that’s not going to work. And so we ended up basically scrubbing the rest of the hike because you know, the sun was going down and we’re just kind of running out of time.
And so, so I told him, I says, Hey, we’re going to have to come back another time because I’m in, it was all based off of safety. But through that like little fat experiment of us going on that hike and coming back, I realized that I really want to be able to go up and have light. Light up all around me, but I can’t have, it’s gotta be hands-free.
And so that was, that was the next part. And then once we got to that, then it was pretty easy to just basically, I kind of knew what I wanted. I wanted a warm line. I needed to be hands free. It had to light up a large area around me. Um, my music, uh, you know, originally I thought, well, I’m going to wear it on the shoulder straps in my backpack.
And now I ended up wearing it really kind of on the, either the stirred of strap or on a, on a belt. And, uh, anyway, so yes, so we started, we started, uh, doing a bunch of prototypes and, um, we did a Kickstarter and we ended up raising like 300,000 for that. Um, it, it took us about a half a million to actually get all of our Kickstarter.
So that was, uh, we put a, we put a lot more into the design. And the engineering and the tooling and everything, and then we kind of planned on, but it just took us more, but I just wanted to make sure it was a really good light, but anyway, yeah. So we did that and that was like three years ago or something.
And so, yeah, so now we’re selling them and, uh, yeah. So in the hunting industry, we’ve really kind of blown up in that trail running industry and, uh, yeah. So anyway, that’s kinda, you know, it’s kinda. I don’t know, that’s, that’s kind of a rough overview for the last, you know, seven right here, so
Don: awesome. And it came with no hiccups or issues, right?
There was no , no problems the whole way through
Rob: think we had made, it was like, you know, we’re like an overnight success, just, it took like, you know, seven or eight years to sort out. So, yeah,
Don: that’s how it goes though. It’s one of those things, you know, our listeners are people that are, are producing physical products.
And I think, you know, when we talk all together, there’s this understanding of how there’s so much more. Difficult, you know, days and nights and entrepreneurship that we don’t usually discuss when we, you know, go through our, our shark tank story, you know, and we present it, you know, as smooth as it can go.
So that’s why we try and dig in a little bit here. So th you know, you have this original idea. Did you, with your engineering background, were you able to, uh, produce the plans fully and, and just start, you know, Uh, reaching out to different manufacturers. What was that whole process like for you,
Rob: Wilson? So, yeah, so we started, so we started originally starting to use, you know, do a bunch of people who did design stuff and I hadn’t really, I hadn’t really ever done, um, Hadn’t really ever done anything with lighting, but you know, the lighting it’s it’s um, so it kind of dove in and kind of just started learning about, you know, LEDs and what made it go in late.
And, you know, we read a bunch of papers and, um, yeah. So you originally started out just try to use a bunch of different people and it just, it seemed like it was taken too long to iterate and we just needed the iterate faster. So. Um, so, so I just sent it up, um, you know, like on the mechanical design, you know, where we started and where we ended work just dramatically different places.
And so in the process I’ve got, I’ve got a son who’s a mechanical engineer. And so I went and got a copy of. Solid works and just said, well, you know, I mean, Hey, I’ve learned a lot of different software. I can, I can learn this too. And so, um, with a little bit of his, uh, help, a little bit of YouTube stuff, I just like dug into solid works and just start a design and stuff.
And that way I was able to. Um, you know, just iterate the design, you know, uh, really fast. And, and I mean, like I say, when, where we started in, where we hit it, or just dramatically traumatically different places and, uh, yeah, we ran into a bunch of different design constraints. I mean, one of them, what I’m clear on, we really, this was, this was a.
This was, uh, uh, it was kind of a killer. It kind of really, um, wasn’t a killer. It almost was a killer. Um, but we, we originally thought like, okay, so we’ll make these lights out of, uh, I wanted the design spec to be able to like be full brightness. Um, and, uh, no matter, no matter what, no matter whether. If they’re in 110 degrees walking through death valley in the dark, want it the light to be full brightness and pretty much all the handhelds and headlamps out there.
If you’re in a, if you’re in a warm area, And you turn those on within like 15 or 20 minutes, they start getting dimmer because they can’t get rid of the heat. And so then basically there’s a thermistor in them that basically measures the temperature. And as the temperature goes up, they turn the power down so that they can keep the temperature.
And so what happens is like, if it’s, if it’s, if you’re out in the winter, um, they’ll get rid of the heat just fine, but yeah, they’ll stay bright, but if you’re, if you’re in the summer and it’s, and it’s a warm, it’s a warm area, they’re, you’re, they’re going to be, they’re going to be dim after 15 to 20 minutes.
And a lot of people go like, oh, maybe my batteries are dying and they’ll replace the batteries. And the batteries have a certain amount of thermal mass to them. And so they put in some nice. Fresh batteries that haven’t been heated up and wow. It looks like it’s Sprite again. And then it starts thermally down again.
So anyway, that was one of the things. And so we, uh, we thought like, well, we’ve got to have, like, we’ve got to have a lot of surface area. And we got to have, like, we decided we were going to make the case, the little pods out of aluminum. And, uh, and then, then we realized that they got too hot and that they, that if you touch them, it would burn you.
So it’s kind of like, well, that’s no good. And so we said, well, what if we just made them out of plastic? So we made some stuff out of plastic. And then we realized that the heat didn’t conduct away from the light, uh, well enough. And so they, they ended up getting too hot and so it wasn’t getting the heat out.
And so, um, we kind of figured out what kind of property. We wanted to, I ended up finding a paper that NASA, some ism guys that NASA put together in the 1960s and what they were doing was it was basically different kinds of material, how hot it could get in. Then basically they were trying to figure out like how hot can things get so that astronauts can touch them.
And it won’t burn him basically. And so they went through and they characterized all these materials and I’m going like, oh, okay. And so I started, you did a bunch of the thermal mass and everything and figured it out. And I got like, okay, I need. I need a compound that has these properties and then somewhere between a metal and a plastic and a so we ended up well, I mean, yeah, so we ended up, we ended up looking for that compound and, uh, we found, we found that a company that actually formulated special, you know, would do special compounds and kind of handed them.
Here’s what I’m looking for. And they came back and said, here you go, we can make it in. Is basically, it’s a combination of basically it’s a minerals and metal in PLA and nylon is what it is. And then you get injection molded. And, uh, and so we had some of those, uh, made up and we, you know, did a bunch of tests on it and everything is like the, it absolutely worked.
And we went, wow. So we had to actually get an, uh, a custom accustom, uh, You know, thermally, conductive polymer to make the whole light design work that’s it goes like about a six month thing. And I was like, really scratching my head, wondering if we’re going to be able to do it, or if we had to, uh, reduce the design specs or whatever.
And I was kind of stubborn and I didn’t want to reduce the design specs. So. Um, the thing that was interesting. Um, I was talking to the Sackler, the girl, she was the engineer who was like helping me with, uh, with the formulation of the polymer. So you do all these polymers and it’s like, so is anybody else using this?
Cause I always would like to try to get stuff that somebody else is using because then you don’t have to pay so much money for it. If it’s like a high volume users using it. And she goes, well, nobody’s you, nobody in the world is using. Your exact formulation. This one would probably be in the oil pan of a Ferrari.
So we did a compound for those guys, if they were, they were trying to get their, their goal was they needed to get a certain amount of heat out. Um, but they also needed it to be under a certain amount of weight. And so, um, that’s what, yeah. So, so yeah, so the, so our pods are made out of. Like some thermal polymer that’s close to that oil pan in like a specific metal of Ferrari.
And I didn’t find out exactly which one it was, but, and anyway, so that was, that was, that is interesting to just
Don: subtly saying that you guys are the Ferrari of personal lighting, right?
Rob: Well, I mean, it’s, you know, I mean, it was six months of like sheer hell trying to figure it out. So, so, you know, I mean, I could have probably just changed this back or.
Or dramatically changed the mechanicals or something like that to figure out how to use a little bit more common material. But like I say, I think I was probably just a little too stubborn and I just, I wanted it to work the way I wanted it to work. And, and so when we found that it was like, it was almost like, you know, I dunno, you know, when you go out, I it’s never really, really happened to me, but I imagine it is you go out and they’re having to open up a museum
and everything was like, it felt so awesome when I did the test and it was working and going like, oh my gosh, all this math and that NASA paper and everything, it all came together and it really worked.
Don: It’s gotta be the best feeling in the world. That’s amazing. Well, it’s good for you to not compromise on that.
So this is super random and kind of off topic of this, but I, I was living in Ukraine and our apartment complex lost power for, I, it was like three weeks when we bought headlamps. Right. Cause I go, I can’t see anything, especially at night, cause it’s a concrete apartment and we’re wearing these headlamps on ground.
They were the worst things to use. And it’s weird how you bring up like feeling nauseous from, from it. Cause I did like after, you know, 30 minutes of it, I’d start to feel really like sick and nauseous. And it’s like, why it’s cause you have to like. Move your head around weird. But yeah, I was looking at your product before we started talking, like, dang.
It was shout. I had that when I was out in Ukraine, man. So
Rob: yeah. So, so I can tell you kind of exactly what’s going on and why it makes you feel that way, because, so, okay. So. Um, one thing everybody’s really familiar with is like, whenever your vision gets up, um, I mean, so kill your brain is basically, I was, I was trying to keep you safe.
So I was trying to keep you upright and balanced and trying to, it’s trying to help you understand where you are in space. Um, and so it’s always taken all of your proprioceptive inputs, all your muscle, you know, tenants on your temp, tension on your tendons, it’s taken your inner ear and then your vision it’s are coordinating those in the same, like, okay, here’s where you are.
And here’s what you need to do. To stay running or to stay standing or on a walk or whatever, and not fall over. Um, and whenever you get, um, whenever you get a, your vision is out of sync with your inner ear, like if you’re in like the, uh, boat and you’re not looking at a horizon. And so, so your reference is staying, uh, at one lab at one thing, but you’ve physically, you’re actually moving and now you’re interfering.
You’re. Your vision around a sink, um, you get nausea and the reason you get nausea is because, um, I was explained to this by like a guy I met he’s a neuroscientist. And he said, what, what, uh, what what’s going on is the way he explained it to me is he said that there are a number of poisonous substances that if you take them into your body, they will, uh, uh, create that, uh, they will create that.
Um, That dissonance be too, um, equivalent to that dissonance between your vision in your inner air. And then your body’s response is to throw it out and get rid of that poison. So that was, that was how it was explained to me. But, um, so we found a bunch of papers and everything. And so what happens? So I, I went and got a book on, uh, Actually a lot of books, but there was one really good book on vision.
Um, and, and basically what it, what, what I realized is that like that spotlight that’s moving around. So your vision, so the environment’s not moving, um, uh, out of sync with your internet or, but what you have is you have a noise signal of that spot that, that bouncing hotspot that’s moving around is a noise signal that gets in between your vision.
Filtered out in your visual cortex. And so your brain kind of goes, oh, that’s just a spotlight moving around and I’ve filtered it out. And so, yeah, you’re really okay. 60% of the people in the population roughly, um, their visual cortex does a pretty good job of that and they can wear headlamps without too much problem, but I’m in the other half.
And it sounds like you are too, you know, nearly half of the. Population that 40% of the population that, um, their visual cortex just doesn’t doesn’t filter it out so much. And so what happens is it’s basically like you’re, you’re getting car sick or you’re getting seasick or motion sickness and yeah. Um, and so then, yeah, so I’ve talked to, you talked to a lot of people and oh yeah.
I just don’t feel good. And a lot of people thought like, well, you know, it’s, it’s seen as pressing on my head and I’m going, like, you know, when I first, when I first started getting sick, I thought, oh, it’s because it’s tied around my head. And then I realized after a while, it’s like, well, no, I work. I wear baseball hats, and I like them tight.
Um, cause you know, if it’s windy, I don’t want them to blow off and they’ve never given me a problem. And so I go, it’s not that. And then, yeah, so I started looking and just being curious and stuff. I ended up going through and finding this vision book and everything and I go, oh, it’s just motion sickness.
That’s it. I’m I’m car sick.
Don: Yeah. That’s so interesting. Our brains are crazy. That’s amazing.
Rob: You know, they really are. I mean, I have like, oh my gosh, what an instrument, your brain is just fantastic. So, uh, when you, when you look, so what happens is. So your, your eyes basically. So, so vision, so you’re, you’re, you’re trying to see something.
So when you’re not really focused on anything, basically you kind of have this big, wide vision and you’re getting everything is going into your visual cortex and you’re getting this lower resolution of information and you’re cause you’re in your eyes will kind of just scan around. And then as soon as you decide, you’re going to look at something.
I mean, you have to, literally, you have to kind of decide and whether you realize you’re consciously doing it, or just subconsciously it’s like as soon as you bring focus to a specific object, what happens is it’s it fires you into your visual cortex. And then all of a sudden it creates these high bandwidth.
Uh, it creates this high bandwidth pathway through to your brain. And basically the thing you’re focused on comes through and high bandwidth while everything else is still. Low bandwidth. And so, um, the Chinese to see something, the Chinese actually it’s two characters and it’s the character to look and to see and say, you actually have to like, you know, you have to first, you have to decide to look and then you can actually see.
So it’s kind of, and that’s kind of how your, when you realize how your brain works, it really is a, it’s a conscious act of looking and then seeing. Um, and you don’t think about it so much cause you just do it so automatically, but when you throw a headlamp on there, what you have to do is like, since I don’t have everything lit up, my eyes can’t work.
Like they normally work. So I have to actually do so now to look, I have to go like light it up, decide whether I want to see it, then I can look, then I can see it. So now all of a sudden to like understand my environment, it takes a whole nother level of mental effort to understand. Uh, to understand your environment because you have to, you have to like decide where to light.
Then you get to decide where to look and then you can see. So it’s, so it’s actually, you know, a three parts, uh, process instead of a two part process. And so when you light up the entire area, like our light does, then your eyes just work like they normally do in the daytime because they can just kind of scan around.
So it doesn’t take as much effort to understand, like, Uh, oh, I don’t have to shine the light down by my feet to see if I’m going to, um, see if I’m going to trip on that rock. Is that rock big enough? You know, to see stuff. So, so it’s, it’s just a lot easier and we’ve had so many people, they go like, oh, you know, I put this, I put this light on and I just feel so much more relaxed and it’s like, yep.
It’s taken a lot less effort because you’re lighting up the whole area. The other thing that we realized when we were going through the light is your peripheral vision is super, super important. And cause your brain is always trying to keep you safe. And when it doesn’t have peripheral vision, it kicks your brain and kind of, it’s kind of a state is very similar to anxiety.
It’s a heightened state because it’s working really hard to try to figure out what’s on the side of you. If you looked at his side one side to the other, it’s trying to remember and reconstruct what your, what the environment area is. And so, um, when yeah, so it’s, your, your brain is actually in a much more excited state here that turns out it’s the same state kid gets into when they’re afraid of the dark, you know, turn out the lights and they, they don’t have their direct vision or their peripheral vision.
And they, their brain just kicks into this anxiety state, you know, you know, as adults, you kind of just learn how to just turn it off and deal with it. Um, but. Even, even adults, if you go out into an area you don’t really know the area that well, and you take a flashlight out or a headlamp and you start shining it around you kind of, a lot of times you kind of go.
Yeah, I can see. And I know I’m not afraid of the dark. But it still feels a little creepy. Yeah. And that, that creepy feeling is the lack of peripheral vision. If you light up your peripheral vision, all of a sudden that creepy feeling goes away, which is a really interesting thing. It could, we had so many people that put on our light and they go.
Oh, I feel safe. Wow. And you’re kind of going, what the heck? I feel safe. And it’s just because your brain is like, it’s, it’s, there’s a lot less anxiety going on because it’s like, it can see, you can see all around you. And so your brain is going like, oh, I got enough information. Everything’s cool. That is so true.
There’s a lot of psycho visual stuff going on with like lighting and, and moving through some sort of complex terrain in the dark.
Don: That is crazy because I can see what you’re saying. Cause sometimes, you know, I’ll jog at night or, you know, you have to go and get something out of the car late at night or something, you know, and in those moments, it, it is, it’s like, you’re saying you feel like, you know, I’m fine.
I know I’m fine, but you still look over your shoulder, you know,
Rob: exactly. It’s kind of that creepy feeling. It’s kind of like, eh, something’s not quite right. And it’s basically your brain said, Hey, you know what? I don’t have enough light. I don’t have enough information coming in from my periphery. And so you light up your peripheral vision and that feeling will just.
Yeah, either dramatically diminish, diminish, or, uh, almost really for the most part just goes away.
Don: Well, I needed to get one of these, so it’s happening now and I need to hop on while we’re talking order one. It sounds like it would solve a lot of problems on even just aside from adventuring, like. For me, you know, I had that moment where I had to live without power for a while.
And that type of thing, you know, you never know when you’re going to be in that situation. And when you are having a, a light to, you know, provide you with security as you walk around, it’s uh, yeah, it it’s something I didn’t know that I needed before.
Rob: Yeah. And we’ve had, you know, I mean, dates is more like, you know, three hours or something or, you know, if it’s a really bad one, it’ll be like, you know, a half a day or something pretty infrequent.
So I think we’re really, really lucky over here. We got like so much, so much awesome stuff in and, uh, but you know, every, from time to time we have had power out and. And, uh, it’s great. Cause I just like turn those lights on and since they’re so wide, I can just kind of, I can just kind of hang it up and it will kind of light the whole room up.
Don: Awesome. Good stuff. Um, so bringing back on track, cause I, I go off and, and I think me, and you could seems like we naturally get along. Well, I think we could chat for awhile, um, bringing it back over to, you know, the, the manufacturing and the distribution side. So. You, you had your final design, it, it was working well, you know, the light was staying bright the whole time.
Then how did you approach manufacturing? Uh, from that point on, since it was such a unique product.
Rob: Well, you know, so it was, it was pretty easy for us because we had worked, you know, cause I had worked on getting just, you know, literally hundreds of products into production in my career. And so we actually were able to, we were actually able to like date a little bit over our heads, you know, it’s kinda like, uh, and we ended up getting a really good contract manufacturer to build our products for us.
So. Awesome. Um, yeah. So. Given our size and our volume, we probably wouldn’t have got in the door, but like just, you know, pass history and like knowing people and stuff, we were able to actually, um, Uh, get a, get a really, you know, awesome say, you know, you have these, like your tier one, tier two and tier three manufacturers.
Now your tier ones, it’d be like Foxconn built in like iPhones and stuff like that. And there’s, you know, a handful, a handful of guys in that level. And then there’s like, then there’s like, you know, kind of like if he get a little bit below that level, you have some really, really good manufacturers. Um, that are all hoping to like, you know, land that big, huge apple deal or something like that.
And so they’re really, really good. And then, um, and then once you get below that, there’s like, you know, uh, some tier three guys who are actually pretty good, you know it, but you kind of have to know them and it’s kinda hit and miss, and then there’s, you know, kind of below that there’s, um, There’s a bunch of guys and it’s kind of like the wild wild west and you just never know what you’re going to get from it.
Yeah. So we were able to, we weren’t able to work with, um, some guys that are really kind of into the upper part of like the tier two thing. And so, um, and at the end of the day, what that means is, is that we can get a quality product and, um, we just have to worry less about like that it’s gonna all be done and done the way we want it done.
Right. Um, So, you know, um, the, you know, I’d spent probably, I dunno, I was going to China like once a month for, for a week for, you know, a bunch of years. You’ll get to know a bunch of people. And then there’s a bunch of people over here, a bunch of, uh, sales organizations that we work with. And so, yeah, so we, we did have, we didn’t have some, we did have same advantages.
It was, it was nice to have, like, to know a few people that you could call and talk to. Yeah. Yeah.
Don: For sure. So if with your experience in that and looking at, you know, you’ve had so many years worth to bringing products to market. So for someone that is, is currently doing this, you know, uh, a smaller business or a young entrepreneur that is trying to create products, do you have any overall advice for selecting the right manufacturer?
Rob: Absolutely go find somebody who is doing something similar to what you’re doing and find out who they’re using and find out, get a reference and chase those guys down. I mean, that’s a really great way to do it. The other, the other way is you just, you just, you know, I suppose you could just jump on Ali-Baba and start finding out stuff and, you know, you can find stuff out that way and, and, but you’re going to have to, you’re going to have to, you know, it’s kind of like, uh, you know, dating the general population.
You know, I go back to dating. I have been married for 40 something years, but, uh, um, I don’t know why dating comes up as a metaphor, but, um, it’s like, you know, you just. Um, if you can, if you, I mean, it really is like find somebody, um, look for somebody who’s making some sort of product that has, it doesn’t have to be the same kind of product exactly.
Or the same product, but something similar, you know? So, I mean, I mean, we were just looking for electronics. They could, they could make. Uh, you know, they can make computer boards, they could make iPhones, they could make, um, you know, audio signal, processors, whatever. They just needed to be a good, uh, making good at making circuit boards and electronics manufacturing, and then doing final assembly.
So just find somebody who is. Making, you know, somebody who’s doing what you want to do. I mean, this is a great model for just anything and anybody for me find somebody who’s getting the result you want and then go figure out what they’re doing and then copy them, you know, bottle them and, uh, Um, so yeah, so our reference to somebody, you know, so you go find out, like I fell out Kickstarter person or, uh, you know, Indiegogo person or, or somebody in a local area or whatever.
And it’s like, oh, are you, you just look, look for products on, you know, look for products and companies on the website and just can cold call people. It’s worth the time to find out, um, like who’s doing what. What you’re doing, and then finding out who they’re having to help them do it, like what manufacturers they’re using, um, that getting a good reference, um, will help you save a lot of time.
Don: Hmm that’s that’s amazing advice. So if you, you know, you look at, uh, a product and in order to find out who their manufacturer is, do generally have to then, you know, Call into the company, like you’re saying cold call and hopefully they’ll give you the information or is there another way to go about finding out, you know, who
Rob: so it’s um, yeah, so it’s, it’s just classical networking that like, if, I mean, The, the, the first thing is, is like, if you let’s say, oh, Hey, north face makes a product like I’d like to make, I’ll call the guys at north face.
Well, first off, you’re probably going to have a really hard time finding the person, the right person to even talk to second off. It’s a really big organization. They’re probably not going to, even if you find the right person, they’re gonna feel like, oh, I probably shouldn’t be telling these guys because it might be a trade secret.
So it’s going to be really hard. So you probably want it. You want to find somebody who’s a little more accessible. Um, and you know, a lot of times local, if it’s a company that’s local to you. Um, well, for instance, um, for instance, there’s a company, um, there’s, there’s a company, I won’t name the company, but they, uh, they make, uh, soft goods and apparel and, uh, um, and so we’re, we’re good friends with him and we’ve done stuff with them and, uh, and yeah, I have their products and stuff.
Um, but one of the, one of the people used to work there and he used to design products from, I just set it up. Like, uh, through just a series of networking. I met this one person who’s actually. Um, now he’s basically doing freelance, uh, freelance design, and he’s a good designer for soft goods. And while I don’t know anything about soft goods and so you need another materials, you need to know the processes and all that stuff.
And so I found somebody who’s lived in that world and, and now that person’s, you know, helping us, uh, helping us. Um, do some staff gets like to, you know, we’re doing, we’re working on a Kickstarter for, um, basically a belt to, uh, put, put the light on. So it’s one of the problems is you look at our light and you go like, oh my gosh, it’s really, it’s different.
How do I use it? And that’s kind of a hurdle. So, so we realized that we need to actually make a piece of soft goods. That’s this whole thing gets integrated into that. They can just go like, oh, here’s how I use it. I pick it up, I clip it on my waist and I go, and I don’t have to think about it. So we’re working on that.
So the whole point. Of all of this piece was, is that, uh, you know, go out and find somebody who’s good at the area that you’re, um, trying to, uh, that you don’t have expertise in and either hire them or get it from him or take him to lunch. I mean, that’s the other thing is like, in, in my career, it’s like one of the things I’ve.
Don a lot. I’ve just really benefited from was like, everybody needs to eat. So if you can, uh, you know, say, Hey, it’s like, uh, a buy you lunch and. Can maybe you can help me with this, but let me, let’s, let’s just go, uh, have lunch and let’s just talk about it and see if there’s anything that could come of it, you know?
And then that’s a, that’s a great way, you know, when you share food with people and you talk with them, you know, that, you know, you may not, that person may not be the right person, but they may know somebody. And so it’s just, it, you know, it’s just classical. Networking networking and stuff, but yeah, it all goes back to, you know, find somebody who’s getting the result you would like to get and then figure out, you know, and then copy it. You know?
Don: That’s awesome. Well, it’s interesting to me because the more, the more people that I talked to in this space, it’s. Incredible. The amount of open, accessible knowledge that there is. And I don’t know if it’s because there’s just a, you know, a lot of good people involved or if it’s, because everyone understands the difficulty of, you know, bringing your product to market and then once you have the product produced, actually selling it, you know that it’s oh yeah.
There’s room there’s room in this space. Sure. Well, let’s chat. You know, I, I think there’s, uh, cause I’ve also been involved in tech and the tech space is a lot less, uh, I don’t know, a lot less supportive of one another. You know, it’s a little bit, I don’t know. There’s just a perception I have and I think it is important to understand, like if, if people are interested in getting started in here, there’s an awesome community of people.
That are willing to help and teach and mentor.
Rob: So, you know, I would, yeah. And I would like underscore and put an exclamation point after that. Let your last statement. And I was, I was actually blown away at like how many people are like, like I say, we’d take somebody to lunch. How many people really are willing to.
To, uh, um, like go have lunch with you and tell you stuff. I mean, people like, here’s what I think I know. And they tell it yet. It’s like, oh, Hey, I know what, you know, you don’t really even know them that well. And they go, yeah, I know this person, and this is the person you need to talk to you. I I’ve been blown away.
And maybe it’s because we live in salt lake and there’s just a lot of entrepreneurship going on in this area. I don’t know if it’s unique to this area. Um, but I was really coming from the corporate world, um, where, you know, things were kind of like, you know, a little bit close kimono and a little bit more, you know, tight vested and a little bit more competitive.
Um, in the whole entrepreneurial thing, it’s like the amount of like help and really Goodwill people really willing to help you and, uh, wish you well. And, um, Yeah. I mean, the support I think is, was actually a bit surprising to me and actually I’d say surprising and reward. Yeah. Um, cause, cause it’s cool to connect with people and just to.
You know, getting connected with, uh, with, uh, well, his name’s Jake Narcos he’s over, uh, our vote does ARVO watches and he went to, he went to school with, uh, my sons. So I’m like, you know, I’m like, uh, I, I, I met him at a trade show. That’s the other thing, trade shows are really good to meet people. Cause people go there to meet you, meet people.
Um, so that’s some great advice. I met him at a trade show. And, uh, anyway, so you just, just, I mean, and here’s the, here’s this old guy trying to figure out how to do Instagram and what it even means is how to think about it. And, and, you know, here’s, here’s, here’s a 30 year old kid who’s out there making a living, um, started his own company.
He’s making a living doing it and just hustling and working hard and it’s more than happy to help you. And, and, uh, yeah, just, yeah, so it’s, it’s been really cool.
Don: Awesome. I totally agree. You know, my, my personal background has been in, in the marketing side of things and it’s interesting because it is it’s this whole, like you’re saying lunch meetings, getting together, sharing knowledge and all that stuff.
It it’s true. It’s exactly right. You know, that’s, I, I couldn’t agree more. And I think this is, this is going to be very useful for our listeners to hear, um, and maybe even encourage people to branch out a little bit more and to never stop meeting people. And that’s why I feel like I have the best job in the world doing these types of, of.
No discussions on podcasts because I get to talk with amazing people. And I was sitting here going, you know what? I want to go to lunch with Rob some time. This is amazing.
Rob: Yeah, let’s do it. Yeah. I’d love to do it. That’d be awesome.
Don: We’ve got to keep connected. This has been great. Well, I, you know, I’m not gonna take up more of your time, but I really appreciate you coming on and sharing all these things.
If any of our listeners want to get connected or want to find your product, where would they need to head?
Rob: Just, uh, covelo.com K O G a L L a.com. Or you send an email to your email@example.com. Perfect. Okay. There’s there’s a handful of us on the team and one of us will answer.
Don: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for agreeing to come on today.
Rob: Hey, well, thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.