Sunday, January 29, 2012

Frequently asked questions

Here is a link to Frequently Asked Questions about New55.

This has been well-received and some people have offered to help with the early development of this new 4x5 material now that they understand what is involved in R&D and bringing such a product to market. There are three things that need to be done:

1. The design must be shown to be feasible
We've done this up to a point, and feel it is well enough defined and demonstrated.  Here are some examples.

2. The product must lead to or contribute to an ongoing business.
We think that is possible and have a variety of scenarios that could fulfill it.

3. There has to be an investment made to pay for labor, tooling, materials, infrastructure, and to support the steady rollout of the product that would be mass manufactured.
This is not in hand. Kickstarter would not provide this, because Kickstarter represents a preselling of a slug of materials or product, not an ongoing steady sales pattern needed to establish a going activity. Fortunately, the investment dollars are not very large and those with vision see how it may lead to other new products, technologies, and the ability to license or sell into new and growing fields.

Please read the FAQ


JW said...

For the investment, you might get everything you need by crowd-sourcing. You have a serious base of people who are interested and might be willing to help. You use a service like to get the funds and and buyers, buy pre-selling a first flush of new55 film.
Anyway, I'm really looking forward to it !

Bob Crowley said...

The math doesn't add up. We need $210K to start production and could not supply enough at $6 a sheet that way. We've looked into kickstarter over and over and it just doesn't provide us with the capability to make a continuable operation, and it would create a demand rush at the beginning that would not be conducive to ramp up. I don't think people want to wait up to two years after kickstarter, but that is how a normal business would do it, one batch at a time. The "first flush" has to be usable, not experimental. We know that from user polls and interviewing customers who would pay the price, if the quality is good.

We are already approved in Kickstarter. Another reason KS is not being considered seriously is that it takes a dedicated person(s) to run it, provide the rewards, do the fulfillment, and satisfy the legal contract that KS requires. We are open to someone local who wants to commit to this, however, and if you are in the Boston area I welcome your visit and participation.

JW said...

Hi Bob,
I understand. I didn't realize that you were that serious and that the business was as complicated as that to put into place. But I respect and admire that you go directly for the high quality product, produced in a financially sensible way.
I wish you all the best with the investment and if you are thinking of crowd-sourcing part of that, I'll be more than happy to contribute with some of my dollars.
As for managing a KS project, I am unfortunately not in position to be able to do so.

Good luck,

Bob Crowley said...

Well, I think that it is great that you and others feel that crowdsourcing could work. I would be willing to try it - if there was someone to run that effort. I cannot do it. Also, if we did that, we would have to tell the supporters that they have either a long wait or a high price. A traditional business investment does not work like Kickstarter, which is really not much more than a way to presell something and then "deliver" after enough orders are received.

In the case of the iPhone tripod mount, that was a good one - simple and could be made with a few CAD files and the application of money. All the borrowing was paid when the mounts shipped, and that was it.

New55 requires getting a running, continuous line in operation. The continuous production is what makes many technologies tenuous, and once you stop running, it can be hard to start up again, as you need the motion of incoming parts and orders and the action of assembly and fulfillment to orchestrate together to make a profit.

Let's look at this another way - imagine if there were 220 wealthy photographers who could each put in 1000 each. What would the minimum be that they could expect for that? Would they accept a discount on future orders? No, they want $1000 worth of New55. So 166 sheets each. Sounds easy, now multiply that by 220, and we need to deliver 36,500 sheets of New55, and soon, because people would be impatient. Or, would they accept 30 sheets each on the first run, then accept the risk that there will be a second run, and if so, another 30 sheets, and so on until we get to the 166? Meanwhile none of the sheets that are going out have revenue associated with them - they are all being used to pay off the start up debt.

Pat Morrissey said...

Yeah, I thought KS might be a plan too, but it's a different model altogether. However, $1000 from one two hundred investors (purely as an investment) doesn't seem unrealistic.I hope you find source of finance, because what you've shown is so tantalising.

Bob Crowley said...

Indeed, it is a very real product opportunity, and would lead to instant color, and some other surprising things.

Christopher Bonanos said...

As Pat Morrissey suggests: If you were to offer 210 shares @ $1000 apiece, altogether constituting (let's say) 40 percent of the business, I bet you'd be able to gather the total you need.

If the business works out as you envision, those small investors would presumably get their money back over a few years' time. Because they are likely to be enthusiasts, they would probably to treat it like poker money: Yeah, I might lose my stake, but there's a decent chance I could get it back and then some.

Just thinking out loud...

Drew Gardner said...

Dera Bob,

I have massive respect for you and I'm genuinely excited about the prospect of using your film.

I have one comment to make though, it might be advisable to come up with a clear funding route, as hard as it may be.

I know you do not have the money for this project yet but your uncertain and 'woolly' approach to funding, just gives the impression , all be it false that this is never going to happen.

Come up with an idea, wether it be a kick-starter, venture capital or whatever.

Uncertainty breeds uncertainty.

Keep going my friend, but be decisive

You will win through, it is a brilliant cause.



Bob Crowley said...

Uncertainty is the truth. Live with it or have nothing, no risk, no potential. Not all problems are solved. In secret, less would happen. We try something new here.

Kickstarter won't work. We are seeking funding. Everybody is being kept informed about progress, or not.

That's the way it is. The art progresses nonetheless - for instance, many more people are using monobaths and also are getting fujinegs. In addition, we have shown that hand made DTR in 4x5 is possible. Is that not worth something, regardless of the risk?

Anonymous said...

Some cannot stand the suspense, I guess.

Anonymous said...

Bob - have you not asked for someone to lead a Kickstarter effort? Any takers?

Anonymous said...

How many people do you think are interested in this project? I think people would be willing to donate dollars to the cause without a return of any kind. I would. It may not be a large amount, but if all who are wanting to see this happen would give a little will reap the benefits of having the 55 in the future. I've been watching this site for a while and looking for a link to donate to but couldn't find it. Maybe I'm wrong but I think there would be enough donations to get it done.

Just thinking out loud also,


Bob Crowley said...

No takers, so far. I hoped someone interested in a social media and Kickstarter project would show up.

We cannot solicit donations unless we spun this out as a non profit or not for profit. Many people have donated materials and time, and money without the expectation of a certain return. We have significant donated support from Soundwave, and from 20X24. Impossible has also made a donation of materials.

Anonymous said...

How do you assemble the new55 sheets? Do you have access to machines, or is it all done manually by hand?

Bob Crowley said...

Everything is done by hand at present. Even at scale up there is still a lot of hand assembly. The machines cut shapes, fold, make pods, attach clips, etc.