Every great product starts with an idea. We start by recognising a product that can be improved, and we research if there's a need for it in the market.
Research includes looking at what's already out there, asking riders what they'd like to see in a new product, and testing out existing products ourselves.
Designing a product involves getting a heap of ideas on paper and prioritising the most wanted and most practical features. Then we sketch out a few ways we think these features can be achieved, in the most aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly way.
After sketching a few ideas, we create prototypes in-house using a range of materials. This includes cardboard, fabrics, foam, staples, and even duct tape.
The idea is to create the general shell of the product so that we can visibly see how it'll look and feel in person. This helps us avoid bringing avoidable mistakes into the sample phase.
Finally, we take photos of the prototype and sketches, create digital blueprints for them, and send them to our manufacturer.
The manufacturer creates a sample based on our requirements. We consult with them on best use of materials, and rely on them often for advice on where to reinforce parts of the bag.
When the sample arrives, we take the sample out on big rides. We put at least 2000km on each sample, making notes and adjusting accordingly before requesting another sample.
This is extremely time consuming - for example, The Ashvault Backpack went through about 7 major design reiterations before going into production.
When the sample is ready for testing, we produce a small batch of them and send them out to volunteer riders. They aren't associated with Flying Solo Gear Co, but are chosen based on where they ride, their discipline, how they ride, and so-on. We try to match with a wide range of riders to get their honest feedback. In return for their time, they are offered the opportunity to purchase the final product at cost price.
Once they provide feedback, we refine the sample until it's ready for production.
Once everyone is in agreement about the product design, we send through the final requirements to our manufacturers. It's a long and lengthy process to iron out every kink before it goes into production. Being meticulous at the beginning will save time and heartache later.
The manufacturer requires a minimum order quantity (MOQ) and at least a 50% deposit, so to help with that, we run pre-order sales.
During a pre-order sale, customers can buy the final product at a discount. This helps raise funds for the deposit.
The deposit can be many thousands of $$, and because we're a bootstrapped (entirely self-funded) business, we rely on pre-orders to get the project started.
We stay in touch with the manufacturers throughout the whole process, and they provide progress photos. Once complete, they notify us and we pay the balance of the cost. We then complete the shipping process via a freight forwarder who helps us handle customs taxes and fees.
The products are shipped to our HQ in Melbourne, where every single product goes through Amanda (Founder/Owner), who tests every zipper and seam before sending it out to the customer.
Product development is a lengthy and expensive process. Many human hours go into taking a product to market, often with unexpected delays or issues in the supply chain.
We price Flying Solo Gear Co based on the value we believe the product can deliver. All profits from Flying Solo Gear Co go back into the business to keep developing new products and challenging the status quo.
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