Brian found us a sweet deal for a place to set up camp. We had quickly outgrown his garage and needed to have some more room. So we are officially at 680 Old State Route 47 in Monticello, IL. It’s not ideal, because we are sharing space with a place that does maintenance on semi-trucks, but it is fine. And price is right for where we are right now. There is a lot of space out back and the owner is super chill and let’s us have the run of the place.
Just before I came out, I was flying through Ohio farm country on the big BMW two-wheeler and happened to see a small forklift with a for sale sign up on a hill. So I turned around, had a look and the guy wanted $3K for it. So we bought it and Brian and his friend Dash drove out to bring it home. It’s pretty damn old, but seems to be working fine. Probably needs a new battery.
Brian and his son Tony are building out the space to optimize for manufacturing once we are ready to move beyond prototypes. I spent two weeks there. Set up a little office and bed in the rear office where I could work and sleep. Outside, in back, I set up a nice temporary outdoor camp site. I was on a con call and Brian came back and stuck his head in and said I needed to get outside. By the time I finished my call, my little campsite had gone the way of Oklahoma farms during the dust bowl. There is a name for an inland Hurricane that blows through with winds of 100mph or so, but it’s effectively a hurricane. Brian and his dad and Tony salvaged what they could. So I need a plan B for next time I go.
The first night I showed up, Rusty, Brian’s dad, came around because he heard a rumor I had brought him a bottle of Red Breast whiskey, which was confirmed to be true. He unscrewed the top, threw it in the garbage can and we settled in to waste away the rest of the afternoon.
Good day though. We solved some important problems.
Prototype design is continuing to evolve. Brian and I decided to add 1 foot to side panels to buy some more room for a rear slide that can accommodate a 2nd tent. This solved two problems for us, but possibly created a new problem. By adding this slide, we did get space for a 2nd tent for larger families and and also this space is much lower to the ground for people who have large dogs or otherwise do not like being up so high on the camper. But, it also puts us dangerously close to perhaps not fitting in some garages with a tent on top.
We also went from 4 modular units to 3 which takes us from 4 doors on each side to 3. Better design, but it also adds height, weight and cost. So we have to thread the needle there.
So…..the design evolution will never end. We just mustn’t let the pursuit of perfection get in the way of good enough. We need to get a commercially viable unit on the market and we can continue to improve forever.
In the meantime, we have to complete business modeling and the marketing plan and get the website tight and get the electronic commerce hooks all tied together and get the supply chain locked down. And most of all, complete that next level prototype.