Category Archives: Product Development

Santa Tierra Mezcal

WIMS Client Spotlight: Santa Tierra Mezcal

Santa Tierra Mezcal is officially making its debut to sunny South Florida in Q2 2018! After dominating the ultra-competitive Mexican market and emerging as one of the best premium mezcales on the market, it was certainly time to expand to the U.S. The U.S. operation will be based in Miami, FL which will serve as the jump off point of the U.S. takeover.

The popularity of mezcal has exploded recently and the formally mysterious libation is now experiencing it’s time in the sun. Whether sipped on neat, on the rocks, or mixed into a tasty craft cocktail, mezcal always provides a full-on experience.

We’re excited to bring Santa Tierra Mezcal here for the people of South Florida to enjoy followed by several other key markets shortly thereafter. If you’re interested in carrying our brand in your restaurant, bar, club, or hotel, please let us know!

The Story of Santa Tierra Mezcal

Santa Tierra is a 100% Mexican company made by friends and now partners who decided to move forward in the fascinating world of mezcal. They now take this venture very seriously and focus on one sole objective; to make Santa Tierra the best mezcal ever produced, not just because of the flavor, but also for the dedication to premium quality.

Every bottle is made by hand in Oaxaca, Mexico. They chose the location of Sola de Vega in Oaxaca, because it was there where they found the best agave plants to produce their mezcal due to the nutrient-rich soil. Sola de Vega is also home to the masters of the handmade mezcal production, the “mezcaleros.”

Santa Tierra is manufactured from four different species of agave plant; el espadín (angustifolia), the arroqueño (americana var americana), coyote (americana oaxacensis) and Tobalá (potatorum succ), all of which are wild in the heart of the Sola de Vega. The agave grow for a period of 6 to 20 years depending on the variety. Santa Tierra utilizes the waters of local natural flowing rivers to help enrich their magueyes before being cut to provide a smooth and distinct agave flavor unique to the mezcal of Santa Tierra. They have an organic certification, so there are no fillers, added sugars, or worms, their mezcal is pure and ultra-smooth.

GNEISS

WIMS Client Spotlight: GNEISS 2017 Year in Review & What’s to Come in 2018: Reinventing the Financial Wheel

“The GNEISS team truly had an incredible year in 2017. It was filled with many milestones and growth as a company and platform. Our goal is to help our users unlock the power of the blockchain to take control of their financial freedom. We’re doing this by building the World’s 1st P2P Ethereum Blockchain Platform. More specifically, GNEISS is a business development and free market platform that uses blockchain technology to enable peer to peer financial transactions.

Clearly the explosion of the cryptocurrency market and popularity of Bitcoin and Ethereum has played a tremendous role in propelling us forward. The awareness and branding/marketing of the industry created a headwind which we have been able to leverage to our advantage.

Some of the key milestones we hit this year are included below:

  • Reached beta stage of development.
  • Enabled Secure Wallets via Segwit/Multi Sig (for bitcoin); we’ve incorporated all the features of Bitcoin and Ethereum onto our platform.
  • Established Fiat Currency Tethers (we were the first platform to do this!).
    • Including: USD, EUR, CNY, GBP, CAD, AUD.
  • Our GNEISS coin is now listed on the Ether Delta Exchange and being publicly traded, it will soon be on Bancor and others as well.
  • 140+ users and climbing.
  • Launched our online forum/blog: forum.gneiss.io.
  • We’ve grown our social media presence on multiple platforms and have released multiple videos to our YouTube channel.

 

What’s to Come in 2018

The market for peer-to-peer lending is growing annually, potentially reaching $490B by 2020 [1] Our aim is to bring borrowers and lenders on a single platform where those with access to finance can connect with those in need of finance, and reach mutually beneficial terms and conditions that are transparent and immutable. Through GNEISS, loans can be achieved using a legally verified smart contract and secured using crypto-currency. The smart contract is executed on the Ethereum platform, facilitating a peer to peer interaction, with the transaction details recorded on the Blockchain.

This enables individuals or companies who have digital assets to borrow against them, to generate immediate cashflow, without compromising the position of their assets. Borrowers can use their crypto-currencies as collateral on a safe, efficient, and cost saving platform. Similarly, lenders who have reserved digital funds can provide loans based on their risk tolerance and achieve higher returns than typical bank deposits.

By creating a win-win situation, on a decentralized and transparent platform, GNEISS is creating opportunities which have not existed in the cryptocurrency space. In short, GNEISS enables frictionless access to credit in a secure and scalable way.

1https://lending-times.com/2017/07/24/alternative-lending-and-cryptocurrencies/

In addition, the following are some of the highlights of what else is on the horizon:

  • Full platform launch set for later this year.
  • Ability to tokenize any asset in the free market that has value (everything has value and you will be able to assign a price to it).
  • We will continue to pursue getting listed on the Bittrex and Poloniex exchanges.
  • Improve our money/wallet management system.
  • Enhance user management and interface functionality.
  • Release new features, such as:
    • Create, transfer, mint, burn, exchange, tax, or pay dividends to any crypto-asset or smart contract on our decentralized blockchain-powered trading platform.
    • Ability to exchange tokens.
    • Ability to create new tokenized assets.
  • Mobile application launch.”

Stay tuned!

WIMS Client Spotlight: Custom Consortium

Custom Consortium is an e-commerce, and soon brick-and-mortar retail company as well, operating out of New York and Los Angeles. The company curates the world’s finest bespoke and customizable fashion brands so that individuals can discover and design them to create their own style. Their tagline is “Empower Your Individuality Through Our World of Customization.”

It works like this. You can discover products in their growing collection of brands. Next you design your favorite fashion items to express your individual tastes and needs. Then your products are custom-made and shipped to your door.

Their current brands include:

  • Saintly – Fully customizable, highly functional, and gorgeous leather weekenders and fine goods handmade in the heart of New York City.
  • Impish Lee – A sister-owned, NY-made lingerie brand that enables women to design their own intimate and lounge apparel online.
  • Awl & Sundry – Handcrafted custom shoes.
  • Black Lapel Custom Clothiers – Flawlessly fitting suits, shirts and blazers crafted individually to perfection.
  • Martenero – Customized mechanical watches.

They’ve recently partnered with Share a Sale to launch one of the highest commission affiliate programs in the fashion space. Plus, they also created an innovative twist via their Custom Style Ambassador program which allows you to create design collaborations with their customizable brands to generate a long-term revenue stream from them. They are looking to partner with influencers to help spread the word.

Take a look at the site and let us know what you think, we’d appreciate the feedback! If you see something you like, use promo code “DesignMyOwnStyle” to take 10% off your first order.

Launching ARRE: Augmented Reality Real Estate

The augmented reality and virtual reality company that I’m a co-founder of, EolianVR, (DBA: “Eolian”), recently launched our Augmented Reality Real Estate platform (ARRE) specifically geared toward the commercial real estate industry. ARRE is an end-to-end system, complete with a platform, application, hardware, software, storage, and support that commercial real estate firms need to easily and immediately begin showcasing and visualizing large scale real estate assets in augmented reality.

This is a game-changing breakthrough for the commercial real estate industry as potential clients, investors, partners, and brokers, etc. can take a walk through a skyscraper, or 20 story office building, even before a single shovel (or excavator) strikes the ground. Architects can share their vision, make real-time adjustments, and determine the implications of said changes (i.e. total square foot change of the building, etc.) relatively quickly, in order to make sure a project remains within the necessary specifications, all before the project enters the tangible world.

You don’t like the color of the painting on the walls? We can change that. You prefer the reception desk be on the other side of the lobby? Done. You want to see a sliding glass door entrance to the building rather than revolving ones? You got it, just give it a minute. This is accomplished by leveraging technology such as the Microsoft Hololens, the HTC Vive, along with additional complementary & proprietary AR/VR hardware and software.

One can imagine the cost savings realized from a more efficient and streamlined project timeline. Think about less time-consuming walk throughs, change order processing, a simpler permitting process, along with countless other efficiencies that will be gained. Not to mention 3D building models are now rendered obsolete as in an augmented world, you can make real time digital changes to the building without having to spend thousands of dollars updating the model. How much money is lost (chalked up to customer acquisition/cost of doing business) right now just from things like lost efficiency from shuffling people around to your properties and making changes after they’ve already been built, $5,000, maybe $10,000 or even far more?

Take a moment to imagine something with me:

An investment firm’s key decision makers are sitting around their boardroom table in China while taking a tour of a proposed commercial building in New York, all while being able to make real time recommendations along the way (yes, they have headsets on). If they like what they see, they can then make a real-time offer from across the world. Once agreed the real estate developers can pass along their standard virtual contract, with certain covenants to be determined. While the lawyers review it, an initial deposit (binding or not) can subsequently issued via Bitcoin or another preferred form of crypto-currency (or even good ol’ US dollars if desired via an embedded payment processing application) which is deposited into an escrow account (also embedded in the application). All of this can happen in real-time, and soon enough will be how most large scale business transactions will be conducted. Within the next few years companies will be able to transcend international regulatory and currency barriers and just get down to business with the help of block chain technology. Of course, I’m simply summarizing for brevity’s sake, but things like this are just the beginning.

While the first iteration of ARRE is currently live and operational, subsequent editions and updates are subsequently being perfected as well that will leverage the latest and greatest technology to continue streamlining the commercial real estate industry as well as making it significantly more transparent.

One of Eolian’s core missions and mantra is focused on “Building New Worlds” and the launch of ARRE is certainly going to help us do just that.

About Eolian: Eolian is a software development and marketing production firm capable of conceptualizing and building Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) applications with practical uses in four main industries: Real Estate, Military, Healthcare, Education, and Marketing. Drawing from a combined 30+ years’ experience in software development and marketing, the team develops and deploys applications on the following VR and AR HMDs (Head-Mounted Displays): Microsoft Hololens, HTC Vive, Gear360, PlaystationVR, Google Cardboard, and Meta2 among others. Members of the team have already built applications such as interactive VR tours, interactive VR simulators, room-scale interactive trainings, hologram trainings, and much more. Eolian is also developing additional use-cases for additional industries such as: Travel/Tourism, Events/Venues, Golf Courses/Country Clubs, Action Sports, and Non-profits among others. For more information, please visit www.eolianvr.com.

 

Chipping Away at New Product Development

By: Jarrod Mains

What do you know about product development? If you are like me when I decided to start a company that makes a new golf training aid, then nothing! I had zero experience designing, producing, building, managing, sourcing, or engineering a new product. The only thing I have ever done professionally is sell. But I was very passionate about this product my next door neighbor invented and I truly believe that it makes people who use it a better golfer. So we decided to start Perfect Shot Golf Loft, LLC.

I have learned the hard way that the most difficult part of developing a new product is getting the design and manufacturing set up. The initial steps you take during this process are crucial. I could not afford to make any mistakes as my budget was very limited, but like anything you haven’t done in life before, you live and you learn. I have listed several of the lessons I learned during my product development cycle over the past 18 months below with the hope that they can help you develop your own product quickly, efficiently, and as equally important: within your budget!

Lesson #1 – Do your research.

I’ve always liked the saying, “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” I’ve never started a job I hadn’t researched and crunched numbers for prior to beginning and this venture was no different. Knowledge is power and the more knowledge you have, the better off you will be. Before starting a business you need to research the entire industry you are looking to enter and dissect any/all information available. Developing a business plan and researching how to make it happen is by far the most important step before you decide to start your own company.

Again, I had ZERO product development experience and really didn’t know what I was getting into but was so confident this product was going to be successful, that I didn’t care. I was focusing on what was going to happen several steps away, looking forward to the point where I had inventory to sell. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be so hard to get to that point! There is only so much you can do during the development stage as a sales/marketing guy. So like any smart CEO would do when he didn’t know what to do, I hired a consultant.

In August 2014, we sent our home built prototype to a company we contracted with in Buffalo, NY to look it over so they could build us a more professional, consumer ready product. They succeeded in doing this about eight months later. Which brings me to my next lesson…

Lesson #2 – Don’t contract with a design firm that is so far away.

The design stage of developing a product is critical. The more you can communicate and meet with your designers the better off you will be. Sam (my business partner) and I are in Florida; the consultants we hired were in Buffalo, NY. While we did do some Skype sessions and conference calls, it’s not the same as being able to drive down the street and check to see how your project is coming along.

Looking back, there were many small things these design consultants messed up which could have been avoided had we been closer to point things out sooner. Whenever somebody messes something up in the design stage, it not only costs time, but costs money too! Of course there will be some trial and error along the way, but the errors they made were pretty standard requests.

Sam was a foreman on large scale projects such as building power plants and skyscrapers, so he was very specific with how he wanted his invention built (our “blueprint”) yet these guys kept getting measurements wrong, spacing off, and all sorts of other things that seemed simple to us. We thought we were pretty clear as to what we were asking for and they always said they understood, but whenever we got a new part or sample piece the changes we asked for and things we stressed were not done properly until the second, third, fourth time.

For example, it was very frustrating having to tell professional design engineers to make sure the holes in the stakes are close enough together to where you have to squeeze the poles together providing more stability and friction on the unit, yet it takes them nine tries to get it right!

Lesson #3 – If possible, pay for the project as a whole, not on an hourly basis.

Design engineers are like lawyers. If you let them, they will rack up billable hours! We had the option upfront in this firm’s proposal to pay for the project as a whole, but we decided to go with the hourly option and have them send us monthly invoices for the time they spent working on our project. Maybe they were making all those mistakes referenced above on purpose to run up the bill on us, who knows. But we had to learn the expensive way that it would have been much better to pay one lump sum for the project instead of leaving it open to the engineers to “work” on it at their own discretion will while working on other projects for their other clients simultaneously.

This company itemized their hours so I was able to see how much time they claimed they were working on each portion of the product. After looking at the monthly invoices each month, I was getting fed up of seeing some of the same stuff on there each and every month for things that should have been completed already. Again, being so far away and never meeting these guys in person was a big mistake. The trust factor was lacking.

Lesson #4 – Search for vendors yourself.

Again, I had to learn this the hard/expensive way! The consultants we hired claimed they already had resources in place to get us all the parts we needed in their initial proposal. We soon figured out that was far from reality as they were simply searching online for vendors and charging us to do it. After a few months I finally asked them why it was costing us so much for them to search for vendors and why it was taking so long to find these resources they claimed they already had in place. After that conversation, I decided to take over this aspect of the process myself.

If you don’t search for your own vendors – which isn’t hard, just time consuming – you pay engineers $90+ per hour to do it for you! The consultants initially got us three quotes on injection molds, all of which were over $100,000. I made the mistake of simply sending them websites saying, “Hey look into these guys,” not knowing they were still going to charge me so much money to gather these quotes.

I finally told them to stop searching for vendors, I’ll do that from now on. And boy was that a great decision! I not only saved money by searching myself, I saved money by finding better priced vendors for virtually every part we needed! Plus, I learned a lot about manufacturing while doing my searches and talking to these vendors so this move was quite beneficial.

Lesson #5– Plan for your product to take longer than expected.

Our objective when we first started was to have a finished product in time for the start of golf season, spring of 2015. That didn’t happen. Designing and ordering custom parts that don’t exist yet takes longer than you probably think. For one, it was tough to find vendors in the USA to do it at a reasonable cost, so lots of times we had to get sample parts from China…which means waiting for them to get here. If you don’t want to spend the extra money on shipping overnight internationally – which can add up quick – you have to wait longer. But time is money so you have to consider what is best for your situation.

Around June of 2015, the product was finally designed the way we wanted it and we had found vendors for most of the parts. Now we were finally ready to go to production! Except there was one more problem…we didn’t have enough money to pay for the injection molds. All of our start-up funds went into product development and legal fees (patents, trademarks, operating agreements, etc.). While we could make our product cheaper and “dumb it down” a little bit, we don’t want to do that.

We want this to be the Cadillac of golf training aids instead of being like most of the other cheap crap out there on the market. We want people to use this product for years, not just once or twice and throw it away like a lot of other goofy golf gadgets. I’m smart enough to know that cheap doesn’t last and you get what you pay for, I’m a big believer in that. If we start cutting corners now and cheapening our product, it’s going to cause us more work and cost us more money in the long run. And we can’t afford that. So we decided to build it the right way rather than the quick and cheap way.

I hope these lessons and our company’s start-up experience have helped you understand the product development stage in some way. While it does require hard work, I want to encourage you to go for it, just be mindful of what it takes to be successful. We have passed a big road block but the route has only begun as we have many more obstacles to navigate through. Stay tuned for my next article on fundraising and creating a crowd funding campaign. Until then, to be continued… GOLFLOFTNoBackGround-500X500

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Jarrod Mains is the CEO of Perfect Shot Golf Loft, LLC. He has many years of experience working in the professional sports industry with a variety of leagues and in a variety of roles. He earned his MBA in Sports Management from Florida Atlantic University. He can be reached here.