Customer Feedback – Up-Close and Personal

Product reviews (especially online) are increasingly important in helping customers make purchasing decisions. A study by CompUSA and iPerections discovered 63% of consumers indicate they are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews. According to a Forrester study, 71% of online shoppers read reviews, making it the most widely read consumer-generated content.

The beauty of the internet is that even small companies can integrate online reviews into their website. Companies such as RatePoint (www.ratepoint.com) provided neutral, third party management of online reviews. They also provide tools (called Widgets) that simplify the integration of the collection and display of customer reviews into the seller’s website. We use RatePoint as a way to give our clients an outlet to rate the services and products from Montie Design.

Customer reviews are a great way to encourage sales, especially of a new product. However, you have to have sales to have customers who can write the reviews. Strategic users are the early adopters (often cultivated by the product manufacturer) who test the product and write a review. These reviews help drive customer sales and they also help encourage resellers and distributors to carry the product.

Strategic users can include writers and product evaluators for magazines and blogs. Thought leaders in the industry are also candidates for strategic users. Anyone who is in a position to influence the opinion of the marketspace is a possible strategic user. Carefully selecting the strategic users and getting product in their hands is an effective to way to begin to shaping the opinion of the marketspace as early as possible. The reviews generated by the strategic users should be a planned part of your public relations strategy. Excerpts from the reviews can also be used in your advertising campaign. The links from published reviews also help drive traffic to your website. A potentially bigger benefit occurs as the links drive up the PageRank of your website and help potential customers find the product through search engine results.

Earlier this year we launched a product called the X-Rest. Part of our launch strategy for the X-Rest shooting rest involved identifying strategic users to evaluate the product and help form a positive opinion of the X-Rest within the shooting community.

Here are some rules for soliciting reviews from strategic users:

* don’t interfere with the review process, it has to be honest and genuine
* stay open to criticism, not all reviews are 100% positive, bad reviews can lead to great product improvements
* look for new ways that users interpret how they should use the product and find new markets
* have faith in your customers, they have a perspective that can help you create even better products

The following is an example of a review from one of our strategic users:

FIELD-TESTING THE X-REST
By: Peter J. Kolovos

INTRODUCTION & BACKGROUND:
Peter J. Kolovos, was a Deputy Sheriff with the Cook County Sheriff’s Department in Illinois, before retiring.  He has been involved in the shooting sports for well over 40 years.  He is currently the Secretary-Treasurer and Director of Training for the North Suburban Police Pistol League, Inc.  With over 200 members, the NSPPL, is probably one the largest police shooting clubs in the country.

His credentials are many but my most noteworthy are the following: Pete is a highly competitive rifle and pistol shooter.  He is Certified as a Rifle Coach (Level-2) and a Pistol Coach (Level-3) with the National Rifle Association.  He is a NRA Training Counselor and Certified Instructor in several shooting disciplines.  Pete has been certified as a Police Firearms & Sub-Machinegun Instructor with the State of Illinois.  He attended the FBI’s Sniper/Observer School in 1994, and shot a perfect score during the final qualification course.  He has hunted extensively in 15 states including Alaska, and has hunted in Canada.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS:
The first thing I noticed when I received my sample of the X-Rest, was how compact and light weight the unit was.  Made of Aluminum, it came nicely tucked into a 14.5” x 4.5” digital Camo carrying bag with a draw string closure.  The disassembled unit was approximately one-inch thick.

Each of the unit’s three legs measured out at  9” x 1.5”.  The legs join together through a rectangular slot in two of the sections and are held in place by the third leg which has a half-round section with a hole in it, and a pin which is attached to the main section via a split ring affixed to a short length of plastic coated wire cable.  This system virtually guarantees that you’ll never lose the joining pin even in rough conditions.  I also liked the fact that it was made in the USA.

Once the three sections are assembled, the rest seemed extremely steady.  The cross sections, where you’d lay your rifle measured out at approximately six-inches high, making it best suited for either Bench or Prone work.  Both of the cross-sections that actually formed the cradle seemed to have an ample amount of a protective rubber coating applied them to keep the rifle steady and to aid in protecting the rifle stock from being damaged during recoil.

INITIAL RANGE SESSION:
On Sunday, May 31, 2009, I took the “X-Rest” to the Racine County Line Rifle Club which is located in Racine, Wisconsin.  My club was holding it’s monthly F-Class rifle match, so I would be able to better evaluate the rest at distance from the Prone position.  The weather was overcast as we had a lot of precipitation during the last week.  The ground was still somewhat soft from all the rain we had, so these conditions would prove interesting for the “X-Rest”.

RANGE SESSION EVALUATION:
Being that I would personally use a this rest for Predator hunting, I chose a Remington Model 700 Varmint, bolt-action rifle chambered in .223 Remington for the evaluation.  This particular rifle was equipped with a 6.5 x 20 power Leupold target scope.

I set up the “X-Rest” at the 300 yard line, placed a small sand bag near the toe of the stock, took careful aim and fired.  Since I wanted to be totally impartial from the get-go, I decided that if I muffed a particular shot I would not consider it as part of the evaluation.  I would only consider the shots that I felt I broke cleanly.

I fired twenty (20) rounds at this distance and put all of the called shots just under a minute of angle (three-inch group at 300 yards), which is exactly what I was hoping for.  I only muffed two of the rounds.  Several other members then gave the rest a try and we also quite impressed with it’s construction and how steady the rest was.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS:
This neat little rest is simple, well made, and quite solid when assembled.  I feel it definitely has some law enforcement and military applications, as well as the civilian market.  This is a nice item for someone who’d like to have a portable rest available but not necessarily have a Bi-pod constantly attached to their rifles.  This would be a most excellent tool for a Rancher, or a Predator hunter.  It is also a very nice item for the casual shooter who’d like to have a solid rest to sight in their rifles but don’t necessarily want to pay several hundred dollars to do so.

If I were a school teacher I’d give the X-Rest a solid “B+” for it’s innovation, light weight, ease transport and of assembly.  My only recommendation would be to dip the lower part of the legs in some type of non-slip coating to resist scratching a vehicle’s paint-job if it were placed on top of the roof or hood.

Submitted by:
Peter J. Kolovos

——— End of Review ———–

Reviewers can connect with potential customers in a very intimate way through an honest evaluation of the product.  Reviews build trust in your product.  Small flaws in grammar or composition in the review help convince that the reader that the review was not a corporate fabrication from a paid talking head, but rather an honest evaluation from someone they can trust.  Less than stellar reviews are often more believable that glowing reviews.  Customers understand that no product is perfect and can be suspicious when reviews are overly flattering.

Product reviews are part of the precious dialog between you and your customers.  Embracing user reviews can give you an advantage over your competition.  Finding strategic users is the first step in encouraging the creation of third party reviews.  The next step is to get your product in their hands for them to test and evaluate.  Trust them to take it from there, using their reviews they create as a part of your website, public relations and marketing campaigns.  After all,  you worked so hard to get that product out to the market, now is the time to let the strategic users tell potential customers what a great product you’ve created.

Give me a call, or send me an email, if this was helpful or if you have topics that you would like to see in future updates.  Don’t forget to call when you are ready for us to contribute to the success of your project!

Cheers,
Montie Roland
President -Montie Design
montie@montie.com
800-722-7987

About Montie Design

Montie Design is a collaborative product design and  development firm with core competencies in industrial design,  mechanical design and fuzzy front end services. Implementing  a client-centric approach in taking products from concept to  marketplace, Montie Design balances vision with usability in  realizing products that are economical to manufacture, elegant and robust. The firm operates out of the Research Triangle  Park region of North Carolina with access to industry-leading  technology, resources and innovative thought. For more  information, visit www.montie.com.

New Portable Shooting Rest Released by Montie Design

Xrest Testing(Morrisville, N.C.) Collaborative product design and development firm Montie Design announces the availability of its unique portable shooting rest, the second original product conceived, designed, and distributed by the RTP-based company in the last nine months. Designed to meet the needs of all shooters as well as most firearms, the easy-to-carry rest weighs less than two pounds and disassembles easily in three pieces, fitting neatly into a small carrying case. Unlike conventional bench rests, which are heavy and complex, the novel Montie Design model — made of sturdy yet lightweight aluminum — provides steady support for different sized long guns ranging from semi-automatic and bolt action rifles to shotguns, carbines and pistols.

“There’s nothing like this on the market,” said Montie Roland, president of Montie Design and active shooting enthusiast. Roland, who used to shoot competitively and has a daughter on a local junior rifle team, said he got the idea for the product after tiring of carrying around a conventional combination of a heavy rest and sand bags for recreational shooting.

“I realized that a lighter weight version would serve the recreational shooter better,” he said.

Karl Frank, business development manager at Montie Design, received positive feedback on the portable shooting rest at a recent Special Operations trade show in Fayetteville, N.C. “It’s clear this product has military or police applications as a training tool for the long gunners in the squad, and for sighting in and maintenance operations,” Frank, whose background includes development of tactical equipment for military applications, said.

Roland said the idea for the product came not only from personal experience but also from what he saw as the market prospects for such a product. Nationally, approximately 200 companies are actively involved in the U.S. firearms industry, combining for an annual revenue of $2 billion. In the Triangle region of North Carolina there are more than five shooting ranges and multiple firearms retailers, not to mention major chains selling guns and ammo to hunters and competitive shooters.

The design and distribution of the shooting rest comes on the heels of Montie Design’s innovative radio frequency identification (RFID) detector card which was released in January and is now being sold throughout the U.S. and seven foreign countries.

“Sometimes there is no better way for a design firm to find the next client than to show off a simple, well-designed product to a potential client and say, ‘we did this in our spare time, imagine what we could do for your product line,’” Roland said, adding that concrete examples like the RFID detector and portable shooting rest show initiative, leadership and capability to his clients

Both the RFID detector and the shooting rest are produced in the Research Triangle Park region of North Carolina, using local manufacturers.

“The Triangle is full of not only thousands of ideas for great products, but many innovative, quality firms with talented professionals who can produce, market, and distribute those products throughout the world,” Roland said. ADR Hydrocut, a Morrisville company that waterjets the parts for the portable shooting rest was instrumental in the development of the product.

According to Frank, ADR Hydrocut provided prototypes and extremely valuable input. “Having the manufacturer literally just down the street made the development process much easier and convenient. We call this approach ‘Made Right Here,’” he said.

Future plans for the portable shooting rest include releasing drawings and design specs as open source in addition to designing an adjustable, pistol-oriented version of the product.

To learn more, or purchase the new shooting rest or RFID Detector, visit www.montie.com.


About Montie Design

Montie Design is a collaborative product design and development firm with core competencies in
industrial design, mechanical design and fuzzy front end services. Implementing a client-centric approach in taking products from
concept to marketplace, Montie Design balances vision with usability in realizing products that are economical to manufacture, elegant and
robust. The firm operates out of the Research Triangle Park region of North Carolina with access to industry-leading technology, resources
and innovative thought. For more information, visit www.montie.com.

Media Contact:

Montie Roland
montie@montie.com
800-722-7987
919-412-0559 [cell]

Montie Design Begins Internation Distribution of New RFID Detector Card

RFID Detector Car in Use(Morrisville, N.C.) Collaborative product design and development firm Montie Design is now actively selling its innovative radio frequency identification (RFID) detector card to domestic and international clients. Small enough to fit into a shirt pocket or clip to an ID badge, Montie Design’s product enables users and installers to detect whether an RFID reader is actually sending out a signal.

“We have sold cards in six foreign countries and have interest from distributors in Japan and Sweden,” said Karl Frank, Montie Design’s Business Development Manager. The $20 cards were released for purchase just two months ago. “We have also sold cards to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and users of every kind from research labs to system integrators across the United States,” Frank added.

Manufacturers and retailers utilize RFID tags heavily in supply chain management for identification and tracking purposes to improve efficiency and save costs. They are growing in popularity as replacements for barcode tags due to their ability to be read at a distance without contact. Every RFID tag attached to a product contains an integrated circuit and antenna, and is dependent upon the functionality of a corresponding RFID reader to effectively read and record the information encoded on the tag.

According to Montie Roland, his company’s product – assembled by GRT Electronics in Raleigh, N.C. – helps determine if an RFID reader might have suffered a hardware failure, a triggering sensor may not be working, or communications with a back-end system may have been interrupted.

“The first question during setup or troubleshooting of an RFID system is whether the system is radiating a signal from the reader’s antenna,” he said.

Installers or users need simply move the RFID detector card towards the RFID reader antenna; if the RFID reader antenna is actively radiating a signal, the center of the card will activate a bright blue led light. Depending on the antenna and the power level radiated by the RFID system, the card will illuminate as far as two feet away from the antenna.

The Montie Design card works with European and Japanese RFID frequencies as well.

To learn more, or purchase a card, visit www.montie.com.

About Montie Design
Montie Design is a collaborative product design and development firm with core competencies in industrial design, mechanical design and fuzzy front end services. Implementing a client-centric approach in taking products from concept to marketplace, Montie Design balances vision with usability in realizing products that are economical to manufacture, elegant and robust. The firm operates out of the Research Triangle Park region of North Carolina with access to industry-leading technology, resources and innovative thought. For more information, visit www.montie.com.

Media Contact:
Montie Roland
montie@montie.com
800-722-7987
919-412-0559

Good News

RFID Detector / RAT (Radiation Activity Tester) by Montie Design
RFID Detector / RAT (Radiation Activity Tester) by Montie Design

If you turn on the TV or listen to the radio, you hear a lot of bad news.  Today we have some good news about a product designed and produced locally.   We were featured today on RFID Journal. The article is about our RFID Detector card. This is our first Montie Design-branded product. You can view the article at:  http://www.rfidjournal.com/article/articleview/4646

You can purchase the card through our website (www.montie.com and click on the “Products” tab).

The text of the article follows:

——————————————————————-

RFID Detector Offers Low-Cost Troubleshooting Device

The device illuminates an LED upon sensing RFID transmission from a UHF reader, thereby offering a low-cost tool for installers and RFID reader owners.

By Claire Swedberg

Mar. 2, 2009—A new device from Montie Design, a newcomer to the radio frequency identification market, will enable RFID users and installers to detect whether an RFID interrogator is operating properly during or after installation. The $20 device fits into a pocket or clips to an ID badge, and is currently being marketed to RFID installers and users.

The idea for the device originated with a friend of one of the company’s designers late last year, according to Montie Roland, CEO of Montie Design, a two-year-old design firm located in Morrisville, NC. The company typically designs industrial and mechanical products, such as bike rental stations, solar panels and encasing for RFID transceivers and other products. Roland says his seven-engineer staff comprises “generalists” who develop a variety of items that are then marketed and distributed by the firm.

It took approximately two months to produce that product, Roland says, which consists of an LED and an antenna integrated into a PCB. The product is assembled by GRT Electronics, located in Raleigh, NC.

Thus far, says Karl Frank, Montie Design’s business development manager, the firm has sold units to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, as well as to several RFID equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and installers. Manufacturers or integrators can have their logo silk-screened onto the detector, Frank says, which they can then utilize as promotional tools, such as providing them to customers during installations.

To operate the detector, a user holds it several inches to several feet in front of an ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) reader antenna. If the device detects an RFID transmission from the reader, a blue LED in the center of the device illuminates. If the interrogator is not transmitting, the light remains non-illuminated. The device is designed to be inexpensive and small enough to fit into a pocket, Roland says. It does not measure the quality of transmission, but simply detects whether transmission is present.

Roland envisions systems integrators employing the detector to confirm that new readers being installed are functioning properly, and by end users conducting troubleshooting after installation. He indicates he has received a surprising number of enquiries regarding whether the device could be utilized in public places to determine whether readers were attempting to skim information off of RFID tags in licenses, passports or loyalty cards. The detector, he notes, would not be very effective because it must be located within a few feet of the interrogator in order to detect its transmission, and since it only detects UHF transmissions.

“That was very unexpected—the interest in using a device like this for privacy,” Roland says. “We realize now that there is a very large market for that, and we have such a product on our product road map.” It will be several years before the device is launched, he adds, noting that it would need to be an active RFID detector, and thus would require a battery. It would also be more expensive than the $20 RFID detector, which contains no battery and detects only transmissions from passive reader systems.

In the meantime, Roland says, the company is developing another version of the existing RFID detector for the 865 to 867 MHz range—the UHF band used in Europe—and another to detect high-frequency transmissions.

NC Product Design Co-Op Lunch & Learn #3

This event is sponsored by the RTP Product Development Guild.

Date: Wednesday, 4 Mar 09

Time: Noon until 1:30

Location: Montie Design / Studio Hagler, 400 Dominion Dr., Morrisville, NC 27560

Purpose of Meeting: Get to know other, potential co-op members in a relaxed environment.  Six attendees will have five minutes each in front of the group to explain their business.  This is an excellent opportunity for us to get to know each other on a professional and personal basis.  If you would like to have your five minutes of fame, please purchase the ticket above with the time slot that you would like to have.

Purpose of Co-Op: Develop a standards-based community that presents a unified public face to the greater business community, both locally and nationally.  Potential clients see the Co-Op and understand that here is a group of design / prototyping-related businesses that already know each other and work together well.

Who Should Come: Local product design, development and prototyping vendors who are interested in working together in a constructiveand substantial way to bring more business to local design community.

This is a great way for entrepreneurs, engineers, managers, and purchasing agents to find local vendors.  If you have a need for engineering, design, or prototyping help this is a great place to not only find new vendors but personally meet the individuals running those companies.

Questions: If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Montie Roland at montie@montie.com, or by phone at 919-481-1845.

Pre-registration is Required:  Register at http://ncproductdesign3.eventbrite.com/

NC Product Design & Prototyping Co-Op Lunch and Learn #2

NC Product Design and Prototyping Co-Op Schedules Second Lunch and Learn

(Morrisville, N.C.) The NC Product Design and Prototyping Co-Op, a project of the RTP Product Development Guild, has scheduled its second lunch and learn session for Wednesday, February 18 from Noon – 1:30 p.m. at Fineline Prototyping in Raleigh.

Co-Op members specializing in areas such as software development, engineering, design and prototyping, marketing, and project management work together in a collaborative environment to focus local resources on creating products with regional, national, and international applications instead of having local companies look elsewhere for assistance.

According to Montie Roland, president of the RTP Guild and advisor to the Co-Op, momentum is building within the local product design community to pool resources in order to bring new, cutting-edge product ideas from concept to reality.

“The talent, ideas, and resources are right here in Raleigh, Durham, Morrisville, Cary, Apex – the Co-Op is the missing piece of the puzzle to bring everyone together,” he said. Eighteen industry professionals attended the first lunch-and-learn event with over two dozen expected for the FineLine event, Roland said.

According to Roland, the lunch and learn events provide a great way for Co-Op members (and potential members) to get to know each other better.  Each attendee has the opportunity to introduce himself and his company to the group, and local engineers and managers are able to meet local design and prototyping vendors, Roland said. Each lunch and learn is free to attend.

Roland said Fineline Prototyping is the perfect example of the type of company which could utilize the Co-Op to enhance its network of peer professionals. FineLine was founded with the singular mission to provide the highest quality high-resolution prototypes for customers and deliver them with worry-free service. FineLine was the first in the industry to implement high-resolution stereolithography, initially for the medical device development market.

In addition to FineLine’s core offering of high-res stereolithography, they also offer state-of-the-art selective laser sintering, and a high-strength material that they call SLArmor — a nickel-plated ceramic-filled stereolithography part that can stand in for diecast or machined aluminum in many cases.

To register to attend the event, visit the NC Product Design and Prototyping Co-Op page at www.rtpproductguild.com.

About the RTP Product Development Guild
The RTP Product Development Guild seeks to improve the regional economy in Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, N.C. by providing a framework for product developers and startups to work together on products in a collaborative environment. This helps entrepreneurs move products to market that might otherwise languish due to a lack of funding and professional guidance. The Guild accepts applications for products, services or concepts from entrepreneurs, early stage start-ups and corporate spin-offs. More information is available online at www.rtpproductguild.com.

About the NC Design and Prototyping Co-Op
The NC Design and Prototyping Co-Op is a project of the RTP Product Development Guild.  The goal of the Co-Op is to provide prospective clients with the capabilities that they need to design and prototype their next product with local resources.  The Co-Op is made up of professionals who personally know each other and who are used to working together in a trusted network.  Whether you are an RTP company, or a company far from RTP, the Co-Op can provide the resources you need including mechanical engineering, electrical engineer, industrial design, software development, business development, rapid prototyping, prototype manufacturing and project management.

— 30 —

Media Contact:
Montie Roland
(800) 722-7987
(919) 412-0559 [cell]
montie@rtpproductguild.com

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NC Product Design & Prototyping Co-Op Forms

I thought this might interest you.  The RTP Product Development Guild is working with local design and prototyping companies to form the NC Product Design & Prototyping Co-Op.   Here are a couple of pictures from the event:

Here is the press release:

The RTP Guild Launches New Initiative with Local Companies

Lunch and learn outlines elements of forming product design and prototyping co-op

(Cary, N.C.) The recently launched RTP Product Development Guild – a local group of engineers and designers working together to improve the regional economy – held its first organizational meeting January 29 to discuss the creation of a product design and prototyping co-op.

Eighteen technology-oriented industry professionals gathered for the 90 minute lunch-and-learn presentation and discussion which led to setting co-op organizational goals, objectives, and timelines, in addition to the first membership commitments from local companies.

“Clients sometimes have a hard time identifying local product design resources. On top of that they don’t know exactly who to trust. We want to promote local design talent who have worked together to build economic momentum in conceptualizing RTP as a product design and development hub,” said Montie Roland, president of the RTP Product Development Guild.

In providing a framework for product developers and startups to work together on products in a collaborative environment, Roland said the Guild, through the product design and development co-op, is intended to focus local resources on creating products with regional, national, and international applications instead of having local companies look elsewhere for assistance.

Al Ely of ADR Hydro-Cut, Inc. is a member of the product development community attending the January 29 luncheon who decided to join the co-op. “It is my hope that we can convince customers that we have the talent and facilities here to handle the entire product design and development process from idea to prototype then we can keep as much business as we can here in the Triangle,” he said, adding, “If we can pull it together, we can all keep each other busy with a lot of quality work.”

According to Roland, part of the driving force behind forming the co-op as a group within the RTP Product Development Guild comes from peer professionals like Ely.

“This is shaping up to be a difficult year within the design industry. Working together allows us to reach a broader market space than we could individually,” Roland said, adding, “A parallel to what we’re trying to do is a volunteer fire department, which is contracted with the community to protect the public interest. We are in essence contracting with the RTP business community to improve the regional economy through launching product-driven companies and helping existing companies launch new products.”

The co-op – a part of the Guild – is currently accepting queries from prospective new members and is holding a series of get-to-know each other meetings at area businesses over the next six weeks. For more information contact Montie Roland at (919) 481-1845 or montie@montie.com.

About the RTP Product Development Guild
The RTP Product Development Guild seeks to improve the regional economy in Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, N.C. by providing a framework for product developers and startups to work together on products in a collaborative environment. This helps entrepreneurs move products to market that might otherwise languish due to a lack of funding and professional guidance. The Guild accepts applications for products, services or concepts from entrepreneurs, early stage start-ups and corporate spin-offs. More information is available online at www.rtpproductguild.com.

All You Ever Wanted to Know about Rapid Prototyping (Educational Video)

The RTP Product Development Guild, working the Rob Connelly at Fineline Prototyping; has released a five part video series on rapid prototyping. It is a great way to learn about the science and art of rapid prototyping. Much thanks to Jaime Vodvarka (Guild Intern) for putting this together. Please note that there are five parts to the video. The Youtube video screen has an interface at the bottom that allows you to select which part you would like to watch.

Don Wilson, CEO of Endacea, To Lead Regional Innovation Economic Forum at RTP Tech Event

Emerging RTP Biopharmaceutical Companys Research Shows Promising Results for a New Drug Candidate for Asthma, Sepsis, and for Treatment Following a Bioterrorist Attack using Plague.

Raleigh, N.C., Don Wilson, the CEO of Endacea, Inc., an emerging RTP biopharmaceutical company engaged in developing proprietary adenosine receptor antagonists as drugs for asthma, sepsis, and biodefense, will lead part of the discussion at the November 6, 2008, RTP Tech Event at Goodnights.

Sign up for the event at http://newtech.meetup.com/115/

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Bill Seil’s Thoughts on the 2008 RTP Product Design Street Faire

This past September, the folks at Montie Design hosted their annual Product Design Street Fair. It had the flavor of a tradeshow as it brought professionals together in an interactive environment, but by it?s design it was a little different. It offered the same unique advantage any typical street fair or block party would have, giving companies in the area an opportunity to interact on the local level. Newcomers got the chance to meet companies that were right down the street. The folks who returned from previous street fairs, found a chance to stay current with the local product development community and get acquainted with new contacts.

Montie Design works with the attending companies in one way or another, the intent of the street fair is to bring them together in an interactive environment (Download Event Guide / Program or Watch Video). This benefits the design and development community by strengthening communication in a fun and easily accessible way.

Bill Seil
Industrial Designer
info@seil.us

Upcoming RTP Tech Event, 9 Oct

Bill Cox, of ViASIC, To Lead Regional Innovation Economic Forum At October 9, 2008, RTP Tech Event @ Goodnight?s

Bill Cox, CTO of ViASIC, a developer of advanced programmable logic architectures and holder of 18 patents in the field of integrated circuit design to lead discussion about technology innovation and issues confronting the RTP high tech manufacturing community


Raleigh, NC. Bill Cox, an information technologies serial entrepreneur and CTO of ViASIC, located in Durham, N. C., will lead part of the discussion at the October 9, 2008 RTP Tech Event @ Goodnight?s.

Cox is the holder of 18 patents in the field of programming integrated circuits and has extensive professional experience in successful new ventures, such as Quick Logic and Synplicity.


?I came to North Carolina from California,? said Cox. ?I want to contribute to making the regional innovation economy in the RTP stronger, and I think I have some ideas that may stimulate a brain storming session at the RTP Tech Event.?

Cox holds a degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley. His professional experience includes the creation of over a million lines of code ready to be leveraged into the development of world class tools.


The RTP Tech Event is an innovation collaboration network of companies from the manufacturing community in the RTP regional economy. ?Our economic forum features two types of collaboration,? said Tom Vass, the organizer of the event, and CEO of The Private Capital Market, Inc., located in Raleigh.


Each month, local executives from two different industrial sectors present their thoughts on technology, innovation and new product development from their own industry, in an effort to stimulate ideas for technology crossover between local manufacturing sectors. At the October 9 meeting, SIC 73, which is information technologies, will be presenting with Holly Borowy, Senior VP of BMI South, a local metal manufacturing company. (SIC 34).

After the two presentation, the floor is open for discussion about ways to improve the local economy and brainstorming ideas on product innovation.


At the end of each session, the floor is open for a budding entrepreneur or inventor to stand up and give a five minute elevator pitch on their venture. ?We call this opportunity ?Your Five Minutes of Fame at Goodnight?s,? said Vass.

Registration for the monthly event is available at MeetUp.com. Annual membership in the RTP Tech Event is $50, and there is a $10 door fee that includes the purchase of the first drink and a discount on the comedy show that night at Goodnight?s.

About ViASIC. Founded in 2000, ViASIC is a privately held Electronic Design Automation (EDA) company and the leading provider of standard-metal tools and technologies. Our patented ViaMask family of standard-metal (one-mask) fabric is a complete library for building platform ASICs or embedding single via layer configurable sections into an SoC. ViASIC also offers ViaPath, a robust physical design solution for via-configurable fabrics. Contact Bill Cox at info@ViASIC.com telephone 919-405-1345. www.viasic.com

About the RTP Tech Event @ Goodnights. Our events mission is to create more business for local firms and to increase the rate of new product development in the RTP regional economy. We call this “new business idea brainstorming.”Each month, executives from local manufacturing firms, product development engineers and people with new business ideas for new products get together to brainstorm ideas for what types of new products may be successful in the RTP market. http://newtech.meetup.com/115/ Contact Tom Vass 919 9754856.

RTP Business Brainstorming Tech Event

September 25, 2008 Monthly Tech Event: An RTP Business Network Aimed At Increasing Local Business

SIC 38 Instruments and Controls -George King, President, Triangle MicroSystems, a manufacturer of building environmental controls and fuel pump instrumentation.

SIC 36 Electrical Equipment -Bob Luddy, CEO, CaptiveAire, Commercial Kitchen Ventilation Equipment

Each month, executives from local manufacturing firms, product development engineers and people with new business ideas for new products get together to brainstorm ideas for what types of new products may be successful in the RTP market.

Part of the meeting is social networking at a fun place, and part of the meeting is structured around technology trends and markets in the nine high technology manufacturing clusters located in RTP.

It is a huge business community brain-storming session lead by the business owners and executives from both small and big business.

Our Focus On Innovation In The Nine RTP Manufacturing Industrial Sectors

We know that the RTP economy has nine different manufacturing industries. These are:

1. Information technology and instruments
2. Communications services and software
3. Chemicals and plastics
4. Pharmaceuticals and medical technologies
5. Industrial machinery
6. Aerospace
7. Hospitals, labs and specialized medical services
8. Printing and publishing
9. Wood products

You can register for the event at:

http://newtech.meetup.com/115/calendar/8204583/

Preview of the 2008 RTP Product Design Street Faire

2008 RTP Product Design Street Faire

RTP Product Development Guild?s Second Annual Product Design Street Faire set for Sept. 13

MORRISVILLE, NC ? The RTP Product Development Guild?s second annual RTP Product Design Street Faire will be held Saturday, Sept. 13, 2008 from 3 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. The faire will be held outside of the Guild?s office, which is located off of Aviation Parkway at 400 Dominion Drive in Morrisville, N.C.

?Our street faire is intended to build a stronger product design community by providing a relaxed, family-friendly environment in which vendors, clients and potential clients can get to know each other,? says Montie Roland, president of the RTP Product Development Guild. ?In addition, the event allows attendees to celebrate the product design and manufacturing profession in the Research Triangle region.?

?Last year?s event saw 140 attendees and 16 exhibitors come out,? Roland added. ?We hope to build on last year?s success by increasing both vendor participation and the number of attendees at this year?s event.? We currently have 26 vendors showing off a wide variety of products and services.

There is no cost to attend the event, but pre-registration is required. You can pre-register for the event at: http://productdesignguild.eventbrite.com.

In addition to the RTP Product Development Guild, the 2008 RTP Product Design Street Faire is being sponsored by Montie Design, 101Machine, Trimech, Torque Transmission and Incodema .

The RTP Product Development Guild is a private, for-profit corporation located in Morrisville, N.C. The Guild?s mission is to improve the regional economy by providing a structured environment for product developers and vendors to work together on products in a collaborative environment. This type of open collaboration helps entrepreneurs, early-stage start-ups and corporate spin offs get products to market that might otherwise languish due to a lack of funding or professional guidance. Guild membership and project submission information is available at: www.rtpproductguild.com.

BarCampRDU 2008

BarCampRDU 2008 was a lot of fun. According to the official website (http://www.barcamp.org/BarCampRDU):

A Bar Camp is an unconference where people interested in a wide range of technologies come together to teach and learn. Unfamiliar with the un-conference format? Heres the idea in a nutshell. Rather than having scheduled speakers, everyone pitches sessions the morning of the BarCamp. Those sessions are put on a schedule, and lots of little groups form for intense group learning. Everyone is expected to teach, to talk, to participate. Yeah, its different from a regular conference – but it works!

The idea of an unconference came together when people realized the best times they were having at conferences were the times between sessions – where people with like interests could meet ad hoc. The goal of BarCamp is to facilitate this type of interaction for an entire day. We supply the food, the space, the wireless, the projectors – you show up to teach and learn.

Much of the discussion at the event involved startups and early-stage projects.

Picture From BarCampRDU 2008

It is important to note that many (if not most) of the attendees at BarCamp are involved in the software, either online or shrink-wrapped. Our firm normally deals with physical projects that involve long lead times and very high prototyping costs. At BarCampRDU many of the projects, or concepts being discussed, revolved around software products that could be prototyped in a weekend. This is a stark contrast to the extremely high prototyping costs that we see associated with many mass-produced physical products.

BarCampRDU 2008 Image

There was definitely an excitement to the conference that showed through in the interactions between the attendees. This is the type of event that provides encouragement, advice and resources for budding entrepreneurs. It is my opinion that we need more of this type of event to help fuel imaginations and sheer force-of-will behind the next wave of product-driven companies.

Montie Roland is President of the Carolinas Chapter of the Product Development Management Association. Roland is also President of Montie Design, a product development and prototyping firm in Morrisville, NC and the RTP Product Development Guild. You can reach Montie by email at: montie@montie.com

What is a Robust Product?

Todays client generally wants a product that is economical to manufacture, elegant, and robust. Robust products have an advantage in the market place. This is especially true in this age of the easy accessibility to user reviews over the Internet.

According to the Wikipedia,

Robustness is the quality of being able to withstand stresses, pressures, or changes in procedure or circumstance. A system, organism or design may be said to be “robust” if it is capable of coping well with variations (sometimes unpredictable variations) in its operating environment with minimal damage, alteration or loss of functionality.

Why is robustness important? Robust products perform as expected in a wide variety of situations, environments and contexts. Robust products often outperform expectations and delight users. Robust products have significantly reduced warranty returns. These products leave a positive impression on the user. Customers often respond by becoming local, or internet, evangelists for the products. These customers may also become life long users and purchasers of the product, or service.

Developing criteria to gauge the robustness of a product can difficult. Some industries and user contexts (such as military) already have specifications in place to gauge the robustness of a product. Unfortunately, many industries do not think in terms of robust products. Robustness can be a broad and vague requirement, especially if the approach to defining qualitative (and subjective) terms is not organized and methodical.

A good way to understand robustness, is to look at areas that are impacted by the robustness of a product. One area that robustness impacts is manufacturing. A robust product tends to be easier to manufacture because it is less sensitive to tolerances and other small variations in the process. When a product is less sensitive to changes in the manufacturing process, it is usually less expensive to manufacture. Robustness at the manufacturing level is often the result of well planned and executed design that avoided ?mission creep?.

Robustness at the user level is manifested in many ways. One example is having the product perform as expected on a continuing basis. An example of a robust design is the ignition switch in your car and the key to turn the switch. This switch is often used twice a day for ten or more years. The key that you started your car with today is probably in your pocket, or purse, as you are reading this article. That key is constantly (while carried in a pocket or purse) in contact with other metal objects such as change and other keys. Many times, at the end of the day, keys are tossed into a bowl or other container for overnight storage. Car keys see constant wear and abuse from the user and the environment. However, when you walk out to your car you, expect the key to turn the ignition and the car to start. The devices are used in a wide variety of environments from cold weather in the winter to hot weather in the summer. The user may be wearing thick winter gloves. Keys also must be adaptable for use in a wide variety of environments from a mans trouser pocket to a womans purse. They must be small enough to fit in a purse or pocket. The car key and ignition switch are examples of two very robust devices that function very reliably for an extended period in wide variety or circumstances and environments.

Robustness must be designed into the product from the beginning. One way to develop robust products is to determine (in the beginning of the project) exactly what product it is that you really wanted to design. Products must be well defined and targeted. Mission creep (the addition of unnecessary or previously unanticipated features) is the enemy of robust products. Mission creep is where the product design mission is expanded from the initial, targeted product. Mission creep diverts resources and time away from the appropriate product in an effort to extend the product into areas, or features, that arent critical for the success of the product. This lack of focus can result in extra product features at a cost to the robustness of the product.

Robustness also comes from a commitment to integrity in all stages of the design and manufacturing process. Customers expect robust products. Companies delivering robust products exceed the expectations of the customer. They are also creating an environment that encourages repeat purchases from satisfied clients and that is good for the bottom line.

Montie Roland is President of the Carolinas Chapter of the Product Development Management Association. Roland is also President of Montie Design, a product development and prototyping firm in Morrisville, NC and the RTP Product Development Guild. You can reach Montie by email at: montie@montie.com