For our first ever Build Cycle podcast, I interview Marc Basiliere of Lindarets. Marc started in adventure project management before launching his own cycling review site, then started writing for me at Bikerumor.com before ending up at Singletrack UK. During which he held down a full time job at the DOE, but all the while was paying careful attention to the ways people were modifying their mountain bikes to make them work better. Finally, he launched Lindarets (lind-a-ray), using his design engineering background to create small components and fixes for common upgrades and hacks.
We talk about how his educational and work background laid the foundation for Lindarets, how and why he launched it, and the steps taken to go from idea to finished product out in the market (and on the trail). These business lessons are invaluable for any entrepreneur looking to startup a small product business, particularly if their strengths lie in concept and design and they’re looking to outsource production.
- 02:20 – Marc discusses BikeFix.net, his original bike review website before he started writing for Bikerumor.com, then Singletrack UK.
- 06:30 – Educational background and work experience at U.S. Department of Energy (where he designed small explosives, among other things), before which he learned adventure based management skills and headed Kingdom Trails in Vermont.
- 15:40 – Switched from writing part time to starting Lindarets, which launched with the goal of making socks (he’s never made any).
- 20:30 – Where the idea for Lindarets’ first component came from, and the problem it solved.
- 25:00 – How he got the first prototypes made, what they cost, turn around time and iterating quickly.
- 27:23 – Why “revisioning control” helps speed up the development process.
- 28:19 – How he got Wolf Tooth Components to manufacture for him.
- 29:25 – Licensing versus manufacturing in house.
- 30:30 – Why made in America?
- 32:35 – Making versus managing.
- 33:28 – How he negotiated the licensing agreement and an explanation of the arrangement, and how to make it a low-risk proposition for the licensee.
- 35:30 – Whether or not to get a patent can depend not just on costs, but also product lifecycle, plus dealing with knockoffs.
- 41:35 – Becoming a contact design consultant.
- 42:40 – Rounding out the design process with engineers, etc.
- 44:50 – What clicked and made Marc jump the DOE ship and launch Lindarets, and how he picks his projects.
- 48:30 – What are some of the issues that come up that might surprise an entrepreneur? Some of the challenges?
- 50:20 – Why even larger, established brands turn to Kickstarter
- 55:17 – How to reduce manufacturing and supplier headaches, plus which details matter most.
POST GAME ANALYSIS
The biggest lessons I took away have to do with design and supplier management. If the design is too intricate, then it either no one will be able to manufacture it or any off-spec finish could render the part unusable. You need to build in some tolerance for any part, and the higher the tolerances, the more expensive something will be to make. Spend that money where it really matters, and let “good enough” be good enough elsewhere. This isn’t to suggest you cut corners, but think about where resources are best spent and where they can be conserved.
Once it’s ready to be manufactured, keeping tabs on your suppliers and providing them with clear instructions and expectations helps keep things moving along. And keeping communication open helps you spot any issues before they become big problems or delays. Remember, you’re their customer and you need to hold them accountable.