OSE Fellows Post-Mortem
OSE Fellows did not generate enough income to be sustainable. As of Dec 1, 2018, Alex and Sara are switching to working part-time in exchange for profit-sharing based on selling kits. The upside is that we have enough skills and independence to do this mostly independently of Marcin (though obviously in coordination with); however, the downside is that there is not enough income to support machinery development. What follows here is a reflection of the what we did with our 2 months of runway and how things can be better next time.
We agreed at a governance meeting to organize a strategy for the following circles: OSE, Machinery, Community, Product, and Community. I will briefly reflect on what we did in these areas and how we might have done better.
OSE the Org
- Focus is on creating livelihoods, even at the cost of not developing community.
- I felt this was the correct line and that in practice we correctly focused on this objective.
- This remains unclear to me. Anecdotally, it's the 8-inch "extras", 12-inch bed, 1m printer, filament maker, grinder, and laser cutter, in that order.
- In my opinion, I think machine development should have stopped completely *except for 8-inch extras IF kit building based on the 8-inch is the priority*, but there was still a remote design jam and as 12-inch bed build that spreads energy out.
- I believe that if possible, Dixon should have collaborated with Marcin to design and complete the 8-inch printer
- I wish that for the screws-based design improvisation, that there was a process in place where the outcome is that we decided to use an existing solution rather that improvising one that ultimately was discarded
- I wish that when it was recommended to use the extruder holder, that there was a process in place to let us know we should print it at 100% and use epoxy
- In the future, we should have an ongoing list of what standard-of-quality must be met before the next product version is launched/released, and that until that product is freezed at that level of quality then only Marcin and one other person should actively be building while the other person works on documentation and traction. This system lets us use our money better team to limited inventory and also frees up energy to handle the critical component of traction. Also when a machine is undergoing rapid change then it wastes a lot of time for many people to suffer through the same struggle
- We hardly engaged the community. This was basically correct.
- If there were an objective though, it would be to support design jams, that prioritize community-building items, using open source tool chains.
- So if it were possible, asking a volunteer to learn freeCAD and teach it, interview schools & neighborhoods to uncover items that if makeable would be break-even to invest in a microfactory, and finally to organize design jams that, with our work, would ideally just be showing up.
- �There should be a fellows community that reads and studies pre-work so that they can better build things and contribute to design efforts
- There should be a place where we can communicate in real time with each other rather than through email like slack or discourse
- This remains unclear to me. We focused on kits after trying workshops that failed because of marketing/selling difficulties.
- With 2 months of runway, and given the state of the machines, I believe we should have tried selling fully completed 3d printers first to OSE fans, where we could verify that something is working 100%, and then work backwards to get to kits, and to setup on the side an option to hold workshops in certain areas WHEN the number of builds = 3 or more.
- Instead, we focused on workshops because that's what had been done in the past and underestimated difficulty of selling given that Marcin was not leading and it's not on the farm and that 3d printers are more of a commodity now vs. 5 years ago.
- For the next immersion fellows should do pre-work and build a printer and build a kit and get certified and be capable of making money
- And I asked Marcin what would make OSE Fellows most likely to fail he said that it was marketing but I believe we learned through experience that it was the unrealistic expectations, the lack of runway, and and the incomplete state of the machinery, and lack of support for learning how to tell build machines without great documentation already existing -- This needs to be significantly better if the expectation is that fellows need to make money from a incomplete machinery
- This remains unclear to me. We tried place-based marketing w/ fliers, social media & newsletter marketing, and google ads.
- Knowing that most startups fail not because the product isn't useful, but because there's nobody who wants to buy it, and that it takes 50% of energy to get traction, I think we should have switched me to a documentation & marketing role that supported Sara in doing the kit and build certification, and then I would catch up with kit and build certification later on with a fully documented process.