how do you get your designs in production..?

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by aditun, Dec 18, 2006.

  1. aditun
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    aditun Junior Member

    Hi Everyone,

    First off.. I'm brand new to this site, so hello to everyone.. it seems like a fantastic site with alot of very useful information.

    Ok.. Im currently an experienced designer in a different transportation field to boats. I am working on a small selection of designs for motor yachts. When one of the designs is 'ready', I would like to make the break from my current career, and look in to taking the design to producion if I can.

    So, my big question is.. how does one do this right from the beginning?

    To ask smaller questions, but all related to this: How do you set up on your own? Who should you contact first with the design? Do you look for a customer, or an architect? What costs are involved?

    Generally... how do you get the ball rolling for your own design project?

    I have been looking around this forum to no avail for such information so far, and I will continue to look. In the meantime, any information from you as a boat design community would be greatly apreciated.

    Thanks in advance for your help,


    A.
     
  2. SailDesign
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    SailDesign Old Phart! Stay upwind..

    Aditun,
    If we knew that, we wouldn't be hanging around here....
    Well, not so often, anyway. :)
    Steve
     
  3. Tim B
    Joined: Jan 2003
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    Tim B Senior Member

    Agreed.

    How much money do you have? enough to build and race your first yacht for a season?

    Tim B.
     
  4. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    I've been working in a career for 35 years that has similar and equally difficult, "getting started" strategies to the process of becoming a boat designer; I'm a professional cameraman (stills and video/film)

    It was really difficult getting started in this craft and it remains that way. It takes hard work, sacrifice of other, elective, things in your life and dedication to a strict discipline of getting your butt onto the drawing medium of your choice and putting out regular, focused work.

    The photography hustle I did way back when, to enter my existing profession was the same way. I worked at a day job as a Porsche mechanic for three years in order to get a career with cameras working for me. I endured endless rounds of humiliating portfolio showings, nasty editors and art directors and unexpected bills for a new wardrobe so I could look my best after being under someone's 911S all day.

    Unless you are willing to get your act rolling while you are gainfully employed in your current work, you'll need to have a sizeable amount of money to see you through. If the ambition is about design/build, then the need for cash goes up by an order of magnitude.

    I don't have a bunch of money to throw at the cause of producing my own designs as I have a kid in college and one about to enter. Not sure I'd do that even if they weren't draining my cash reserves at a steady pace.

    Building boats for living is tough work. It's a cruel world out there. Fashions and taste come and go at a frightening pace and what is flashy and cool this year could just as easily be gone the next and there you sit with a set of tools (molds), a large space in which to build the boats and nobody interested in the product. That's a recipe for bankruptcy and can leave you with a very sour taste in your mouth for the business side of the craft.

    I'm still working at my self-employed "day job" as a cameraman while I ease my way into the business of designing boats for a living. I have more than a dozen boats in build right now at various locations around the world and have sold a very tidy number of plan sets to future builders. I feel that I am moving nicely along my planned path to fulfillment in this new career and that I should keep doing the things I have been doing as they are working for me.

    This has been an exciting, as well as humbling, experience after being regarded as a guy with talent and large list of credited accomplishments in my chosen profession. I wanted a new challenge in life and I certainly got that... in spades.

    I wish you well in your pursuit along this path and encourage you to stay focused as you move along in the journey to your goals. Please keep us informed as you proceed.
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. aditun
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    aditun Junior Member

    thanks guys.. particularly chris for your long and encouraging response.

    I do not have large sums of money to build and race my own sail boat. I do however have alot of motivation towards motor yacht design, as I feel that there is room for some exciting matierial in the industry.

    I'm coming at it from the angle of how do you sell an idea to an investor? A customer that likes your design and wants to get it built? Does it happen this way. Suerly you don't have to build a boat first, to sell the product?

    In the industry that I work in, you sell your idea through 2D and 3D design work, and then then the idea is funded by someone who likes it and that is your initial develpomant cost.

    So, just out of interest.. all the boat design consultancies out there.. how do they begin? Is there anyone reading this from such a company that could shed light on this for me? Did you all have large sums of money in the beginning to get started?

    Is it too farfetched for me to imagine showing a design to a potential client, them liking it and then buying in to the build?

    An architect does not need to build a building with thier own money before they sell it.. the client pays for the build and development costs. (Im talking about buildings, not naval).. so can the same principal not be applied to marine projects?

    To follow on from what you are saying Chris, yes I will be putting more and more effort in to this adventure whilst I am currently employed in my job. There is no way that I could quit and think that I could survive from scratch with no salary to support me!

    All those that are giggling, and shaking their heads at me.. please forgive my nievety.. and please comment on why yout think Im being nieve about this and maybe tell me how it really works.. its all good info for me to know before I go for this big adventure!

    Thanks.
     
  6. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    Hi Aditun,

    The objective responsibilities are the same, no matter the discipline. You need to demonstrate a factual and detailed understanding of the area into which you want to enter. You must have a design/product in mind that addresses that market, (be it broad based or niche oriented) You will also need to have a focused business plan that addresses the proposed product, as well as the potential competitors. Nice pictures are cool to look at, but they are pretty far down the list of stuff that actually moves investors to get involved.

    If you are going to be involved, personally, in the development and manufacturing of the product, you will need to demonstrate your acumen for such undertakings. It's always cool to flash an MBA or a ten year stint as a business development banker. Real, tough nosed experience in the field of new product launch is far more valuable than citations. Sometimes it's more important to get a seasoned pro involved as a partner so that your overall credibility is without question.

    You'll need to produce a proper proposal that includes all of the above as a well as a list of intangibles. Perhaps a case study, or two, that illustrate the power of your strongest point in the proposal... a set of really butt-kicking renderings that depict the lifestyle elements of the product you have in mind. Don't hesitate to enlist the services of another designer who is better at this than are you. You'll never take a hit for getting the best people involved.

    Make sure that the investor, or possible established manufacturer, can see that the product has a life that will create large returns for their risked capital beyond the recovery of the costs of tooling and design work. These guys are looking to make a real profit on their money, not just break even. A real hit is one that has "legs", can continue to return on the investment and has the ability to be updated as needed without having to start all over with clean paper. The fact that it might create a level of equity value, if and when the opportunity arises to sell it off, is a huge bonus.

    Save the wowee zowey approach to design/technology for future adventures. What will get the most attention is a sound, well thought-out design with some zest, but more on the great business side of things. Look to address a niche within the corporate enterprise. One that has "this guy understands our market" written large all over it. Once you have some credibility, you can make the presentation that will rock the boating world.

    Use your design expertise in the field in which you currently work to get yourself in the door of a group of reputable boat building firms. Ask some of the product designers to lunch and pick their brains without being totally mercenary, (nobody likes to be hustled like a food chain item while they are eating) circulate non-proprietary design work in the field to see what types of responses you get to your design vision. Let's face it, there's no real reason to chase this ultra-competitive world of design if you don't have the entry level goods in the first place. If you get rebuffed, drop back and punt. Meantime, get your butt back to the board/computer and work harder. Soon enough, your talent will show itself (or not) if you really have it in you.

    Lastly, just because you don't get a hit on your large-scale vision enterprise doesn't mean you are not suited for other areas in the field. Maybe you are an undiscovered talent in the area of human scale design needs. (ever been on a boat that was beautiful to look at, ran like a racecar and once on board, it was the most physically uncomfortable place to be you'd ever experienced?
    To that end, maybe your calling will be hardware design that makes that tye of boat way more enjoyable to be onboard and less awkward for the people who own it?

    While working on those things, you can continue to refine your original goal/vision and may just find that the whole thing was about timing.
     
  7. aditun
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    aditun Junior Member

    wow... thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!! :eek: :eek: :eek:

    so nice of you to give me all that advice, Chris.



    and where do I find one of those...? ;)
     
  8. FAST FRED
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    FAST FRED Senior Member

    "Suerly you don't have to build a boat first, to sell the product? "

    If you have a "breakthru" design building the boat and then ACTUALLY DOING SOMETHING WITH IT will get the free publicity for the dollars to fall out of the trees.

    Just sending out "press releases" is useless , as dozens of dreamers are doing that daily.

    FF
     
  9. Tim B
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    Tim B Senior Member

    It depends, but in racing circles, designing, building and racing is a pretty good way to get yourself recognised.

    Tim B.
     
  10. aditun
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    aditun Junior Member

    thanks for the info, but Im still curious... all those hundreds of little boat design companies in little offices around the world that I always see on the net and in magazines <not builders>... how did they get started?

    I would really like to know. :?: :?: :?: :confused: :?: :?: :?:
     
  11. messabout
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    messabout Senior Member

    Aditun;
    Chris Ostlind has already told you most of the answers. He has done so in a most kind and gentlemanly manner. What is more important; he knows what he is talking about.

    Yes there hundreds, more like thousands, of design companies who offer their services. That in itself should suggest that the boat design industry is competitive, very competitive. Many of those individuals or firms are very good at what they do and then there are some who are not at all qualified but fervently believe that they are. Sad to say, some of them are flagrant imposters who know they dont know a damned thing about boat design. Because there are imposters out there, I would take my design commission to an old line outfit who enjoys a good reputation. This is not intended to discourage you. The reality is that you'll probably have to pay your dues for a while before you can gain recognition.

    Even if you have some kind of break through design concept, you may still not enjoy fame or fortune. Consider people like Hickman and his vaunted sea sled. He had a revolutionary idea that produced outstanding boats. He was thwarted by the establishment, stonewalled by the military, and eventually went broke. Hickman was said to be hard to get along with and perhaps that was partly responsible for his demise. Many years later the Boston Whaler used Hickmans general idea and prospered. Go figure.

    Best of luck in your endeavor.
     
  12. SailDesign
    Joined: Jan 2003
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    SailDesign Old Phart! Stay upwind..

    aditun,
    All those little designers get their start designing by just doing it. Not all of them (in fact, amazingly few) have any boats "in production", even fewer have boats in production by major builders. Most of us survive between rare custom commissions by doing rudder mods, keel foil mods, rig mods, new interiors, housebuilding or even (gasp) pumping gas from time to time.
    The fact that there are more and more "design schools" pumping out mopre and more desingers scared me enough to go work full-tme for a boat-builder. Sad, but true..... Although, I have to admit I've known Eric for 16 years and the shop is full of folks I think of as family after all this time.
    Steve
     
  13. yipster
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    yipster designer

    congratulations in order also? and hmm.. keep hanging around here guy's :p
     
  14. kach22i
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    kach22i Architect

    Speaking as an architect, one with an old 911s (1977 Targa) and one trying to get a 40 foot hovercraft designed and built (have a 10 foot one now) I can speak on this topic, but not add much more.

    1. Clients still have to pay the architect, but you can't put a lien on unbuilt work - or so I was just told by the State of Michigan. Collecting is difficult, you don't want to spend your life in court paying lawyers either. Not releasing or issuing drawings before getting paid may leave you with a roll of drawings, employees you have already paid and nothing in your bank account. I speak from experience.

    2. I work on my Porsche because good shops are hard to find, and I can't afford to pay someone to screw my car up.

    3. I'm working on a military version of my hovercraft (drawings and models) to seek funding - I'm pretty clueless on this as I have zero "contacts" in the military industrial complex. A hover-yatch version would be awesome if I say so myself, but it's even more unrealistic to pursue.
     

  15. yokebutt
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    yokebutt Boatbuilder

    Aditun,
    Go for medical doctors as investors, they are often arrogant enough to think they are gods gift to investing. (I'd say lawyers too, but that strategy has obvious shortcomings)
     
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