Making custom belt buckles and furniture from stainless steal and powder coated steal. Designs were computer generated in Solid Works. All manufacturing processes were outsourced except for welding. Orders were first placed in person, later through a web site.
How I got the idea / found the employment:
While eating in a local restaurant of an acquaintance, the owner stated that he would like a metal garbage can of a certain style. My friend who was working in an industrial design lab at ASU realized that he knew how he could make the kind of garbage can the restaurant owner was describing. He made the can, and decided that this would be a good opportunity to continue making money, so he also designed a business logo and attached it to the garbage can. Later, a patron of the restaurant, having seen the garbage can, asked him if could make a belt buckle with the Transformers symbol on it. He came up with a way to do it. The customer was very satisfied, so my Friend thought it would be a good direction to go with the business. He made a website to advertise, and slowly the business started to grow.
Challenges I faced, and how I overcame them:
The main challenged faced was making the web site. While my friend had great resources and knowledge about manufacturing processes, he was not experienced at web design. He found that his little brother’s friend could make websites, and so he asked him to help. Another challenge was finding best processes to make the pieces he did. He had great mentors in the lab were he worked and their experience and knowledge led him to find the resources he needed whether it was outsourcing a particular process or learning how to use the equipment that was available in the lab.
What I learned:
My friend learned some valuable skills as he started this business. He learned how to advertise, and find target markets. Also, he gained familiarity with manufacturing processes, and experience with the 3D modeling program Solid Works. Looking back he says the most valuable thing he learned was the experience of starting his own business, as he is now studying entrepreneurship.