Monday, September 20, 2010

where you been?

So, Where have I been and what have I been doing? Basically I've been working in the factory retooling for 2011 improvements. I get kind of obsessive when I do this kind of thing. I am not sure anybody is reading this anyway so it was easy to let go for a while. Is anybody out there reading me?
The cool thing is the new heat sealing technology I've developed to seal the flute ends of the corrugated polypropylene sheets. This allows for flexing and bending while keeping the water and whatever out of the flutes. Previously I was using a silicone sealant which performed adequately in the flutes which did not flex but less well in the bending flutes. You see, the silicone sealant does not have the flexibilty that the flutes have so some small amount of water was able to get inside the hull of the boats. Not ideal. 
Also coming in the 2011 models is an upgraded grommet made of stainless steel. Stays pretty and shiny even in salty water. The brass ones would get corroded and dingy looking and eventually would suffer structural compromise. Not a big problem, but I want the boat to be as good as I can make them.
All this upgrading has drawn my attention away from marketing (of which this is a part). Besides when I am going to have a superior product soon I am less inclined to sell the inferior product.

So hey y'all out there, let me know you're there. Send me an email to or post a comment. I would really love to hear from you. Tell me what you want to see or know.

Until next post, -Jim Beyer

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Are we lost yet?

When I was a kid and we were traveling as a family in the car we kids would periodically ask "Are we there yet?" As I got older and more aware of things, I realized that my father (who was always the driver) did not have a good sense of space. That is to say he often got lost. Now to keep things interesting, Dad would never mention that we were lost he wouldn't seek counsel or directions. He would just keep driving and waiting to get lucky or figure things out. I started to ask "Are we lost yet?" He didn't like that question. I know because he would deny it LOUDLY. "NO, WE ARE NOT LOST!" .......Which meant that we were indeed lost.

I bring this up because,being my father's son, I may share that trait with him. I don't like admitting I am lost. I don't seek help for things I think I can do for myself. That is the way I was raised. Hyper self-reliant, I will spend hours figuring out how to do something instead of hiring it out. It is not always the smart choice to tough it out. But given the time, there is very little I cannot learn. So the point is....When to say when? Do I need help or just more information? Could I be spending my time more effectively doing something else? (i think so)

Really all i want to know is..."Am I lost yet?"

Friday, August 6, 2010

corogami redux

We are each of us the architects of our own destruction. The things from which we turn away choose our direction. If you don't care for chicken, you opt for the steak. If you don't like crowds, you stay home. The road not taken is the road we view with the most apprehension.

It doesn't always serve us well. Often we avoid a route because it is daunting and we are not in the mood to be daunted. We settle for good enough because its good enough. (or so we tell ourselves)

So, the last couple days i have spent re-examining some choices I have made in the production of my kayaks. I decided to change the grommets from brass to stainless steel because they hold up better in salty water (even though they cost 3 times as much). Hey a lot of people live close to the ocean. I am also looking at a proprietary method of sealing the end flutes on the corrugated polypropylene hull. Thats progress.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

need for speed

So I've got things in place for selling the corogami Dragonfly folding kayaks, the lightest most portable easiest to use boat you can buy. Now I need to get my website in front of as many eyes as I can. My old school mind wants a publicity action, do something to gain public attention. Yes, I could go to a big chain store like Bass Pro Shops or Cabelas, but I would rather have a direct connection with my customers. I am not convinced that they would treat my customers as well as I do. I really care and I like to know how they use my boats and who uses them and what they like most and least about my boats. Can't get that with a third party in the middle.

So  I blog and seek out public venues to show and demonstrate my boats. I'm starting close to home but think I will benefit by getting further away maybe Minnesota, Wisconsin or maybe Texas.

Today I'm working on boat production and dealing with triple digit temps. Hot times!

Monday, August 2, 2010

good days and less good days

Some days are golden, people tell me how awesomely cool my boats are. My spirits soar and I feel like the luckiest guy in the world. More often I am working on some new thing (alone) and noone is cheering me on. I just keep marching on, taking care of business.

Orders come in and I feel validated. No orders and I start to worry a little. The day to day fluctuations don't mean much, all businesses have ups and downs. What matters more is the long run. Will I sell enough boats to stay self-employed? Or will I have to get a J-O-B to supplement my income and keep my head above water?

As you might guess, the prospect of getting a job after nearly 20 years employing myself is daunting and in a low moment a bit depressing. The job market is tight (I hear) and I am in my 50's which makes it even harder to find a job. So I keep moving forward praying for a miracle... or a great marketing idea.

If you have any ideas, I am ready to hear them, I'm listening.......

Saturday, July 31, 2010

open to input

So now I'm doing this blogging thing. I don't really know much about it. What is the essence of blogging? How do I get people to come to my blog? How does that translate to traffic for my website  ? What do I share? I must keep some information to myself, I can't share everything.
And what do you the readers want to hear about?

How about some personal stuff? I'm 52 still get around pretty well, healthy and rarely get sick. I enjoy being alone with my thoughts and toys but I also like to go to music festivals and parties. I'm single by choice not circumstance and I like how much simpler my life is without romantic entanglement. Of course I must endure the sideways glances of people who can't understand my choices.

I like movies in general and watch many. I don't like to watch a movie I have already watched recently. Very little of television interests me. I like good writing and production and frankly, TV people don't often deliver. Tastes vary and mine are broad for a guy. When I had Satellite TV I watched alot of "women's" channels. Human drama is very thought-provoking. I love to provoke thought.

So think about this... Is it crazy to give up a comfortable fairly secure situation for an unknown future which offers little comfort and much less security? I mean it could turn out to be the best thing I have ever done. Or, it could be the biggest bust of my life. Is it worth it?          'til next time    -corogamiman

Friday, July 30, 2010

filling in some holes

Pardon me if I drift off topic. I was laying out the past few years. So I developed a product which I believed would be well received. I figured I needed to make a video and when the world saw my boat all hell would break loose. (It still might.) Yes it was simplistic thinking and I knew it probably would not be that easy but I am in uncharted waters so I just don't know for sure.

I made more videos and got a little traffic on my website but the website needed to be easier to use. I spent some more money and got a nice shopping cart feature added. It helped and I sold some boats.

I am still making videos. I never cared much for photography, I didn't like to see the world through a viewfinder. My Sony Handycam has made it easier, I can view a little screen and still glance up to see firsthand whats going on.

I am only making simple videos to convey simple concepts. I think abouit producing something more complex perhaps with a plot and maybe even a script. Tell a story about a corogami adventure.

In the testing process I have had a few adventures. I wrapped a kayak around a partially submerged tree in a creek (happy ending: the boat popped back into shape save for a small crease and I was back to paddling in no time). I also got caught by a freaky summer pop-up thunderstorm while out on carlyle lake. I was glad I had my PFD (lifevest) on.

So now I'm up and running. I still work to make my boats better. I am designing new products made with the technology I have developed and advancing that technology. I still don't hire out much. I like to understand things well and nothing generates understanding like doing it yourself. I hope to find others who want to be a part of this adventure to help grow this thing.

I've heard that overnight success only takes 10 to 15 years. That's a pretty big adventure.

A new direction

I am three years into my journey but just getting started with the blogging. Let me recap.... I was moderately successful in the copier business. I made ok money enjoyed my work and loved my customers. Whats not to like? I felt trapped by the comfortableness of my life. I had always wanted to invent, to create, to make something that says to the world "I was here!".  And I wanted a life which supported that.

I am doing it mainly for myself  but I hope others will benefit as well. What am I doing? Well right now I am manufacturing and selling a unique boat, a kayak (so designated because you sit in the bottom). It folds up into a compact shape for ease of transport and it weighs less than 12 pounds. Can be seen on youtube ( just type in "corogami" ) and on my website or 

The boats are lots of fun and easy to tote. They are designed for one adult occupant up to 250 pounds. The beauty of the design lies in the folds. When people first got a look at it they called it an origami boat.

I have spent the last few years refining the design and testing testing testing. My first model the Dragonfly was available for sale in 2009. I was on my way! yayyy! But The internet marketing thing was new to me. Still is.

What? They haven't beaten a path to my door?  Of course not.  I have sold a few but not enough. I would like to sell enough to ramp up production and bring down the price so more people can enjoy my boats.

A business is like a tree. Organically it starts as almost nothing, an idea, the seed. If the seed is nurtured, it sprouts and grows. As it grows it sends out roots and branches building on the growth which has come before. The business has seasons and cycles. Eventually the tree/business reaches a point where it can create more seeds to grow more trees and on and on.  Its a beautiful thing.