Q: Can you give me a short conception and birth story of IKOS?
A: IKOS, which is slang for "Icosahedron on a sphere", was born out of a high school program which gives students hands on experience in the field of their choosing. In this case, I was the Engineering mentor who promised to show 3 students how to take an idea and make it a real / physical product. I showed them a design, that was pioneered by one of my mentors, Peter Roberts. The goal was to spread the idea that spheres are more efficient structures than our current square buildings and storage devices. We decided to create a "toy" called IKOS to spread this concept through fun and play.
Q: I had to look up "Icosahedron" to see what that meant. According to Wikipedia, it is a polyhedron with 20 faces, and since it has been a long time since I took geometry, I decided to look up "polyhedron", to confirm that it was a solid in three dimensions with flat polygonal faces, straight edges and sharp corners or vertices. Are you saying that twenty of your pieces, snapped together make a sphere?
A: Yes, 20 IKO pieces will form a complete sphere.
Q: Your website says that you and your two co-founders got together when you want back to your high school to help with their CAPS program. Can you tell us a little about CAPS? Do you still work with it?
Three students, Mina, Paige, and Gates wanted to work with me on this project. I walked them through the whole process of setting up an LLC, prototyping, 3D modeling, crowdfunding, filing patents, and then launching IKOS. All 3 of the co-founders are listed on the patent applications and own a piece of the company.
Q: That's really neat. One thing I've heard people say about science people is that they have great ideas but don't know (or they don't think about) how to protect themselves legally or about marketing. It sounds like you gave those young people the whole package.
You tout that IKOS is made in the USA. Where? How many people do you employ?
A: IKOS is injection molded in Utah, out of recycled HDPE, #2 plastic. Silicone Plastics is our injection molding partner and they are based in Milville, Utah. I told the students that the only way we'd bring a new product to market was if it was made in the USA and out of a sustainable or recycled material.
The main fulfillment and warehouse center is my garage and living room. We don't have room for employees; technically, I'm the only one. All three students are in college, but two have chosen to stay very involved through email and I keep them in the loop on what's going on, and solicit their advice and help whenever I can.
We have partnered with the refugee agency in Salt Lake City. These are families who don't have access to transportation, or their English skills are not great. I bring them raw product to package at their own house at their leisure. We pay them as private contractors and they can make around $20 an hour. I'm really proud that we can provide work that pays well for people.
Q: I think that's great. It sounds like a win for you and a win for them, which is what I think any good business deal should be. What do you see as the advantages to manufacturing in the US versus in China, Mexico or the other places "everyone" is using these days?
A: The main advantage I see to manufacturing in the USA is that we are providing jobs that benefit people in our community. We are also keeping our environmental footprint smaller by not having to ship overseas. By producing in the USA, we have more control over our material stream, and ultimately doing what's best for the planet.
Q: How hard it is to snap the pieces of IKOS together? In other words, what is the lowest recommended age for this toy?
A: We've tested IKOS with a lot of kindergarten classes (ages 5 - 6) and we've found that half of the kids have the dexterity to construct with IKOS. We recommend ages 6+
Q: Do you have any plans to make similar systems in different shapes?
A: Yes, but we are taking it slow until we raise some more funds for the tooling and marketing. I'm learning more about what it takes to bring another product line to market.
Q: Tell us about some of the interesting things you've seen made from IKOS. What's the biggest and how many sets did it take?
Q: Does it hurt if you step on an IKOS piece if you aren't wearing shoes? If I step on one, or one two or three that have been snapped together, am I going to break them?
A: It depends on which direction they are facing regarding stepping on them. They are made out of HDPE #2 plastic so they are very durable.
Q: How did you hear about Kickfurther, and why did you decide to use them?
A: My friend has a company called Panda Poles. He had a great experience and I wanted to test out crowd financing. I wanted to get a feel for the community and give back to people who were willing to support us.
Q: Oh, I interviewed Tanner about a year ago. He successfully finished his first Kickfurther offer, and recently started another. What has been your impression so far?
A: Great, a smooth process and very thankful for the support.
Q: Would you recommend Kickfurther to other businesses? Why or why not?
A: Yes. There are other ways to get financing at a lower interest rate, but typically you are making payments to a larger corporation vs real people who want you to succeed.
Q: I don't suppose any bank offered to blog about you. Have you tried Kickfurther from the investor side? Why or why not? Would you recommend it to friends or family? Why or why not?
A: I have not tried it from the investor side. By the time I heard about it, all my money was tied up in IKOS. Yes I'd recommend it to friends and family.
Q: Anything else you'd like to tell us?
A: Yes, I have two sons, a 3 year old and 11 month old. I'm half awake, so please pardon spelling, grammar....
Q: Hopefully I cleaned all that up for you. I guess in a couple of years you'll find out if IKOS pieces hurt when you step on them barefoot in the dark.
Do you have a giveaway for us?
A: Sure. I'm going to give three of your readers one of our Creator sets, which are valued at $19.99 each.
For those who don't know, Kickfurther is a crowdfunding platform where ordinary people can back businesses. I'm an investor in IKO. My money and that of other investors will help them manufacture these toys. When the toys sell, IKO repays us, with a profit. If IKO is unable to sell the toys Kickfurther can repossess them, but that hopefully won't happen; these look like great fun. If you would like to back interesting new products and hopefully earn a profit, use this link and you get $5.00 toward your first investment. If you have a business that sells tangible inventory, Kickfurther may be a source of financing for you. Use this link and I get referral credit.
Now, on to the giveaway!
a Rafflecopter giveaway