Team Blog

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ONE LAST TIME.... Pine-O-Chio Experience :)

posted 10 Mar 2017, 06:39 by JAIN MONISHA ANANDRAJ

The business plan has been implemented as the way it was presented in the initial presentation.


Our Journey

We have come a long way, from the inception of our idea, to the forming of our team, it has been a whole 4 months and 28 days.

  • Excited with our idea : We started with rigorous research on the numerous wood manufacturers across Singapore and technique trials to figure out the best and effective one. Alongside we had to come to a consensus of the various sizes of pineochio’s and the prices we would be selling them at.

  • Our first business presentation was to the MIE group where we got a lot of ideas and suggestion to improve and expand our target audience.

  • Fixed the technique and after several visits to the industrial sites we stuck by Maxcon Enterprises and ordered our initial batch of wood - 48 - 5x7’s, 15 - 8x10’s, 4 - 11x14’s

  • First consultation was good and the mentors really saw a future in this if we know how to put our skills and resources to good use.

  • Had pre-sales and word-of-mouth sales while the website was being made simultaneously

  • Did photoshoots of the wood

  • Creation of website, Social marketing platforms like Facebook and instagram

  • First sales through website, ironing out bugs and troubleshoot website issues

  • Continue processing the wood, realised that inventory is on shortage due to spoilt wood

  • Learnt about the scraping technique, sent it for scraping to “recycle” the wood

  • Realised that we could have done it on our own using sand paper

  • Business presentation


Key Milestones

  • Liaising with supplier -> long and tedious process of searching and meetings, finally settled onto a manufacturer

  • Website is done!

  • First Sale and success

  • UFLEA -> 2 days “flea market” at NTU K canopy -> sales was good, good generation of interest

  • MAAD ->night market at Red Dot Design Museum -> good exposure to the art science -> generated interest but not much actual sales

  • Found an alternative technique of scraping wood


Lessons Learnt and Takeaway

  • Thorough initial research and trials is very important in order to master the technique and to avoid having to redo orders later on. Continual research is required to constantly improve the technique at every stage

  • The transfer technique was not as easy as it looked in the video. We had to be persistent and struggle our way through, trying new techniques every time, with team understanding and motivation. Thus team spirit is something without which we wouldn't survive.

  • Communication among the team members is very crucial. Minute communication gaps can cause delays, incur extra costs and waste inventory.


Problems and Solutions:

  1. Website

    No team member had the technical expertise needed and no background experience as well.

Solutions: - The team members learnt coding

- Looked for an easy domain to be used

- Sought help from friends


2. Stock out Issue

Ran out of the wood just before Chinese New Year period.

The issue worsened as our supplier is unresponsive -> moreover, all workers were on Chinese New Year Holiday.

Meanwhile we still have pending orders and upcoming events (U-Flea and MAAD)

Solutions: - Called up the supplier several times

- Negotiation led to subsidies and waiver of overtime fee


3. Spoiled Product During Production

Several re-do were required as products got over-scrubbed often

Printing and sticking errors also required us to redo products often

This incurred additional cost to scrap the spoiled wood

Situation worsened when the carpenter refused to scrap wood for us after a point

Solutions: - Found a method of scraping the wood using sand sponge which could be done by ourselves.

- Look for other wood vendors who would be willing to scrap the wood for us

- Get our own sanding machine


4. Miscommunication

Communication gaps incurred additional cost due printing of excessive copies and delays because of not printing pictures

Solutions: - Put the shared google drive into action

- Appointed in-charge to bridge communication gaps


5. Quality of Wood

Poor quality of wood delivered which affected the product delivery.

Also, the supplier has issues with timely replacement.

Solutions: - Negotiation which led to confirmation for 1-1 replacement of poor quality wood

  • Cut excess quantities of 8”x10” and 11”x14” into 5”x7” to fulfill the fresh orders.

Conclusion


This 5 month journey has been one to remember for each one of us. Even though we did not achieve our target of breaking even by January and we even suffered a slight monetary loss, each of us have gained much from this and this experience would be helpful for the rest of our future endeavours.


3rd party contacts

Wood manufacturers (Maxcom Enterprise): shaokai@maxconenterprise.com Number: 9697 0820

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Customer Reviews


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Below is the Official agreement we have signed with Sree Narayana Mission Home.

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It was one of the most amazing learning experiences for all of us, for an even brighter future. We would take this opportunity to thank every one who helped us in making Pine-o-Chio a great attempt :)

LOVE,
TEAM PINE-O-CHIO

Discovery

posted 4 Mar 2017, 08:51 by VAYA BUNDAWI

We met on Friday to work on our new orders. During the meeting, there was a unexpected mistake made when one of the team members stuck the order. In order to save the wood, we managed to scrap the newly stuck photo out of it with water and sand sponge. That led to the new discovery, when Nathaniel tried to scrap the used wood (spoiled production due to over scrubbing or error when sticking) with the sand sponge. It turns out that the wood could be scraped using the sand sponge when enough pressured is applied to it. This technique is found at the right time as the uncle who usually did the scraping for us has refused to do it for us in the future. This discovery would help to reduce our cost as we no longer need to seek scrapping service. However, we still need to try out whether the wood that we scrapped could be recycled and reused for a new order.

Accounts

posted 23 Feb 2017, 08:45 by VAYA BUNDAWI

Finally, the team managed to sit down together, and this time round, it was not just about completing orders, but we managed to do our accounts as well. The team spent some time to look through our expenses and income that we had spent and received so far. It was a tiring day looking at numbers, but we managed to settle it. There would be updates on the accounts as the business is still on-going, but for now, at least the team get the rough idea on how our accounts look like at the moment.

Here we go~ Love is in the air

posted 13 Feb 2017, 03:32 by NATHANIEL KAI WEI OH

Lots and lots and lots of Valentines days orders. 
The work load is tough and we are currently running out of wood. (We made a wrong presumption and forecast that there would be a higher number of orders for our larger sizes. We are currently down to our last 5 pieces of 5" X 7" wood. 
Luckily, we have had in place a method to recycle spoiled products which is "scrubbing" of the wood where the top part of the wood is washed off the paint, so we still have a handful left. 
We also intend to cut the larger pieces into smaller ones. 
It is getting more hectic as we are proceeding in towards the mid-terms as well. 


Hectic Last Few Days

posted 11 Feb 2017, 08:53 by VAYA BUNDAWI

Since Wednesday night, the team was getting ready to prepare samples to be displayed on the two important events namely U-Flea and MAAD. So on Thursday, the team has been at the U-Flea area since 11am till 5pm. Afterwards, the team divided the task to print orders and to drill the wood where a hook would be attached.

Similarly, on Friday, Vaya opened the booth for U-Flea, as Monisha went out to print some of the orders before going to MAAD. While Nathaniel went to get name cards, before taking the wood from U-Flea event area to MAAD event area. It was a hectic last few days, but we get to market our product to a larger crowd. Through this events, we are getting more orders which means that our work load is increasing in the next few days. However, it was an amazing journey and the team is satisfied and working harder.

Improvising

posted 5 Feb 2017, 04:56 by VAYA BUNDAWI   [ updated 5 Feb 2017, 04:57 ]

The team has been improvising the work flow, so that the order could be done smoothly and in time. We are trying to work more effectively and efficiently, where we only need to meet once or twice a week to discuss while having the orders delivered on time.

Currently, the team is busy making general samples that could be sold during the coming events (U-Flea and MAAD). Also, we are in the discussion on the photo transfer method, in hope to find faster and cost friendly method. There are a lot of research done for this, and several trials needed to be done to find out. In fact, last Friday, the team actually tried another photo transfer method. It turn out that this method could potentially produced a good quality picture, even though the waiting time is longer. Also, it is easier to scrub the photo with this method. However, there is a need to try this method again, to perfect our skills.

Tough decisions!

posted 23 Jan 2017, 08:40 by RAMAMURTHY SWETHA   [ updated 23 Jan 2017, 08:41 ]

Let us start off with some good news!
The first good news is that our website is up and running. With a bit of help from our coder friend Pratyum, we got our website to work. We have started to publicise on Whatsapp, FaceBook and Instagram about our website to divert traffic there and get people more interested in our product. 
The second good news is that, we have already run out of stock!!! We have to place the order for the second batch of wood. But here comes the problem as well. And for the first time, we had to make tough decisions like real entrepreneurs do. We got our first batch of wood from Maxconn enterprises at $450. The wood was of good quality and also gave good results. Recently, when we tried to look for wood workers to scrape of the images from the sample woods so that we could reuse them, we found another supplier who was ready to supply the wood at almost half the price. Unfortunately, the timing of this was bad. The new supplier was closing his shop for Chinese New Year until 6th of February. However, he assured us that if we placed the order on the 6th of February, he would deliver the wood by 8th February without fail. But tough luck!, we have two very important events coming up on the 9th and 10th of February: U-Flea and MAAD. And we could not afford to not have wood while going for such large scale events. And we couldn't approach any other supplier at this desperate time because of Chinese New Year. So, we were left with two options:
(i) Order wood from Maxconn enterprises at $450 or
(ii) Order wood from the new supplier at $230
But going for the second option would surely be a gamble because:
(i) Though he assures to provide the same quality wood at a lower price, we have not seen any sample before and have never tried our printing technique on it
(ii) If there are any delays in delivering the wood order, we may not have any wood for U-Flea, MAAD and Valentines' Day which we expect to be our major seller
So, though we were tempted to buy the raw materials at a cheaper price, we had to go with our first supplier as we could not afford to take the risk of running out of wood during our major selling season. Maxconn promised to deliver the wood before Chinese New Year vacations (25th January) thereby giving us time to prepare for our major events. However, he gave us an ultimatum that if we didn't confirm the order tonight, then he wouldn't be able to process it before CNY. Also, he was ready to forego the extra cost of $150 that had to be levied for calling the workers back during their vacation just to process our last minute order, only for the sake of the relationship that we had developed during the last transaction. And only for that reason we did not want to bargain with him and spoil our relationship with Maxconn relationship before finding any better, reliable supplier. 
So there we were! Made the first tough decision of our business. We know that this could work two ways: We may either be a sell out and need more wood, thereby covering up for the expensive wood that we are buying or we may not sell a lot and make further loss. However, we believe that if we could sell out one complete batch of wood only through friends, family and word of mouth, we can surely do a better job now that our social media marketing and website are also functional. We also believe so because, some of our customers loved our products so much that, they had recommended us to their friends who are thinking of giving us orders for redecorating their houses. 
Hopefully things work out in our favour!

A few glitches on the way!

posted 20 Jan 2017, 02:01 by RAMAMURTHY SWETHA   [ updated 20 Jan 2017, 02:14 ]

The team is carrying out its operations pretty well. We have just finished processing our first order of 15 products and we have received 12 more now. We have also registered for the u-flea market in NTU to be help on the 9th and 10th of February and MAAD to be held on the 10th of February. Needless it is to say that 10th February is going to be taxing for all of us as we have to divide our already little manpower into two groups to attend both, the u-flea market and MAAD. And of course, the work that follows these two events will be enormous. But, it is a happy pain, we must say!
While, that is all the good news we have, we are facing a few glitches as well. Since, we have no developer in our team, we our facing a very difficult time designing the website on our own.  And since we have already shelled our a lot of money on raw materials, we cannot afford to outsource it either. However, Nathaniel and Monisha are doing their best and have promised that the website will be up and running by 21st January. On the other hand, Shweta is trying her best to source cardboard boxes at affordable prices (with our logo on it) from Singapore, China and India. We have mailed numerous packaging companies for quotations and are still awaiting them. We shall wait until 24th January, beyond which we will have to call up the companies to expedite the process. At the same time, the entire team is also struggling to find a solution to the hanging needs of our customers. Drawing inspiration from our US counterpart, the team had decided to provide two mounting screws to customers who demand that their product be suitable for hanging. However, feedback from customers shows that this solution is dissatisfying. Hence, Shweta is trying to hang the woodprints using 3M heavy duty tape. It can hold upto 2kg and can be easily gotten off the wall when required without causing any damage to the product or the wall. We shall wait a few more days before we settle for this option as we're currently testing for how long this tape can hold our biggest product!
Hopefully, we can settle these issues before attending our two big events!

Have a look at our first set of products, all geared up for delivery:

Going Strong

posted 16 Jan 2017, 07:20 by VAYA BUNDAWI   [ updated 20 Jan 2017, 02:02 by RAMAMURTHY SWETHA ]

Today, we actually met up to discuss our next moves and also to finish up the current orders. Besides finishing up on the orders that we did on Friday, we actually did 8 new orders today. Hopefully, we could get the orders ready in a few days time.

At the moment, the marketing method of selling the products are through word-of-mouth and social media namely Facebook and Instagram. However, the team is planning to reach out to a larger market by participating in bazaar such as U-Flea and MAAD. As such, the team is planning to order another batch of woods to be ready for those events. Also, the team is planning to expand the target market to cafes. As such, the team are drafting out an email to be sent to cafes.

Onwards

posted 12 Jan 2017, 08:01 by NATHANIEL KAI WEI OH   [ updated 20 Jan 2017, 02:01 by RAMAMURTHY SWETHA ]

The team is gearing up towards higher production (our current batch of wood is going to be finished soon) as well as increased marketing by taking more sample pictures.

For the website, it is coming along quite fine and we decided to use the platform Shopify as it is the most ideal one to use. 


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