We cannot be considered as usual startuppers, because we’re professionals and because we are not working on traditional fields for startups, like web, app, etc. We work in the intersection of Design and Technology, so often we are considered as “strangers” by other startups. Beside that, we have a point in common with usual startuppers: when we started, we were sure that our reference market was animated by old companies, with obsolete production technologies, and we were sure that our background, made of digital innovation, CAD modeling etc. could represent a real breakthrough. We were wrong, know-how for handcrafts is fundamental. But let’s see step-by-step. We started trying different techniques for the fabrication of the first concept of a smart kitchen scale (that now is represented by Slab!):
· 3d printing+3M ® DINOC adhesive
· Plexiglass+adhesive wood veneer
· Laser-cutted MDF+adhesive wood veneer
· Plastic injection molding+Water transfer finishing
None of these techniques was satisfying, in particular the critical point was the hidden LED display within the product. In some cases that zone was too fragile, in other cases it has low luminosity, in other cases the final texture was too cheap. We tried these solutions using manufacturers in India, China, U.S.A, Belgium, Japan, but most of the time we felt a mismatch in the cultural approach: we put the beauty at the top of our key points, since we grow up in a Country that transformed Beauty in its nickname (Bel Paese means “Beautiful Country in Italian language). After this long trip around the world, we decided to come back to our Country, starting a collaboration with several Wood artisans in the northern part of Italy. After a couple of tries, we found what we looked for a long time: a very passionate wood artisan, young but with an extended know-how, able to work both in digital and in analogue world. Thanks to him, we came back to our original idea, using a structure in real wood instead the cheap plastic solutions proposed before. Moreover, working together we found a solution that preserve the robustness of the structure, giving the product the best aesthetic look, with a continuous wood texture along the object. The technique is known as “folding technique” and it is based on the creation of engravings on the wood, to have zones where the wood is so thin that can be folded. Thanks to this technique, we obtain a Wood structure that is producible on high volumes, maintaining a very good robustness and good look. Learned lessons: we should change the Silicon Valley motto “Move fast, break things” in the more complete “Move fast, break some things, learn from the best”.