DIY MiniITX Laptop Project on Hold Again, & Lessons Learned
I'm sad to announce that I'm shutting down the DIY MiniITX laptop project. At least, for now. The reason is simple: the chance of recouping the investment needed are slim, and I need to focus on tasks that are more likely to generate an in income and keep the lights on.
It's always good to learn from experiences, both good and bad. So, let's go through some numbers...
- The only way I could justify the time & effort for the laptop project, was to turn it into a small commercial project. I would design a laptop kit to sell to other enthusiasts
- I estimated that I'd need to sell at least 100 kits to recoup the time & money invested without making it hideously expensive
- While I have over 100 on the laptop mailing list, only a fraction of those on the mailing list will actually buy when the time comes
- An IndieGoGo talk I attended, said that to run a successful crowdfunding campaign: **
- You need to reach >30% funded within 48 hours
- The mailing list is critical, and the typical mailing list "conversion rate" is 5% (i.e., only 5% will invest in the crowdfunding campaign)
- Given the numbers above, I would need at least 600 people on the mailing list
- The DIY laptop mailing list isn't even half way to 600
- Even worse, most on the mailing list want an Amiga laptop, and the A1222 still isn't available. The other MiniITX option (the Sam460ex) is also not available, and there's no sign of this changing any time soon***
Conclusion: The chance of success is slim to none.
In hindsight, I should have shut it down a long time ago. It was clear that the mailing list wasn't growing, but I really wanted to keep going. I hoped that if I kept going a little longer, then the situation would change. The ongoing lack of suitable MiniITX AmigaOS motherboards helped push me to face reality: commercially, this isn't going to work, and I cannot afford to waste time on it. I must focus on that which will pay the bills.
It's a harsh but valuable lesson: validate your business idea fast, and shut down nonviable projects ASAP. Otherwise you'll waste a lot of time and energy on something that people don't want and will never use (because you had to shut it down later).
My apologies to those who were genuinely interested. I'm saying "on hold" rather than "cancelled," because I'd still like to finish it sometime. However, that won't happen any time soon.
** These numbers are based on IndieGoGo's extensive data of successful and unsuccessful crowdfunding campaigns
*** DISCLAIMER: While some might consider me an insider, I have no special knowledge as to the availability of any new AmigaOS 4.x hardware.
Hans de Ruiter 05/10/2021 1:47pm (20 months ago)
Thanks for sharing your views. I agree with some of what you said. However, the "incorrect assumptions" are actually rules-of-thumb provided by IndieGoGo, and they're based on data they have collected on what makes crowdfunding campaigns successful. Yes, the Amiga world is "different," and reality never matches averages. However, we're not that different; we're still human, after all, and behave as such.
Their rules-of-thumb make intuitive sense. You need to build momentum fast, so that "social proof" (i.e., people see others handing over cash) can kick in with your campaign. To do that, you need a team of enthusiastic people ready to buy in and tell all their friends about it.
As you said, I have a small reach, which means that I don't have a large enough enthusiastic team to buy in and spread the word when the time comes.
In the end, I have to make a decision whether it's worth the risk of pouring more time, effort, and money into it instead of focusing on something else. There's no way of knowing what actual sales would be, so the decision has to be made using available data and educated guesses. I decided that my time is better spent working on something else.
P.S., None of the laptop videos have below 10 views; even the unlisted ones that were exclusive to the mailing list only.
Adam Mierzwa 04/10/2021 9:28am (20 months ago)
People don't follow projects that take too long. The same problem is faced by the PPC Community project (you would gain valuable experience there too). Burned hopes. At one point, when I saw your videos with ranges below 10 views, I thought "what am I waiting for, he does this for himself after hours as part of his hobby, maybe it will be in 5 years, maybe never".
The real problems are: the availability of the underlying motherboard and possibly the price. Hell, this laptop looks like a suitcase, but the price would be the key. After all, I think that the sale would have a problem to break 200 pieces a year.