Hugh's WattWerx Boutique Musical Instrument Electronics
Innovative line of amps and effects for musicians by engineer with 40-yr experience, ISO-9000 background, 'green' business orientation.
In the founder's own words: "Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own." This philosophy perfectly exemplifies my own approach to music in general, and amplifier design in particular, and as such, inspired the homonymous brand name: Hugh's WattWerx.
I currently have four unique amplifier models through final prototype stage, with several more in development, as well as several signal processing pedals.
I encourage interested parties to visit the Hugh's WattWerx website at: www.wattwerx.com.
Technology aside, for the moment, I am 100% committed to creating and growing the 'greenest', most environmentally friendly and locally-oriented business I possibly can. My central approach will be to use, to the greatest extent possible, locally produced sub-assemblies, such as chassis, cabinets, circuit boards, and so forth. This is a critical consideration. Other American builders of 'American' products regularly outsource one or more of these components to Pacific-rim factories. The temptation is powerful. For example, a chassis assembly that costs $150-$200 at a local machine shop can be obtained for $20/apiece from China in lots as small as 20. My motivation is NOT some nebulous, 'buy American' ethic, nor even keeping jobs in America (though these are both important considerations.) Rather, I believe that these attractive economic conditions are a result of cheap, subsidized fossil fuels that encourage shipping heavy items halfway around the world, favoring immediate profits at the expense of our environment, the welfare of future generations, and the survival of life itself.
While I would be quite satisfied to simply continue building one amp at a time and selling them to local musicians, my motivation for wishing to expand my company is to facilitate encouraging, in some cases re-creating, domestic sources for components that have largely vanished from our own industries.
I'm seeking funding to accomplish three immediate objectives:
1. manufacture 'hard parts' (chassis, circuit boards, cabinets, etc.) in sufficient quantities to bring the final selling price down to where they will be competitive with similar offerings from other 'boutique' builders using imported components,
2. Establish a modest advertising campaign,
3. Produce one or more review units for each model that can be provided to key music industry magazines.
In the event that this first phase is successful, a subsequent round of funding may be commenced for the purpose of engaging a professional marketing agency, as well as introducing a lower-priced line of amplifiers utilizing domestically-build printed circuit boards.
My advantages include over 40 years of hands-on engineering experience at both large and small companies, including AT&T, Digital Equipment Corporation, Clarity Development, and others; extensive Q/A experience, including ISO-9000 Internal Auditor, experience managing large technology projects, formal training in all of the above, and the ability to generate CAD documents capable of driving CNC manufacturing machines. (This level of preparation can be VERY expensive if the manufacturer is required to do it for you.)
I have also worked in a consulting capacity preparing professional business plans for multiple clients, and will provide references to qualified investors upon request.
In terms of this particular industry, I have been a musician since 1966, and have a firm grasp of what works, what doesn't and what other musicians need and want.
I will provide my resume and extensive business and technical references to larger investors on request.
Risks and challenges
First and foremost, I have PRODUCTS, not VAPORWARE! I have been developing these models, full time, since 7/2009. I have invested well over $5000 in parts and components alone. I have contacted domestic sub-contractors and have identified suppliers to manufacture critical components, such as chassis, cabinets, and bare boards, have obtained quotes, and have cleared my design documents as compatible with their manufacturing processes.
My detailed business plan is in progress, and will provide an operational roadmap moving further (as opposed to a hyperbolic fundraising document, as is too often the case.) I will be preparing a detailed 5-year financial pro-forma, working closely with an experienced financial expert.
By it’s nature, the high-end, hand-built musical instrument market must inevitably be one in which demand always exceeds supply. By leveraging local technical labor pools and increasing scale to a sufficient level to decrease locally built sub-assemblies, we will increase availability and reduce cost while maintaining impeccable quality standards and nurturing domestic supply sources.
in my experience, the main hurdle to gaining acceptance is the perceived concerns on the part of prospective customers regarding the support of a product built by a small concern. I address this directly by supplying clear, complete, detailed documentation, including actual schematics printed directly on every circuit board. (Unlike many competitors, who so jealously guard their 'secrets' that many encase their circuits in opaque epoxy!)
My designs are licensed under 'open-source'. Thus, they are protected from being used to compete against me in a commercial sense, while being completely transparent to all. I encourage prospective buyers to bring my documentation to the qualified amplifier technician of their choice and have THEM confirm that these are among the most maintainable amplifiers available.
In terms of 'unforeseen' obstacles, I address these the same way I have approached large projects for employers and clients over the past 40 years: conservatively! My formal training and hands-on experience in project management has always emphasized a RISK-DRIVEN approach. Risks are itemized, assessed, weighted, and a contingency plan is established early for all material risks. This plan is revisited, and revised, on an ongoing basis. Plans are made based on WORST-CASE scenarios, not, as is too frequently the case with inexperienced entrepreneurs, on a starry-eyed assumption that everything will unfold as desired.
While this level of attention may be overkill for the early stages, when units are being hand built, one at a time, it will be critical as the project moves into larger production levels.
Finally, I believe my greatest strength is an acute awareness of my own limitations. I am an engineer and a project manager, not an administrator. I have a highly qualified colleague, with both MBA and Ph.D. in business administration and accounting, committed to consult with me in vetting qualified officers when the operation reaches that level.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)