Hello! And welcome to the PowerTower!
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The PowerTower is the first integrated stand for organizing and powering computer peripherals -- such as modems, WiFi router, VOIP modem/router, external hard drives, and other communications/data devices -- and organizing their cords.
With six (6) integrated AC outlets (positioned inversely and on a radius), the stand accommodates those bulky AC transformers without blocking adjacent outlets (unlike traditional power strips). The configuration also enables your AC transformers to add substantial weight and stability to the stand.
Devices are secured to four (4) innovative triangular (vertically adjustable) shelves by way of elastic straps with treasury (tongue) ends. This approach allows the shelves to accommodate devices of all shapes and orientations, and weights up to those of external hard drives.
Four USB outlets provide additional connectivity among devices -- including external hard drives and cell phones.
Power and connectivity cords are hidden within channels in the base of the unit and up its spine. The product will ship with four (4) short (6-10 inch) Ethernet cables so users can also dispense with their clumsy store-bought lengths of six feet or more.
Like most folks, I like things organized. One day, while realizing that I'd surrendered most of my usable computer desk space to modems, routers, other peripheral devices, I assumed there was a better idea.
I found not a single product on the market to organize these devices, so I built a crude stand out of square aluminum pipe.
I discovered that the plexiglass shelves were weak. But I also realized the opportunity for something more robust. With that, the assistance of University of Colorado's electrical and mechanical engineering wizards at Mind Studios was secured.
Early concepts featured thicker shelves for peripherals, but the stand would also include AC outlets to power the devices -- and eliminate the many daisy-chained power strips needed to accommodate AC transformers.
As work progressed, another feature came into focus: A way to manage all the AC, ethernet and USB cords.
Preliminary primary market research, along with available secondary data, suggests that there is, indeed, a substantial market for this device. (At least 31.5 million homes in the U.S. use three or more data and communications devices.)
(NOTE: The video and photos feature the most recent prototype, but several changes have been made since, including: addition of the shelf "fins" along the bottom (and the elimination of the solid surface); and the relocation of the wiring channels to the forward area of the base. Other minor design changes are in process.)
I've discussed this project with three mold/plastic injection companies, an electrical engineering firm, an additional mechanical engineer (who prepped the files for final mold creation), and a patent attorney. The provisional patent application has been submitted as well.
- Complete Kickstarter campaign (Jan 2015)
- Finalize minor design changes - widening of spine (Jan 2015)
- Order molds/initial plastic injection and components (Jan 2015)
- Distribute (non-PowerTower) Kickstarter rewards (Jan-Feb 2015)
- Completion of production (Apr 2015)
- Assembly & shipment of PowerTower rewards (April-May 2015)
This Kickstarter budget aims to raise $91,000 for the four molds, initial production run (of 1,000) and the requisite components (AC and USB outlets, shelf hold-down straps, and wiring). Kickstarter and Amazon fees bring the budget to around $100,000.
The breakeven point for this product is very low. Amazingly low. And given the substantial market, the estimated margin on each item, and the low breakeven point, this product has enormous capacity.
Family and friends know that I've always wanted to do two things: Teach...and take a product from concept to market. A couple of years ago, I began teaching graduate and undergraduate marketing and international business courses at a major university.
Now, it's time for the product.
I have 25-plus years of marketing experience in health care, behavioral health care, and academic research centers. During this period, I provided my employers with "transformational" marketing and branding solutions. (One such solution is referred to as "A case study in branding" by prominent business leaders in its major metropolitan area.)
My education includes a BSc in marketing (my alma mater presented me with its Alumni Achievement Award) and an MBA. And, because I've always admired entrepreneurs, I took an "entrepreneurial assessment" and was pleased and surprised to score in the 97th percentile.
So, I think I'm positioned well to make the PowerTower a success. I hope you join me.
Design: David Hills / Mind Studios at the University of Colorado
Additional Design: Fred Matthews, P.E.
Patent Advice: Scott Hawranek, Esq.
Promotions: David Binkowski / Large Media
Video: Clayton Bowen
SOME ADDITIONAL LINKS
iHeart Radio Interview, January 7, 2015
Risks and challenges
The PowerTower's marketing plan includes a thorough SWOT analysis. Beyond this, of course, are unforeseen delays -- e.g., final design modifications, molds, component deliveries, and production.
My approach in reducing the likelihood of these includes: 1) investigating/contracting with more than one supplier of components; and 2) incorporating due dates in the production contract -- with, when possible, small incentives for earlier delivery and disincentives for delays.
In addition, I'm a believer in ongoing contact and personal visits to suppliers.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)