It seems like forever since I did an update article – probably because it has! The truth is, I’ve just been so busy with the commercial side of Red20RC and it’s all getting a bit out of hand…
The fact is Red20RC continues to grow. The stats at the moment stand like this:
- Website activity: Over 10,800 visitors a month over the two main sites.
- Social media followers: Around 3000 followers across the four main accounts
- On YouTube my 67 videos uploaded have been viewed over 104,000 times
- On Flite Test my 37 articles have been viewed over 225,000 times and recently I peaked with an “influence” of 86%, the fourth most influential person on a site with over 38,000 registered authors.
Things have been dominated by the store. What started as a bit of a hobby paying thing with one or two sales a month has become something more serious. Last month I filled 54 orders from all over the world. The CNC has been joined by a 3D printer and will soon also be joined by a hotwire cutting service.
So what’s the problem then?
Last night I got to bed at 1am, the night before it was 2.30am, the night before that 1.45am. The CNC and printer runs almost constantly and my real job has been suffering as a result. In just over a year I have made a total income from Red20RC of $0…
What the F*#k! Why?
For the most part it’s because I have never asked for a single cent to setup and run Red20RC. I don’t panhandle for donations, I haven’t been to the bank and I don’t want to risk the security of my children’s home on my mid-life crisis. Red20RC has been allowed to grow organically. I saved up to by my CNC and the first few sheets of carbon and then everything flowed on from there. The 3D printer took over a year to purchase because I wanted a good model.
I have never really charged very much for what I do. The pricing of all Red20RC products is based on the material cost of making them – and I use only the best materials – but charges nothing for the time and effort imparted by myself.
Any profit I’ve made goes back into the development of the company. Prototypes, cameras, batteries, tools and electronic equipment don’t come cheap and I’ve always tried to make sure that these things are paid for by the sale of Red20RC products.
The turning point…
Somewhere along the line it stopped being quite as much fun as it was when I was designing the first MicroWing or playing around with the SK450 Deadcat quad. I still love making things but now it feels a bit like work.
Things reached a turning point a few weeks ago when Adam, one of the Red20RC designers came to me out of the blue with a design for a 170mm micro quad based on the SWH250 frame sold in the store. We cut a prototype and I put some spare 1306 motors on it and a tiny FPV set and put the pictures on Instagram and Facebook. The response was astonishing. “Kermit” as we nicknamed the SWH170 (it’s official designation) seemed to capture the imagination of the miniquad community and we had sold over 30 of them on pre-order before the prototype had even flown!
I started getting emails from dealers wanting to buy wholesale and in the week following the official release, at least 6 new 170-180mm frames were announced through the social media channels.
The simple truth is I can’t keep up. I need to either find a way to make Red20RC a commercial success or I need to hold up my hands and walk away – and I don’t tend to walk away from a challenge!
So, what’s the plan then?
I want to be able to get back to the time when I was having fun with this thing. I still want to move forward with the technology and I don’t want to break the bank or take out huge loans to do it. I would love the store to grow but I would also love to see the community side of Red20RC grow – something it hasn’t been doing lately.
Most importantly, I want to be able to go flying occasionally instead of having to pass up the nice weather because I have to cut a load of frames.
My plan then is a four-pronged attack:
1. Get some help
I’m going to outsource some (not all) of my CNC work to trusted partners. This will release some of the pressure on me and also allow me to build up a stock of products that I can sell rather than always playing catch-up with orders. Every frame and product will still come through Red20RC HQ for checking and packing though as quality is and always has been most important.
2. Form strong dealer relationships
One of the biggest drawbacks of buying from Red20RC has always been the fact I am out here in Australia and shipping anywhere is expensive. By forming relationships with reputable resellers I can get my products on the shelf in countries like the USA, making them more accessible and affordable.
3. Expand my services
Relieving some of the pressure on my time will allow me to focus more on product development and custom jobs. I still have the Remote Pilot project and the back burner and my passion is very much still the design and production of bespoke fixed-wing and multirotor products for the UAV/RPAS market.
4. Build the community
By freeing up some of my time I will also be able to go back to some more simple pleasure such as building foam board planes for fun and sharing the experiences on the Red20RC site. I want to reopen the site to registration and actually start offering something in return for those people who support me.
When does all this happen?
Now! The first dealer shipments are going out next week and small changes are already being made to the structure of the store.
I expect to have made a full transition to the new setup within the next two months so hopefully you will see some more of those changes right here on the main Red20RC site.
I’ve always said I don’t want Red20RC to be the next Flite Test or HobbyKing and I still stand by that. What I do want though is to build something that my kids will be proud of and maybe one day my boy (or even my little girl – she’s been enjoying Freerider on the PC) will want to be a part of Red20RC and help his old man out a bit with the maidens(!)
Thank you as always for the support you give me and hopefully in the next few months I can start to give more back as I emerge from under the pile of carbon scraps and bubble-wrap…