What is this blog about?
This blog is a mix of the history of XOOT, a DIY guide for choosing a contract manufacturer, and a travel blog. (Basically, I’m posting pictures, and the prolog gives context to them.)
Let me begin by saying that when I embarked on the journey of having my idea manufactured, I was a complete novice. There is a significant amount of learning to be done. Luckilly, I have a natural curiosity for mechanical things and a stubborn determination. Given enough time, even a wonder dunder such and myself can navigate through this processes.
In 2021, the manufacturing plans for XOOT_Pro fell through for the second time.
After a previous unsuccessful attempt at crowdfunding, the feedback was: “don’t drop any features but lower the cost”.
I had to search for a new contract manufacturing partner that could better hit price targets. I found a manufacturer in Taiwan. However, after months of collaboration, their manufacturing estimate kept increasing until it had matched the original manufacturing cost. Frustrated, I decided to start over.
In the third manufacturing search, China was not on my list (because of high tariffs).
I once again conducted a world-wide search to find a contract manufacturer that:
- had experience in the product category
- had mostly in-hose manufacturing for the processes that XOOT_Pro required
- had a capability and reputation for making quality products
- did not have their own line of products that would compete with XOOT
However, after speaking with a manufacturing plant in Malaysia they recommended that their plant in China factory also bid on the work.
Through all my failures and going through dozens of manufacturing estimates, I’ve developed enough expertise to spot the competency of a contract manufacturer based on the questions they ask. The plant in China had me impressed.
It was clear they were doing their homework. They would call out any error spotted no matter how small. They would deep dive into production processes and recommend alternatives. They were very responsive and easy to work with. In the end it was clear they were the best choice I had found.
Contracts were signed with Chinese manufacturer. Initially, we both thought it would take 6-9 months to produce the product. It actually took almost 2 years.
This was frustrating me, but I was not too surprised. XOOT_Pro is a very complicated product, and it was my first time through this process. The manufacturer was also frustrated, but we both continued to work through the issues to create a product to my standards.
In September 2023 I made the trip to China inspect the process. This was when the production line was being set up. I visited their factory and the factories of many of the sub-suppliers.
In terms of XOOT business, the trip was invaluable. I worked with the managers and employees from each production department. It was easy to quickly understand each other’s problems and concerns then quickly address them.
On a personal level, I really liked the team. Most had been at the company for many years, they had a great comradery, enjoyed working together and laughter came easy.
Culturally it was extremely interesting. Many things are done differently and it’s refreshing to see how life can be lived in a different way.
Below I share a photo collage from my trip: