On Tuesday we launched our latest project, the WeeWow. Already we’ve sold out our early bird rewards, gotten coverage from WIRED and CNET, and been featured as a Kickstarter Staff Pick.

But the most mind-blowing part of this whole project? The idea for the WeeWow isn’t even a month old. In fact, we went from idea to working prototype in just five days, and submitted our project to Kickstarter just two weeks later.

Here’s the story:

Friday, January 18th.

I (Kyle) was working in the atrium of my church, taking advantage of the free wifi, when I ran into my friend Ellie. Ellie is a musician, and she reminded me of something I’d forgotten all about.

“Remember when you made that talkbox a few years ago? That was so cool. What ever happened to that?” she said.

“Eh, it was sort of a pain in the butt to use. It was big and bulky, plus if I wanted to use it I had to have my guitar, and cables and stuff… I think it’s probably in a box somewhere.”

Saturday, January 19th.

The next evening, I was sitting at home playing something on my phone, and I accidentally covered the speaker with my hand, muting the sound. I started playing with covering and uncovering the speaker, which probably annoyed my wife.

I thought back to my conversation with Ellie the day before. Then, in a Eureka moment, I put the phone in my mouth (side note: this is probably the first time that sentence has ever been written in the history of the English language). I realized I could get a talkbox effect by placing the corner of the phone (where the speaker is) in my mouth. I started going “wow-wow-wow”.

I began to wonder if a talkbox attachment would work, since putting the phone in your mouth is not convenient (For one, you look like an idiot, and for two, you can’t see what you’re doing on the screen. And for three, the variety of sounds you can make is limited because there’s a phone in your mouth).

I grabbed some clay and mocked up a quick prototype. It worked well enough, considering it didn’t have a very good seal around the phone after I baked it in the oven.

I played with the thing for about twenty minutes and thought “This is pretty awesome. This would make a great project for Ridiculo.us.”

I quickly Facetimed John-Erik, another member of Team Ridiculo.us.

“Dude, I’ve got to show you this thing.” I said.

Ten minutes later, we’d decided to pursue the idea.

“How quick do you think we could go to market with this?” he asked?

“I don’t know.” I said, “But I think we should fast-track it.”

As part of our “12 projects in 12 months” goal, we already had a project scheduled for February. But we decided to swap it out for this one – if we could hit the timeline.

Sunday, January 20th. 

The next morning I mocked up some more prototypes out of cardboard, tape, and other household materials (side note: if you get clay in your speaker, it pretty much ruins the speaker. I found this out the hard way.).

I went through a few iterations, did some photoshopping, and started looking for a 3D designer to help me flesh out the final design.

I logged into elance, put together a brief description of the project, and waited for bids.

Monday, January 21st . 

After receiving a few dozen bids from around the world, I started messaging some of the lead contenders to get an idea for who would be the best fit for the project.
In the end, I went with a contractor in the US who had experience with iPhone cases and who had great reviews. I approved his bid and gave him the details of the project.

Tuesday, January 22nd.

The initial mockup of the iPhone 4 WeeWow

The initial mockup of the iPhone 4 WeeWow

The next day, the contractor had completed the initial design. I sent the mockups to the team via Dropbox (since we’re spread out across the country) for feedback. After talking it over with the others, I gave the designer a few minor changes, which he incorporated into a second version right away.

During the design process, he mentioned that he could also handle prototyping for us (he had access to a 3D printer). Once we finalized the design, I gave him the go-ahead to produce a prototype.

I also got the files from him and started sending them out to manufacturers for quotes.

Wednesday, January 23rd. 

The next day, the contractor let me know that the prototype was ready. He overnighted it to us.

Thursday, January 24th.

The first prototype. Apologies for the crappy picture.

The first prototype. Apologies for the crappy picture.

Five days after the initial idea, the working WeeWow prototype arrived. It was awesome. We rejoiced.

By “we”, I mean “I”. My wife thought it was really cool, but after about ten minutes she asked me to play with it in the other room because she was watching Downton Abbey and it was distracting.

Having nailed down the design for the iPhone 4, I gave the designer the greenlight to start working on the iPhone 5 version.

Friday, January 25th

The iPhone 5 WeeWow. Due to a new headphone jack location and different-shaped speaker, this one ended up with a slightly different look from the iPhone 4 version.

The iPhone 5 WeeWow. Due to a new headphone jack location and different-shaped speaker, this one ended up with a slightly different look from the iPhone 4 version.

After a few tweaks, the designer finalized the iPhone 5 design.

Tuesday, January 29th

The prototype for the iPhone 5 was ready to ship. I had the designer overnight it to me.

Wednesday, January 30th

The iPhone 5 prototype arrived. Since I don’t have an iPhone 5, I got my friend Mason to come over to test the fit. He stuck around for half an hour or so playing with the WeeWow.

Thursday, January 31st.

I'm trying to look casual, but that table was digging into my side.

I’m trying to look casual, but that table was digging into my side.

With both prototypes in hand, we got together a crew and filmed our Kickstarter video with the help of our friends over at Ethic Media (which, incidentally, is run by David, another member of Team Ridiculo.us). Fun was had by all.

Friday, Feb 1st

Team Ridiculo.us headed down to Orlando so we could all be in one place for Run Free 2013. This doesn’t really have anything to do with the WeeWow, but it shows that we probably could’ve shaved a few days off this entire thing if we didn’t already have a big event going on.

Tuesday, February 5th

Our last Kickstarter project, BeardMyBaby, came to a close.

Wednesday, February 6th 

Using the footage from the video shoot the previous Thursday, John-Erik and David (who were working on another project in New York) pieced together the first version of our project video while I started working on graphics via Dropbox. It was a first-draft video, but it was already looking pretty awesome.

We also started building out the Kickstarter page at this point with rewards, story, and other information.

Thursday, February 7th

We submitted the project to Kickstarter and held our breath (metaphorically).

Friday, February 8th.

Kickstarter accepted our project!

Even though this is our fourth project and we were almost 100% sure we were within the guidelines, it’s still a huge rush every time we get that email from Kickstarter saying we’re approved.

Saturday, February 9th-Monday, February 11th

We started sending out emails to friends, relatives, press, etc. with preview link, trying to get the word out a little in advance.

Tuesday, February 12th.

 Project launch! (Cue angels singing)

Summary

To sum it all up, we live in the future. We had an idea, and five days later had a prototype in hand. If we were 3D designers with access to a 3D printer of our own, that time could’ve been two days, or one day.

Obviously not all ideas are this simple or easy, but many are.

In the past (even just a few years ago), none of this was possible. Instead you’d spend a lot of time and money building a prototype, then you’d have to get a second mortgage on your house to try to manufacture the first batch, and then you’d go bankrupt because nobody knew about your invention.

But now the doors have been blown wide open, and it’s possible for anyone with an internet connection and a little resourcefulness to become an inventor.

 

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and make something cool.

(But first, would you buy a WeeWow?)

Seriously. You should buy one right now.

Seriously. You should buy one right now.

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