Rainy yet Busy Days at Zebulon Solutions

Tornado as viewed from our parking lot

Yup, it’s raining here in sunny Colorado.  Again.  Hopefully no more tornados. Note to self—never move to Seattle, it’s like this for months.  But the dreary weather outside just gives us more time to work on our growing backlog of exciting projects.  Two of these projects are in solar, but fortunately we’re not yet at the outside testing stage.  We’ll be there soon, however, so let’s hope the summer brings back the sun.  Look for some unusual hardware outside our south-facing rollup door.

We’re also working on a couple of test fixture projects, one of my favorite areas dating back to my days running test development at Flextronics.  One of our new projects is in production test; the other is in design validation test.  It’s always a good idea to test products before customers get their hands on ‘em. Both projects require novel solutions which are cost effective as well as accurate.  But that’s what makes it fun.

We’re also neck deep in a major firmware project for a really cool industrial product that we can’t talk about yet.  But it involves some interesting sensors and mesh networks and driving costs way down, so lots of fun all the way around.

By my count we’ve added in 8 new customers for the year, which puts us well ahead of last year, which was a record year.  But we’ve also brought in a slew of new projects from longtime customers, like the aforementioned firmware project, which we like even better, because it’s a great vote of confidence as well as more business.

We’ve also finished our first “pre Kickstarter” project, where we helped one of our customers build up a realistic cost model for what it will take them to deliver their Kickstarter promise.  Wish more folks would do this, since something like 75% of Kickstarter-funded hardware projects fail to meet their commits.  In this case we gave our customer both a decent SWAG at the BOM costs but also realistic estimates of the NRE and tooling costs to get the product design finalized and industrialized.  We’re rooting for a successful Kickstarter campaign both to see how our projections fared but also to allow for funding for our customer, so that they can engage with us to do even more work.

Finally, I got to hang out with a gaggle of entrepreneurs and serve as a judge at the Denver Startup Weekend.  This edition was focused on Internet of Things products.  Plenty of apps and cloud software, but,  to my welcome surprise, all of the contestants were “thing” heavy—there were power tools and soldering irons and Arduino boards in abundance. Not to mention force sensors, fans, and even a water pump—could be useful if we get more rain.

Stay dry, everyone.

Chuck

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