After test-riding the first prototypes for several months and working on setting up the business itself, this week was a big week. The plan was to spend the first few days recording instructional videos, and the latter part would be taken up by a meeting with some of our prospective retailers. Things did not go according to plan.
We had two goals with the videos:
- General videos about parts, installation, maintenance, etc. Strangely enough, there aren’t many central spots online where you can find all this information. Search for “rear derailleur adjustment” on YouTube and none of the first dozen videos are from Shimano, SRAM or Campagnolo. It’s as if the industry hasn’t figured out yet that the internet is real. Some of the videos you can find are very good, but it’s inconsistent. So our idea was to build a community parallel to the company with videos on all these topics.
- Videos specific to the various technical details of the new frame and the assembly of our complete bikes. The principle for our website is to make it the way we would LIKE a computer (or a camera, or any other product we’re not particularly knowledgeable of) website to look, but rarely does. Video explanations in normal lingo is definitely part of that.
Yes it’s a good idea, yes somebody should do it, but should it be us? Making a few hundred videos to start with is one thing, keeping them updated is quite another. And the amount of time it has already cost us and will continue to cost us to source all this stuff, that definitely doesn’t fit with our “relentless simplicity” goal. A perfect test case for us.
Relentless simplicity is an easy guiding principle to follow when you’re debating graphics, or whether to outsource some function. The real test is when something you are really enthusiastic about turns out to be more complicated than envisioned. You try to justify it, you can’t, you try some more, then you think exceptions to the rule should be possible, and usually you give in.
That’s when you end up with the Samsung Galaxy Tab tablet that is available in 3 screen sizes (“because somebody will prefer size X over size Y”) while the world buys the one-size-fits-all iPad because it’s easier to understand. Steve Jobs has already weighed all the pros and cons of the screen size, we can just buy it without wondering what screen size is best. Of course this is an oversimplification, but you get the picture. Relentless simplicity is an easy goal, but hard to follow consistently.
After a debate, we decide for a short, painful complication in order to achieve long-term simplicity: We pack up all the parts and start shipping them back.
Luckily our friends at the agency (www.pimz.nl) are very flexible, so they are OK with us postponing the shoot. Instead, we will work a few more days on getting in some missing parts that we need for part 2 of our video project, the technical details of our frames and the assembly of our complete bikes.
We go back home, get on the phones and on Wednesday & Thursday we have two pretty successful days in the studio. If you look at the feature videos that are now on our site, you may notice that they were taken with prototype frames that differ in some key areas to the final product. That’s because these videos were shot in December, and right after we had our first dealer meeting. Their feedback caused some modifications, which I’ll discuss in the next blog.
For those interested, most videos were shot with a Canon 5D, some with a 7D because the 5D broke down. Let me know if you can spot the difference!