MAKE magazine noticed
my tweet about our business model: "Business model for my open source robotics startup: disclose the cost of everything and charge 40% markup. Want it cheaper? DIY!"
What that means is that BlimpDuino
, the first product we'll be launching ourselves (rather than through a commerical manufacturing/retail partner), will follow that model. I'll disclose the cost of every part and step of the manufacturing process, linking to sources wherever possible so you can do it yourself if desired.
So in this case, the cost of the BlimpDuino kit
parts and manufacturing are about $70. 40% margin is $28, so we'd charge $98.
Let's say you want it cheaper. Although we get volume discounts on most of those parts, I provide links so you can buy single items for not much more, and avoid our 40% markup (you will be paying shipping and taxes with those retailers, so your savings will be less). The automated SMD soldering can't be done as a one-off, so you'd have to do that yourself (not hard if you've got a bit of SMD experience), saving more money. And perhaps you already have some of the needed parts. Great, more cost savings for you!
Let's say you want to make your own company and compete with us, charging just a 30% markup, or maybe just 20%. Excellent! All of our source code and PCB/schematic files
are open source and licensed to allow commerical use. If you can make it cheaper or better than us, go for it! The more the merrier. The only requirement of the license is that you credit us for the design and link back here.
Let's say you're rich and just want to make them and sell them for cost, with no profit margin at all. Also excellent! More robotics blimps for all! The market grows!
Our bet is most of you will be happy to pay us 40% for the security and convenience of making and testing the kit for you. Some of you will want to do it yourself, and that's terrific (we are DIY
Drones, after all). And, frankly, I'd be delighted if some Chinese company decides to make BlimpDuino and sell it at half our cost, paying us nothing. We don't want to have to make the hardware if we don't have to (no dreams of being a factory manager here), and if someone can undercut us by that amount with the same or better quality, we will happily move on to designing other things where we can add more value. Everyone wins!