We are developing the World's first eco-friendly natural antistatic case for mobile phones and other high end electronics.
There comes a time when you have to make a decision. Move on. Cast the runes and take steps to change the way things are. Nothing ever stays the same. There's always change. That's what's about to happen here. It's time to either sink - or swim.
Nutshell has now been in business since 1997. That's a long time for anyone to have been doing the same thing, day in and day out; designing and selling little leather cases to help folk protect their handhelds.
We've watched as technology has advanced in leaps and bounds. From the bulky PDAs from Palm in 1997 to the hi-tech slimline offerings of 2013 we have watched as the likes of Palm, HP, Compaq, Apple, Samsung, Nokia and HTC have come. And gone.
We have watched and done our best to accommodate every new phone model by providing a range of cases in different sizes and styles and colours.
We'd like to think we've made a difference and provided product that has enabled folk to get on with their lives. Secure in the knowledge that their handhelds were safe on their belt, inside a nutshell.
This desire to meet the market and do our bit to make a difference has come at a cost. Not only have we lost dear colleagues and friends along the way, we have oft times struggled financially to stay afloat.
Based down under we have watched exchange rate fluctuations ebb and flow. When we began this journey we got about $1,50 of local money for every Yankee dollar. Today it's almost dollar for dollar
Over the years sizes have changed. There's never been a standard size for a cell phone. As one manufacturer changes a size as the result on improvements in technology and materials, others are quick to follow suit. The result is an increasingly confusing plethora of product because not only do we today cover the phone, we also cover the phone and an array of third-party add-on protections.
Folk go to extreme lengths to safeguard their phones. An entire industry has emerged that today offers a bewildering number of alternate accessory covers in a stunning array of different materials, finishes and thicknesses, priced to meet any budget.
Therein lies the rub. In order to meet this market we have been forced to continually create new product. Developments have not only seen new sizes emerge, but new materials that are rubberised and stickier than ever have made it increasingly harder and more difficult to satisfy our market.
Today Nutshell offers a staggering array of over 30 different case sizes. From teeny tiny cases that once held flip flop phones to large cases that protect large and bulky industrial bar code scanners to tall and thin cases designed specifically to accommodate the latest range of 'phablet' computers. These slimline devices won't fit easily in product designed for yesterday's handhelds and demand we make yet another costly investment in the tools needed to reliably create our own magic to meet the market.
And, quite frankly, that gets boring. Sure eventually we may sell enough product to recoup our investment in these new tools, but it all takes time. And at a time when our downstream suppliers are themselves under financial pressure due to economics outside of their control, not to mention external pressure from cheaper imported product, it becomes increasingly harder to keep a smile on the dial
So something has to change. It is time to either sink - or swim.
We have two options. We can either shut the shop and face the financial music. Or we can reinvent ourselves and create the 'next generation' of nutshell products.
The preferred option is to reinvent ourselves and create a modified range of new cases that use new materials to offer our customers a whole new level of product.
By combining locally sourced natural antistatic fibres that offer unprecedented protection for tomorrow's electronics with stronger and lighter materials we believe we can build product that will find favour across a wider range of customers than ever.
We intend to combine the antistatic properties of locally harvested possum with lightweight, ultra strong and bulletproof panels of carbon fibre, wrapped up in top quality cow hides, to create a range of new product to replace the existing array of nutshell product.
We shall also look to seriously consider ending our bespoke services. Being the only supplier that lets folk personalise their product was a great idea. But honestly, it is just not sustainable. Almost every product was hand-crafted to meet individual customer specifications. It was a great service. Just not one that was sustainable. The downstream costs were killing us.
A new range of possum lined product will be more sustainable for several reasons.
A soft fibre linking will accommodate more products in fewer cases; the fibre will 'take up the slack' so that our customers can buy a case to initially hold their device and then use the same case when they add an accessory cover.
Obviously there will be limits but the new range should accommodate several different sizes because the possum pelt can be compressed so that it will hold a range of different device configurations. The use of lightweight carbon fibre also lets us lessen the weight of our product while offering products that are stronger and more flexible than ever before. While carbon fibres are bulletproof, the material is a very cost effective and discrete improvement to our products.
Of course a major redevelopment like this is not something that is undertaken lightly. It is s very expensive exercise to redesign and reinvent a product range. It take time and money. Both are in short supply.
But we have several strong strings to our bow. We have an enviable reputation. It may have occasionally been battered and tarnished, but we have loyal customers around the world. We are also an approved vendor to amazon.com and as such we can build product that meets the eco-friendly needs of a very large market.
We are also doing our bit for the environment. Possums are an introduced pest in New Zealand that have no natural enemies and they are destroying our natural heritage.
There are today an estimated 40 million possums munching their way through New Zealand's unique bush. According to the industry last year we managed to get harvest the hides of just over 2 million of them - that's just a drop in the bucket. So there is no immediate shortage of wild hides to be harvested. There is also no shortage of carbon fibres.
Funding is always a problem, but we believe technology is advancing fast enough to provide a means of providing everyone who wants to help us achieve our goals the ways and methods of doing so.
If you want to help us keep on helping folk around the planet get the best protection money can buy - stayed tuned.
We are putting the finishing touches on our pitch. We look forward to your support.