Power to the (outsourced) people – globalisation starts small

Because endless coffee and DNA replication goes only so far

Radbot teaser image by Damon Hart-Davis

Radbot Pleading poverty, we don't have huge quantities of cash to throw at the necessary elements of a crowdfunding campaign such as the main video and its fleet of videolets for social meeja channels.

Yes, we're cheap.

Or "efficient": quick, find me a CFO to make it sound better!

So one way to get this material made is to have people working on it remotely who don't have to pay London-level rents and beer bills. In my previous startup, the coding was done in Malta considerably cheaper (but no less well) than in London. And I got to see a lot of sunshine while managing it: what's not to like?

Another is to hire students and (paid) interns, etc, to keep costs down, and manage slightly harder.

Sometimes those overlap, and in general a big chunk of our work is done by non-UK nationals either here or elsewhere, who are not yet paying to maintain a family in a Croydon million-pound semi-detached.

In fact, we're so post-Brexit that most of us are not vanilla Brits, but probably the majority (depending on which day you pick) are from outside the EU entirely.

It's not just the people and thinking that needs outsourcing leurve; though our electronics (PCBs) are currently assembled in the UK (and the components come from all over the world) our plastics are injection-moulded in Shenzhen. Quality control remains an issue there as everywhere.

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One problem with outsourcing is the lack of the water-cooler effect: people a long way away may not understand the way you want things done that wasn't in any formal spec, or get your body language about urgency and which bits really matter and which bits don't. But that can happen in any Big Corp, too. And given that international phone conferences have completely crap ergonomics (I lost a startup during the course of a lot of oblivious shouting in one), I'm hugely pleased that (free) collaboration tools such as Google Docs and Skype and the like have eased some of those pains considerably.

So yes, our PCBs may emerge from the Scandies and our video may be out of Africa, but it all comes together to support a UK-designed product to sell into Europe.

(Touch wood.)

Why, oh why?

Someone commented last week that our efforts are pointless anyway. So why do we think we've got something that no one else has? Why not roll over and let Honeywell, Nest and Hive do their thing?

Hat tip to Simon H who has it about right among the commentards.

We know from all sorts of studies that most people hate having to mess with their heating controls. In fact more than half of UK homes don't even meet modern building regulations in terms of the "UI" for them to mess with: a clock, a house thermostat with boiler interlock (or equivalent), and thermostatic radiator valves.

We have a solution that does not require programming (if you need to read an instruction manual to use our gizmo we've failed) or the internet or a smartphone, or spraying all your personal data to servers in the US for example. We aim to cut the bling and mental effort and get the price down to the point where even someone renting can get their money back in a year (a typical rental period) and even take their smart valves with them, putting back the originals before they go.

We care about maximising carbon (and money) savings, while others are about maximising profits, as they are entitled to. And besides, without the occupancy-sensing room-by-room control, most of the flagship products out there are missing half the savings.

So we're better, simpler, cheaper.

So there!

Pop quiz:

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All of which does bring me to the rather thorny topic of setbacks (we've had a few) and... and... well, that's for next time. ®


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