The LockBox Wallet is a lightweight, super functional and waterproof wallet perfect for cyclist or other outdoor sports. As in many of my articles I will combine a LockBox Wallet review with telling the story of the LockBox entrepreneurs and how they moved from an idea to a real end-product.
In this article I will share my thoughts on the Fix It Sticks T-Way Wrench, an invention of Brian Davis. It is a great tool for fanatic cyclist who maintain their bikes themselves. The Fix It Sticks T-Way is specifically designed for heavy duty (shop) use. In the latter part I will use a paragraph to look at the inventor of Fix It Sticks, Brian Davis and his entrepreneurial approach.
A link to the Flare Innovation Impact Matrix was shared by fellow friend Fenno Verdaasdonk. In this article I will describe the Flare Innovation Impact Matrix and try to look at connections with business model generation and corporate effectuation.
What or who is Flare Innovation? Flare Innovation is a “collective of experienced innovators and specialists operating in the wider field of innovation and new product development”.
When I first looked at the design of the Freekey system, I instantly needed to think at the design of a paperclip or mousetrap. The Freekey is a great innovation of the traditional split-ring key chain, which is more natural and easy to use. I simply asked myself: “Why hasn’t the Freekey design been out there for decades?”
Product Design of the Freekey
In the picture above you can see the Freekey system, which is made of stainless steel and has a glass beaded surface with a laser logo. Personally I do think that the surface has a really nice, modern business-look finish. On the Freekey website you can read a short description of the Freekey, that tells a lot about the design and used materials:
“A Freekey is a three turn wavering of stainless steel flat wire, coiled with a patented centered bump that -by pressing the Freekey logo position- will open to release or add the key or set of keys appointed. It is a press to open key ring.”
In the picture above you can see a comparison between the traditional split-ring on the left and the original Freekey on the right. The traditional split-ring has two turns of round “wire”, while the Freekey has three turns of stainless steel flat wire.
Furthermore you can see the patented centered bump from a side-view.
In order to open the Freekey you simply push on the position of the Freekey logo. In the picture above you can see that the end of the Freekey opens to add or remove one or more keys.
First it is extremely easy to attach or remove a key, by simply pushing on a specific spot. Second you don’t end up in a frustrating and sometimes painful experience because the wire of the traditional split-ring is coiled very tight. It is also no problem to attach a Kingston Datatraveler SE9 16GB USB Drive to the Freekey System.
Freekey Original vs. Freekey System
Currently there are two Freekey models available to choose from.
- Freekey original is simply a ring that fits all keys and has the patented “nailsaving” function. Freekey original is shown on the right in the picture above;
- Freekey system is a wider ring that comes with three extra rings to organize the keys in groups. The Freekey system retail package is shown on the left in the picture above;
For this review I have tested a few weeks with both the original Freekey and the Freekey system. Personally I slightly prefer the Freekey system, because of the slightly wider ring and the ability to group sets of keys.
Freekey – The entrepreneurial story
Drosselmeyer DesignGroup AB (DDG), is not much of a design group really. Erik von Schoultz and Oscar Löwenhielm have known each other since childhood, and it was during their post University, world exploration tour in 1999 that they decided to start a company once they were back from South America. Erik von Schoultz got married in Peru while Oscar Löwenhielm got the business location in Stockholm. Erik von Schoultz invested in a machine park for prototyping, and Oscar Löwenhielm worked on a business plan. It took them a while to get organized. Most ideas and products the entrepreneurs gave life to, died very early. In child bed so to speak.
In 2002, the second Drosselmeyer DesignGroup AB (DDG) project ever to land on the commercial market was an item that was connected to the keys/key-chain. Since this project needed to be taken on and off, Erik von Schoultz and Oscar Löwenhielm came to the understanding that the traditional, so called split ring, was an old ancient invention that most people simply accepted as very limited. The limitation is very simple: the wire is coiled so tight that it makes it difficult/painful/hazardous/frustrating to use.
Erik von Schoultz, Drosselmeyer DesignGroup AB (DDG) production engineer and inventor the like, started the Freekey prototyping. The challenge was to make it easy to use and safe to wear. Once a key is added, it may not under any circumstances unintentionally come off. Most of the early prototypes were very creative involving external spring solutions and multiple parts to give a dramatic look and the easy and secure handling. This however was mainly competing with existing and established solutions hence contradicted our traditional “think outside the box” routine.
The Freekey ring project was set aside several times. In order to stay alive, Erik von Schoultz and Oscar Löwenhielm had to prototype, patent, produce, package and introduce other inventions such as Drosselmeyer the nutcracker, Caretta shellfish pliers or Pupill mechanical candle holder. Those projects kept the entrepreneurs busy.
The Freekey breakthrough came years after the project was initiated and later put on ice. Erik von Schoultz and Oscar Löwenhielm visited the annual subcontractor fair in Elmia, Sweden, where they met with a US based company showing their innovative space saving flat wire spring solutions. After a meeting with this US company CEO months later, Erik von Schoultz and Oscar Löwenhielm established a CAD drawing that was feasible to produce. Their, since many years assigned patent agency, Hynell Patentjänst, worked with the patents– as they said: it certainly was “a new mousetrap”, and the ball was in motion.
After some fine tuning Erik von Schoultz and Oscar Löwenhielm had the prototype version in hand and the Freekey functioned really well. This means Erik von Schoultz and Oscar Löwenhielm used the prototypes for almost a year before deciding to go into large scale production. As mentioned, once a key is added, it may not under any circumstances unintentionally come off. And it didn’t.
The product was launched in early 2012 and has already been featured in tech/science magazines as well as women’s apparel magazines.
Concluding thoughts and wrap-up
I have been using and testing both the original Freekey and the Freekey system on a daily basis. Personally I slightly prefer the Freekey system because of the wider diameter of the ring and the ability to group keys with the three extra rings. The extra rings are easy to open as well, but don’t feature the patented bump just like the Freekey main ring.
If you don’t think about grouping your keys than the original Freekey is the best- and cheapest option to go for. The original Freekey has a price point of €3,50 and Freekey System will be on sale for €5,90. I do think that it is a reasonable and competitive price point for the excellent design and the high tech finish of the Freekey (especially if you compare it with some of the designer key chains).
The Freekey is one of those products that has a simple but very clever product design. But also the Freekey design story, the Drosselmeyer DesignGroup AB background and the personal skills of Erik von Schoultz and Oscar Löwenhielm were highly interesting to read. A great many thanks for sharing that story Oscar!
Every time I look at the Freekey, it puts a smile on my face and makes my mechanical engineering hart beat a little faster. Simply …
“Buy it, Try it, Love it.”
In this article I will try to answer the question “What is a business model?”. I will use a formal definition from Alexander Osterwalder and dive into tools and concepts that might be of use when you start playing around with innovating your (company’s) business model.
I’m a huge fan of the legendary Moleskine notebooks in this highly digital world. I always have a Moleskine in my Timbuk2 Custom Laptop Messenger Bag, because it allows me to write down ideas, create drawings, create visualizations of things I’m working on, or simply take notes.
If you are a Moleskine user yourself, you might recognize the problem that it is hard to keep a pen and your Moleskine in one central place. When you want to use it, you need to search your pen, while clipping the pen onto the Moleskine isn’t a successful solution.
Quiver – What’s in the name ?
“A quiver is a container for arrows. Quivers have been traditionally made of leather, bark, wood, furs and other natural materials; modern quivers are often made of metal and plastic.”
I think that Quiver is a great product name, where my Rotring- or Lamy pen is the metaphorically arrow in the definition above. An arrow also comes back as an element in the Quiver Global logo.
Personally I think a good product name is as important as a good product. So let us have a closer look at Quiver single pen holder.
Quiver pen holder – A closer look
In the picture above you can see a black Quiver single pen holder, installed on a Moleskine hardcover notebook of the metric size A5. You can directly notice that little thickness is added to the Moleskine notebook’s default height.
The Lamy eco ballpoint is aligned with the backside of the Moleskine notebook. This is something I really like, when I pack a messenger bag and the Moleskine ends up between books or papers.
Have a look at a detail of the picture. The part of the Quiver pen holder with the Quiver logo on it features a metal insert. It might sound simple, but a lot of thought has gone into this detail. The metal insert makes sure the Quiver pen holder stays flat on the notebook surface. 🙂
An installation guide for both the single- and double Quiver pen holder is included with your order at Quiver Global. Installing the single Quiver pen holder requires five steps, however installation is so intuitive that it can hardly go wrong !
If you would like some help you can download a larger version of the Quiver pen holder installation guide in pdf-format.
On the backside of the this installation guide you can find a promotional code for 5% discount as a returning customer !
The first step is to open the front cover of the Moleskine notebook and slide one side of the single Quiver pen holder over the cover.
As you can see in the picture above the elastic insert between the leather helps during installation. The elastic insert makes it possible to install the Quiver single penholder on notebooks of a slightly different size. 🙂
According to the installation guide is step two is sliding down the Quiver pen holder to the back of the notebook (as shown in the picture above).
Step three of the installation guide is to open the back cover of the Moleskine notebook and pull the elastic insert over the back cover. Step four is to slide it down to the back of the Moleskine notebook, as shown in the picture above.
Step five is to equally distribute the Quiver pen holder over the front and back cover and make sure the Quiver is aligned with the Moleskine’s cover- and back-surface.
You can clearly see in this picture how less of extra volume or thickness the Quiver pen holder adds to your Moleskine notebook. From this picture you might notice two layers in the Quiver pen holder.
A first layer that wraps around the cover of the Moleskine notebook. The second layer (on top of the first layer) features the steel insert and keeps the pen safe and secure at the back of the Moleskine notebook.
Quiver Background and product development
Behind every great product is a company of clever entrepreneurial people. In this part of the article I will have a deeper look at the background of Quiver Global LLC and focus on some product development information.
Initial idea and the team
The three principals in Quiver Global are avid notebook users themselves, who decided to develop a pen holder as they were continually searching for a pen to make notes with. It was interesting the day that all three founders realized that each had his/her favorite pens but invariably didn’t have that particular pen with them when they needed to make a note or capture an idea in their notebooks/journals. Quiver was the result of that epiphany.
Two partners are industrial design engineers. The Quiver products definitely show the great deal of thought and design expertise applied to this relatively simple product idea. An example of this artistry (my opinion), is the use of spring steel sewn into our single-pen products to ensure that the Quiver stays flat against the notebook’s front and back covers. This innovation adds to the attractiveness and functionality of the product we feel.
Experimentation and focus groups
Quiver experimented with various materials and design options for more than one year. Quiver furthermore hosted a number of customer focus group meetings beginning with friends and family members, then neighbors and finally serious notebook users to refine the initial product offering.
What is a focus group?
“Powell et al (1996, p. 499) define a focus group as a group of individuals selected and assembled by researchers to discuss and comment on, from personal experience, the topic that is the subject of the research.”
Collaboration with a strong partner
Quiver Global furthermore worked closely with a manufacturing company (which specializes in leather products) to seek feedback and input into the types of fine leather, stitching material and manufacturing techniques that would provide our customers with many years of service.
Getting to plan B
Quiver initially thought they would make a nice little product for one size notebook and in one color. But quickly realized with customer feedback that there were several notebook sizes, multiple pens and color leather that people were using and requested us to expand the product line.
A few of the latest Quiver product innovations are:
Quiver pen-holders build from ballistic nylon
“Announcing immediate availability of the all new black Ballistic Nylon Quiver. A rugged, more affordable and weather resistant Quiver for the more adventurous journal user.”
Quiver pen-holders for extra large notebooks, but which are used in combination with an Apple iPad as well !
Quiver continues to be pleased with the numerous ongoing customer suggestions as to different colored leather and materials that should likewise be explored for upcoming product releases.
Overall conclusions and wrap-up
The Quiver pen holder for Moleskine made it almost instantly onto my favourite gear list.
It is really funny how such a small accessory can make your life so much easier. No searching for pens anymore and no clipping pens on the cover, with the risc that your fountain pen is released from its cap.
Information about Quiver product development, company background and their innovation approach made me even more enthusiastic. The Quiver pen holders are the result of a lot of thought, experimentation and feedback.
A leather Quiver pen holder for a single pen, which is shown in this article costs about € 20,- ! It is money well spend given the amount of innovation and detail.
For every Moleskine user is the Quiver pen holder a must have accessory! Get your Quiver pen holder on the Quiver Global website.