This semester, I have been working on a team of seven other students to develop a new product and create a business plan incorporating the marketing, operations, information systems, and finance for the product. We came up with the TripShield (http://www.f09a02t03.info/), a small electrical adapter that can be attached to the end of an electric plug on any household appliance and then plugged into a normal wall outlet. The adapter is comprised of 2 pieces held together by magnets to provide a simple breakaway when the cord is tripped upon or pulled, thus helping users avoid potentially tripping or damaging the device.
In the beginning of the semester, we spent a lot of time working out the kinks of its design (http://www.f09a02t03.info/product.html). Its final design is 1 x 2 x 1.313 and includes a breaker mechanism to avoid electrocution when the two parts are separated. We also wanted to be able to explain how our product actually works: When connected, electricity flows from the electrical outlet to Part 1, the outlet component. Inside Part 1, the wire is soldered from the blades to a positive, negative, and ground plate made of brass. Also within Part 1 is a non-traditional breaker mechanism that cuts the electrical flow whenever Part 2, the appliance component, is not in contact with Part 1. However, when Part 2 is connected to Part 1, the central magnet inside Part 1 engages a central magnet inside Part 2, which mechanically holds the two parts together. Electricity flows through the Part 2 magnet and subsequently, through wire soldered from the magnet to a receptacle. Finally, the receptacle accepts any typical appliance plug. (This may seem complicated for people without engineering backgrounds, but the point is, the TripShield is effective.)
Throughout the rest of the semester, we had workshops every week to develop aspects of our business plan. For our Marketing workshops, we figured out our target markets, developed questionnaires, analyzed surveys, and created ads. For our Information Systems workshops, we decided how we were going to utilize the Internet, created a website, and figured out how to sell our product online. For our Operations workshops, we created our factory layout, contacted suppliers to find out how much our product would cost to produce, and developed supply chains. For our Finance workshops, we figured out sales and cash flows and created a balance sheet and income statement.
Many issues also came up while creating the business plan. How do we utilize the green trend? (We are actually using recycled plastics for our product and packaging as shown at the bottom of http://www.f09a02t03.info/product.html.) Should we use Amazon to ship online? What retailers do we want to get in? What types of advertisements do we want to use? Which suppliers should we use? Do we get a discount if we order a certain amount of parts for our product? How do we make sure we make positive cash flows despite all of the necessary costs? How much should everyone’s salary be? There are so many questions to answer (beyond these) that all have to be compiled into one report.
For a brief run-down of the website (http://www.f09a02t03.info/index.html), more information of the product, a demonstration video, a CAD drawing, awards, and recognition can be found:http://www.f09a02t03.info/product.html. Our company blog can be found: http://tripshield.blogspot.com/. FAQs can be found: http://www.f09a02t03.info/support.html. The TripShield can be purchased: http://www.f09a02t03.info/purchase.html.Our Twitter page can be found: http://twitter.com/tripshield. Our Facebook page can be found:http://www.facebook.com/pages/TripShield/174417422607?ref=nf.
If you have any questions about this project or our product, leave a comment!