5×5 Night at Start Garden!
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June 17, 2024 11:59 pm

About this idea
Betz Botz is all about lowering the barrier to entry involved with robots. Too often, people miss out on the joys of an exciting hobby or the fruits of a rewarding STEM career because they think "I'm not smart enough for that." In fact, 52% of Americans think STEM is too hard for them to pursue. Betz Botz is for the people who have (or will have) the interest in doing amazing things with robotics but just haven't had the right nudge. We've built our foundation with combat robot kits by tailoring to beginners in the hobby, and we're looking to grow our impact through robotics STEM learning kits, titled Build Botz. Combat robots are cool, but they aren't revolutionary like Build Botz, which is why that's the main focus of this presentation. Build Botz is a robotics kit targeted at the kind of student who needs to grab what's in front of them and just start building things. To do this, the kit simplifies many of the high barriers to entry found in robotics like CAD modeling, coding, soldering, and extensive electrical wiring knowledge. Build Botz is a way for anyone with the arts/crafts skills to make a cardboard box a robot builder. It's a kit of easy plug and play robot components that are designed to integrate with cardboard and like materials. By using such easily accessible materials and construction methods, no limits are put on the student. The student builds it any way, any size, and for any purpose. They practice iterative design as they continue to tweak and refine their build methods, teaching things that no amount of homework or lectures can teach, all in a memorable and engaging experience. We target the 8-12yr old age range with this kit, right when STEM learning is most important and impactful.
Impact
Our combat robot kits provide a gateway into a niche, but growing, community of combat robot builders across the world. Our main focus, the Build Botz kit, is meant to revolutionize STEM learning at a young age by giving educators like schools, libraries, and co-ops better tools to do it with. The kit teaches engineering skills to students in a way that makes the words "fun" and "challenging" almost synonymous. Students are given a rich exposure and a firm foundation for STEM early that builds confidence. When students who've spent time tinkering with Build Botz get to high school, they won't cut off any career options because they don't feel smart enough. Right now, it's projected that 2.1M manufacturing jobs will be unfilled in the U.S. by 2030. By inspiring more of the upcoming generation to get involved with building robots, Betz Botz helps close this workforce gap one robot at a time.
What I'll do with $5,000
I will do a number of things with the $5000 that center around improving the customer experience and lowering manufacturing costs (or just preparing to scale farther). Focusing on these two things will establish a much better foundation for enticing more buyers to purchase and impressing those buyers enough to fuel word-of-mouth marketing, which scales the business "for free." Many of my products benefit from their different color and performance options, but my current website (Squarespace) doesn't support a live configurator, nor does it support my inventory needs effectively. To avoid overselling and create a much better customer experience at purchase, I would like to switch my website to Shopify and use an extension to support a configurator. The yearly cost of Shopify and this configurator will cost me $528. I currently have two 3D printers (Prusa i3 Mk3s), but one of them is a clone, and I've been putting off some of the necessary upgrades for a long time. To scale my business, it is essential that I pick up a new printing plate ($50) and a new hardened steel nozzle ($17) to match my other printer's quality. To increase the print quality further, there is a filament dehydrator ($60) that I've been eyeing up too. The total cost of 3D printer upgrades is $127. To make the robotics STEM learning kits more approachable, I need to offer some kits that can be built with the parts in a box and an instruction manual. This means I need to get a laser cutter to quickly and accurately cut the cardboard to the required size in batches. The most bang-for-your-buck laser cutter I've been looking at for a long time is the Gweike Cloud Laser Cutter 50W Basic II ($3150). It looks like I'll need about $40 of material to get my product going, so the total cost is $3190. The other big tool purchase that I'll need to improve soldering quality and handle a higher volume demand is a high end soldering iron, the Hakko FX-100 ($595). I'll also need a couple of different soldering iron tips for different boards which adds $40. That brings the total for my soldering setup to $635. I mentioned an instruction manual. None of my products have a high quality printed instruction manual that comes with the kit, and I think it's essential to change this so that customers aren't confused or forced to find a .PDF somewhere on the website. It looks like I'd be paying about $140 for a set of 50 instruction manuals, which I'd like to do with my combat robot kit and at least one version of my STEM kit to get going. That adds $280. This brings my total use to $4760 before sales tax and shipping costs. I may still end up with over $100 left over which will be used to further experiment with Facebook ads so that I can get better at marketing and hopefully acquire more customers.
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