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Building Prototype One

It’s been two months since I started working with a product design and manufacturing team building a farmers market cart. In that time there has been so much progress and I'm excited to share the updates.

For those who don't know the back story of getting this cart started, or want more details and silly photos, check out the previous post on the early story of creating a farmers market shopping cart.

Working with professionals

CAD image of compact farmers market shopping cart

Since late November I've worked closely with a local design and manufacturing firm to build a legitimate prototype. We covered a lot of ground in a short time and worked through some interesting design challenges. Plywood and hardware selection, optimizing for CNC manufacturing, assembly options, and much more.

The experience of building a physical product, with real designers and engineers, was both new and fun. I knew from my software development experience that patience, clear communication, and managed expectations would take me far.

It turns out I needed those things when it came time to building the first one. Working with any manufacturer has its ups and down. Throw in Covid, the holidays, other priority clients, building something new, and it was a few additional weeks before the cart was 'cut' and assembled. In hindsight that was not much time, but in the moment it sure felt like an eternity.

Well, last week it arrived! Technically the builder dropped it off on my doorstep because his shop is only 5 minutes away.

I’m very excited with the result and I already put it to the test this weekend. My sister-in-law went shopping with it at her local market and the kids gave it a spin around the neighborhood.


Talk of the market

Our neighbors and friends at the local farmers market were excited to see it. I had been talking about this one for a few weeks in eager anticipation so many shoppers and vendors knew it was coming. The morning was filled with lots of good conversation and initial feedback on the new design and features.

It was really a great feeling to talk about the cart, but also just to be having fun conversations in public was really special. Imagine a time you talked to a dozen people at Safeway or Costco? Like me, I'm guessing that's never happened to you. Especially during Covid. A local market plus the ongoing product development  has helped us form a nice community. As an additional celebration alongside the cart's maiden voyage, this weekend marked our 1 year anniversary in the neighborhood. What a year!

Before I left, the market manager and former market board member took pictures with me and my new cart and we talked about ways to promote and sell it. Maybe I'll make the newsletter! Definitely more on this later.

Getting down to business

The next couple of weeks will be very busy and finally, very real. This prototype unlocks a bunch of opportunity around product development and user feedback. It is certainly a product that fulfills my needs, but it needs to satisfy more than just me! There are also several details that need work and we have a lot to do to make is easier to manufacture and assemble.

This first prototype was a major accomplishment. Generally the process would be more straightforward but designing physical products during Covid times was tough. Nearly everything was virtual and there were delays in shipping many of the parts. The work was fun, however, and this first cart is just one very small milestone in a much bigger and more exciting journey.

While the product projects take off I’m super excited to hit play on just about every aspect of the business from marketing to accounting, trademarks to distribution. I'll write another post about the beginnings of the business because it goes back a several months and has a lot of moving parts. One thing I'm especially proud of is the name and I'd like to share that story as well.

I know the world is dealing with a lot and I'm truly thankful for the time and opportunity to start this. Although we're in the middle of winter and the Covid fight is still evolving, I do see bright spots ahead in the next couple of months. Hopefully that timing will really pay off as we're ready to launch.

1 comment

  • Eileen

    Congratulations, Ryan! I love reading your stories, even though I’ve lived some of it with you. I know your Harvest Made cart will be a hit with market shoppers. I can’t wait to be rid of blue, numb fingers from carrying too many bags! Way to go!!

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