Slow and Steady... or Something Like That

It's been a couple weeks since my last blog post on Redpants - somewhat disappointing given my goal of posting at least once a week. But rest assured, the relative quiet isn't due to lack of interest or effort. Quite the opposite.

The Good

Product development has been my main priority lately. I started Redpants to give Aston owners the information they need to own, maintain, and modify their cars, and the parts they need to make that happen. Product development is a major part of that. I put countless hours of research, design, prototyping, and testing into every Redpants product that I offer. The lengthy development process  rarely goes without a hitch.

The time, effort, and money required to bring each product from idea to market is well worth it, and I've got some great stuff in the works. The lightweight battery mount is nearly ready for production - I've been working with one of our partners, Sikky Manufacturing, to make sure it's absolutely perfect. I've also got some new accessories in the works, made from Aston's OEM leather to match your car's interior.

The online store is up and running - I did a soft launch to do some testing. Some of the parts are in stock and ready to ship. Some are still in the final stages of development. And some are in development and not listed. Regardless of their status in the store, if you need something please contact me and I'll get right on it!

The Bad

Starting a business is difficult. Really difficult. It takes so much time and effort to get on its feet - far more than most people realize. I posted on my personal Facebook account a few weeks ago about how social media tends to skew the perception people have regarding the struggles (and failures) on the way to success.

One of the best quotes from any movie, ever:

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s... how winning is done! Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!”

-Rocky Balboa

Facebook is great at showing the sunshine and rainbows. It’s the bruises we carry that don’t see the light of day. They’re our own to bear. No matter how many bruises we get, we have to keep smiling back at life and keep pushing forward, or we’ll never get to where we want to be.

Not only have I been burning the midnight oil for months to get Redpants going, I've also run into a number of roadblocks along the way, including some I still haven't been able to get past. One of my main goals for Redpants is to give Aston owners options where they have none. The marque is too small for most parts manufacturers to care about so I've found myself pushing against them to get things made - often (er.... usually) requiring a sizable chunk of cash up front to get things moving. And often, even with money in-hand, they still won't budge. I've had a few conversations that have gone like this:

Me: I need this product made in bulk.
Them: We only deal business-to-business.
Me: Okay, here's my company information, what do I need to do to get these made?
Them: Our minimum orders are $xxxx.
Me: Okay, money's ready. When can we get started?
Them: We'll have to check our timetables for production.
[A week passes.]
Me: It's been a while, checking in to see if we can get started.
Them: ...Nah.

Although some of the products I offer on Redpants (and many that aren't listed) seem simple enough, getting them ready for sale rarely is.

The Ugly

The biggest setback I've had so far has been losing all of my Aston Martin data. To keep a rant short, I ordered a custom-built "high performance" computer from Hewlett-Packard. Within two weeks it started developing problems. After three weeks it was completely bricked. I thought I had backed up my data. I was wrong. None of it survived the crash and I lost countless hours of work and hundreds of technical documents, notes, and reference sheets.

To put it as nicely as possible, HP's tech support was the most god-awful, atrocious, and inexplicably incompetent service I'd ever seen, ever. It was so bad that I had to send copies of the chat transcripts to my friends just so they'd believe me about it. Not only did I decide to return the computer and get my money back, I also decided to swear off that company and their products forever.

It's going to take a long, long time to rebuild all of my last data and dealing with HP was a massive headache, but luckily a friend of mine, Matt Shinholt, saw what I was going through and stepped up to help. Matt has a company called VIP Solutions. He offered to build me a replacement computer and I took him up on it. You can see what I had to say about his service on the company's Facebook page. (Cliff notes: seriously impressive.)

I don't mention this to disparage one company and market for another - I offer up those experiences because they are what happened and there was a real, material impact on Redpants for it - I mention it because it reinforces the way I run Redpants. This website and the products I design and sell are a reflection of my passion. This isn't a money-mill. I'm not looking to build a massive business and rake in huge profits for sake of making as much money as I can. I'm not going to get you hooked on printer ink (goddamn you, cyan). I'm not an HP. I'm a VIP Solutions. I'm involved personally and I'm the one that answers when you contact Redpants - not someone in a call center in India.

Keep Moving Forward...

As I continue to get Redpants ready for full-time operation, I hope you'll continue to follow my blog and check in for the DIY guides and parts you need to keep your Aston on the road. Progress might seem slow, but there's a ton of work being done in the background to make things happen!