Moving the business forward

I just comparison shopped a bunch of other CNC’s. I rarely look at other machine very closely or the prices. I got a wild hair this morning and took a long hard look around. I looked at a ton of machines.

We are by far the least expensive. I don’t think you can get anything until you double the prices here.

What do I do with this information?

  • Sounds counterintuitive but do I raise my prices to look comparable, get some fancy packaging? (I know there are a few things I need to make a more complete kit but I am getting there). This did actually work back when I screen printed.
  • A “Pro” option would be very expensive for little gain I believe, But I will certainly be looking into it. This would just be expensive fluff.
  • Finds ways to reduce the cost even more?

How many of them are actually capable of a higher material removal rate?

  • Should I focus on doing more speed runs and prove it can beat/match/keep up with most of these builds for far less money? Videos?
  • I don’t want to frustrate new users if they can not immediately get the kinds of speeds I can, it takes a while to dial things in, but I think I am under promising too much.

The reason behind this is sales are holding steady for the first time ever and not increasing. That is an unsettling feeling for me. This article, https://all3dp.com/1/best-diy-cnc-router/, says we are the best option but says the other CNC is beefier…but we actually tested that and that is not exactly true. That article not so much but it has some affiliate links and most other “top ten”, “best of” are just affiliate link BS. There are no actual comparisons or head too heads.

So since I am horrible with the videos, should I start offering something for videos?
What if I do some speed tests and offer something in return for beating me with one of our builds. Contests can be tricky legally, international makes this even harder. How can I inspire some speed test videos? Leader board??? That sounds fun, reset the scores every couple months to get fresh videos. To me this is a good option, combating marketing with proof. Making the best value is comfortable for me and proving it feels good. I just can’t do it all myself, and the guy that makes it getting crazy speeds is hardly proof. Lots of users getting good speeds is key in my oppinion.

Marketing, spend money and time on marketing? 7 1/2 years in and here is proof I don’t know business. So many options not being “louder” we are starting to get lost in the crowd.

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Very interesting conversation topic. Commenting so I can revisit.

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Couple of thoughts…

Because of the community that you have allowed to develop youve built a home for a lot of DIY builders and we tend to self source parts ourselves which makes you compete on commodity components against Amazon etc. at low margins.

Seems like you have two areas that you have a competitive advantage on : preconfigured boards and printed parts which may or may not be profitable to you.

To expand the market Maybe offer a turnkey “maker kit” aimed at a less technical base with detailed instructions and all the parts included. When I built my first a machine a mpcnc burly there were 3 pain points: wiring was a pain because I made my own cables, config was a pain because I bought my own board, procuring ss tubing was a pain because I had to go to some random fabrication shop to pick it up.

If you could offer a machine that included everything except a router and a 2x4 project ply from hd, delivered to my house for $499 with directions that let me assemble it in a weekend with only basic tools I think you would find some customers. Supporting those customers might be harder though as they would want more hand holding etc.

I think the other piece is to keep the galleries active with actual projects people have built with the machines. Contests, build offs etc encourage people to post their creations which blunt criticism on the machines abilities.

Just my $.02

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Thank you!

I agree and love this part, I built this for myself. Or people like me. I never want to sacrifice this part of it. I am very careful not to require special things. The LR3 linear rails are an uncommon size and I really didn’t like that. I did make sure standard lengths would fit though. I mention this because I am not want to corner people in anyway. If you want to self source, more power to you. The only thing I can do with this is price so I am similar to self sourcing so those that do have the extra $20 will buy from me to save a bunch of headaches.
I have to careful not to ever forget this. Super easy to do it the other way and do custom things.

Time is the most expensive part of all of this. I get so much help online already I would hate to burn everyone out with the same question 1000 times from this type of person just so I could sell a few more kits.
That said…a more complete kit would be appreciated by everyone, I just don’t want to promise a plug and play experience. Some assembly would always be required.

Sweet I like this. I have been thinking about this all day.

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I lurked for a long time before I bought anything.
I thought- and still think- that your prices are great, but that you’re probably selling yourself short.

There’s real value in the community you created and support that you provide.
Don’t bother trying to compete on lowest price, set reasonable margins that reflect the value you’re adding.

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That is good feedback. I do try to lower or at least not raise things if at all possible. I do my best to get good value and quality but keep the margins the same. The hard part is judging my time. Some things I do put too much work into for the price. I am paying close attention lately to my time.

The current economic situation surely has something to do with the flatline, but I am not one to sit and wait. I want to know I am doing everything in my power to keep this ship moving in the right direction.

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There are a lot of folks who are starting small side businesses with those low end over seas cnc’s (yet far more expensive than mpcnc) that haven’t even heard of mpcnc and would be impressed. Some comparison videos to those cnc’s would be nice. How do you get both machines in the hands of an influencer?

For the maker market, maybe post stls/info on more maker sites, YT craft influencer videos, things like that. It’s worked so far but maybe there’s more width available there?

I commend you for being proactive, and it is hard to read the market properly with the current economic situation.

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Instead of trying to get influencers to check it out. I feel like us passionate users might be the better people to showcase it. We know how it works and how to push it.

I feel like most big influencers don’t have the time to put into something new to learn it very well. I could be wrong.

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Add more official videos/gallery.

Add a couple of ”easy” projects (like a no screw/glue shop chair. Steps for CAD to CAM to sittning in it)

Keypoint of this machine (LR) is the budget needed. I didnt buy anything from the shop because it became to expensive with shipping from US. I bought my parts from amazon in europe mostly because cutting costs.

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Ryan,
I know he pain you are speaking of. I have a small business and make spinning wheels (for fiber into yarn, old time), and woodworking items for the re-enactment community. I have been doing this for 12 years full time, and for many years before part-time.
I too, have had the “lost in the crowd” issue, especially during, and just before, the recent pandemic. As a maker of budget, new user, spinning wheels with a lot of free bonus add-ons already included, I am on the low end of the cost to buy, much like you. To that I spend a considerable amount of time doing customer service, both by phone and email. Supply chain issues, and a heart attack in June 2022 have slowed my production, but that customer contact has kept those on the “wait” list happy and satisfied enough. My community of owners answer, and solve, just as many problems as I do. Much like here.
My MPCNCs aren’t a hobby, they are working business machines that I push to the limit, running mostly in the 60-120in/min range, on hardwoods, way above spec. They are also way above recommended sizes, #1 being 17inx24in cut area, and #2 being 17inx48in. I also run a rotary 4th axis. I built them intentionally for that. Most issues I have you could say are self-inflicted, but pushing the “boundary” is what I have always done with machinery/computers/abilities since I got into the adult world…40+ years ago. You have seen the videos of my cnc’s running in posts.
Pushing the limits is good IMO. Might I suggest a competition much like the Benchy Speed Boat in 3d printing. Using a standardized model would level the field, and create conformity in results.
Just my 5 cents, since inflation.

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To be honest, I am very impressed in this market you are holding steady! Everything else is turning down. It is not a very fun time right now, economics, Fuel, etc. Great job staying steady!

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Beefier…
What I did was use thick wall 0.120", DOM 1" tubing at $7.00 a foot with a local supplier. Higher wall count prints on the stressed parts, 3 or more.
I get under 2 thousandths defection at high step down feed rates, over-sized build by the docs, and run 45-120 IN/minute, depending on material and step-down. Sometimes I even go up from there 120-150%, but I am overachieving by nature…

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Awwwww shoot. Such a different business, same issues it seems. You know my concerns to the “T”!

Yeah I have to get rid of my logo or others will not use it. Also trying to think of something semi usable in the end, looks like it will end up being a coaster most likely. Some sort of wall art or puzzle piece might be cool though.

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I actually, literally, just upgraded my 4 year old phone so I can take better video for my YouTube channel. It’s (going to be) a woodworking channel, but did plan to showcase various ‘unorthodox’ tools considering most of the other in the space use Shapeoko or similar CNCs

I’m building up a portfolio of projects and was hoping to do a shop tour etc over the next month or so. Need to clean up first though

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Can’t Wait!!

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Some other ideas:

  • A coin, one sided, with a flat bit would be ok. Something a little bigger, like an Eisenhower dollar coin sized. I am sure my kids would keep a coin in their spot where they keep special trinkets, like benchies.
  • a box and lid. This has the added challenge of having to close. When I first saw a bency, the appeal wasnyto make it as fast as possible, it was a cute model with overhangs, and challenging transitions like the hull, and detailed sections like the letters on the back. So having a box and lid that has to close adds some checks for squareness and tolerances.

The benchy checks a lot of boxes. It is easy to do, but hard to do properly. It is something you could give to a kid at a makerfaire and they would appreciate it (maybe not as much as the calicat). It isn’t that wasteful and I have never needed to put calipers on it to see if it was right. That is going to be hard to match with a cnc. It is hard to match on a 3DP, and it was only found because dozens of people were trying.

I’m not sure what advice I have on the larger question. I am still hoping to have some good insight soon.

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A quick comment about speed runs: try to shy away from heavily modified rigs. What you want to showcase is what the Average Joe™ can slap together in their garage, not what Garry Gearhead™ can tinker with and enhance using their specialized experience and existing machinist tools. Granted, it’s fun to have some of the latter videos, to show what’s possible, but focus should be on the former, to show what’s expected. Hell, I might be inspired to “finish” my build (or rebuild it as a Primo), to get some video of a low effort/low skill build. :wink:

One of the strengths of the design is also a marketing weakness. Try to focus on marketing the showroom stock build, and leave the tricked-out models for the rally days and galleries.

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I don’t think there are many heavily modified versions. Mostly just larger ones that I assume will give slightly lower numbers. Jamie has the double-decker, and the new three rail LR. But as long as it is stated I would still like to see the numbers, but you are right probably not for the video playlist.

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I dig out a previous post about it:

I know you’re not comfortable with video but maybe taking a marketing or social network student intern/trainee could help you.
Rich video contents can make difference in growing community and transform it to money, publish some of making project on a plublic official youtube channel and make some private( tuning, milling basic, common troubleshooting …) to be propose in a payed zone.

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I would like to see more promotion of amazing things people have built with a machine that costs <$500 ?

Maybe ask if people have or can make videos of their projects to post on Instagram, Twitter, website blog, etc.

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