Beers, Blokes & Business podcastPodcast019: #SuperAwesomeMicroProject – BONUS episode

019: #SuperAwesomeMicroProject – BONUS episode

Check out the finished product on YouTubeWe recorded the very special bonus edition of Beers, Blokes and Business a few weeks ago as #SuperAwesomeMicroProject was in the final days of the build.

We chat about the project in depth with Steve & Raul, if you watched the video you’ll want to know more…


What will you learn from this podcast?

  • How #SuperAwesomeMicroProject was formed
  • Raul’s story of stalking… I mean persistence
  • Who you connect with is important, don’t shoot too high
  • How Samma convinced 40 people via Twitter to be part of #SuperAwesomeMicroProject
  • Importance of understanding of Minimum Viable Product
  • Lessons on protecting your content on YouTube
  • How to manage virtual projects, it is very hard with a physical product
  • What is was like working in Romanian garage or SAMP cave for 18 months
  • Importance of finishing a project strong
  • What is next for Raul?
  • What is the cash trap?

Here is the video, watch it & share it

Watch this episode on YouTube

Includes bonus photos from SAMP Cave

We treated out international guest with Carlton DraughtLinks from the podcast

How Samma launched it earlier today…


On this BBB podcast were:

The tasty beverage inhaled by the blokes in this podcast was Carlton Draught (@CarltonDraught).

Beers, Blokes & Business on The Verge

Great to see this episode quoted in print, it caused our biggest download day EVER.

Beers, Blokes & Business featured in The Verge

From the first #SuperAwesomeMicroProject meeting

Download this episode here but we’d prefer you to subscribe in iTunesStitcher or this feed if you don’t use iTunes.

Podcast Transcription

Announcer: Welcome to the Beers, Blokes and Business Podcast, the podcast for business flex who like beer.

Sean: Here we are on location this week for a very special episode. We are in a man cave so if you hear a bit of noise outside that’s why. I’m here with a few blokes and a very special guest. So first of all, I have to introduce the beer, and I brought this one in today and it is Carlton Draft. So as every young red blooded Australian gets brought up, Carlton Draft is the way to go, so I thought we’d, considering we’ve got our first guest today on the Beers, Bloke and Business Podcast, so first of all, I just want to introduce you to the blokes.
We would have all had a Carlton Draft, so we’ll go around the makeshift circle of barrel of trust which is made out of a specific material which we’ll get into, but first of all, introduce the blokes. Steve Sammartino.

Steve: Hello Sean. How are you?

Sean: Thanks for having us out here in the man cave.

Steve: No problem. No problem at all.

Sean: Scott Kilmartin.

Scott: Hi, boys.

Sean: And, I’m going to get his name wrong, because I don’t know how to say this. It’s Raul and how do you say your second name?

Raul: Oiada.

Sean: And Raul, you might know, I think it was Episode Three, we talked about SAMP and project management, and we are here, in what has been officially turned into the SAMP cave where we’re putting together the last pieces of the puzzle which is the Lego car. We’re recording this on November 24. This one will go out when we’ve launched the SAMP cast. So Steve is furiously checking his phone for his notes, and he can’t find them.

Steve: They’re here.

Sean: You’ve lived the project. You don’t need the notes. So this one is going to be specifically around SAMP. We did talk a little bit about . . .

Steve: Remind people what SAMP stands for.

Sean: So give us SAMP to begin with.

Steve: So SAMP is the Super Awesome Micro Project. And I gave it a long name, because it has proved to be effective in making people remember it. Because I think that people remember really long things and really short things, and given that all really short good words on the Internet are already gone, I had to think of a long one.

Scott: The names aren’t true anymore. It’s not a micro project, it’s become a macro project.

Steven: Everyone says that. Whenever we talk about it now online, everyone says, “I’m not seeing the micro in this project.”

Sean: So we did speak about in Episode Three and gave a bit of introduction to Raul, and he has been the leading downloader in Romania, so hopefully this podcast will blow up in Romania after this episode but unfortunately our whole Romania market is in this . . .

Raul: Number One fan.

Sean: Number One fan from Romania.

Steve: Leading legal downloader.

Sean: Exactly, so what I want to do is sort of take through a little bit of the story, interview Raul a little bit about the car, how you guys came into contacts, how you guys came up with this as an idea. First of all, you told a little bit of this story about how this kid pretty much pinned you via Skype and said…give us the line. How did you get in touch with Steve, Raul?

Raul: Actually it was the new way for the internet stalking via social media. So I was searching for someone to pay for my wacky projects, and one of the candidates was Ester Dyson, which is a venture capital as well as a national. So I was trying to get her email address, and I noticed that she connected with Steve online, that’s how I first found him. I actually sent him a Skype request saying “Hi, I’m building a space ship.”

Sean: Building a space ship.

Steve: I clicked Accept, because if you ever get a Skype request that says, “Hi, I’m building a space ship,” there is one job and that is click Accept, because you don’t get that much often. You get, Hi, we [inaudible 04:19] the whatever function. But someone saying, “Hi, I’m building a space ship,” I’m like Yo.

Sean: One of the questions I wanted to ask Raul is how many people, like it’s almost a story of persistence, did you heat until you found Steve? How many people did you hit up with that speech to say, I’m building a space ship? So if you haven’t done, we’ve put the links in the show notes previously of the Lego spaceship that you put into space obviously. How many people did you have to hit up until you found Steve?

Raul: Hundreds, and sometimes . . .

Steve: Hundreds. It was really hundreds.

Scott: And he wasn’t the first person on your list. Is that what you’re saying? He was well down the totem pole.

Steve: But the smartest.

Sean: Of course.

Steve: I might not be the first.

Raul: And some of them actually a couple of times, so I was really pushing.

Steve: So we’ve talked about this previously. What kept you going? Why didn’t you just say, “Oh, nobody is going to listen to me?” How old were you at the time?

Raul: I think I was 16, 17, something like that.

Scott: So you’re a 16, 17 teenager in Romania with a computer and access to Skype and you were just hitting people up and saying, “Help me with my crazy Lego projects.”

Steve: Rocket projects at that point. No Lego.

Sean: So what kept you going? Like normally, a 16 or 17 year old would stop or . . .

Steve: Chase girls.

Raul: It’s kind of strange. It’s just the way I am. I wouldn’t be able to do something else. It just is. So you’re either like this or you’re not.

Steve: So you’re a hardwired stalker.

Raul: Exactly. The number one stalker.

Steve: So tell them what you told me the other day, that you stalk people so many times.

Raul: They said that they will block me because I am harassing them, and other things like that. They were like some really high people in Silicon Valley.

Scott: You’re not going to die wondering though, which is great. And that’s the thing. I mean it’s a good story of persistence, and anyone who is trying to get into sales that it’s an amount of doors that you have to knock on. So from your point of view . . .

Steve: Well, it’s interesting, because I thought, “Here I am writing thought leading blog posts. He thinks I am the man about town.” And really he just used me to get at some people that I’ve seen at other conferences, so it’s kind of an interesting thing, but in a way actually, we’ve spoken about this before is that very often, we aim, when we want to connect with someone to get things done, we always aim for the famous guy, the guy with a really large checkbook, and I think there is something interesting in people out there who want to do cool projects.
You might not be the richest or most successful person that you can think of, but somewhere where there is a benefit for both parties because you are both aspiring and both graduating up to different levels. One might be good at marketing and finance, the other at technology, and I think that there was something in that, I mean even though I’m more established than Raul, there was something in that I’m not some silly [inaudible 07:03] or some uber successful entrepreneur, so there is something in it for both parties.

All too often I think when people chase up someone to help them with a project that they’re shooting up too high. You’re going to end up with a lot of doors in your face. And it’s not too difficult to learn. You’ve got to graduate up. You know after grade five comes grade six. I think more fortuitous than anything, but there is actually a big lesson in that in who to connect and who to progress with.

Sean: I think we saw a little bit of that with Robert Scoble, and Shel Israel, and Brian Solis had here. in Melbourne, and there was a networking event afterwards, and so many people were flocking to Scoblezier their own idea and pitching in pitch mode. “Oh, I’ve got this idea,” and it’s like they would be getting pitched all the time.
Like I see the same thing in the sports space. Everyone has got a new product. They want to pitch it to the big sports club and think, “Oh, if I get that as big brand name, I’m going to tick that off and everything else will flow,” but they are getting pitched all of the time.

Steve: It’s kind of lazy. I think if you’re always looking for that person who is going to be your ticket, “Once I’m in here, I’m all done.” I reckon it’s laziness to go that top end. You got lucky. Honestly I think the lesson now in coming in is that it doesn’t have to be that top end guy to get the lesson.

Raul: Yeah, it’s true, but people who are not the top end are harder to find or . . .

Steve: That’s true. Good point. They are harder to find.

Sean: But it was your blog that made you visible as well.

Sure, it was the connection with Esther Dyson online, but then a little bit of homework on Raul’s part, find your blog and goes . . .

Steve: It’s funny, because what he sent through the project that he wanted to send after Esther said no. But after she said no, the next day he’s on Skype. I literally would turn on my computer, and when we talk about internet stalking, this is what Raul does, and I know that you’re in the room, but that’s fine. Basically the computer turns on, you lift up the lid on your laptop, and turn the internet on, as Josh and I do, and it’s like, “Hi, Steve.” And a second doesn’t even pass, and he did that for a month or two before we did anything, to get every single time I turned it on, he was there. I remember I said, “Well, send through your project that you are proposing anyway.” And he had this ten-page PDF of the rocket that he wanted to put into space telling me it was better than NASA’s technology. He was very cool.

Sean: He got you hooked.

Steve: He got me hooked, and I’m interested. I’m thinking this guy has got some stuff, and then he said, “Well, why don’t you invest?” And I said, “Well, because I’m not a venture capitalist rocket scientist, astronaut guy.” And it was interesting because after awhile he convinced me, because he had some skills. He showed me some of the projects he’s already done, and then I gave him the whole MVP. I said, “Why don’t you convince me what you can do? Come back with a smaller idea than the $10,000 project,” and that’s when we came up with the Lego space shuttle. It was an MVP. It was a small thing.

Sean: Minimal Viable Product, for people playing at home.

Steve: Minimal Viable Product, where I think he said to me, “I can get something into space orbit if I do it for scientific reasons because I’ve always wanted to do it. You can have the filming rights.” So he was selling me the benefit to the marketing guy, and that’s when I came up with the idea, why don’t we do the Lego shuttle because the Lego side of the space shuttle had just finished, paid homage to it, and I knew that we had borrowed interest of fans that exist and that’s another hack with projects.

Sean: So you launched the space shuttle. How many views? How viral did it go?

Steve: It’s funny, because we did about a million on our channel, but a lot of people stole our footage, so it’s well over that, and we didn’t do any takedown notices on YouTube, which is actually interesting because now that you can monetize just about pretty much anything you do on YouTube if you have your own original footage and other people take it down and then re-upload it. That can be lost revenue, and I haven’t gone through, but I know there are at least 30 videos that are featuring our space shuttle on their site. The views are in the millions.

Sean: And where did it get featured?

Steve: It got featured everywhere. Front page Mashable, BBC, New York Times, it was everywhere basically.

Sean: So fast forward, like when we did this previously, we talked about you set up SAMP as a super market project. You got patrons on board. We went through the whole crowd funding to say we want to build this car out of Lego that’s going to drive. What’s been some… the finish line is in sight or . . .

Steve: We think we’re about a week away and we might finish by the time everybody reads this.

Sean: Well, the idea is this will be launched when this gets launched. So I’ve already said that this is the 24th, so if we’re running late, they will know. So yeah, tell us a little bit about things you’ve learned running a project from Australia to Romania with 40 investors effectively, if you want to call them that.

Steve: Stakeholders.

Sean: Stakeholders, and we spoke about stakeholders in-

Steve: You’re only an investor if you’re not going to get a financial return. [laughing]

Sean: What have been some of the similar key lessons out of that?

Steve: Well, I think managing virtual projects online is a lot easier than managing physical projects. I mean that’s just a reality. You can see the work. You can get an exact digital copy sent to you, what the other person says, you say. You can share it. When it’s a physical product, and we would have sky chats every night. I’m going to say it’s not every night.
But just going to assume for the sake of it, it’s every other night, where we would be using the Skype camera to look at things, to discuss design and the patent, and how things are working, the tools we need. And you know what, it’s really, really hard. It’s way harder than doing any virtual project online. Doing physical product online where you don’t really have a spec. It’s not like I’m saying to go and make this vacuum. Here is the spec and here is the sample one, match that like you might do like a factory in China.

This is incredibly complex, because, A, we’re building something that has never been built before. We don’t know the design. We’re working it as we’re doing it. It has to be functional, and we’re trying to communicate with each other and stay within budget, and get it done. Raul is trying to convince me, “This is the way we do it,” and I’m looking on Skype. It’s the hardest thing I’ve done. The hardest project I’ve ever done by a million miles.

Sean: So without Skype, let’s just go back ten or 15 years,

Steve: He doesn’t find me without Skype. The project doesn’t happen without blogging and finding me without LinkedIn. You don’t know I’m linked to Esther Dyson without Twitter. He has to tweet me in saying that I’m into start up stuff. So all of these tools, you know Google, Skype, Twitter, all of that blogging, Word Press, none of this happens. And if we go back 20 years before that, he’s not even allowed to talk to me, because he’s in a communist state.

Sean: He wasn’t born.

Steve: He wasn’t born. We’ll let’s say he was. He’s in a communist state. We’re not even allowed to be friends. He has to be like a gymnast and get ten out of ten.

Scott: Raul, what was it like for you starting to be connected with first of all, a guy like Steve, then as a byproduct for running the Crowd funding, and now you’ve got like 40 people that are cheering you on. Can you give us a bit of description of what your conditions were like, in what the SAMP cave or manual edition was, and what it was like having that support back in Australia?

Raul: Yeah, so I was working in my workshop in Romania which is what is called the SAMP cave, and I would probably be on Twitter or on Facebook or some other, Skype, and particular members always treat me and stuff, they would see some Legos or something in the store and it would fit me, and jus cheered for me, and it definitely helped. I was pretty much the only one in the SAMP cave for a long, long time.

Steve: Well, why don’t you tell us the truth, the things that you have told me about how it felt in there? Just tell us the truth.

Raul: Well, it’s just probably not the best way we could have gone about doing the project, like just me working on the car. And just after a year or so got very dark, and very lonely, and weird to be honest.

Sean: Because you couldn’t see an end, or it was taking so long?

Raul: Yeah exactly. It’s like never-ending work to solve a big problem or an artistic hurdle, and ten more pop out, and it’s just coming in waves.

Scott: So what kept you going?

Raul: We had to get it done. Failure is not an option.

Sean: And what’s it like being managed by someone twice your age, say an old bloke?

Steve: Be honest. This is all about honesty.

Raul: Steve and I always connected on a deeper level, so we never had issues with anything on the project. When it came to design and there was something he wouldn’t like, he would say it to me, I wouldn’t be upset at all because I was there. I could see it’s shit, and I wanted to change it as well.

Steve: It’s okay to swear, but that’s as far as you’re allowed to go

Sean: So how long did you spend building the car?

Raul: Eighteen months.

Sean: Okay, 18 months-

Steve: Before you mention what the car is again, so let’s just really quickly, I think that everyone who’s listening will surmise, but , . . .

Sean: But the link to the video will be in the show notes, and we’ll be sharing that on every single network that you’ve got. But describe what it was.

Steve: It’s a full-size car made out of Lego, the engine is made out of Lego, and it drives at speed.

Scott: It’s a Formula One ties.

Steve: Yeah, it’s kind of like a hot rod Formula One. Now I’m not going to say Formula One. It’s a hot rod. It’s kind of based on a hot rod.

Scott: Yeah, an exposed engine and everything.

Steve: It might just be the greatest thing that’s ever happened to the-

Sean: If Tim Allen from the Home Improvement wanted to build a car out of Lego, this would be the car that he would build.

Steve: Kind of. Yeah, that’s a nice way to look at it.

Scott: So Raul, you designed the car?

Raul: Yup.

Scott: And what did you base your design on?

Raul: Absolutely nothing. It’s not even based like a concept car. It’s just pure build from scratch. There is nothing like this out there.

Scott: How many of the day were you working on it?

Raul: It depends. May usual schedule was about 12 hours.

Scott: And how many days a week?

Raul: Seven day a week, seven out of seven, no breaks, no nothing. No vacations.

Steve: You went to Bucharest for two days, remember?

Raul: Yeah, okay.

Scott: Do we need to put in there?

Steve: What I did was I was like, “For God’s sake, you’re going to get out of that cave. I’m sending you some money. Go away for the weekend.”

Sean: And that’s a ridiculous amount of time. Now I know

you’ve been in Australia for two weeks or so. Do you find, I guess, having a little balance to your life, and meeting other people and getting out there, has it helped get this finish line work done? Are you more in it when you’re at it now?

Raul: Yeah, and it’s kind of strange, because I was expecting, I’m going to leave the cave, and come here and work on the car, and it’s going to be different, and it’s going to be different, but somehow it’s the same, yet a big better.

Steve: I remember, because the first Raul was working, we had a couple of days getting in and out of customs. And by the way, if you want to ship anything complex from overseas, just remember that customs will invent fees that you didn’t know existed. “Oh yeah, you’ve got a left foot, yeah, well that’s $700.”
Anyway, so when we finally got it out of customs, it was late Friday night and I’m packing it in dark on a Friday. It’s like it’s crazy stuff. And I said to Raul, “Okay, so on Monday.” He said, “What are you talking about on Monday? I’m coming tomorrow.” And then I brought him here and it’s interesting, but he was like…I got a text saying “I’m a bit depressed.”

And there’s that whole reality that you know when you’re aiming for, “I’ll be happy when this thing happens or when I finally get there?” There’s a really interesting lesson in that the toil kind of continues. And I felt really sad for you then, and I was like, I know how you felt, because I kind of thought I would roll it off and be like everything is done, but actually when you’re really close to the finish line that’s when you need the real tenacity to make sure you finish your project well, and you don’t cut corners and do all of that stuff, because it’s so tempting, isn’t it?

Raul: You forgot to mention that the car got damaged during the shipping.

Steve: Oh yeah, the car got significantly damaged. Well, it was funny, because we did speak about that before we shipped it. And Raul and I were like, “Well, it’s Lego, we would just snap the pieces back together.” That’s kind of what you think, but it’s not. You open it up, and it’s worse than you think, and not only do you snap them back together, but the pieces are warped because it’s going across the equator, and it’s in airplanes, and freezing and heating up, and so it’s worse than you think, and it’s pretty depressing when we opened it up, wasn’t it?

Raul: Yeah.

Sean: How nervous were you when you opened it, before you cracked the box? Because it would have been just like a giant Lego box at Christmas, just shake it enough . . .

Steve: Yeah, it was kind of like that.

Raul: Well, I built it once, so I knew that I could fix anything that could be broken on it.

Steve: Yeah, we knew that the parts that really mattered were robust enough not to worry us too much.

Sean: So Raul, just give the people a bit more background. You started this project at around 17, 18. Bow you’re 20. You didn’t go to a university, so you’re self taught, and from a financial standpoint, you weren’t making any money out of this?

Raul: No, I wasn’t.

Steve: Still isn’t.

Sean: So you’ve taken this big leap of faith, hopefully that this thing will be fantastic and that people will see it, and you’ll get this exposure, and then you might – what would you like to do afterwards? Have you got anything in mind? Would you want to go to MIT? Do you want to go and do a start up in Silicon Valley?

Raul: Yeah, actually the start up is the number one option on the list. Both me and Steve, I think we make a great team, and right after the SAMP, we’re going to do financing around for a start up.

Sean: That’s cool. You heard it here first.

Steve: Raul’s got a few ideas, so you need to talk about customs there and costs.

Scott: Do you want to talk about, and I guess open up the books a little bit about have you gone budgeting, getting it all done, where it’s at? Take a deep breath.

Steve: Take a deep breath. When we first came up with it, it was interesting. When we did the Lego space shuttle into space, “Raul said you could do it for about $1,000.” And while we went over budget, he was pretty damned close. And when you’re dealing with a tiny project on a tiny fee, you’re pretty happy with that. Did it all. Delivered on every promise. And he has on this one too.
But this project, the complexity level, is like a multiplier effect. When we came up with the concept, I said, “How long do you think to build it?” And he said, “Look, three months.”

I said, “How much money?” He said, “Three grand.” Then after that you went, “No, ten.” And I said, “All right, let’s double it.” Because here I am thinking financial stewardship here, we’ll double this, because if he says ten, it’ll be 20. I reckon on really crazy one-off projects, things that have never been done before, you’ve got to tenfold it or a hundredfold it. Because I really truly believe that if you’re starting a three- day printing startup, whether you’re doing something crazy and new, you’ve got to tenfold it or a hundredfold it on your cost, and ten times it on your timeline.

But I think that it’s almost like nature and the human spirit getting in the way of reality, because if we knew the truth with these projects, we’d all still be living in caves. It’s almost like we need to be thankful that humans are stupid enough to do projects that take ten times as long and cost ten times as much, or we’d never invent anything. So in that instance, it’s almost been like anthropological learning for me on what these projects are all about.

Sean: So you start off thinking three months and then $20,000 at the start?

Steve: Three months and $20,000. So what I did was I did a crowd funding rant on Twitter. I couldn’t do it on KickStarter or IndieGoGo because there was not product at the end. There was nothing to give, and also, there were some things in those legal systems that I feel are a little too restrictive. I still think there is a way to go in crowd funding and to do things a lot better. Obviously there were legal constraints. So I just did it on Twitter, which are still legalities to that. You know how structural is, but I basically put a tweet out and said anyone, and the tweet was at one in the morning, but I think that all of the best things happen after midnight in life.
So I put a tweet out, it was actually 12:17. I’ll put in the show notes, the link to it. And it said, “Anyone who wants to invest in a world first start up, $500 to a $1000. Need about 20 people. Tweet me.” And I think about a week-and-a-half to two weeks, I raised the money, and we 40 people, $500 each and raise $20,000. All of these people in this podcast are involved in it, which is terrific.

Sean: How much information did people want to know?

Steve: It was funny. Half of the people wanted to know the pitch and half of them just gave me the money.

Sean: Blind.

Steve: Just blind saying, “Steve, you’re doing it. It’s not a large amount of money. You’ve done some cool stuff. Let’s do it.” So a lot of them just put their PayPal in and I went to the Bahamas.

Sean: Were you surprised that people were so trusting?

Steve: No. I wasn’t. No. I really wasn’t, because the one thing that I would never do and anyone who has ever read my blog, I would never stooge people, because you get stooge them once. In the digital world where everything is trackable, reputation is the thing that matters more than anything. Your reputation is revenue.
So I knew that the people that gave me, I knew them anyway. We had a relationship pre-existing. The pitch, when people rang us, they said, what’s it all about? And I said, “Well if I tell you,” and I wouldn’t tell anyone online. I said you’d have to call me if you want to know the pitch, because you’ve got to cross that virtual chasm and get in, and the pitch was . . .

Sean: Did you have the prospective at this point?

Steve: I had the perspective. The perspective didn’t say what it was. The perspective just said where to send the money. It’s sort of like when I was in Nigeria and perspective. We’ll put it in the show notes, too, the perspective.

Scott: It was a really cool, and you wanted it to look like it was almost like a skunk works project.

Steve: Yeah. I wanted it to look like that. It looked like something from the military industrial complex from the skunk works in 1976, and it had top secret instead of saying pure secret, it had for advance humans only written on it, and at the bottom line I said, financial returns are that you will never get your money back, that we guarantee. So at least people knew that . . .

Scott: People went in with their eyes wide open.

Steve: Wide open, and my pitch was we’re building a full-size car of Lego, and with our luck, why would you invest in that? And I said during the heart of the JFC, the three CEOs from the largest car companies in Detroit hopped on private jets, no less, to fly down to Congress to beg Washington for money, because they don’t know what the future looks like, and here we are, 40 people from Melbourne, none millionaires investing in a genius kid in Romania to build an eco-friendly car with toy pieces, using Internet tools that didn’t exist ten years ago. Boom, baby, that’s the future. So that was my pitch.

Scott: And that went well, another 15 months, and the costs have blown up?

Steve: Tenfold.

Scott: What about stages? At what point did you run out of cash?

Steve: Well, it’s funny. We ran out of cash when we had a lot of raw material. We were kind of thinking that it was going to be a labor, a matter of time and labor to get us to the finish line without a lot of extra cash going in, so we had all of the raw materials, we had all of the pieces, and this is where it gets interesting from project management viewpoint. The leaky bucket of a hundred here, a thousand there, 500 there, that stuff, it’s easy for that to really stooge you, and it wasn’t until we went back and had to look recently to see how big it was that we really scared ourselves. And if you are on a good income and you’ve got some coins, you can do it, and you can really get dragged into it and go, “Holy hell,” when we – and each one is this is the last one.

Sean: An addiction?

Steve: It’s kind of like an addiction, but in good faith, you believe that it is the last time that you need to spend money, but it’s like dribble . . .

Sean: And to a certain degree, you’ve got a guy here who has show that he’s absolutely driven towards the finish line, right?

Steve: Yeah.

Sean: And even just before we started recording he said, “I just need something. It’s not ridiculously expensive Steve,” and he didn’t know what the price was.

Steve: True.

Sean: Because he is so focused on the end goal.

Steve: Yeah. I said that. He said, “We’d need this,” and I said, “Do we really need it, [inaudible 26:51] the tanks?” And he said it’s not ridiculously expensive. And I said “How much,” and he said, “I don’t know.” And I said, “How can you tell me if it is ridiculously or not?”

Sean: Just to pull one number out, how much money, just Lego, bricks, and the like, how much have you paid Lego?

Raul: About $60K worth of Legos.

Scott: $60,000 worth of Lego’s. Wow.

Steve: Did you hear that, Lego?

Sean: Yeah, so if Lego wants to help with the Lego build, we’ll have a link in the show notes where you can send the money. Obviously, everyone has put in. We’re all enjoying, from a patron’s point of view, if I’m talking from.. .

Scott: Don’t say the journey.

Sean: No, no. We’re all enjoying being a part of the project.

Scott: We’re all really connected with it, but obviously, we want to get some money back.

Steve: Actually that’s the thing for me from where I sit. Because I was the guy that brought it up, and if I am going to bring it out and get you to invest money, it’s my job to bring it home. So all of the excess money is coming out of my personal pocket, which, look, there is going to be financial benefits for me and Raul, we’ve got no doubt about that, because the thing is amazing, and we’ve got no doubts that offers will come to us. And we’ve even got an asset here that could be rented out, sold, or whatever, but . .

Sean: So we have discussed different ways that we will raise money. When you’re wearing that, oh, the bills are getting up. We’ve got another Lego to build. We did discuss having a second raising with the patrons, and say “Hey, can we all put into some more,” which again, I think as a patron, I think that most would say, “Yes. No worries.” We did discuss doing things like kick startup for launches and things like that. What’s your gut feel at the minute?

Steve: My gut feel at the minute is we almost have got to set the beast free, and then the answers will become evident. And that actually, you’ve seen with a lot of projects is that, easily in the world you’ve kind of got to get it finished. The problem is that it’s the bills, and this is what they call the cash trap, and this is how you can go broke when you’re making a profit in the company in that the project that you’ve got is amazing and you’re sold it, but the bills fall before the revenue arrives, and that’s where we are here. I’ve got an idea that the revenue will exceed the costs, but it’s –

Steve: It’s the timing issue, and that’s usually where you get caught up on projects is the timing between the revenue and the expenses. It’s not that there won’t be more upside in the revenue.

Sean: And if there is delays in which they’re almost always is with a first and unknown project, it’s going to be delays and that bridge can kill you.

Steve: Absolutely.

Sean: So obviously, as we’ve said before, the video will be in the show notes and there will be links to the And we haven’t finalized exactly how it’s going to be launched from a digital point of view, but one of the key things is we’re going to be really hot on YouTube video and monetizing that and making sure that everyone shares it.
I mean one of the examples I’ve been sharing, you probably would have seen, the kid at the Boston Celtics game dancing to Bon Jovi’s “Living On a Prayer,” and that’s gone so viral in that last two weeks that “Living on a Prayer” has re-entered the Top 100 in the U. S. charts.

Scott: That’s amazing isn’t it, where something can get back into the charts now in a digital world. I remember Rage Against the Machine did something like that to kill some Christmas song where they was a Facebook page to get Rage Against the Machine . . . TV commercials would use a song and then it would bounce back in. But we’re not talking about coals here. So that’s going to be one way and anyone who is listening to the podcast, please find the video, share the video, and just share the story, because both videos will be awesome. It hasn’t been produced yet, but you will see this Lego car hurtling down the street. I’m going to . . .

Steve: Hurtling would be a good word.

Sean: Hurtling down the street, how fast is it going to go in this video?

Raul: We are aiming for 40 kilometers per hour.

Sean: Forty kilometers. How many Lego pieces do you think are going to fly off at 40 kilometers?

Raul: Well, we are definitely going to lose half of the car after the ride.

Sean: So it will be like Fred Flintstone at the bottom, you just put your feet out and peddle like crazy?

Raul: Yeah, the whole car is in a zone.

Scott: For the viewers at home, how fast have you tested it at? The last testing result you had?

Raul: About 25 so far.

Sean: So explain this test. Because getting this car to Australia, how did you get this car, and where was this test that you performed of the car itself? Where did you drive it?

Raul: Well, the old alley at the back of my house, so that’s where I test drove it.

Sean: And was that legal?

Raul: Absolutely legal.

Steve: We’ll be doing it in a legal location, too, by the way.

Sean: And Raul, do you have a driver’s license?

Raul: No.

Scott: In any country?

Raul: No.

Scott: All for the efforts of science.

Steve: That’s it. It’s for the pursuit of humanity.

Sean: And to give people some more concept of it, so to get it on the truck, you put it in a big box?

Raul: Yeah. In a box so big it could be a garage.

Scott: And was it liftable? Was it a forklift? How did you get it in the box

Raul: Yeah, actually you had to get some more illegal things done with the forklift and get it . . .

Sean: Every time you say illegal, mean legal.

Steve: That’s just the translation. That means legal. It’s a cultural disparity.

Raul: It’s a language barrier. So we had to find a forklift and just load it up. it was a huge, huge [inaudible 32:18] and sitting in my backyard, it was very hard to access, so it was quite a challenge to get it.

Sean: And some of the challenges around shipping it?

Steve: Well, incredibly difficult. One of the patrons, well,

Scott, who is here, it was going to be in his workshop in Fitzroy, and I remember having a call, and this is the logistics that comes with startups, especially now that we are really starting to move into an era where people are making a lot more stuff now and not just basic startups, the maker revolution.
So I got a phone call from the shipping agent, who was the receiver in Australia saying that delivery address you gave me, I’m on Google Maps right now looking at street view. Again, another piece of technology that didn’t exist. Now our truck won’t get in and this car won’t be able to get in there. I said, “Oh, what about if we didn’t?” And we’re on the phone, and we worked out digitally that that wouldn’t be possible.

A few years ago, a truck would have went there and couldn’t deliver it, and cost who knows. Having said that, he called me at 4:30 and we had to get a solution by six that night otherwise we were going to get charged $3,000 a day to hold it at the airport where it was.

Scott: You called me, and I sent you a text saying, “I’m driving.” And you were like, “Pull over right now.”

Steve: “Pull over right now.” I was like, “Who? Who? Who?” I just went through the patrons list, and then classic. If you are working with people and you start up your growing business, people all too often just live in a silo. You’ve got to go, “Alright, who have I got? Who can I call up? Who’s on the list? I went Chris, he’s got a big shed. Can we get it there? Can we him to drive by in 10 minutes”

Scott: Will his wife go for it?

Steve: Yeah, and I couldn’t get through to him. I’m calling his wife. I need his number. Oh, he has it on silent. He doesn’t answer it, not good enough. Call reception and get them to walk up to his desk. And you’ve got to think it through in that whole physical sense, and then he got through to him and was like, “SAMP car. Your house.” He’s like call the guy back. It’s like 5:54. I’m calling him back. I’ve got an address and they called the shipping company. My blood pressure has just gone up thinking about it again.

Sean: We’ll wrap this one up, but how long have you got to go? How long of a runway until you do the taping and we’re getting ready to launch? What are your current plans?

Raul: To drive?

Sean: Yeah.

Raul: About a week.

Sean: About a week?

Raul: Yeah.

Sean: What are some of the key things you’ve got to solve in the next week?

Raul: Just fixing the stuff that got damaged during shipping.

Sean: All right. So it’s fixing pieces like doors, seats, and stuff that fell apart?

Steve: The air tank.

Sean: Yeah, so do you just want to tell me about the problem with the air tanks?

Steve: Another international thing with the air tanks.

Raul: Yeah, we bought the air tanks that we used for the car from the United States and then imported them to into Europe and had European valves mounted on them, and then we got them to Australia. So pretty much nothing was fitting nothing.

Sean: So the carbon fibers, so they are extra light, and they’ve got these European valves that you can’t use in Australia?

Raul: Yeah.

Scott: So they can’t legally fill them, because they haven’t got a certain valve in them, have they?

Steve: It’s just different regulations.

Raul: Yeah and you can’t even verify them or [hydro test] them because again, they don’t have the type of valve that is used here.

Steve: You know it’s interesting because we have this problem in digital weight, things work in cross platform and it’s not much of an issue, and in fact, the technology has done incredibly well to make things work across platforms in import and export. But in the physical world, there is still very much differences around the nations, states in terms of how things fit and work and regulation, but it’s another impending challenge on the whole maker movement as well because it’s complex.

Scott: A couple of just random things we have touched on that might be worth getting a little background on. Have we had any help from Lego? Have Lego sponsored this, donated anything?

Steve: Well, they have been, I would say helpful to this stage. One of the things that we did do, and given that it was about patrons and about people showing what’s possible, it is a Lego project, but actually it isn’t about Lego. It’s about what technology allows in today’s world, and it’s about connection from people from lands afar. And so Lego, we didn’t ever go to them and ask them to sponsor it. Mind you, as far as I understand in communications we’ve had from Lego, if they said yes to every other crazy project they get, they’d be out of business.
But they have helped us with cost prices on materials, and they’ve helped us with quick shipping on stuff, and we thought we had deadlines and the quick shipping didn’t matter so much, and they’ve even hand out where we’re talking to them at the moment about helping us with our final bill which is looking positive. I’ll touch wood. But now that they have seen some visuals, it’s like, “Oh my God.”

Sean: The exposure is going to be great for them. And you ought to expect some afterlife . . .

Steve: And it’s good timing, pre-Christmas. We said that in a note we sent them. “By the way, the timing is good. ”

Sean: And the launch. You want to have a wow launch, have everybody go to one place. What’s the plan right now?

Steve: The plan right now is I’ve got this theory that there are two different types of launches. There’s a launch when you’ve got something normal and then there is the serious, hardcore, amazing launch. When you’ve got a serious, hardcore, amazing launch where there is a whole lot of amazing things that go into it, I call it the hourglass strategy where all of the inputs are wide and you should put all of that energy into one place, because that forces all of the media organizations to point to that one place, which will be to a YouTube video.

Sean: And so, yeah, we haven’t set up that one place yet, so we’ll still doing that now, and that will be in the show notes. It will be tweeted by all of us in this thing, but that . . .

Steve: The launch will be just one YouTube video, and all of us pointing to that, and then that forces the Mashables, The Wires the BBCs, everyone to point to that. It puts all of the energy into that, and then after that it comes out of the hourglass and there are other things that come out of the other end.
And so I think in a digital world where we’ve got amazing products, a whole lot of amazing inputs, all of the energy into one thin location, everyone has to point to it, and then a whole lot of things smash it out into it or really flow out large. So that’s a proprietary method called the Hourglass Strategy.

Sean: The other one is what do you think is going to happen afterwards? Just throw out some things about where you think it’s going to go?

Steve: A lot of people will knock on Raul’s door and he’ll most likely just say, “Thanks a lot guys.” No, I’d be surprised if we didn’t get a few offers to ask to do projects. You know one thing that will happen for sure are people will want us to do other Lego projects for them, and we’re not interested in that. We’re done.
This is really just to show the capabilities, because the hope is that venture capitalists and other people will listen to our next project. That’s what we want. We don’t want someone to necessarily come to us and say, “Do this,” or, “Work for us.” We actually want to use it to say, “Here are our ideas. Will you get involved?”

Raul: Also, we would like to do a Ted Talk that would be great for . . .

Steve: I think a Ted Talk would be . .

Sean: And the thing is having that next project that will also

be a part of this project to say, “Did you like the SAMP car? Do you want to be involved in the next one?” Because the crowd funding is a model that has worked for you, and if other people want to be involved in those kinds of projects, again in the show notes and on the site, it will be, “Are you interested in the next one? Sign up here, and you’ll get insider access,” so that will be some part of it. And as a patron, I’m going to say that I’ve enjoyed the journey, Scott.

Steve: Well you know it’s annoying when there is a really good word that works gets ruined.

Sean: So thank you very much, Raul, for being our very first guest.

Steve: Give them your Twitter handle, mate.

Raul: My Twitter handle is @RaulOaida.

Sean: And we’ll definitely be tweeting it out. @BeersBlokesBiz is the Twitter handle for the podcast. Thank you very much for, one, building the car, making the trek down to Australia. Good luck in finishing it off. We look forward to seeing the video.
Everyone will see the YouTube clip, and then they will also be some massive launch party where everyone will celebrate with all of the patrons. So if you’ll listen to this podcast, please share the video with everybody and it’s all generations. Everyone has played with Lego at one time or another, and they will all want to see this video. The one last thing is we haven’t given the total cost of the project. If you go to the video, it will be there at the end. All right, guys, cheers.

Steve: See you.

Announcer: Please leave a review on iTunes. Go to Thanks for listening to the Beers, Blokes & Business Podcast. Cheers.

Here is some of the social chatter, join in chat with #SuperAwesomeMicroProject

enclosure: 49758341 audio/mpeg a:1:{s:8:"duration";s:8:"00:41:13";}

Tagged under: , , , , , , , , ,

Back to top