A Busy Start

This won’t be a typical post. There’s nothing new to see here, just a reflection of our progress.

We posted a short year end summary after 2010, at which time I drafted a few goals for 2011. The year turned out nothing like I’d planned…

Between the day job and JDS Labs, I found myself working well over 100 hours/week by spring. Working 40 hours/week during college had been tough, but 60 hours on top of a full-time job? It was enough to drive anyone (and their wife) insane. On June 2, 2011, I took my boss into a private conference room and verbally resigned effective July 1st.

He stared at me in disbelief. “You have an excellent career here,” he said. This moment was unreal. I heard myself expressing thanks, and assuring him that I was saddened to ditch an excellent team of engineers, but that it was something I had to do. I had customers, circuits, and an array of plans for which there were not enough hours in the day.

Six months have passed and I can say without a doubt that taking a full-time job in 2009 was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made. JDS Labs sales soared as soon as I began working from home in July. What recession?!

Nick and I now run a typical startup. One hour we think we have the day under control. The next, we’re a week behind on production, and will work 12-18 hour shifts to catch up.

I wake up at 7am to find 40-something unread e-mails, even though the box was at zero just six hours prior. By noon, we crank out a pile of amplifiers and another fifty e-mails. We head to lunch and try to ship 30-60 orders afterwards, squeezing into the post office around 4:58pm.

So, 2011 was nothing short of a success. Sales grew by 300%, we expanded our product lineup from nine items to 30+, released two fantastic amplifiers, doubled our staff (from 1 to 2!), and have definitely outgrown my home office. 18-wheel tractor trailer/truck drivers don’t like to back into residential areas; there’s a seriously unusual DIY fume exhaust system taped to a window at the front of the house; the basement contains three workstations and enough shelves of electronics to be mistaken for a sweat shop; UPS delivers daily. I’m sure our neighbors are pleased.

Startup Lessons Learned in 2011

  • Have no reluctance to fire. Taxes will be done in June? Fired. This aluminum sample looks like a train wreck? Fired.
  • Recognize the time to hire. If critical tasks are piling up, you might have missed the opportunity.
  • Automate! Make your website work for you, not the other way around, and run a webhosting test to make sure your site has enough support.
  • Establish Net 30 credit. Purchase orders aren’t complicated. Why don’t they teach this stuff in school?
  • Select contractors based on sample workPay more, and you’ll actually spend less.
  • Network and talk to customers! It’s free insight.
  • Invest in a document scanner and a thermal printer. 95% of paper/scanning/faxing/shipping inefficiencies will disappear.
  • The USPS has these clever things called SCAN forms. Our post office was shocked by their efficiency.
Thank you all for helping us reach this point! It sounds cliche, but I mean it. Running a startup is by no means easy (just look at our c421 posts). We couldn’t have gotten this far without the customer appreciation and feedback we’ve received over the years. 2011 was great. 2012 will be even greater!

5 thoughts to “A Busy Start”

    1. This is excellent news, and a testament to your skills as an engineer, to your products, and to the almost cult-like status you acquired from creating affordable and powerful amplifiers.

      Its also great that you have Nick as an employee to help you out, but I cannot ‘not’ think that maybe you need another hand or two/three/four to shave off the number of man-hours you both put in (this in-itself is pretty awesome, but those are very long hours… :S).

      On the other hand, now that you are working full time in your own company, the time you have has enabled you to see through your new circuits and ingenious designs for future products (such as the cMoyBB v2.03, c421, and NwAvGuy open-source amp O2). This has also caused a stir to followers and those in the audiophile circle who salivate at your designs and throw money at the screen just to hold your work; a great achievement!

      So, I wish you, your family, and Nick, a great 2012 and success of your company!
      I am not alone in saying that I will be watching you closely and seeing what you will come up with next. 😀

      ^_^

      (P.S. I think my excitement of receiving the c421 amp, very soon now, is making me go a little…crazy… :/ ).

  1. Congratulations on your success in 2011. Your successful start up is directly due to your great products and your excellent customer service. It is rare these days to get the kind of service you gave me including the nearly instant replies to my emails.

    I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of my O2 from you. I wish you all the best in 2012 and continued success. I am emailing you directly on another matter. Thanks again for excellent products and unparalleled customer service.

    John

  2. That was a great an inspirational post! It’s all about learning and moving forward. Detaching yourself from comfortability is what separates those from who dream and who accomplish! Congrats on a great year and here’s looking to a exponentially more successful 2012! I can’t wait for my c421 OPA2227s nor can I wait to pair them up with a set of Grado 325is!

  3. Hey John,

    It’s good to see you’re giving us a ‘throwback’ post! 🙂

    I think the ‘thanks’ is owed entirely to yourself. We provided you with the custom and our money and you did something useful with it! You’ve put in a hell of a lot of work to get where you are today and you deserve the reap the benefits of it.

    All I can say is, keep up the good work!

    Jamie.

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