It seems America has given up on manufacturing. At least that's what you'd believe if you read the media. That's what you'd believe if you watch television. But I'm happy to report I've been talking to millennial generation folks looking to get REAL. By REAL, I mean want to create real, honest to goodness, hold in your hand products. I'm thrilled to see a whole new generation looking to innovate with tangible goods. Why? Because contrary to popular media, the US is damn good at making products. It's good at thinking them up, engineering them, manufacturing them, marketing them and distributing them. In the last 30 years the US has doubled its manufacturing output while reducing its workforce in half. So when the media says manufacturing is dying they mean there is a reduction in manufacturing jobs - as in assembly line jobs. What they are not saying is the US manufactures more goods today than it ever has in the past. And that is something to really think about. (See the charts at the end of this article.)
I live in the Chicago area and there is a great wealth of engineering, manufacturing and logistics talent in the area. What has been really lacking is government and education getting behind the resources at hand and incubating tangible goods start ups. Everyone wants the next Facebook tax base. So the dollars and focus have been to "high tech" incubators. What that really means is "Web Companies". But manufactured products are job creators and it involves "high tech" skilled labor. Think about what innovation can be done in the tangible goods space. Think vacuum cleaners for example. What a stodgy, tired "old" industry. Along comes Tom Dyson and boom, everything changes. I know an engineer applying sonar technology for self-detection of carpeting depths for a Dyson competitor. Billions of dollars around vacuum cleaners. Now imagine if you create something new. Listerine Breath Strips created a $100 million plus market its first year... breath strips. I have to imagine many people have much better ideas than that.
I'm beginning a series of articles devoted to tangible goods. I think its critical that the US get back to embracing the real. Oh, I'm still a proponent of software and cloud services. I just believe opportunity lies every where and so much is written on the intangible I want to throw at least a feather's weight the other way.
12 Reasons to Start a Tangible Goods Company
1. You can profitably manufacture products in the US
2. A 12 year old programming in his basement is never your competition
3. Tangible goods can be highly profitable
4. Tangible goods can be stored
5. Economies of scale apply
6. Everyone needs "stuff"
7. Perceived value can be immensely greater with tangible goods verses digital goods
8. Businesses with marketable tangible goods are easy to sell
9. Research and development is a real and credible barrier to competition
10. Patents are highly applicable in ways well beyond software
11. Tangible goods companies employ a greater range of labor skills benefiting more classes of society
12. It a very proud moment to hold something useful in your hand and say "I made this" and hand it to the person next to you
13. A whole extended family can earn their keep at the business
Stay tuned for much, much more on manufactured products and how to get started.