One Year in Business

In July of 2014 I decided to see if I could make a go of building an electronics hardware based business that helped to deliver high quality educational products and content to the community of makers, hobbyists and students. One year later, I’ve made a ton of mistakes, learned volumes, built a sales platform, made some amazing friends and business partners and, most importantly to me personally, I’m still building a company I love, doing things I love, and starting to see success from 12 months of incredibly hard work and long hours.

Let’s go to the highlight replay…

July 14, 2014First prototype I2C and SPI Education Shield assembled and tested
July 22, 2014Website goes live
September 27, 2014Build prototype of I2C Display Add-on
December 2, 2014Kickstarter closes successfully
January 7, 2015Submit purchase orders for Education Shield and Display production runs
March 2, 2015First retail sale
March 2, 2015Present first technical talk: I2C Basics for the München Arduino Meetup
April 7, 2015All MSGEQ7 Abandoned Kickstarter rewards are shipped as promised
April 30, 2015All Education Shield Kickstarter rewards are shipped as promised
May 7, 2015Published 75th tutorial
May 30, 2015Move Rheingold Heavy from Hollywood to Northern California

Every day it seems I’m doing something entirely new and remarkably difficult, from trying to pick a business checking account to laying out a TQFN board (those pins are tiny!) and looking back over the past year, I can’t believe I actually did all that. But as someone told me recently, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

Education Shield Layout
Education Shield Layout

From website traffic to sales statistics, the numbers grow. The progress is small and steady every month, but my average monthly sales have gone from “No Webstore” in February to requiring more than eight bits to measure: that’s actual physical product, put in boxes, shipped to customers.

The company must leave it’s infancy now, though. I spoke with a man at O’Reilly SolidCon last week, who co-founded an educational company, and when I asked him which process he used to generate sales and interest, his response was “wearing out the shoe leather.” I don’t have a marketing department, ad buys, brand recognition or anything really splashy to speak of, besides some really exceptional stickers. I’m convinced that the best path forward for Rheingold Heavy, is the old fashioned way: meeting people face to face, giving presentations, helping educate… you know, actually teaching. So in the next year, I will begin producing videos, giving as many tech talks as I can, trying to organize electronics activities for the little community I now call my home, delivering very cool products, and writing as much content as I can while maintaining the quality I believe is very high.

As a way to celebrate one year in business, I’ve created a Rheingold Heavy Teespring campaign with a minimum 20 t-shirt threshold. 10% of the profit will be donated to the Arduino LCC organization as a thank you to them for providing such a magnificent learning tool. It has the Fraktur “R” logo on the front, and a valid I2C signal showing a write request to the AT30TS750 configuration register on the back. You can find the campaign here: Rheingold Heavy I2C Tee

Rheingold Heavy I2C Tee
Rheingold Heavy I2C Tee

I encourage you to continue to reach out to me for anything from having me give talks at your Meetup, to pointing out bugs in my code, to giving me content feedback, to sending me cookie recipes. Without you, the customers and students of Rheingold Heavy, none of this would be possible.


– dan
Twitter: @rheingoldheavy