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    Kickstarter fulfilled (“the good news”) and bringing goods into the UK (“bad news”).


    That’s it!! 161 MUROs have made it out into the world and despite being quite a few months later (September...2...3...4...5...February) than intended, I’m still putting it down as a massive overall win and having resisting the urge to fall to my knees heroically!

    The stock arrived on 12th February at my UK distribution hub (aka Attic self-storage) and after 2 days of intense boxing, interrupted by a trip up to Nottingham to discuss a potentially exciting educational partnership, the 30% of MUROs that didn’t make it home in time for Christmas were collected by a very helpful DHL driver (who loaded slowly so I could finishing boxing the last couple!) and shipped all around the world.

    The final hold up was a big one, it took trading standards more than 30 days to finish their inspection. This inspection resulted in 3 things: the Beaded Rope being rejected/recalled, a long-delay for our customers and an eye-watering bill for storage.  The first two are what they are; the third however came as a devastating shock.  

    It turns out when goods are imported into the country they have to be stored at an accredited warehouse.  5 days are provided for free after which you’re charged at £25 per m2 per day at one these warehouses, this means that it only takes 6 pallets to rack you up a bill of £6500 in 28 days to be paid before the goods are released and wiping out the already bootstrapped budget in the process.

    The warehouse company actually took pity and issued a £2000, but that still means that I badly need to release some capital from my held stock. So it’s time to start selling MURO properly, I’m almost happy with the website and will be donning my trusty salesman's cap and hitting the road - first stop The Baby Show at Excel in London next weekend (2 - 4 March).  

    Stock held at UK border.

    This is the 15th day since MURO stock arrived at Folkestone, and since it is just after lunch on Saturday there’s at least another 42hrs until I’m likely to hear anything more.

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    Building MURO together.

    After a mad Christmas there is currently a moment of calm at MURO ahead of our stock arriving  and launch at the London Toy Fair in the next couple of weeks.  But whilst it is quiet I would like to take the opportunity to talk about my vision for the future of MURO.

    The founding principle of MURO is that we don’t know what you want, and we don’t want to tell you what we think you should have.  This is what led us to our modular design and it is going to form an integral part of our design process moving forward.  Already we have seen MUROs being used in ways that we didn’t expect or intend, and that is exactly what we want (ignoring the pang of remorse for the hours spent designing an unused feature!).

    This has led us to a new idea: co-design.  

    The usual design process involves various ‘closed-door’ rounds of design, prototyping and focus groups before initial models are let loose on customers in the market.  However, with co-design you, the customers, are brought into the design process at a much earlier stage.  Playing a key, decision-making role in shaping our designs that would allow us to launch new products faster, more efficiently and with less risk than ever before.  My hope is that this will be a win-win, as a business it makes perfect sense for us on many levels, but the question remains, whether our customers will see the benefits of collaborative design process.

    To start with these ‘crowd decisions’ will be relatively simple, for example, deciding which designs get taken to manufacture. But I hope that crowd-participation will increase in complexity to the point where we end up manufacturing designs submitted by customers (eventually!).  Most importantly, we want the design process at MURO to be a conversation between us and those of using our products.

    I’m aware that some of our backers are still awaiting their MURO, and delivering on our promises will always be the priority.  However during the Kickstarter process I have been touched by the support of our backers, and how people come together around a physical product.  Having built our foundations so firmly in community my aim is to incorporate this into everything MURO makes as we move beyond Kickstarter and into the future.

    2017: The Debrief.

    Welcome to the new format, if you are reading this thank you so much for taking a deeper interest in MURO, you could become a very important part of this company in the future (more on this to come).  

    Christmas 2017 will forever be a significant date in my mind, it had never been my intention to be delivering a kid’s product in the run up to Christmas and thus making myself responsible for ensuring kids got their Christmas presents!  Having finished the Kickstarter campaign back in May and with the protracted delivery times this responsibility had become pretty abstract, going through the delivery process has brought it back into sharp focus and is going to be taken much more seriously going forward.

    This has been the culmination of 4 years work and to stumble across the line was a bit gutting to be honest, but that being said there have been some important lessons which I’m glad to have had at this point rather than further down the line.

    1. Check and check again.  As some of you found out we ended up not having enough stock to fulfill all the orders, despite visiting our factory to ensure that we did.  The problem was that the quantities stated on the outside of shipping cartons did not match up with the its contents in lot of cases.  I should have checked this but didn’t.
    2. Outsource with care.  The company I chose to help were the wrong company, in hindsight it’s glaringly obvious that it was a bad fit, they were too big and MURO does not fit into a standard fulfilment model. However, one big positive which has come out of this is the appreciation of how integral the whole supply chain is to our customer experience and I will be taking this on board going forward.  Moving fulfilment in-house will allow us to give accurate and immediate information when customers have queries, rather than the current process which requires an email chain and leads to queries being lost.
    3. Lots of work to do.  The product still needs lots of work. We still have a range of toys to manufacture this year and released through MUROmembers, the retail packaging needs to be designed and some thing we have made need tweaking!

    I do not mean to sound gloomy, overall I’m very happy.  I’m proud of the product that has been produced and that the majority made their way to the right people on time.  2018 is going to be an important year, it’s time to take MURO out of its current stage (somewhere between prototype and product), build a commercial product and the infrastructure to support this.  I hope that MURO develops as much in 2018 as it did in 2017.

    Thank you for your support. Happy New year and all the best for 2018.