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Would you buy a homemade kit?

  • Yes, I like the innovative attitude!

  • Yes, if I could be guaranteed that I wasn't going to be mislead

  • This makes me uncomfortable, but I might if I see that a round or two have gone well

  • Absolutely not, too risky!


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soopirV

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Curious what the group's thoughts are on the idea of a non-company (i.e. individual) selling a finite number of HPR kits. If a regular on TRF posts that a small number of kits he or she created are for sale, would you be inclined to participate if the kit was appealing, or would the fact that it's not a regular vendor scare you off?

Let's say there was photographic evidence that the kits existed, and tracked evidence of the number of sold...so there's limited chance for you to be red-arrowed...and the kit features were clearly called out.
 

NateLowrie

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Curious what the group's thoughts are on the idea of a non-company (i.e. individual) selling a finite number of HPR kits. If a regular on TRF posts that a small number of kits he or she created are for sale, would you be inclined to participate if the kit was appealing, or would the fact that it's not a regular vendor scare you off?

Let's say there was photographic evidence that the kits existed, and tracked evidence of the number of sold...so there's limited chance for you to be red-arrowed...and the kit features were clearly called out.
I think it's fine and if it's a cool kit at an appealing price point I would be interested. 3 things you need to do:
  • Use PayPal. Easy to take and peace of mind that the customer can get the money back if you don't deliver.
  • Ship fast. Only ship product you have in stock, built, and ready to go.
  • Communicate frequently.

Do those things and your golden.
 

Cl(VII)

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I would have to say yes, as I have been kicking around the same idea. Good luck.
 

Steve Shannon

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I'd have no problem with what you're proposing, but I suspect you're taking a bit more of a risk without the protection of having an LLC between you and a litigious customer.
 

sl98

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You may want to reconsider how you sell, i.e. Individual vs company. A company helps protect your individual assets. In other words, are willing to accept individual liability if someone gets hurt from a product you sell?
 

MClark

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I sold 100 4" Crayon kits about 15 years ago.
I took personal checks and had no problems.
A good product at a reasonable price it is easy to sell a lot of them.
Be sure to figure all your costs especially shipping, tape and boxes can add up.

M
 

soopirV

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I'd have no problem with what you're proposing, but I suspect you're taking a bit more of a risk without the protection of having an LLC between you and a litigious customer.
You may want to reconsider how you sell, i.e. Individual vs company. A company helps protect your individual assets. In other words, are willing to accept individual liability if someone gets hurt from a product you sell?
These are great points, and I guess I wasn't being evasive enough, huh? You all have seen right through my "so a friend is wondering..." ruse ;)

Definitely a legal question, but can a vendor be held liable for a failure of a product that was assembled by the user? I suppose in today's crazily litigious society, anything is possible...but I just was reading about "80% lowers" and how they're perfectly legal...and if ever there was a kit form of something, that would be a great example.
 

soopirV

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I sold 100 4" Crayon kits about 15 years ago.
I took personal checks and had no problems.
A good product at a reasonable price it is easy to sell a lot of them.
Be sure to figure all your costs especially shipping, tape and boxes can add up.

M
I'm really stoked by the favorable response here. You raised a good point, and I want to be sure I comprehend- the point made earlier by Nate about PayPal was to provide a degree of protection to the buyer, not the seller. I think it's great that you were successful with Personal Checks, and while I only know a few people here personally (and maybe they would even disagree), I wouldn't balk at accepting a check. However, since the risk is mostly on the buyer's side in a transaction like this, I think PayPal is an ideal solution.

I do want to stress, however, that this is literally a thought-question...I do not have inventory, and if/when I do, I will declare how much, and if I sell out, I will stop taking orders!
 

ksaves2

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I'm really stoked by the favorable response here. You raised a good point, and I want to be sure I comprehend- the point made earlier by Nate about PayPal was to provide a degree of protection to the buyer, not the seller. I think it's great that you were successful with Personal Checks, and while I only know a few people here personally (and maybe they would even disagree), I wouldn't balk at accepting a check. However, since the risk is mostly on the buyer's side in a transaction like this, I think PayPal is an ideal solution.

I do want to stress, however, that this is literally a thought-question...I do not have inventory, and if/when I do, I will declare how much, and if I sell out, I will stop taking orders!
Ahhhhh, If you stop taking orders you might want to announce whether or not you are going to make new ones available after a sellout. A fellow in Ham Radio, Steve KD1JV, known for the ATS series of CW radios that fit in an Altoid tin always sold-out his kits to a bunch of anxious Ham Radio Morse code enthusiasts very quickly. That might not be the case with rocket kits but if you're honest and can't provide the promised product, a full refund if you've already accepted the funds goes a long way. Kurt
 

lawndartman

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Start with a small amount. Many before you have done this. Get a thick skin...
 

soopirV

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Ahhhhh, If you stop taking orders you might want to announce whether or not you are going to make new ones available after a sellout. A fellow in Ham Radio, Steve KD1JV, known for the ATS series of CW radios that fit in an Altoid tin always sold-out his kits to a bunch of anxious Ham Radio Morse code enthusiasts very quickly. That might not be the case with rocket kits but if you're honest and can't provide the promised product, a full refund if you've already accepted the funds goes a long way. Kurt
I

Start with a small amount. Many before you have done this. Get a thick skin...
This is PRECISELY why I want to be completely transparent with everyone- I'm not looking to start a business (haven't got the time at this point), but I may have some ideas that others would enjoy! If I decide to go forward, I will, (at my own expense of course!) procure necessary raw materials, do the fabrication necessary to convert to a high-quality kit with excellent documentation, and clearly state ONLY once the kits are packed and ready for distribution, that "x" number are available, and will run it like a typical "yard sale" on this forum- once all kits are gone, anyone who missed the sale will receive 100% refund, and I will clearly note that all inventory is consumed. IF it goes well, I will be encouraged to do the next one! If it doesn't, oh well, at least I'm the only one who would suffer (as I should, if the kit doesn't sell!).

As I said, my interest isn't to be the next Madcow or Wildman!
 

sl98

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Definitely a legal question, but can a vendor be held liable for a failure of a product that was assembled by the user?
Let's say a bystander is watching a launch and is injuries by one of your kits. They get an attorney. A good personal injury lawyer (or a bad one for that matter) will go after anyone and everyone who is possibly liable. You may or may not be found liable as the kit manufacturer. However, If you are found liable don't want your personal assets to be at risk.
 
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chris m

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I like the idea . I'm one not to follow , like scratch built and the little guy or a kit company that not everyone uses
 

AeroAggie

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... the kits are packed and ready for distribution, that "x" number are available, and will run it like a typical "yard sale" on this forum- once all kits are gone, anyone who missed the sale will receive 100% refund
I think batch mode is the way to go, but you should structure it in a way that no refunds have to be given. Only accept payments for inventory on hand and not one cent more. If you don't want to go full on store front, I'd recommend doing what Eggtimer guy does - you send him an email with your order request and he sends you a paypal invoice *if* he has it in stock. You pay the invoice, he ships the product. No invoice, no sale, and no refunds have to be processed or feelings hurt if the refund isn't timely.

I spend about 95% of my waking hours trying to find ways to make money in my hobbies, even if it's just enough to be self sustaining. What I've found is that unless you are prepared to go all in and get access to wholesale materials, no amount of good ideas are going to make you any money if you have to buy raw materials at retail prices.
 

Cl(VII)

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I'll echo what others have said about legal protection. Our side business is in race timing, running races has obvious risks to the participants, so the first thing we did was form an LLC. It was a bit of a chore, but nothing that wasn't accomplished with a little research, and $300 to the state of TX to form it (TX is one of the most expensive states for this, many are free).
 

boatgeek

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I spend about 95% of my waking hours trying to find ways to make money in my hobbies, even if it's just enough to be self sustaining. What I've found is that unless you are prepared to go all in and get access to wholesale materials, no amount of good ideas are going to make you any money if you have to buy raw materials at retail prices.
So here's a question that I was kicking around in roughly the same vein. What really separates rockets from one another is the fins and the length. What if you came out with a "kit" that was basically just the plywood parts, some unique fins and centering rings? Then you tell the customer which pre-slotted tube and nose cone they need to buy at LOC or one of the other big vendors. Parachute, shock cord, etc. can all be spec'd out for the customer to either buy or use something else from their fleet or build pile. This is more semi-scratch than a kit, but it saves the customer cutting out fins while still getting them something different from everyone else at the launch.
 

les

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I would be very interested, so long as the kits are reasonably priced and more than a 3FNC. I got multiple kits from K&S before they went "south".
 

Dad Man Walking

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Let's say a bystander is watching a launch and is injuries by one of your kits. They get an attorney. A good personal injury lawyer (or a bad one for that matter) will go after anyone and everyone who is possibly liable. You may or may not be found liable as the kit manufacturer. However, If you are found liable don't want your personal assets to be at risk.
Just being involved in litigation would suck up more money than you would ever make selling small batches of kits, just sayin' The corporate structure offers some protection but doesn't come cheap either, you have to incorporate, file tax returns for the corporation or LLC, potentially get a business license, etc... And then when you actually get assets you want to protect, you have to start thinking about insurance....

I'd say that trying to protect yourself via that approach won't pay for itself. Maybe you should just stay broke, have fun, spin out a few kits to test the market, get a lawyer friend to write up a one-sided disclaimer of warranty and an indemnity agreement (the customer will pay for your legal bills if someone sues you over a rocket they built and flew) that the customer is agreeing to by default when he or she tears into the package.

Or just say screw it and have fun.
 

soopirV

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I would be very interested, so long as the kits are reasonably priced and more than a 3FNC. I got multiple kits from K&S before they went "south".
I agree- nothing against 3 and 4FNC, they have a place, but on the other side, we also can't have intrinsically-unstable oddities. My tastes lie with complex fin arrangements and body modifications that are visually exciting and are stimulating to build. It has to be stable, and I will provide RockSim/Openrocket files for each. I come from a medical device background, on the pre-commercial side, so I plan to do some additional Voice Of Customer research once I get some more preliminary data. If things measure up, I hope to have my first small batch (artisanal rockets? Am I that Hipster?) shortly after!
 

soopirV

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Just being involved in litigation would suck up more money than you would ever make selling small batches of kits, just sayin' The corporate structure offers some protection but doesn't come cheap either, you have to incorporate, file tax returns for the corporation or LLC, potentially get a business license, etc... And then when you actually get assets you want to protect, you have to start thinking about insurance....

I'd say that trying to protect yourself via that approach won't pay for itself. Maybe you should just stay broke, have fun, spin out a few kits to test the market, get a lawyer friend to write up a one-sided disclaimer of warranty and an indemnity agreement (the customer will pay for your legal bills if someone sues you over a rocket they built and flew) that the customer is agreeing to by default when he or she tears into the package.

Or just say screw it and have fun.
This is the terribly sad reality today- I am not looking to get rich, I may not even have ideas that appeal to the public, but the mere risk of litigation is enough to scare the bejeezus out of an individual. I actually deal with risk like this daily, however, and the even sadder part is, despite our own legal department, we still occasionally get sued because someone did something stupid that we told them was dumb, yet they did it anyway, and so we're on the hook...I think the advice to look into an LLC is wise, and also will ask a lawyer friend to weigh in on the worth of the release...
 

dhbarr

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If things measure up, I hope to have my first small batch (artisanal rockets? Am I that Hipster?) shortly after!
Coming soon, from Free Range Rocketry:. "Fair Trade", a deep space cargo hauler.
 

mkadams001

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You are not starting a business and you are selling a bag of parts to someone. Does everyone who sells on craigslist or eBay need to have an LLC?
 

RocketFeller

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I agree- nothing against 3 and 4FNC, they have a place, but on the other side, we also can't have intrinsically-unstable oddities. My tastes lie with complex fin arrangements and body modifications that are visually exciting and are stimulating to build. It has to be stable, and I will provide RockSim/Openrocket files for each. I come from a medical device background, on the pre-commercial side, so I plan to do some additional Voice Of Customer research once I get some more preliminary data. If things measure up, I hope to have my first small batch (artisanal rockets? Am I that Hipster?) shortly after!
I feel the same way. I have built plenty of 3FNC and 4FNC rockets in the past, but they don't tend to grab my attention. A really cool sci-fi kit would tempt me for sure, if the price isn't outrageous.

I have talked with Mike at Binder Design, and from what I gather it is hard to commercially produce these type of kits without the cost of production exceeding what people want to pay, unfortunately.
 

Mr Rocket

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You are not starting a business and you are selling a bag of parts to someone. Does everyone who sells on craigslist or eBay need to have an LLC?
If all you do is sell a bag of parts, you may be correct. However, when you include instructions, you are crossing the line into an implied warranty of usability if the end user follows your instructions. If the product ends up being marginally stable due to the design, or because the end user misunderstood your instructions, it could still put you on the hook.

Just FYI - On a recent episode of The Rocketry Show, John Boren stated that all Estes kits are supposed to be designed to a minimum of something like 1.5 calipers stability. I assume this is to provide a margin of safety if someone overbuilds, and gets way too much weight aft or puts a larger engine in than the rocket was designed.
 
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GrouchoDuke

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Just FYI - On a recent episode of The Rocketry Show, John Boren stated that all Estes kits are supposed to be designed to a minimum of something like 2.5 or 3.5 calipers stability. I assume this is to provide a margin of safety if someone overbuilds, and gets way too much weight aft or puts a larger engine in than the rocket was designed.
I think he said a min of 1.5. Either way, it's worth a listen to that episode. Those are obviously all subsonic rockets, but he had some good thoughts on the process.
 

Mr Rocket

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I think he said a min of 1.5. Either way, it's worth a listen to that episode. Those are obviously all subsonic rockets, but he had some good thoughts on the process.
You are correct sir, he did say 1.5. I will correct my post:facepalm:
 
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