2012 was the 3rd year of JQ Products, and the 2nd year with products on the market. The novelty factor had worn off, we were not the new brand and car anymore, just another one out of many. We risked becoming just another car that no one really cared about. How do we stop that from happening? That was one of many questions on our minds during 2012.
Seems like a distant memory, but this picture was reality less than 3 years ago. Crazy!
I didn’t write half year reports last year, partly because I was lazy, and partly because I was working on stuff that I couldn’t write about at the time, and I couldn’t figure out how to write anything sensible when I couldn’t write about the main things I was doing. Not that anything I write is sensible, come to think of it. However, now even though I still can’t write about some of the things, I can at least take a look back at the year 2012 and look at the big picture. What happened and what did we learn!
To refresh our minds, lets take a quick look at what happened in the year 2012. It started off with a 3 month stay in USA. I stayed with a friend in Los Angeles and racked up an impressive list of stats: 57 days at track, 24 days longest stretch of days at the track. I think I ran about 12 gallons, I couldn’t find the info, I remember noting it down.
I spent a lot of time at Revelation Raceway….
JQ Team drivers joined me for part of the time…
…some of them were really thankful and showed their appreciation when they left…
…most of the time I was really busy…
…I even had time to test some new ideas for 10th scale…
…but people thought I was doing this…
…but I have to admit I did do some of this…
… and after that I introduced Josh Hansen to RC Cars…
…I met Josh via J Smoker, who I was staying with, we raced at OCRC every week!…
…I also met this Lompoc Redneck, Justin Damarin who does what he wants, which includes running THECar, and wearing a Losi hoodie. This is a rare· picture of him without that hoodie He is a bit of a nutjob. This is his actual application for THE100 he sent us:
Justin “JQ is my bitch”·Damarin
Down by the river in California
Drove a Tyco Lobo Wolf once, but it broke
when i ran into a curb and i never fixed it
Why should I be a part of THE100?-
I will promote Losi the best i can.
#”%& off and accept me
Needless to say, he was accepted.
…We filmed a really cool video with John Cary. One day we will edit and release it…
…and at the end of it all I bought a new car… Ok so maybe I made that last bit up.
While I was there, I tested the Yellow Edition parts, that were then released in the spring. This was the first major update to THECar since its release 18 months prior. The new shocks and springs were a huge improvement, also the smooth gearing, along with smaller improvements to the chassis, fueltank and sideguards.
In 2012 JQ drivers kept performing well around the world with Matias Arangua winning the Chilean Championships, Rayan Medjoubi finishing 5th in the French Championships, and multiple national wins around the world. Durability issues were thankfully gone in 2012, and the focus changed to lacking QC in manufacturing and packing. On a personal level I made the European Championships A main again finishing 7th after a 4 year stretch of missing the main, I won the Nordic Championships after a 3 year stretch of not winning, and won the Finnish Championships again after missing 2 out of the 4 races last year. On the racing side of things, we were heading in the right direction. I also attended some 1:10th offroad races doing research and testing for a future JQ 10th scale. We released the RTR in the summer, and filmed a lot of how to videos, and a popular RTR action video In conclusion, we not only survived 2012, but were actually able to grow our producline. Not bad.
A superfan from Cyprus also got a tattoo!
And someone has this on their wall! We have at least managed to make an impact as a brand!
Running a Business
I think my situation would be almost perfect right now, if I didn’t have to actually run the business, and we had more money. Running a business gets old quickly, when you want to be doing something else. The good things are I never have the feeling ”oh crap I have to go to work” or ”it’s Monday tomorrow”. I also do not have to use an alarm to wake up. Two great things in life, it is incredible how much these seemingly minor points affect me. But on the other hand I do have to spend a lot of time doing and thinking about things that I really do not want to be worrying about. I want to design, test, race, and be involved, but not responsible for, marketing. And I would like to be making a decent living. That’s all! I don’t want to have to deal with hundreds of emails a day, financial plans, paying bills, organising paperwork, managing other people’s tasks, stressing about money, release dates, or future plans. You can’t have everything I guess. I would still rather be doing this, than any 9-5 job though, don’t get me wrong.·
Don’t get me wrong, it is great, I mean, would I otherwise be able to travel to South Korea for an RC Race? Hell no! But the positives don’t come easily or without sacrifice. It could be so much better.
·So what exactly was the problem? It was, and still is, simply the lack of money. We got off to a great start, we got THECar made, released it to the market, kept improving it, and were even able to release an RTR, and a new improved version of the original car. We went from 2 people in our bedrooms to 3 people, 2 in an office in Finland, and one drinking cocktails on the beach in Greece. That’s good right? Well not good enough. In order for us to grow further, we need more money than can be earned from sales of our products alone. This is pretty standard for most companies. A certain amount of money is needed to start up, and after that, in order to reach the next level, more money is needed. It is rare, that the income after the start up phase is so massive that it covers the cost of growing the company.·
·In our case, the reasons for the need of additional loans or investents are the need to hire more staff, which would enable us all to focus on our true strengths, instead of us being spread too thin doing a bit of everything. More staff would make it possible for us to improve every aspects of our business.·
·Along with the need of more staff, we require additional funds to cover the development costs of new products that would complement our line. A full productline would then enable us to sustain a good level of income for a suitable amount of staff, and would make it possible for us to have the funds needed to improve our products as well as our racing efforts.·
We need a bigger family!
·Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like we are going to go bankrupt any minute, but more like, this is where we are at, and we are stuck.To make money, first you have to have money. Unfortunately this seems to be the way of the world. So why don’t we just get more loans, or find an investor? It isn’t that easy. In order to get loans in this financial climate, we need to be able to back the loan with something, which we can’t do. As for an investor, almost without exception, the expectation is to make the money back many times over within a few years. The focus is on growing fast, maximising profit, and selling the business. That isn’t my goal. I want to make the best products, I want to create a great brand, I want to keep doing this. I don’t care if I need to make 10 different short course and monster trucks, and small helicopters in order to make more money. JQ Products is a racing company, with a handful of RTRs. We aren’t going to shift our focus in order to make some investor happy.·
It’s all about the benjamins I’m afraid! But it’s not like we are about to give up. Never give up, just work harder.
·If it is so hard, then why not just give up? The reason I put up with this, the lack of money and the fact that I can’t focus on what I enjoy, is that I believe that one day things will be different. It has to do with the two key ingredients anyone who tries to achieve anything posesses, determination and believing in oneself. I am determined to succeed, and if I have to make sacrifices in my life to succeed, so be it.·
·There is however one major personal concern. The source of my determination and motivation is the want to win. For me to ever be able to win a major championship, like a European or World Championship, I need to not only have great equipment, but also the opportunity to focus on practicing, testing and racing. I am not an exceptional talent, I need everything to be perfect in order to have a chance to win. I believe that our car will be extremely competitive at the highest level within a year, but what I doubt, is that the company will be at a point where I can create an environment where I can get really confortable and confident on track, so that I can realistically challenge for a win. This is my only real worry in this whole situation. What if we just keep struggling and I just keep burning myself out, and never get a legitimate chance to try and race for the win? I can’t accept that. The thought of missing my chance creates a sense of urgency. I need to make this work now!
Being Korean Champion is cool too, but it’s not the reason I am doing this. I have bigger dreams. Some say too big, I say that’s what you said when I said I was making a car…
New Products – The Difficulty of Development, QC, and Relying on Sales in Our Industry
I really enjoy developing an existing car. Creating something completely new is rewarding, but I feel like I am not good enough yet to design something from scratch, that turns out to be the best immediately. I just don’t have the needed experience. How can you expect to be the best the first time you do something? As such, designing a completely new car is not as rewarding to me, as developing an existing car. With an existing car I have a base, and due to extensive knowledge and understanding of the car, I can see and understand the reasons for improvements more clearly. That is fun and rewarding to me.
One thing that I find difficult is keeping new developments secret, and actually I wish they didn’t need to be secret. I wish I could tell all JQ followers about all the interesting work we are doing, and the results of our testing. I know a lot of people enjoy reading about all that. But unfortunately, we rely on sales of our current models, and if people know of a new model, they will stop buying the current one. We can’t afford that. I wish that was different.
Being in Finland is challenging, because our season is so short. In order to be able to test new products before the season, one has to travel somewhere else, which is expensive, and time consuming. It would be so much easier to just be able to test as a part of our normal routine, any time of the year. The good thing about Finland is that we can test and race whatever, and the news doesn’t spread outside of Finland.·
Testing new steering geometry already a year ago.
·One very hard thing to manage with limited resources, is achieving and maintaining high quality. Even with the small size of our operation, and with the existing quality control (QC) at our manufaturer, a dedicated JQ Products QC person would have a full time job. We could easily employ someone fulltime, who would just focus on quality all day long, improving, and also controlling quality, in everything we make. This is one difficult task, and one of our major focus areas in the future.·
·Another challenge is the fact that since we rely on product sales for our income, we can’t do exactly what we want, like our slogan claims we do. Production of a new product takes time, specially if it includes plastic parts that require moulds. So lets say we have tested new parts and figured out that they work well enough that we want to release them. From that time, to the time the products are released, is anything from 2-4 months, sometimes even 6 months. That is way too long! During that time, we have already moved forward, and if we say that what we are releasing is 2.0, we are already on to 3.0. So we are releasing the latest new part or car, but have already moved on to the next version. This can be really frustrating. I want us to be racing the latest and best car possible, but if we are at the same time just releasing what we had figured out months ago, how can we? This was the problem with the Yellow Edition. We figured out the Yellow Edition end of 2011, but were only able to release it in the spring of 2012. At that time, we had already figured out that actually making a wider chassis, moving the weight further out was better. So we were releasing a new car with the same weight distribution as the first car, but with a slimmer chassis, eventhough we knew that a wider chassis was actually better, but something we couldn’t release for at least another 6 months. ”Just shoot me” was how I felt.·
Running the YE chassis at races, and testing with the wide chassis last year.
·The fact that we rely on our sales to run the company, slows down our development, as we can’t always race the best car, or what we are actually working on. This frustrates me like crazy! Not being able to be as open and truthfull as I want, and not being able to race what I know to be the best we have, is a problem that needs to be solved somehow. Any ideas?
During 2012 we managed to improve the handling of THECar greatly. I wrote a Yellow Edition setup guide which you can read HERE. I pretty much ended up using the JQB285 (6×1.0 + 4×1.2) conical, flat side down, silver spring front, white rear, on all Finnish tracks, and most low traction European tracks. They just made the car smooth and fast! On US style tracks with many jumps, or high grip tracks these pistons didn’t have enough pack, so I changed to JQB272 (mutlihole) conical, flat side own, same springs. Shock and link positions were the same everywhere. I just changed swaybars according to traction, 2.4 front 2.5 rear up to 2.6 front 2.8 rear. Finding a setup that seemed to work well everywhere with only minor changes made it possible to become more comfortable racing THECar. (Latest THECar SetUps HERE!)
This may or may not have happened in 2012.
After starting the company in October of 2009, and releasing THECar in December 2010, we are still here in 2013, still against the odds, and still looking to achieve something of importance. It has been great to see that JQ Products has remained current, and polarising, with a growing number of fans, and hopefully a steady, or decreasing number of haters. If you don’t get strong reactions from people, both positive and negative, you aren’t doing it right! I would much rather have someone love or hate us, than not care at all. Looking back, I don’t even know how all of this has been possible at times. There have been times where any sane person would have quit, or situations where the only logical solution is one that wasn’t taken. I can only conclude that what truly matters when trying to achieve anything, is simply to never give up. I would like to thank all my friends and family for all their help over the past few years. Let’s keep on going and not let all the hard work go to waste. We have so many fun ideas that we haven’t had a chance to get to yet.
Lifetime – Worth staying alive for!