• This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn more.

New Flite Test style Companies; Copyright, kits and spreading the hobby

JamesWhom

Project Air on YouTube
#1
So, a new FT style company. Intrigued?

I have, for a good four or five years now, been very engaged with the FT community. I have been continuly expanding my outreach to different areas - first planes, then making videos, then designing, then getting into multirotors, writing articles... I've been lucky in finding some success with all of these ventures which is why I want to take another leap. The next step I want to take is to begin a new company like Flite Test.

project_air-v1.jpg

Now, many of you may be like, 'woah there buddy, that's quite a big task you're setting yourself there!' but the way I see it is this: Flite Test is all about spreading the RC hobby. It thrives on being passionate about RC and wanting to help people get more engaged in making things and comming together in a community (or family even). I would like to contribute to this by starting a modest project that will involve a Youtube channel with proffessional, regular videos and an online site and store which supplies the UK (and maybe Europe).

It's going to be called 'Project Air'.

How far have I got with this? Well, here is a little list to give you an idea of the steps I've taken already.
  • Designed a website
  • Started a Youtube channel
  • Secured £500 grant from univerisity entrepreneur club
  • Researched, researched, researched.
  • Started designing products (various aircraft and smaller things like control horns etc)
  • Had a logo designed by a graphic designer (who is also a friend - mates rates!)

You see, I'm just finishing college in the UK now, and I'm feeling like I want to have a project like this along side getting full time employment somewhere. You could say I have a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit which has now been combined with my passion for RC aviation ;)

Here's the thing though - I want to make sure this project is not competing with FT, nor a blaitent copy. I want to make it, in a small way, compliment this fantastic community and provide for them in places that FT doesnt currently go.

What do you guys think of this? Your imput will really help grow this idea into something more physical. :)

Many thanks,
-James
 
Last edited:

Hai-Lee

Old and Bold RC PILOT
#2
My thoughts?:rolleyes: Good luck!

There are a few issues with FT for those who are not based in the US and they are the time difference and hence access to meaningful answers from persons on the other side of the world and the cost of transport. When added to material supply issues it makes FT far less mainstream on the other side of the planet

As for your design efforts they may be of relevance to locals in your country only, due to material and logistics issues. Your biggest issue to overcome is local market acceptance and penetration if you intend to market your designs.I am working on my own business here but from a different direction in that there is little in the way of grants available in Aus. I am doing market research with product samples to get known via "word of mouth" or by letting the products speak for themselves.

As for a company model related to the FT model you might find it beneficial long term to form some form of association or the like with the FT group to promote the RC businesses rather than to effectively compete and thereby attempt to split the "Pie" amongst the separate companies.

If possible you could even approach local hobby publications like "RCM&E" and offer designs and kits for their evaluation, something I had planned for a few years hence.

As for your design efforts I recommend that you plug into the local RC scene and get them yo test and evaluate your designs as you can learn a lot from their experience or lack thereof. many of my own designs that I love and fly trouble free are nothing but problems for some RC "Experts" and a process of listening and development is highly recommended or the best of designs can be commercial failures because of market misconceptions.

As you can tell I am already doing what you are seeking to do but with extreme care on what I am marketing at this time and the copyright implications in even contemplating reproducing FT designs. In the current technological environment there is great scope for material experimentation and development and in this area I have had some success and market acceptance albeit on a minuscule level.

Should you wish to expand my post to a personal discussion just PM me on the forum. I would be happy to give any help I can offer.

have fun!
 

rockyboy

Skill Collector
Mentor
#3
I think this is awesome! And I'm pretty darn sure the 'big-wigs' at Flite Test will agree!

Not being based in the UK myself I'm not your core demographic for store orders, but I enjoy your content and contributions here in the forums, and will be happy to support your channel and provide feedback on your site and content.
 

JamesWhom

Project Air on YouTube
#4
Should you wish to expand my post to a personal discussion just PM me on the forum. I would be happy to give any help I can offer.

have fun!
Hi Hai, thank you so much for your detailed responce. I really appriciate your time to reply with all of that advice and your thoughts on this project :) I will be sure to PM you in the near future to run a few ideas past you. I think having connections with people like yourself who are already on this sort of journey could be really benificial for both parties involved.

Cheers!
 

JamesWhom

Project Air on YouTube
#5
I think this is awesome! And I'm pretty darn sure the 'big-wigs' at Flite Test will agree!

Not being based in the UK myself I'm not your core demographic for store orders, but I enjoy your content and contributions here in the forums, and will be happy to support your channel and provide feedback on your site and content.
Haha 'big-wigs', I'm pleased you think so. Thank you for offering support despite not being in the UK. Aside from the store, I hope to reach out around the world with this project, especially with Youtube content, so having people like yourself on board will be great!
 

Hai-Lee

Old and Bold RC PILOT
#6
James,

There is currently a huge gap in the RC market as it evolves into new areas. There are those who have been raised in RC technologies of their time that are finding it difficult to continue on purchasing the craft they were brought up with.

Balsa kits are still available though the offerings are becoming somewhat diminished in number and diversity. he old days of being able to buy foam cores through your local model shop have almost finished.

Current manufacturers have limited production runs which are supported with spares for a time and then all just ceases.

FliteTest has opened the door to new materials and ideas but have stuck steadfastly to their original business model which whilst it is innovative will eventually need to evolve or perish, customers are somewhat fickle at times.

With the internet eventually taking the majority of retail purchases now and into the future the pricing advantage or margin within we would need to operate would be within the cost of, international freight, delivery times, distributor costs, convenience for local retailers, ongoing spares supply, local warranty support.

Ideally the best way forward is to have a group regional businesses each based in his or her own country or region making and distributing identical and unique products. The unique products could be the result of collaborative effort in design with the designs being free to other group members. All products advertised via a single web site and available locally in each region. Regions based upon international borders or population served would be ideal and concern costs, website Etc could eb split based upon sales in each region once operating.

Some tooling might be required for the businesses to be able to function fully but this is no different to any other business.

As for designs in FB and other materials I have more than I can possibly build at this time and quite a few are not copies of any other design past or present in any material.

Look forward to hearing your business model and your aspirations for the business you are looking to start.

Have fun!
 

JamesWhom

Project Air on YouTube
#7
I completly agree with you. I think espeically by filling the gaps in the national markets and working together as regional/local buisnesses, independent spheres will be able to supply groups of RC hobbists without having to divide up the 'pie' that you spoke of and compete with each other. I think your idea of having essentially products produced under licence in each country is what I was aiming to make happen.

My long term goals would be to establish a connection with Flite Test and work with them to spread distribution centres around the world - that is if this is one of their eventual goals too. I see it as a similar way to how automotive companies work, having different manufacturing plants in different countries. Again - 'Woah there buddy! This is pretty ambitious!' I stress this is a long term goal, something that would be nice to aim for. As this is for now a long way away and at this early stage, I will focus on building up my own unique brand and seeing what happens later; this is how you proove yourself to be capable afterall!

Also, what you said about different materials is interesting; I have been toying with the idea of designing kits in balsa, with similar standard techniques and simple construction. I may have a go at putting some ideas together for some designs at a later date. We will have to see how that plays out. :) I completly agree that buisnesses like Flite Test will need to inovate or risk being outdone by another company - an expance into a new area such as balsa construction and new materials may be a way forward for them. I think this espeically applies for their experienced members market; I for one see foam board as great in many regards, yet its limited longevity makes for not an ideal material for builds where you want your plane to last more than two-three years of constant use. Balsa and other materials may well be a way to provide for these builders who want greater life for their planes.

IMG_0101 2.jpg
My 'Super Detailed FT Spitfire' has unfortunatly suffered from foam board's limited lifespan. It still exists after 3-4 years but has now mostly religated to hanging on a wall.

I think a few reasons why FT has not yet delved into setting up this sort of thing in another country is:
a) Quality control needs to be on-point. Any defects will fall back on them.
b) They may want an FT associate to set up the first manufacturing facility to FT spec - David Windestäl would be pretty ideal.
c) They simply haven't got there yet - because FT is still relitively small and wants to focus on the US for now. (this one is probably the main reason)

Anyway - exciting stuff if I can start this ball rolling and get something started! :)
 
Last edited:

Jugsy

New member
#8
Awesome idea! Sounds like your heart's in the right place regarding spreading the hobby, as long as it's all about that I don't foresee FT having a problem with this at all!

I wonder if there's any scope to have official 'Friends of Flitetest' status for those who want smaller, more localized groups?
 

JamesWhom

Project Air on YouTube
#9
Awesome idea! Sounds like your heart's in the right place regarding spreading the hobby, as long as it's all about that I don't foresee FT having a problem with this at all!

I wonder if there's any scope to have official 'Friends of Flitetest' status for those who want smaller, more localized groups?
Thanks for your kind words man :) 'Friends of Flitetest' sounds great!
 

Hai-Lee

Old and Bold RC PILOT
#10
Sadly Balsa is often regarded by new generations of RC enthusiasts as an ancient or obsolete medium and I have been working to bring some of the benefits of balsa back into the current design scene with some limited success.

See one of my experiments in Balsa-Board techniques which is still flying without need for repair after a number of nose in landings and a stall induced cartwheel along the runway.

http://forum.flitetest.com/showthread.php?32734-Balsa-Foamboard-test-build-FT-Spitfire

SUNP0002.JPG

Mind you this is just one material selection or combination of many I currently am dabbling in to improve damage resistance and maintain structure integrity and of course lightness.

Also bear in mind the posted experiment is way old news as the technique has evolved in the intervening weeks.

Have fun!
 
Last edited:

JamesWhom

Project Air on YouTube
#11
Sadly Balsa is often regarded by new generations of RC enthusiasts as an ancient or obsolete medium and I have been working to bring some of the benefits of balsa back into the current design scene with some limited success.

See one of my experiments in Balsa-Board techniques which is still flying without need for repair after a number of nose in landings and a stall induced cartwheel along the runway.

http://forum.flitetest.com/showthread.php?32734-Balsa-Foamboard-test-build-FT-Spitfire

View attachment 85436

Mind you this is just one material selection or combination of many I currently am dabbling in to improve damage resistance and maintain structure integrity and of course lightness.

Also bear in mind the posted experiment is way old news as the technique has evolved in the intervening weeks.

Have fun!
Intriguing!

Yes, I think that sadly that is the case with balsa being regarded as a long gone age. However, I think with someone like Flite Test showing the potential of what can be done with the material would rather reverse this commonly held thinking - this is probably another I could try and promote too with 'Project Air'.

Your spitfire looks great! It's these sorts of community innovations that should definitely be implemented more into future products. Laser cutting balsa is not too much of a stretch from laser cutting foam board afterall. :)
 

Hai-Lee

Old and Bold RC PILOT
#12
Seriously foamboard manufacturers do not normally make their own paper and currently Balsa suppliers provide planks. If there was a market for a balsa laminate, (Cut from the trunk in the same shaving method as used on other laminates), then the Balsa/Foam Board could be specifically made for laser cutting for our application. Sadly without money this is not likely to happen.

What I would really like to try, but material shortages in Aus make it difficult, would be to use a 1/64 inch Oak or similar laminate and sheet XPS put under the laser cutter. Current FT designs might be too heavy with such materials BUT a stronger material would definitely require far less material for the same strength.

Whilst FT designs are sound and somewhat fun they are nailed to a particular medium which is non-uniform globally and even changing in specification as has been shown in the changes experienced in the quality if the DTFB upon which most of the FT designs were originally built.

The idea of supplying a uniform material globally whilst ideal does defeat the transport margin of a local manufacturing basis group as from reports posted in the forums of warped and otherwise defective supplies of the material being encountered in the supplies of the original FB locally in the US.

I admire and applaud the business model of FT and as an entry level organisation promoting RC they would be almost impossible to beat or compete with and being intelligent I would not seek to try but rather I would like to try and value add or fill the gap between FT and the current mainstream manufacturers where the gap is widening.

The FT forum is full of posts of refurbishments of older Balsa RC aircraft and of people who are building their third, (PLUS), version of the same FT design. Even with your own Spitfire, (as you posted), there is a natural, (and relatively rapid), deterioration post build. It was in this area I made my initial material experiments with the aim of, (in perhaps 20 years), that someone would be posting a thread about refurbishing a FT based build. To do that it would need to last that long in reasonable condition.

This post is not a rant against FT because they have done and continue to fill a vital role in Global RC uptake especially in the US but their role is currently somewhat rigidly defined. When you posted FT styled companies I initially thought that you were "playing my song", but as our thread had evolved it has become apparent that you are seeking some sort of FT franchise which I am not.

My aim was to find a number of like minded persons who were willing to experiment globally with filling the ever widening gaps in the RC market. Small quantity, high quality, good return, micro-manufacturing with zero inventory. Sadly this was not the real topic of this thread.

I will follow this thread as long as it lasts but its aim is at odds with my aims/dreams.

Have fun!
 

JamesWhom

Project Air on YouTube
#13
Seriously foamboard manufacturers do not normally make their own paper and currently Balsa suppliers provide planks. If there was a market for a balsa laminate, (Cut from the trunk in the same shaving method as used on other laminates), then the Balsa/Foam Board could be specifically made for laser cutting for our application. Sadly without money this is not likely to happen.

What I would really like to try, but material shortages in Aus make it difficult, would be to use a 1/64 inch Oak or similar laminate and sheet XPS put under the laser cutter. Current FT designs might be too heavy with such materials BUT a stronger material would definitely require far less material for the same strength.

Whilst FT designs are sound and somewhat fun they are nailed to a particular medium which is non-uniform globally and even changing in specification as has been shown in the changes experienced in the quality if the DTFB upon which most of the FT designs were originally built.

The idea of supplying a uniform material globally whilst ideal does defeat the transport margin of a local manufacturing basis group as from reports posted in the forums of warped and otherwise defective supplies of the material being encountered in the supplies of the original FB locally in the US.

I admire and applaud the business model of FT and as an entry level organisation promoting RC they would be almost impossible to beat or compete with and being intelligent I would not seek to try but rather I would like to try and value add or fill the gap between FT and the current mainstream manufacturers where the gap is widening.

The FT forum is full of posts of refurbishments of older Balsa RC aircraft and of people who are building their third, (PLUS), version of the same FT design. Even with your own Spitfire, (as you posted), there is a natural, (and relatively rapid), deterioration post build. It was in this area I made my initial material experiments with the aim of, (in perhaps 20 years), that someone would be posting a thread about refurbishing a FT based build. To do that it would need to last that long in reasonable condition.

This post is not a rant against FT because they have done and continue to fill a vital role in Global RC uptake especially in the US but their role is currently somewhat rigidly defined. When you posted FT styled companies I initially thought that you were "playing my song", but as our thread had evolved it has become apparent that you are seeking some sort of FT franchise which I am not.

My aim was to find a number of like minded persons who were willing to experiment globally with filling the ever widening gaps in the RC market. Small quantity, high quality, good return, micro-manufacturing with zero inventory. Sadly this was not the real topic of this thread.

I will follow this thread as long as it lasts but its aim is at odds with my aims/dreams.

Have fun!

Well, I don't particularly see why FT, and other smaller organisations like the one I wish to set up, can't cover both! :) Foam board for beginners and balsa for the more experienced folks. I believe I have heard Josh Bixler saying that he wants to do some more balsa building videos at least.

Best of luck with your venture!
 

Hai-Lee

Old and Bold RC PILOT
#14
Currently FT type designs have begun appearing locally via Hobby King albeit at a ridiculous price for what you receive.

To me that appears to be a retailer/distributor of FT or FT like designs or product and so being a franchisee would possibly place me in direct competition with their, HK, distribution network which being Global in nature could cross-subsidise and drive any competition to financial ruin and out of business.

Unique product, product support, and micro-manufacture are the keys aspects to my heavily researched business model. In the western world manufacturers face the rising manufacturing might of China and similar Asian countries. A startup business in such an environment need to be highly flexible and almost extreme in quality to survive. Inventory and transport costs can quickly eat away at any cashflow or profit unless you have a large market on a global scale. That is not part of my business plan.

FT, HK, and other allied companies have the right to act and will always act in the manner that best suits their profitability and economic survival as is their right. From experience parent companies often exercise that right and normally at the cost of their franchisees. As I am a senior member of the human condition I do not have many attempts left in me so Whilst I have a very open business model it does exclude franchises or similar agreements which remove my right to protect my business interests.

If you want to discuss this further or in depth as to where market research is pointing in my area please use the PM function rather than to bore others with the topic.

Bob.
 

JamesWhom

Project Air on YouTube
#15
.


If you want to discuss this further or in depth as to where market research is pointing in my area please use the PM function rather than to bore others with the topic.

Bob.
Bob- Thank you for your continued interest and contribution of knowledge from your extensive research. As I say, If I need to continue the conversation about your plans and your market to understand more in general, I won't hesitate to PM you.

And to everyone else - I'm looking forward to hearing what you think! Would you watch a new British YouTube type RC show? Anything you'd like to see that flitetest doesn't currently do?