By Rubina Tuladhar (Student – MBA Entrepreneurship)
FabLab – the very first time we heard about it was through the college President – Narottam sir. I remember all of my classmates’ confused faces when he mentioned that we’ll be visiting there soon for our group projects, to further polish our business idea and make a product prototype for the same. Reflecting back, I can remember Narottam sir himself being very exhilarated while announcing King’s collaboration with FabLab; now I know why. So you must be wondering what FabLab is, right?
FabLab is a digital fabrication laboratory located at Nepal Communitere, Pulchowk where students and aspiring entrepreneurs like us can create, learn, invent, innovate, as well as get mentorship to take business concepts forward by bringing ideas to life. They have a global community with over 1,750 labs all over the world. I consider me and my batchmates fortunate enough to have this opportunity to collaborate with FabLab for our capstone course. From the collaboration of King’s with FabLab, we got access to not only the advanced technology but also its creative environment, the much needed guidance, and skills that facilitated us to make prototypes for our respective business ideas.
Talking about our business idea, me and my team came up with this concept to produce and sell organic lip balms. I know, I know, you probably must be thinking that there already exist tons of organic lip balms in the market. So why us? Well, the major differentiating factor for our product was the eco-friendly and innovative packaging. We planned to offer our product in three packaging- aluminum containers, keyrings, and pop sockets to make it more convenient for our users. Since the keyring and pop socket lip balms are a fairly new concept in the Nepalese market, we were facing some challenges while trying to explain our idea to our potential customers. We did show them a few sample pictures to which they seemed considerably interested, however, they were eager to actually see and physically feel the actual product. And so, as soon as we were informed about the visit to FabLab, we were thrilled to work with them and come up with our prototypes.
Since the [the idea was] a fairly new concept in the Nepalese market, we were facing some challenges while trying to explain our idea to our potential customers. We did show them a few sample pictures to which they seemed considerably interested, however, they were eager to actually see and physically feel the actual product.
The first visit was an orientation where we were given a tour of different areas in the FabLab like Electronic/ 3D printing, Moulding, Makerspace, CNC Routing, Textile and Laser, and many more. The Electronic/ 3D printing was fascinating and piqued my curiosity as this was what would be of most help to us. Pradita Pradhan, a core team member of FabLab team, and Bipin Sharma, Maker, and Technical Associate, were very friendly and guided us throughout the prototype process explaining each step of the machinery. Likewise, we were educated on what was happening and how we could make our prototype better keeping the customer’s needs and convenience in mind. For our lip balm project, we decided to make one prototype for each type of packaging that was a total of three prototypes. The normal container wasn’t very complex to make. However, the keyring and pop socket container took us two to three iterations until we obtained our desired design. The main reason behind this was to make our packaging a little less bulky and easily portable. Nevertheless, we were able to attain a myriad of technical information during the iteration process as well. Having a tangible prototype made us more excited and motivated about our project and also helped us to visually communicate the product with our potential customers to get necessary feedback for further iteration that could best match their expectation.
All in all, the capstone course and collaboration with FabLab was the perfect ending for our MBA course and helped us with detailed understanding, which wasn’t only limited to the prototype development process, but also various soft skills required in our professional lives, such as communication, teamwork, time management, problem-solving, leadership, and much more. I’d recommend all the students and individuals aiming to test/experiment their business concept and process to utilize this opportunity to work with FabLab for gaining more knowledge and experience of how things actually work in the product development process. Good luck!