“When I’m walking down the street I see everyday objects and ask myself why that object exists. If I can find any possibility for improvement, I start to design it.” Min-Kyu Choi.
The newly launched folding MU plug uses less materials, less space yet meets current UK regulations for electric equipment, and will appeal to users of tablets, smartphones and ipods, which require a slim USB adapter.
It is a great case study for consideration of all aspects of entrepreneurship - risk taking, design, development, finance, marketing production and profits.
The designer’s philosophy is simple, he wanted to find a better form of electric plug, one which could be folded, used less plastic easily stored without damaging sensitive screens.
The original design won awards whilst Min-Kyu Choi was a student, but it has taken three years to bring the product to the market. The folding plug needed to be refined to meet existing UK technical requirements, funds had to be raised to produce prototypes, patents were taken out to stop others copying the design. Part of the development process was a result of a partnership with Matthew Judkins and the establishment of Made in Mind.
The product has a short memorable name - MU derived from the Greek word for small/micro, with a simple yet recognisable logo, important elements of marketing.
Decisions had to be made about prices, and volumes. The MU is available at a price of £25, from only one outlet, but if it is to reach a mass market, should the designer licence his design and accept royalties on each one sold, or should he sell the design onto the highest bidder? Can the product be produced in sufficient numbers to meet market demand? The design has won The Dyson Award, and has had plenty of media coverage including an interview with Rory Celand-Jones of the BBC.
The original design carried a three core wire to the folding plug but the newly launched folding plug will have a port for a USB device. It remains to be seen if this reaches the mass market. The firm hopes to launch a USB adapter for tablets and a power cord for laptops.
The MU encapsulates the key aspects of entrepreneurship, risk taking, product design, product development, finance, marketing and production decisions.