"Factories are learning the inner details of making high-quality product," Paprocki said. "The key is accepting that expertise and structuring your business so it takes advantage of that knowledge."
Paprocki's model essentially recasts 21st century product design and retailing, where prosperity comes at your partner's expense, to a more symbiotic relationship with factories and even retailers that play an active role. It works also for more complex products, such as the SFQ-01 sound platform with sophisticated network-enabled audio for a reasonable $199.
"If you accept that you really are partners with your factory and your sales channel, it opens up a new consumer tech design process that's fast, lean and creates unique products," he said.
Design, make and selling all at once
The investor wisdom packed into Paprocki's holistic worldview is obvious as he described how he and his firm dreamed up the Sound Rise. By staying in touch with his factories, Paprocki realized it would be cheaper and easier to stack speakers vertically into their units. That gave the unexpected bonus of raising the alarm clock off the desktop, perfect for sleepy morning eyes. Next, though he experimented with using touch-only controls a la the iPhone, his retail partner told him that was a mistake. Consumers have no interest in exploring the cutting edge of product interfaces first thing in the day -- it is good, old-fashioned, solid buttons they crave.
It all came together within a few weeks.
"We make really complex decisions on integrated product design what would take a larger company months," he said.
Not surprisingly, business has been solid for Soundfreaq. Revenues have effectively doubled year in and year out over the past four years, Paprocki said. He estimates his shop manages 25 unique products, with roughly 100 different colors and styles, including a line of rugged Bluetooth speakers.
"It's usually the basic, simple thing that defines a product," Paprocki said. "If you can get in touch with that and not lose it as you develop something, that's what sells ... it's not that hard once you figure it out."