Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Why did I start Blomstrom.Tech?

For those of you that know me personally, you know that I love to help people with both mechanical or techie stuff. I love to tinker and learn. 
Apple II
I’ve been messing with computers since the days of the Apple II, and love to help people build custom machines that you just can’t find at the stores.
Along the way, I’ve had to learn how to connect machines together and my network skills grew. To organize information, I’ve created many websites over the years to help share between my design departments and the community.
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And I have been blessed to have designed PCB’s (Printed Circuit Boards) for some pretty cool devices over the years. (Palm pilot, GPS3 satellite, proto work that led to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon, US Robotics modems, supercomputers and avionics systems to name a few).
My first two jobs as a designer were at service bureaus that also built bare boards. This was an amazing time. So many different types of products and variety of build techniques needed to meet the customer’s needs. But my background extends into a variety of other DIY hobbies – engine rebuilding/car maintenance, building kitchen cabinets (and marching band props), routing 220V feeds, creating 3-way switch wiring, welding car frames, home plumbing, framing and sheetrock, building fences and decks, and so on. I was raised with the encouragement to research and try a project myself before looking for external help. And the projects always gave me new discoveries and the courage to try something more difficult. One example I have from my childhood – when I was 12, I replaced all the switches and outlets in the house my parents had bought when we first moved in. I never thought twice about this. That is until I was a dad with 12 year olds and couldn’t imaging them doing the same task.  I suppose it helped that my family was very middle class. We had to do work ourselves because paying someone else to do it wasn’t really an option most of the time. This mindset has continued throughout my life as I always tackle new challenges without being intimidated by the project. One summer when I was home from college, I remodeled my mom’s kitchen out of the blue because we had imagined it over the years. And my first car was a hand me down that I had to fix if I wanted a car.
Fast forward to today. I have worked for many technical companies, climbed the corporate ladder several times, and built design teams from scratch. In the end, the successes were always short lived because the companies made stupid decisions or just plain self-destructed. Big companies always trip over themselves, and their goals always outweigh the needs of the individuals. The idea of job security at a company is a dinosaur that disappeared years ago just like company paid pensions. And any process improvements or my professional growth only happens if it fits their agenda.
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Meanwhile in my community, I see friends and neighbors struggling to understand how to deal with all these electronics in our lives and in our homes. The advice and knowledge out in the wild is often flawed and doesn’t fix the problem, it just band-aides it. WiFi routers like this one pictured are like the old "boom boxes". They do several things, but none of them great. 
I have spent my whole life helping people where I can. Coming to the rescue if a computer crashes or some other problem arises. I have also sat at my various jobs for many years never quite feeling complete. The old adage of “you should do what makes you happy and then it’s not work!” never seemed to apply for me. Instead, I have a knack of finding companies with promises of growth, teams to build, and varieties of products, but only to instead discover they are drowning in closed thinking and redundant products. I watched as they made dumb decisions and disappeared into history. 
I have so much experience bottled up to just sit here and rot in an old school corporate office.
I first took notice of the new domain extension “.tech”. This got me thinking. Why don’t I start by grabbing a domain – and Blomstrom.Tech was born. But so what? What can I do with this?
I thought that this can become a very personal brand – of me! By putting my name front and center, it is not a clever company name that I can hide behind if I give bad service. It make me accountable and from there I can build trust from the services I provide.  

To begin that process, I resurrected an old server and built the website (Blomstrom.Tech) as my means of organizing my thoughts. As of this article, I’ve grouped together 4 general categories of services I can help others with.
I envision the first 3 to be targeted towards my community.
  • Network Design will help people get their houses and businesses wired for the 21st century.
  • PC Support will include helping people with their crashed PC’s, adding upgrades, and building the custom machine of their dreams.
  • Web Sites will help folks who want more than the DIY online tools like Wix can offer.
The 4th category I see being useful to anyone across the country.
  • PCB Design is something that I can help startups or big companies get their jobs done.
What’s the game plan? Well, here’s where I am going against conventional thinking. (no surprise – right?) Unlike the usual plan of saving $ to launch a startup, I intend this business to be like a self priming pump.
I refuse to take away resources from my family to build my idea.
There is no savings or slush fund to tap into. So then what – pray for money? Well, in a sense, yes. If this business is ever going to be a success, then it has to be alignment with HIS plans. And IF that is true, then the right doors and contacts will open. Some of those contacts have already started connecting. My first goals are pretty simple. Provide a service to someone that will yield me enough to file my LLC. Next will be my insurance and EIN. But then there is my BIG hurdle. In order to do PCB design, I need to either use an opensource (a.k.a. free) software tool or I need to spend some heavy cash to purchase licenses of the tool I’ve used my whole career. I am currently researching ways to raise that cash. One idea it to seek out an angel investor who would be willing to front the startup costs in exchange for some percentage of profits later. Another idea I am researching is this… perhaps as a kickstarter campaign, I could offer personal tutoring to a local young adult in PCB design (using said tool), and maybe even treat it as an internship to give them a “reference”. My industry has a distinct need of young talent and I know from my own family that not everyone is the right fit for college. For this, or several, young adult this would be the training needed to start their career into a very exciting world. I see opportunities constantly that require relocation to a different state. That is not the path I wish to take today at this point in my life, but is perfect for a young designer starting their career!
Perhaps you know someone willing to be an angel investor or a parent of a young adult who would benefit from an apprenticeship?

For some perspective of these CAD tools, they fall in the mid 5-figure range per user. So for an angel, that would be the target. But for an apprenticeship - compare that number versus a 4-year college. Except I would be teaching the skills, and presumably the industry contacts, to a young adult to begin a career! 

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