Big Decision Part 2: From Corporate Suit to Hippy Geek

Rich and Jon

I mentioned in a post a while back that I was planning to leave my previous job to try to put something new together. Well a whole lot has happened since then and so I reckon it’s probably about time for a bit of an update.

I eventually left Siemens at the end of September 2013 after an eight month notice period (blame a lack of self-confidence!) and, along with fellow geek Richard Hackett, we formed Polyhedrus Electronics Ltd in order to grab an opportunity that came our way to work in the world of motor sport.

The opportunity seemed like a pretty straightforward one: to come up with a sensor that can make contactless linear measurements over a variety of lengths. We were pointed at a bunch of existing products in the marketplace that were close to what was required and off we went.

Within a few months Rich and I had a working prototype that came close to meeting the spec. It didn’t quite have the linear range we needed and the output, an analogue voltage signal, didn’t quite have the range we were after but when it was demonstrated at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis towards the end of 2013 it caused quite a stir and it wasn’t long before orders came in and we were suddenly faced with the prospect of turning our prototype into a full on production unit.

This is pretty much where we are now. The first few production units are out there and are being tested by an F1 team who are hoping to use them in the 2014 season. We’ve also produced a capacitive fuel level sensor PCB and have a few other exciting projects on the go which I’m sure we’ll be discussing over the coming months.

So the million dollar question then, was it worth it?

Well the answer at the moment would have to be, “Hell yeah!”

I wouldn’t say that we’ve got it completely nailed yet. Unlike Rich who has worked at home for many years, I’m still getting used to that aspect of the work (hardest thing is to stop!) There are still a few niggles with the boards that we’re working through and timescales in motor racing are crazy so we’ve had to make that adjustment too. Trying to get a production process and supply chain going at short notice is a huge challenge and we’re still debugging that. Our feet haven’t touched the ground in the last 6 months!

Despite all of this though I think it’s fair to say that this has been an exhilarating experience and we’re loving it. Rich and I decided very early on that the core value of our new business would be Freedom. Freedom to travel (we both enjoy that), freedom to work the way we want to work and freedom to explore new and interesting technology and ideas. The business has a bit of a hippy vibe to it that I love and we’ll need to work hard to make sure that the daily pressures of keeping our business going don’t detract from that.

For anyone out there who is thinking of doing something like this themselves I’d say go for it! Make sure you are doing something you love and seek out the work of people such as Seth Godin, Marianne Cantwell and others who can provide concrete help and advice.

Meanwhile if there’s anyone out there with a really cool idea and needs a couple of talented geeks to make it happen, feel free to drop me a line and we’d be more than happy to discuss it with you.

We’ve been too busy to get ourselves a website yet but we have just put together a small Facebook page if you fancy finding out more about what we’re up to. The link is https://www.facebook.com/polyhedruselectronics.

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