It all starts with a problem and a simple idea
Well, here we go! I’ve been going back and forth on how to write the very first post about Modulos — problems we’re solving, ideas we’re getting and challenges we’re facing, and it seems to me that the best way to start is to start at the very beginning. The idea, the moment when it sparked, and the problem that caused that small spark that over the last (almost) two years lit a fire of ideas that got channeled into a startup called Modulos. Two years can seem like a lot, but if you’re as in love in the work that you’re doing as I am and if you’re determined on addressing even the smallest details with much care those two years can really seem like a moment. So, where’s the start of this wild road me and a couple of other seemingly crazy people that joined are on?
A small apartment, bad work desk and a beautiful summer day
Like most young people here in Croatia, I don’t own my own apartment. I rent it, and as always, renting an apartment while being on a budget calls for some (big) compromises. I compromised on apartment size, leaving me with the ol’ puzzle game of “where the hell do I fit that in this apartment”. My work desk was in my bedroom, and its surface was probably something like two night stands worth of surface — not something you’d call great for convenient placing of a large computer monitor, gadgets and laptop. Sure, there’s always the option of going to a store and buying your own one that would suit you better. I was even in a better position than most, with my father being a carpenter that builds (awesome) furniture, I could easily design a desk that would really fit the small space perfectly and give me the best surface possible in that space. But there’s always that “but”. A desk costs money. A custom one even more (even if you build it yourself, if you’re doing it right). And what happens when you move? Will it fit (perfectly) into the new space you have at your disposal? Would it be too big, or would you be able to fit a larger one in there? Or would that new space be perfect for a corner desk?
So I abandoned the idea of getting my own desk, and sat outside on my small balcony, drank coffee, enjoyed the beautiful weather and thought of that problem. At that time (not much unlike now), the economic crisis was still fully on in Croatia and business was tough. My father wasn’t an exception. He builds some really awesome stuff, and being in Croatia we have access to really majestic quality wood. So as I thought of both these issues, it came up to me — I already called the space-issue a “puzzle”, so why not solve it with puzzle parts?
The problem at hand weren’t the legs or other parts that are usually changeable on desks that you can buy. It was the surface. So why not make that surface modular? The idea was so simple, I immediately started looking for that product. But it wasn’t there. No one was building this. On the other hand, we had everything we needed to build it. We had the knowledge (after all, woodworking spans over generations in my family) and we had access to the best materials for it. So that was the spark, the idea that got stuck in the back of my mind and occupied it whenever I would rest, when I lay in bed trying to fall asleep. Finally, I caved in to that persistent little voice and decided — let’s build it.
I drew up some designs, made the first prototype with my father, threw it away, made changes, build another. And it worked like a charm. We decided to break the surface of the desk down into modules, square pieces made of beautiful wood, that would be able to connect to other modules on all sides, making them interchangeable and allowing our surface to truly morph in length, depth or shape. Each one could be at any place on the surface grid, and each one could have legs attached to it, giving us an amazing amount of freedom to truly make our desk fit us perfectly. We even added some cool stuff into them, making specialised functional modules, some with a iPad/iPhone dock, some with an embedded USB hub, holes for cabling or whatever we thought would be useful to us. I’ll definitely get more into the awesome potential this brings, but you get the picture already — it truly enables us to have a desk that is not only in line with our needs, but evolves along as they expand.
So what’s next?
We presented the desk to a lot of people — receiving nothing but positive reactions. Most of them were just as astonished as we were that an idea this simple isn’t already on the market in the form of a product anyone can buy. Some of them even got to us a few times, each time saying: “Hey, I googled this again and holy crap it really doesn’t exist!”.
So we decided to act on that, we’ll utilise the family’s tradition and know-how, the beautiful Croatian wood materials at disposal, and overall know-how of other Croatian companies we’ll work with to make this awesome product real. I partnered with an awesome guy from USA I worked with before, Ezra Nazareth, and we’ve set up a company and patent protected the design to start making this dream a reality. We’re currently in the last phase of pre-production prototyping and testing, getting in touch with suppliers and preparing our website and campaign. The final goal? Launching a campaign on Kickstarter to actually make the production possible and eliminate that horrible “this desk just isn’t right for me” problem for a lot of people!