Do your homework, do as much market research you can effort – keep the customer in mind all the time.
Award-winning designer, Harald Kanz, founded KANZ Outdoors LLC in 2009; his mission is to share his lifelong passion for outdoor product design. As a young boy his imagination was captivated by stories of adventure and exploration. Kanz was fascinated by outdoor living and sketched his first tent designs and fire setups while on camping trips with his parents in Germany.
As a young adult he developed a strong interest in audio electronics and worked as a sound engineer at leading theaters, radio and TV stations in Berlin. When he came to the US in 1990, he worked for preeminent Pro Audio companies designing loudspeaker systems. His innovative designs won many international awards.
When he was not designing top quality sound systems, Kanz used his free time to explore the great American outdoors and began thinking about how he could use his passion for outdoor product design to develop the proper equipment for off-road use and long distance, vehicle based travel. His Field Kitchen systems, which he designed and refined over a 12-year period, are the result of his combined passion, design and engineering expertise. The Kanz System meets the needs of the most discerning outdoors enthusiasts and professionals by combining high quality German engineering with elegant streamlined design.
Kanz lives in Los Angeles, California. His interests include architecture, industrial design, photography and the arts.
What are you working on right now?
Our next product will be a Field Bar. Based on the established Field Kitchen footprint it will contain amenities like a drip tray with drain and a speed rail and will come in different decorations.
Where did the idea for Field Power Desk, KANZ Outdoors come from?
It is a logical continuation of our product offerings true to our motto “Living Without Walls.”
How do you bring ideas to life?
That’s easy for me. I can build complex structures in my head. Stop at any time and continue when I like. Later I just need to sit down and put it all together in 3D SolidWorks.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The increasing dependence of mobile devices like smart phones. I think they become a new sensory organ. Just imagine what an additional sense can do. We are just at the very beginning of grasping the possibilities.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
My first job was for a telecommunication company in Germany in the 70s. We had to work in the field and repair defective cable underground. This was tough and so was the atmosphere. This was not for me, so I decided than to continue my education – I became an engineer. I learned that is more rewarding to have a job which interest me – even if it pays less.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Start with a business partner, or start with real solid funding.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Do your homework, do as much market research you can effort – keep the customer in mind all the time. When you design a product and something doesn’t feel right – something is not right. Sleep things over. Only you know when it is ready.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I teach at SCORE LA, new product development – my passion. The potential entrepreneur needs to have a clear idea about his company image and plan. It should be written down like a short business plan. When the price point for the product can not be reached – the anticipated demographic will not buy the product, even so the product was tailored exactly for them. It is an iterative process to get it all right, to match the product feature to the customer, the price point and the company ID.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
How about a glare free windshield for cars? Just think about the glare you get from a dashboard, especially if it is in a light color.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
Bring academic (which includes critical thinking) and art education opportunities to every corner of the world. This would be a good fundament for people to make better choices and for better acceptance of one another.
Tell us a secret.
Ich bin ein Berliner.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
Email – fast and efficient communication when you want it.
Google analytics – find what triggers your sales
Ted Talks – inspirational
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
You start reading a business education books not necessarily to find answers – but not knowing it to find the right question which summarizes your problem.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
When an artist friend of mine drew on my hand sketched design a person in a bed above which was smelling it burn.
Who is your hero?
Frank Lloyd Wright.
What would you recommend somebody who works a corporate day job and dreams often about his own business?
Use your free time to write a business or product plan till you have a working prototype. If everything makes sense – set a clear time goal. Step out of your comfort zone, quit your job and do it.
What inspires you?
People: thinkers, artists, courageous people, passionate people, music, the view of an open landscape, new scientific concepts. Stunning industrial design. My daughter… I am trying to go through the world with open eyes – there is something every day to be discovered. Good effort.
If you could start your life all over again, what would you do differently?
Get a higher education earlier in life, less partying, more international travel. At least three languages. Build more lasting relationships, build on mutual respect and common interests early in life and maintain them well. Should have come to the US earlier. Live some years in a non-Christian society.
Harald Kanz on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/harald-kanz/25/206/354