Design It, Sell It, Then Make It

If that sounds a little out of order, that may be changing soon. Technology now allows you to start selling your product without it existing yet. From Wired:

Jeffrey Wegesin is a furniture maker. His most popular creation is a curvaceous side table, and even though he has sold only two copies of it, he has already turned a profit. He did it without so much as setting foot in a wood shop. And he is not alone. Wegesin is one of 5,000 merchants who have established accounts with Ponoko, a year-old on-demand manufacturing service in New Zealand. Designers upload their blueprints to Ponoko's servers; when a customer places an order, Ponoko's laser cutters automatically trim wood and plastic to create the product on the spot. Wegesin, a Web designer, sells the tables through the site for $250, not including shipping. He then pays Ponoko $124 for each table to cover the cost of materials and cutting fees. The $252 he's brought in so far may not be much, but because he incurred no up-front costs it comes as pure profit.

Welcome to the age of the instapreneur. With nothing more than a design, amateurs can manufacture jewelry, robots, T-shirts, furniture — anything. No warehouses. No minimum orders. And no money down. The digital economy isn't just digital; the same market forces that allowed midlist musicians to make a living distributing their songs online now give amateur clothiers the chance to sell their wares without having to persuade Barney's buyers to carry them. (Full Story)

I see several big advantages to this: 1. You can start your own company without having capital. Just draw up your prototype, sell it, then put in your order. 2. Companies don't need to tie up space and money in excessive inventory. 3. The consumer can get anything in a matter of weeks. What advantages/disadvantages do you see?

[Picture via Edgewisetools]