In a world where consumers want products on their doorsteps within hours, and there’s a constant cycle of new products and innovations, we are often so caught up in the unwrapping stage that we rarely stop to think about the very start of the product process. Alejandro Turell, CEO at LastBasic, spotted an opportunity to unleash the next generation of inventors and challenge the traditional model of expensive and time consuming consultancies. They’ve had backing from the industry, with a seed round of €500K with international and professional BA and VC, from Silicon Valley, Valencia and Munich.
“Have you ever had an idea for an invention and not known what to do or who to go to? Everyone has the potential to contribute to the evolution of technology, and people with big, bold ideas should be able to make them a reality,” he explains. When creating technical prototypes entrepreneurs are typically limited in their options. SMEs and startups that go down the traditional engineering consultancy route often find that they are expensive, time consuming and over controlling.
LastBasic sets out to challenge this model, by providing the necessary resources, through a collaborative economy model, that allows entrepreneurs to open their ideas to a community of experts that compete to build the prototype. This means the turnaround time can be as short as a few months and almost half as expensive.
“The model is different to traditional engineering consultancies and other platforms because it combines a smooth digital process with a highly connected community, all while giving the inventors complete control of the process from beginning to end. Other platforms in the ecosystem are often more of a freelance or crowdfunding nature, whereas LastBasic offers one fixed price per project for inventors, and experts are paid for both engaging with an inventor’s idea by submitting proposals as well as when their design is chosen,” adds Turell.
Mario Aznar came to LastBasic in January with an idea to create a cryptocurrency behaviour-tracking device. Mario had previously approached engineering agencies and freelance platforms but found them to be too expensive and/or complex to develop his idea.
Through the LastBasic platform, Mario obtained seven designs from seven different designers, choosing one design to take through to the engineering and 3D prototyping stages. He is now looking to generating 100 products from his prototype design, developed through LastBasic, to test the market.
Turell wants to help more entrepreneurs like Mario over the next five years, “our vision is to become the biggest global meeting point in hardware technology creation and interaction. We want to be a market network of tech trends for inventors to exchange concepts and ideas, providing a technical support ecosystem for entrepreneurs, SMEs, and corporations.
“The next three years will be spent defining and growing our three main pillars: inventors (our clients), revolution (the platform/innovation), and creation (our experts). We want to increase our presence, brand image and reputation in the UK, Europe, and US markets through marketing efforts as well as build partnerships with SMEs, corporations, engineering associations, universities and other organisations and institutions.”
“Traditional engineering consultancy options simply haven’t digitised”
The engineering field has rapidly digitised, with automation helping to rapidly accelerate design and prototyping, but Turell says traditional consultancies have failed to adapt how they work. “The existing traditional engineering consultancy options simply haven’t digitised in this way. The players in this space are working in the same way as they always did, just with the help of technology in certain areas. This means inventors aren’t benefiting from the significant efficiency gains and lower costs that an automated, digital process enables. LastBasic is evidence of this market changing, because new players are disrupting the industry with leaner, more affordable offerings that deliver the same quality if not higher and in much less time.”
Wider trend around IoT and 3D printing have helped to create the market for LastBasic to grow in. Turell points to fitness as an example, with consumers wanting more and more ‘smart’ devices that can help improve their lifestyles and hobbies, generating huge demand for innovations and gadgets that meet this need.
“Like with most tech sectors, the pandemic boosted the IoT sector, exceeding market expectations as people spent more time at home and online during lockdown, so it was a perfect time for inventors to invest more time in their ideas and how to turn those ideas into prototype,” says Turell, “plus, with the acceleration in digitalisation resulting from the pandemic, it’s an exciting time for inventors to get creative with IoT products and projects. We want to be firmly part of the journey and the growth. As for the crowdsourcing sector, we’ve seen market players like Kickstarter quickly break into the market in terms of crowdsourcing finances for projects, but what is likely to evolve over the years is the idea of crowdsourcing beyond finances. Whether it’s skills and knowledge, like LastBasic, services or general ideas, crowdsourcing anything is something that we see becoming mainstream in the future.”
Turell is also excited about wider innovation in Europe, as a Madrid based company, if the market can balance regulation and innovation. “European tech startups raised a record $41bn during 2020, which really shows the appetite and innovation across the continent. The diversity of Europe’s regional markets in terms of the culture, language and the people make it an innovative hub for different ideas to emerge, grow and flourish. What must be balanced carefully to enable this innovation and creativity to continue is regulation. Europe is known for its hard-hitting regulation, especially when it comes to tech and data, which can sometimes hold back tech companies and it’s important that this regulation is well-balanced, fair to start-ups and SMEs and doesn’t become a burden for companies.”
Becoming the go-to global network for inventors
“Building the LastBasic proposition into a solid platform that runs 24/7 and has transformed how people understand product development has been a highlight for myself and the team here at LastBasic. We have built a powerful network of more than 400 verified experts worldwide and have gained global traction, with presence in 22 countries already. We’re looking forward to expanding further and becoming the go-to global network for inventors,” says Turell about his time in business.
And if he had to start all over again? “Be patient and persistent – if the market needs your solution it will happen. Build fast and don’t fall into the trap of perfectionism, because there is always time for improvements. Make sure you start testing and validating as soon as you can and the sooner you start selling, the better.”