Nimble Scooters started with one simple idea in mind – a personal vehicle to get work and errands done faster and more efficiently. That concept could take on any variety of possibilities, but Nimble knew exactly how they were going to approach the design, working together as a team to ideate quickly and discovering KeyShot to help them visualize solutions sooner and communicate very unique products that have turned into very successful products. Aaron Wong of Nimble Scooters tells us how it begins with their process.
Modeling software used: Autodesk Fusion 360
What’s cool about our process, or at least what I think is cool, is how it’s constantly evolving. We haven’t been around very long, so in many ways we’re still very much creating it.
Nimble uses a sort of modular approach to each project, assembling specialized teams to solve problems based on certain situational needs. When a design opportunity arises, the entire team first assess the situation together. Then, depending on the needs of that opportunity, they build smaller specialized sub-teams, whose size and strengths are matched to the challenge.
For example, if we have an innovation opportunity to create a new product for a new market segment (a fairly open-ended endeavor), then the sub-team might consist of one designer, one engineer, our marketing director, our CEO, and maybe even our accountant. On the other hand, if we needed to design say a small complex load bearing part, the sub-team might then only consist of two engineers and one designer, which would allow us to tackle the problem more quickly and efficiently.
I like to think of it as if we were Iron Man, working collectively as a team–you build the suit catered to how the world needs saving that day. It would be wiser to go with the smaller and more agile suit if you’re fighting Loki’s army, but you would definitely want the bigger and more robust suit if you were going up against the Hulk. In either instance, the approach we take after we build the suit (team) usually develops when the situation or crisis starts.
There are a few reasons why this method works for us:
- The cross pollination of ideas happens early on in the design process. We are more likely to combine non-obvious ideas and develop more diverse approaches between different disciplines than we are if we leave all of the ideation to one department.
- Another significant advantage is that we are able to identify problems much more quickly because of the empathy and understanding that each department has with one another. For example, our Marketing Director might be able to provide valuable insight from a marketing perspective to the designer that the designer might not have thought of. Our engineer would be able communicate manufacturing capabilities and offer alternative solutions before any time is wasted on building prototypes that couldn’t be mass produced. Our CEO would be able to help direct the efforts in the right direction, predict future events that might happen later on down the supply chain (which could affect how we develop packaging design, handle shipping and logistics, etc.), and accurately communicate the progress to our distributors and retailers. All of these scenarios have an influence on the final product.
- It’s a lot of fun. We are constantly inspired by one another and we enjoy the variation of thinking that comes along with cross-functional teamwork. Almost always, at least one designer is part of any sub-team. Not necessarily because we think the designers have the best ideas, but because the field of design naturally has the ability to facilitate multidisciplinary collaboration. This is a widely used model that we learned, adopted, and adapted from some of the big design consultancies like IDEO, Smart Design, and Frog. We love it because it challenges us to constantly evolve and adapt to every situation we encounter. With each project completion, our process becomes a little bit more refined. Kind of like Skynet.
But it started off different than you might think. When they started, they had the luxury of creating a product that we wanted to build, going straight from sketches to mockups and prototypes. It worked because they didn’t really need to show it to anyone.
But as we started growing, partnerships with clients and distributors from all over the world start forming. We would build these prototypes, photograph them, and send them to our new clients to show them the new designs, features, upgrades, and changes. As much as we loved building these prototypes, we began to realize that it was incredibly inefficient and quite costly. It used up a lot of our team’s bandwidth and left us with little time to do much else.
Then they discovered KeyShot.
However, for our most recent projects, the Nimble Urban and the Nimble XL, we sought some outside assistance to help communicate the products through KeyShot renderings. It was incredible. Almost immediately, we were able to see our ideas materialize in 3D. KeyShot made a huge difference in the way we interacted with our designs through the ability to visualize solutions and spot mistakes earlier, leading to a more complete prototype.
Not only were the KeyShot renderings practical, they were also motivational throughout the design process; seeing a realistic goal of what was possible to achieve turned into encouragement and energy to push forward and finish strong.
Sometimes, even with a detailed CAD model, it is difficult to visualize what a product is really going to look like. KeyShot helped us quickly bring our ideas to life. We were able to save a tremendous amount of time and increase our productivity immensely. Moving forward, I could easily see how KeyShot could be used to help Nimble convey and articulate new ideas to future clients, distributors, and even potential investors.
For Nimble and team, their mindset is that there has never been a better time to be creative. Get out there and go! The barriers to entry into the field of design are quickly eroding. The tools and resources are out there and they’re becoming more and more accessible. You don’t have to come up with the perfect product, just start creating and contributing your ideas to the world. Unless your idea is terrible and dangerous–maybe keep those ideas to yourself.