Lighting designer Ravi Varma sits down with A/D/O to share insights on scaling and his digital handmade aesthetic
We met entrepreneur Ravi Varma in July at the Futureworks Incubator Supply Chain and Logistics Workshop hosted by NEW INC and Prime Produce in Hell’s Kitchen. Varma, a former industrial designer at Nixon, Movado Group and Roll & Hill, came because he wanted to explore fulfillment options for his upcoming Kickstarter. We asked him what he was working on, and, instead of pulling out prototype photos, Ravi whipped out his fully-functioning Mesa Light. The foldable LED lamp is an impressive feat in flexible engineering the provides users with water-resistant, rechargeable lighting on the go.
Over the next month, Ravi joined Futureworks Incubator, through which he connected with Kickstarter Design & Technology Lead Zach Dunham and eCommerce shipping platform Easy Ship. In August, Varma successfully crowdfunded $41,600 on Kickstarter and then landed a Futureworks Shops grant for four months of free A/D/O Workspace membership. A/D/O is one of nine Futureworks Shops spread throughout the city that are opening doors to hardware and advanced manufacturing startups.
With funds, partners and a dedicated shop, Greenpoint-based Varma has the resources he needs to grow his startup and is already prototyping a new line of lights. A/D/O is right around the corner from Ravi, at 29 Norman Ave, and has a fabrication lab, dedicated desks, a retail shop, a restaurant, the Urban-X accelerator and a full calendar of classes, lectures and events. Instead of working from home, the Mesa Light founder is in the thick of a production community and has a nice arsenal of tools. “A/D/O has great prototyping equipment. I can do some experiments using the ShopBot and 3D printers and simulate toolpaths in wood and foam,” he told us.
Varma is thinking long-term. He wants to command as much of his design chain as possible so that he’s intimately familiar with even the smallest production details. The goal? To scale his product lines with as little components, and overhead, as possible. Varma considers the Mesa Light manufacturing angle a digital handmade aesthetic in the same vein as Bre Pettis’ Bre & Co workshop in the Navy Yard. Sustainable growth without a need for management consultants.
Varma sat down with A/D/O last week to chat about his manufacturing philosophy, his growth strategy and how Mesa Light got its start.
Images courtesy of A/D/O and Ravi.