Hey! Vivien here.
Just met a crazy guy yesterday at an event. We ended up speaking for 3 hours, even when all other attendees were gone.
His story was astonishing. Born in Israel, he was raised by parents like many in Hong Kong , who hoped he could become a good employee at a stable 9–5 job. Since then, he went on to become a technical writer at the Air Force, Military and big corporate for years. He never thought of leaving, and he was living in a comfortable bubble.
One day, he found his calling. This was bigger than his own life. While walking on the streets, he met his friend and they started chatting. The friend told him about something he did to his truck that helped reduce fuel by 30–40%. He was inspired with this info, but he realised that a lot of big companies produced this similar mechanical part, each with just a small difference from one another. He found it astonishing- how can such a huge invention which is in countless books, free to access, now patented by different companies who only made slight tweaks to fit legal requirements for patent, yet have no functional difference from the orginal invention which is an open source? Why are these companies making money from something that is freely accessible?
He made it his mission to make it available to everyone, by selling a box of materials at $99USD, less than 10% of what big companies like Honda sell, while teaching them how to assemble it using his skills as a technical writer. Orders started to come in from all around the world, France, Germany, Switzerland,etc. The demand was so high he can’t keep up with the demand.
Can you believe that this guy actually has no engineering background AT ALL? He just went online and researched his heart out, reading tonnes of papers Since 1830s regarding the mechanical part and science behind it. Tried and test everything on his own car ( even got his fingers burnt a few Times!). He researched so much that he wrote a 900 page book and gave it out FOR FREE. The book had annotated diagrams and pictures that he drew himself.
As someone who has written a couple of books and completed my Masters dissertation, I was shocked. The book really puts me to shame. It was so well researched and written , and in-depth that no one without some serious dedication can do it. He wrote the book with 8 years of solid research and writing. All by himself.
What ?! 8 years?!
I already felt like I accomplished something big after writing my book for a few months. And I don’t think I would sell it for free because
it’s my time and money.
However, for this guy, he didn’t care about the money he can get from the book. He cared more about building an industry around his product. And by giving his book out for free, he was spreading the word about his product. People who read the book were convinced to buy his other book with how to build the part. Others who read it buy boxes of parts from him to assemble themselves. The ones who were convinced but don’t have time to do it asked him to do it for them, which he then hired a team of mechanics to help people assemble it for their cars and trucks. With great testimonials, the business snowballed, and grew to a 6 million USD in a couple of years business. (note : the 800 page book first started as a hundred pages, which was also given out for free but every year he added more info to it and updated the version)
When we parted, I asked him, what was the most important thing that contributed to his success?
He said that when he first started in 2005, his family and friends laughed at his absurd idea. But he ignored them all and believed that this product would benefit many people. That’s why he persisted.
Also, after producing the initial product( which is the box of parts of people to assemble), he immediately marketed it to sell and got feedback to improve it and gained testimonials. When the feedback was good and more and more orders roll in, he knew he had something so he started writing the books. So instead of getting beaten down by what people say, he showed the world of what he is capable of through hard-working and dedication.
He asked me , ‘ So who’s laughing at me now?’:)
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Originally published at medium.com