Interview with Hugh Simpson, creator of XP Eco Domes

  • What was your motivation for the Dome concept, and how did you arrive at this design for your product?

Hugh met with a successful real-estate business owner in San Francisco who turned him on to the dome concept for building structures many years ago, and this led Hugh to explore the dome building process in more detail. He later met other creative entrepreneurs who were experimenting with the dome concept, and one man in Greenville, NC who had a tried and tested design that Hugh really liked.

  • What is the market segment you are trying to sell the Domes to?

The original market segment for the domes was for consumers to buy for housing. These would be the next generation “tiny homes,” particularly targeting for our struggling military veterans. They could also be used for replacing homes that have been destroyed in hurricanes as quick replacements that would be more resistant to future storms.

  • Has this idea expanded to other market segments since you began?

Complications with current building code regulations have caused Hugh to think the dome design could be successful as effective storage sheds, gazebos, outdoor entertainment spaces, and even bioponic, multi-layered vegetable growing domes.

  • Who were some SME’s that you consulted with during the beginning phases of this business venture?

One of Hugh’s original mentors was a man he met while attending Florida State University. The man’s name was Barry, and he was involved in the advertising and magazine business. The experiences that Hugh gained working with Barry were life-long learnings that he has always valued. Dr. Frank Lockwood with Western Carolina University was one of the first people that Hugh met with to seek guidance from for this dome business venture. Dr. Lockwood provided Hugh with great business advice, including the importance of having an exit strategy.

  • Tell me about the manufacturing process for the Domes.

The domes are best manufactured by utilizing a CAD machine to quickly and effectively produce the components, and then the assembly process is as easy as connecting the numbered pieces.

  • What were some of your challenges when you began producing and assembling the Domes?

Finding a way to build the domes in an assembly line process, not just one building at a time. Also, trademarking the product for sale on the internet is something that Hugh is working on to make the sales of the buildings legal on the internet.

  • Have you produced some prototypes and sold them to end users for testing?

Hugh has talked with a local western NC manufacturer who has committed to building a prototype, but the first one has not been built yet.

  • Tell me about funding options you have explored for this business, banks, VC, friends & family?

Crowd-funding is Hugh’s preferred way to raise funds needed to get his dome business up and running. Hugh has many contacts in this area of crowd-funding and has also talked with a large national building supply chain who is interested in partnering with Hugh to supply the materials needed to manufacture the buildings.

  • What process would you recommend to other entrepreneurs in similar ventures when it comes to how to fund a new business?

Hugh believes that talking with as many experts in the field as possible to learn as much as you can about the product and that industry is essential. The more educated you can be about your chosen venture, the more people you can get to know that are subject matter experts, will give you an advantage when it comes to funding your new venture.

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