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Tuesday, October 18, 2011


By Tina Case
At Parent Grapevine, we are pleased to introduce our interview with a manufacturer.  We met up with the young, up-and-coming, super-smart and witty team of DERELIQ Designs.  All of the ultra cool members are currently attending the University of California at Berkeley.  The talented trio have designed a very hip and fun product, the Canon Lens (24-105mm) Shot Glass.  Needless to say, it’s flying off the shelves.  They are so hard to keep in stock between all of the photographers who love this product and people who are buying them as gifts for their photog friends. 

Juan Madrigal, Kasha Chen and Vincent Vo, creators and designers of
the Canon 24-205mm Shot Glass (at Photojojo)
So, how does a design team come up with an idea that works?  And where does a company go to get an idea made into an actual product?  Find out in our revealing interview below with Vincent Vo, Juan Madrigal and Kasha Chen, the 3 founders of DERELIQ Designs.

Who are the members of the Dereliq team (in no particular order)?
Vincent Vo, Juan Madrigal and Kasha Chen.
Contact infovincent@dereliq.com
The Canon 24-105mm Shot Glass by DERELIQ

Interviewee Key:
Bold = Vincent’s response
Italics = Juan’s response
Underline = Kasha’s response

Parent Grapevine: First of all, let’s get to the roots of your team.  How did the 3 of you hook up, and what makes your collaboration work?

Juan: We all lived together, so when we first started out we could work at all hours of the day and contact each other at all times. We’ve been friends for a few years now; Vincent and Juan have known each other for 10. We all grew up in the same city and went to the same high school.

Can you tell me in a paragraph, a little bit about each person?  What I’d like for you to do is for Juan to tell me about Vincent, Vincent to tell me about Kasha, and Kasha to tell me about Juan.  It will make it a little more interesting.  Some things to include:
  1. What’s unique about this person
  2. What do they bring to the table
  3. How did you first hook up
  4. How do you resolve disagreements
  5. What talent does each person bring to the table
Johnny, about Vincent
  1. Thumbprint
  2. Positive energy
  3. 5th grade Yu-gi-oh card battle
  4. Knife fight (kidding, of course!)

Vincent, about Kasha
  1. Scrappy - she’s paying her own way through college with this business and a part-time job
  2. She’s fluent in Mandarin, so she takes the lead in all discussions with our manufacturer in Asia.  
  3. We took the same Spanish class back in 2009.
  4. We fight!  We don’t have the luxury of defaulting to seniority to settle disputes since we’re all roughly the same age.  This means our discussions are driven by evidence and data (mostly).  It’s meritocratic but stressful.
  5. Kasha is the reason any of our products exist.  She’s the head of product and the most important person at DERELIQ - we’d be nowhere without her!
Kasha, about Juan
  1. He reads a ton of philosophy books in his spare time and occasionally quotes greek philosophers when in an argument.
  2. He’s always eager to help out a colleague. From our intern to Vince- Juan is always happy to assist when something needs to be done.
  3. Pre calc Honors class. Juan and my other neighbor always teamed up to tease me ( friendly ofcourse )
  4. We ignore each other for a day or two- then go grab food and talk!
  5. Juan mainly dealt with sales and feedback from our customers. Without him we wouldn’t have effective channels of communication with our contacts.
You are all college students, what is each of you majoring in, and how will DERELIQ affect the course of your studies?

Juan: I’m majoring in philosophy. Dereliq might affect my studies in some sort of way. (Vincent, help me out on this one) 

I’m majoring in Business Administration and learning a ton operating DERELIQ that I can’t get in the classroom.  Some of what you get in school is BS.  There’s a tendency in business school to focus on the sexy strategy stuff.  When you’re on the ground developing and selling product though, a lot of that doesn’t matter.  It’s more about just getting things done.

I’m an intended Applied Mathematics major. After becoming a part of DERELIQ I did seriously consider changing my major to something more business related (econ) but in the end decided to stick with math.
Juan Madrigal, Kasha Chen and Vincent Vo - of DERELIQ Designs
How did the name ‘DERELIQ’ come about?

DERELIQ is a reference to a fashion line in the movie Zoolander.  We wanted our name to be ironic and we didn’t want to be too serious.  After all, we design shot glasses.  I think the funniest part of our name is that it sounds very French and high fashion (DERELIQ!) but is a play on the word “derelict” which means “run down and neglected.”

Vince coerced us into agreeing to change our original name to a line from his favorite movie.

How did the idea for the shot glass get started?

Juan thought of it.

There’s a similar product that’s very successful: the Camera Lens Mug.  We liked the mug and noticed that there’s a lot of overlap between photographers and people who like to drink.  Just look at all the party pictures people post on Facebook if you don’t believe me.
How did you go about finding a manufacturer for your shot glass?
Ancient Chinese Secret.

We went through two manufacturers before settling on our current one, which we found on a website called Alibaba.com that connects manufacturers with small and large business who are typically retailers or product design firms.

For us, it was just a matter of finding someone who could deliver high quality at a reasonable price point.

I scoured the web for suppliers. Getting samples and quotes from 10+ manufacturers for almost two months. Finally settled on two suppliers with Vince’s help and went forward from there.
Why Canon first and not Nikon?

There are more Canon than Nikon users in the world, and you always want to be pursuing the biggest opportunity, all else being equal.  We’re launching a Nikon version around the holidays.

The Canon lens mug was born before the Nikon version. We thought it would only appropriate to create the first shot glass model after the first lens mug model.

Run, don't walk, to Photojojo to get your Canon 24-105mm Shot Glasses!

How did Photojojo react, was it an easy sell?


It was an easy sell in the sense that our products are a great fit for their store, which only carries the most unique photography goodies (you won’t find a generic camera bag in their store, for example).  They were pretty tough during the negotiation though, so it was a hard sell in that sense!

What’s been the reaction in the press?

They love our product! We haven’t received as much publicity as the shot glass itself, but we expect that to change as we release more products.

The press loves our product but their focus is on the products and not on our company, which is fine.  It doesn’t really matter who gets the credit as long as your stuff is out there in the wild where it can be used and enjoyed by other people.
What’s been the reaction by your clients?
My family and friends love them.

It’s been a really strong seller for most of our distributors.  We haven’t received any complaints to date!
What’s been the most surprising thing you’ve learned along the way in this journey?

Legal formalities are for corporations and suckers.

Build something people want and everything else will take care of itself.  We spend $0 on marketing and 0 time trying to “sell” distributors on carrying our products.  The only prerequisite to running a profitable business is to make something people want and will pay for.  Also, students should take advantage of their moms.  My mom handles all the wiring of payments and some inventory management as well.
What keeps DERELIQ awake at night?
Schoolwork and caffeine.

Mostly quality assurance testing with our friends...
What’s next for DERELIQ?

It’s a secret ;) But really, it’s a Nikon shot glass.
Who is the professional photographer in the bunch?

Vincent is the professional-amateur photographer, but that’s as close as any of us get.
What else should we know about you, and DERELIQ?

DERELIQ is the greatest company ever
Juan doesn’t do drugs
Vincent is afraid of cats
Kasha has phone problems

Vincent had an enormous rhino poster on his wall last year.
Juan doesn’t like Mexican food.

Your support is helping three students through college and making three sets of parents really happy.

So from Parent Grapevine, help support these amazing (DERELIQ) kids in school.  The holidays are right around the corner, stock up now while they are in stock, and look for the Nikon shot glass soon!

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