7 Tips to Start Small Scale Manufacturing | Business Ideas for Product Makers

Transcript

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not at all!
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Hey guys we’re Evan and Katelyn today we’re gonna be talking about how to start a small
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scale business based around products that are designed for small scale manufacturing
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did I say the things I think you said the things there were a lot of words in that sentence
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basically this means starting small without the risk of a big financial investment but
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at the same time being ready to scale up big if the opportunity presents itself and how
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to scale your business beyond what you can produce in your own shop we’ve made a video
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on how to sell handmade products which we’re gonna link below but I feel like this is a
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big topic that we didn’t really cover in that last video so we kinda wanna do a little bit
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more of a deep dive into that here and we do’t just wanna go through saying general
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tips so we’re gonna include some of our personal experiences and walk through how we apply
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these tips to one of our own products and the first thing that we’re gonna talk about
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is kind of this new startup type company that seems to be developing I feel like it needs
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a theme song new startup company that seems to be developing it seems like in the past
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if you were gonna start a business you kinda fell into one of two categories you were a
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big company making big products and that requires a lot of money or you were kind of on the
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smaller side you were making handmade things and you kind of stay a little bit of a smaller
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company now there seems to be sort of a middle path developing as small scale manufacturing
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is becoming more accessible to more people another thing that really opens up product
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design to a whole bunch of new people are digital design tools there are great tutorials
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out there it’s really accessible some of them are free or cheap designing things in 3D is
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a lot cheaper when you don’t actually have to spend any money at all yeah it is free
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the cheapest of cheap haha so with less capital needed there’s less pressure to hit that homerun
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with your very first product idea you can test it out in the market see if people buy
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it see if they don’t you can do iterations and there’s not that huge loss if you invest
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a ton of money in machines or casting and the product doesn’t work and then you’re left
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with all that capital wasted we went through a whole bunch of product ideas before figuring
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out what we wanted to make our very first idea was terrible it was good it was good
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it’s a good thing just the idea of trying to make it at any sort of scale was terrible
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yeah it was our marquee letters they’re really pretty people love them people wanted them
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we got inquiries a lot about renting or borrowing or buying them but they’re massive and delicate
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and they would not ship well and they take a really long time to make but that was ok
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it didn’t hurt us we kept going and kept moving and kept trying out other types of products
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we started on our computers in our garage we came up with what we thought was yes same
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garage we are in now we came up with what we thought would be a good design and we invested
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in one 3D printer once that printer had paid for itself and we had enough orders to start
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getting more things and start expanding our product line we got we’re up to 4 3D printers
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and 2 CNCs so you can start with just that one small investment you don’t have to buy
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your entire robot army all at once although it is cool having a robot army and you can
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grow from there yeah so I’ve worked in traditional manufacturing before as an engineer and product
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designer and these big machines that companies have to make their parts are really impressive
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but along with those impressive capabilities comes this huge price tag and ever since we’ve
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been working on products at home I honestly haven’t really missed those you can accomplish
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so much now with a small shop with limited budgets we recommend starting with just the
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design of what you wanna make before you ever start making cuts you can do that free design
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software we use Fusion 360 and once you have that design ready you can make it yourself
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for not that much expense you can go to a local makerspace and if you don’t have a local
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makerspace nearby there is the internet and on the internet there are people who want
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to make money with machines who will help you out who will help you out yeah once you
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have that proof of concept with your product if you wanna start making it in house you
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can setup a whole little shop for yourself like we’ve done here you can have your CNC,
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3D printer, power tools, hand tools whatever it is you need it seems expensive if you’re
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looking at the prices now but if you compare it what you’re pulling in with your products
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it’s a reasonable business cost and I think that’s really cool that it’s actually within
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reach now and I love that like if I come up with an idea I can just come out here and
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realize it using stuff that we have at home it’s like Evan’s dream ever since we started
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buying tools it’s literally my dream I’ve been dreaming of this since I was a little
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kid I love it and these machines are a lot more affordable now the cost of 3D printers
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and CNCs over the past few years has gone down so much and there’s even payment plans
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now where you can pay you know per month and it’s a lot easier to tackle as you’re making
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profits instead of a big upfront cost you know if you’re trying to run a business so
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I think that’s super awesome and hopefully by the time that you buy the CNC you have
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products designed you’re selling some and you can use that profit from those sales to
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pay for the machines that are making the money yes yeah
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so to give you guys a real world example we’re gonna use this CNC ring dish that we designed
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we did all of the design work in CAD then we did all of the computer aided manufacturing
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work to plan out how long it would take how much material it’d use so we knew all of the
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variables of this product before we spent any money at all and we have a whole video
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on that which is that process is called CAM on our channel so we’ll link to that too but
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after we did all of that digital design work it was time to test the program and figure
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out all of the bugs and kinks so we ran it on our X-Carve right over there and went through
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4 iterations of the design of the g-code and that took the machining time from 30 minutes
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to about 15 minutes and we probably could push it further and having all of that figured
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out at the small scale really helps you grow and scale it if your product succeeds and
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starts going and selling really big.
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these smell good they smell real good haha do they smell like pecan cuz these are pecan
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just just like insert like 30 seconds of Katelyn sniffing it right now hahaha so now that everything
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with this design is figured out if we need to hire help to make more of these or outsource
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this outside of our shop we can do that because we know that this design works and we’ve optimized
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it so we’ve talked a lot about manufacturing it but it is very important good product design
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I think is the key to selling things because without the thing you can’t sell it man that’s
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some wise words right there anyways while we’re designing things we try to keep two
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things in mind the function and the manufacturability so we often design things with small scale
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manufacturing in mind if it’s something that we want to become a product so for us that
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means CNC work it means 3D printing or sometimes it’s molding and casting each of these works
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with some types of designs and not other types of designs and you want your design to work
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with manufacturing method and not against it there was once a product I was designing
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and I happened to add a curve to it I don’t actually know why probably trying to be fancy
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I might have been trying to be fancy but I was talking with a machinist later that day
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he was looking at it like this is gonna be really hard and I was like no it should be
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really simple he’s like well this curve right there that’s gonna like make it take a long
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time like oh just take out the curve that doesn’t need to be there at all he’s like
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oh we can get that done real quick and it probably saved us it cut the time down by
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1/5th so keeping that manufacturability in mind is really important for scaling and growth
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and your profit margins for example with these ring dishes if you look close there’s kind
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of a spiral design and it looks kinda cool that’s actually the cut lines from the bit
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it’s something that in a lot of designs you might have to sand out because it wouldn’t
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look very nice but we came up with a design where it actually kind of becomes a feature
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and it means less work for us another thing is when we’re 3D printing we try to keep those
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layer minds in mind layer minds did I say layer minds yes we try to keep the layer lines
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that are part of the 3D printing process in mind and maybe even make them a feature we
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came up with a topographical Texas where each layer was like a layer of the topography a
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layer of the topography so it was better that it was 3D printed instead of worse or when
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we’re doing molding and casting we try to keep it like a one part mold so we don’t have
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to sand down the seam line this is kind of tied to it but we try to keep human intervention
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down as much as possible so avoiding things that have to be hand painted or hand stitched
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or hand anything really I mean we still do put a little bit of work into it but we try
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to minimize it so going back to this for example we have this bottom rounded over and that’s
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because we can take this over to the router table it’s a way to remove tabs it polishes
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up it makes it look finished and it’s all part of optimizing our process tied to keeping
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human time down we try to keep robot time as high as possible so that while they’re
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working we can work on prepping stock setting up jigs coming up with new designs working
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with cusomwers 🙂 coming up with marketing material there’s so much that you can do to
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help your business besides making things like come up design things in your mind and let
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robots make them that’s what I like you sound like an evil genius but yes another thing
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to keep in mind is cost wise it’s gonna be hard to beat a big company that has huge econ-
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econ- economies of scale it’s just it’s a losing game but there are other things that
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you can do that big companies can’t do one of those is customizable products or coming
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up with products that respond to trends or seasons you can be a lot more flexible than
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a big company can be another way to set yourself apart from big companies is customizing we
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started I kinda said that but you can go into the details haha we’ve started engraving initials
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and dates on to the back of our ring dishes for weddings and stuff like that yeah it takes
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what literally 2 minutes actually 1 minute and it makes it so much more special and more
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meaningful to the people you’re selling it to and it’s something that big companies can’t
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do yeah as easily I mean well yeah they probably can but they wouldn’t bother yeah haha alright
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so what’s next let’s say you have a product it’s selling really well and you can’t keep
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up with the demand ahhhh oh you want me to finish that yeah I thought I was the example
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we haven’t had one of our products go big like that yet but I have had a lot of experience
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dealing with this in my past job when you’re selling volumes that large you can start with
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with local companies or overseas partners to increase the amount of products you can
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produce if you come to them with a proven sales record a projection for how much products
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you’re gonna make they’re gonna say yeah we wanna do that they’ll work with you they’ll
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bring down their price and they’ll make it more accessible they don’t like people coming
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to them saying I have an idea well no it’d be like I have an idea it doesn’t exist yet
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but it’s gonna be great they’re not gonna be interested and that’s where everything
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that we’ve been talking about the well designed product with a proven track record that is
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able to be scaled that’s potentially based in digital means so you can just send them
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a file and they can make the same thing that you’ve been making the whole time you can
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have your standards in place you can have a quality policy and you can grow without
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really too much downsides you can also take it a step further and even outsource some
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of the fulfillment so you can work with your manufacturing partner, your packaging suppliers
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and have all of them send everything to a fulfillment center and they ship it out for
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you and that allows you to spend more time working on your next product your next design
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and just continuing to grow which takes us to our outro yay I really hope that this video
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was useful to you guys and helped give you guys some confidence to start your own business
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it’s a little bit scary I think the thing that we struggled with the most is when to
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start and how to start and I think the tipping point for us was when we were more afraid
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not to do it than we were afraid to do it and then we made the jump and then we made
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the jump and started doing it and that’s the end of our story haha good story actually
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that was just the beginning and then we started doing YouTube yeah haha but we still do products
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on the side still doing it on the side it’s fun to keep a finger in that world a little
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bit where is it alright if you guys have any questions we’d love to chat with you guys
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in the comments below and if you wanna help us make more videos you can support us by
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checking out our awesome merch which is at Shop Evan and Katelyn dot com and if you want
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more content sneak peeks behind the scenes the aftershow we’re about to record the aftershow
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you can head over you can head over to patreon dot com slash evan and katelyn and see you
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that there hope to see you next time bye did you say see you that there I dunno hahaha
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words are hard and today we’re gonna- bleh opport- mlehele still had done all this reshearch
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reshearch reshearch another thing about sca- scall you can stay even keeper keep hahaha
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woo yay!

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