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Sttark's Bold Leap into Folding Cartons: A Testament to Lean Startup Methodology in Manufacturing

colorful herbal tea folding cartons on a green background

Custom Folding Carton Boxes produced by Sttark on White Paper

sttark company logo

Sttark revolutionizes the folding cartons industry, blending lean startup principles with cutting-edge technological innovation to reshape manufacturing norms.

Our journey into folding carton manufacturing is just another step in our commitment to deliver value through innovation.”
— Ryan Quinn, Director of of Folding Cartons
GREENVILLE, SC, US, April 3, 2024 / -- Since its establishment in 2005, Sttark has been at the forefront of innovation in the custom labels industry, credited with being the first to offer instant online quoting and a 3-day standard lead time. As the custom labels market matured, Sttark identified a ripe opportunity for innovation in the folding cartons market due to its traditionally long lead times and traditional ordering processes. Additionally, they recognize the synergistic relationship between labels and cartons—where nearly every carton customer also needs labels. This presented a compelling opportunity for Sttark.

"Our new venture into the folding carton industry reflects our commitment to innovation and customer service. By leveraging our expertise from the labels market, we’re revolutionizing folding carton manufacturing with our unique offerings," states Ryan Quinn, Sttark’s Director of Folding Cartons.

Embracing Lean Startup in Manufacturing

Traditionally, manufacturing processes are slow, with long development cycles requiring many resources. Guided by the principles of the Lean Startup methodology, Sttark's transition into the folding carton realm focuses on agility, customer feedback, and rapid iteration—a novel approach in the manufacturing sector.

As Eric Ries highlights in The Lean Startup, “Success is not delivering a feature; success is learning how to solve the customer's problem.” This mindset has been instrumental in Sttark's approach to launching its new folding cartons business, ensuring every step is deeply rooted in understanding and addressing customer needs and challenges.

Journey and Challenges

Transitioning into folding carton manufacturing presented significant hurdles. Sttark navigated a massive paper shortage and the integration of new equipment technologies. Initially investing in a rotary die cutter, Sttark quickly found it misaligned with their business model, prompting a swift pivot to flatbed die cutting.

This adaptation, when faced with challenges, underscores the Lean Startup principle of validated learning through rapid experimentation and feedback loops. As Eric Ries aptly puts it, "The most dangerous assumption that startups make is not that they will surely succeed, but that they must succeed the first time. It's not the failure that's catastrophic; it's the refusal to learn from failure."

Sttark's willingness to confront and learn from these early challenges illustrates a deep commitment to this philosophy, ensuring its continuous growth and innovation in the folding carton industry.

Technological Advancements & Innovations

Technological advancements to enhance its folding carton manufacturing process have been central to Sttark's strategy. They have invested in innovations like a retrofitted corona treater for better laminate adhesion, a custom-built UV vision inspection system for quality control, and a QR code tracking system for design change management.

At the heart of these innovations is AI, enabling Sttark to design and create tools that significantly improve production efficiency and product quality. AI helped the team build a custom UV glue inspection system to detect misplaced glue droplets on cartons, ensuring true 100% inspection for every carton. Without this technology, the defect is undetectable and reaches the customer before it is discovered.

"The essence of profound innovation is not in doing what everyone else is doing but in the capacity to translate insight into new functionalities that disrupt markets," states a passage from "The Innovator's Solution."

Customer Feedback and Lean Startup Methodology

Recently, Sttark launched a new initiative exploring custom carton shape options. This initiative has led to the development of over 100 custom folding cartons, revealing a consumer demand for products capable of holding heavier weights and a need for simple “sleeve” carton design. Sttark will use customer feedback from this program to inform the decision to add Snap Lock cartons and sleeves to their standard offerings, in line with Lean Startup practices.

Eric Ries defines the core of the Lean Startup methodology as the build-measure-learn feedback loop, a principle that Sttark has embraced fully. "Through this continuous innovation cycle, we remain committed to meeting our customers' evolving needs, ensuring Sttark's position as a leader in the folding carton manufacturing industry," Quinn commented.

Future Directions

Looking ahead, Sttark plans to explore additional customer-driven enhancements, starting with embossing as part of their folding cartons embellishment MVP. The success of this launch will guide the introduction of further options like Spot UV or Spot Foil, always adhering to the Lean Startup principles of building, measuring, learning, and pivoting as necessary.

“Innovation requires a willingness to change and adapt, guided by the real needs of the market. Our journey into folding carton manufacturing is just another step in our commitment to deliver value through innovation," concludes Quinn. Sttark’s leadership echoes the sentiment of continuous improvement and customer focus as the company continues to drive forward in revolutionizing the folding carton industry.

Anissa Mollett
+1 864-635-3861
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