‘THANK YOU” for helping me bring the product formerly known as “Shelfie” to life. All rewards have been sent out and we (I) are slowly transitioning into the real world of marketing online and selling thru retail stores.
The lessons learned: I always knew it was going to be hard running and completing a Kickstarter campaign. The business world is not a very kind place to be when you are a micro small startup (aka. One man band) Lessons were learned over the last two years that no MBA or business school can teach you, especially when it comes to trust, believing in contracts, the trademark legal system or the actual words that come out of other peoples mouths. Communication is key and when it breaks down you better see the writing on the wall that things are not going as well as planned. We went thru three different manufacturers (all based in the US) and a lot was promised and very little was delivered. I remember the time when I had to use my wives phone to call our manufacturer since they wouldn’t pick up anymore when they saw my number on the caller-ID. Also being a Kickstarter project with actual orders to fulfill can be a negative when you are starting to run late because of failed tooling and you need to find a new supplier. Prices all the sudden change, things are getting more expensive since they know you painted yourself into a corner and you have backers that want the product as promised. Thank god I am a stubborn bastard who is not afraid of a little well-mannered confrontation and problem solving is my strength.
You don’t need to go to CHINA to get screwed: I hear a lot of comments about “don’t go to China, you’re going to get screwed, Made in US is better and there are companies ready to do the work here in this country” Ok, here is my five cents to this. Many companies in the US won’t even pick up the phone unless you’re writing a PO of $ 150,000.- or more. Almost all US tooling companies sub out the making of steel molds to China since they can’t compete with their pricing and they are actually pretty good at it. The engineering and tooling design is still made in the US most of the time. How about the actual production? Well, that depends a lot on how much physical labor is involved and what are the costs per hour for that person doing the tasks. After our injection molding effort had failed three times we switched to the much more labor-intensive roto mold method. We had finally figured out how to make the part, but it needed to be flame polished and foam filled which turned out to add an extra 45 minutes per part. (too much for any US company willing to take on) That was it, we had an almost finished product and it was now up to us to finish it off. After getting all the equipment and materials together we are now successfully producing the bike shelf and have shipped over 550 units into the world. Being made in the USA is something we are proud of, but most people in the real world don’t care where the stuff is made as long as it is cheap. Would we ever outsource the production? Maybe, it all depends on the demand, but for right now we are happy with the process and our manufacturing partner in the US.
Will I ever do it again? Not will I, but when? Definitely, I am a creative person at heart and had many ideas during the journey of our project, but didn’t allow myself to be distracted until I had completed this one. The lessons learned and the mistakes made cannot be wasted by never doing anything else again. I have watch, backed and followed many other Kickstarter campaigns, I see the struggles creators have when shit happens and wish they would communicate better with their backers who believed in them and use them as a resource when the going gets tough. We are all in this together and I will always do my best to move things forward.
Feedback has been awesome: The feedback that I have received has been amazing and even so some of you have been surprised by the size of the DaHANGER the photos speak for themselves.
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Thank you again and keep in touch.