Problems + solutions: base material found! Back on track!


If you've been following this blog, you'll know that this year I took an idea from sketches, through three prototypes, prepared for and launched the idea on Kickstarter and, after over 1000 backed the idea, I'm in China finalising manufacture with the factory. I still have some way to go, but I'm blogging about the ups and the downs so that my backers understand the process, work and passion that goes into making just one product. Kickstarter page for the RiutBag: it's a rucksack with no outer zips; they're all against your back for safe, calm city travel.

Here's the background:

When you start a Kickstarter campaign you have to believe it's going to work. That means, you spend time, love and money prototyping, preparing a marketing campaign, telling everyone you know, making a video, getting photos done and, crucially, getting manufacturers and freight lined up. You have to get the balance right though: if you start down the route of manufacturing and material ordering before your idea's concept is proved in practice and is funded, you'd be bankrupted before you know it. If you leave it too late and your project is a success, you might not even have time to make a relationship with a manufacturer. In which case, you have a good idea but no way of realising it.

Getting the balance right between preparing and not getting ahead of yourself is also important for the project creator's psychology. Trying to balance the knowledge and fear that it might not work and your belief that it will is can drive you a little . You live in the present, constantly trying to build and prepare for two very different alternate future realities with utterly different outcomes.

What I did

At the beginning of this year in January I was still in my office job. I hadn't told anyone at work what I was planning. Well, actually, I'd dropped a few hints and when my new boss asked me what I really want to do, I did tell him about the idea. But he imagined I'd never do it.

I saved up enough money to cover what I estimated was the cost of prototyping, preparing the Kickstarter campaign and to live frugally for a year. If it didn't work within a year I'd stop, reassess and get another job. But a year I was willing to give. I handed in my resignation at the end of January, left end of February and started prototyping the next day. Remember, at this point I was still trying to work out whether this idea would even work in practice.

What I should have done

I should have started thinking about the manufacture of the RiutBag right at the beginning. I should have considered that having a small base in a different material would mean it was difficult to buy enough of it to meet a minimum quantity order. I should have contacted manufacturers right back in March!