Problems + solutions: work after after Kickstarter funding
Dear Kickstarter backers and all interested readers: I'll be blogging about the real ups and downs of taking an idea from prototype to manufacture. I understand you may feel alarmed at seeing arising problems! But, be assured, I simply want to show you and anyone trying to do this, that problems arise, I will be honest about them, solve them and move on to successful completion. That's how everything in existence got here - and the RiutBag will manage it too. I'll be blogging frequently during the completion of the Kickstarter process. If you have questions, feel free to contact me via the RiutBag Kickstarter campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1090074666/the-revolutionary-rucksack-riutbag
After the successful funding of the RiutBag last week, thanks to 1074 backers, I'm in a new dimension. This is the world that "might have been" before the Kickstarter campaign began. I have two problems to overcome: 1) one of the materials for the RiutBag is proving very difficult to source by my manufacturer, 2) my manufacturer is changing the goal lines on production dates. It is possible to resolve these: I'm heading out to Fujian, China on Monday to see alternative materials and to confirm what needs to be done to meet the dates I promised to backers.
Anyone undertaking anything knows there are risks involved. However, this is the fascinating character of risks: you never know in advance which ones will arise. Solving them for your customers is the key to starting and running a successful business.
I chose to run a Kickstarter campaign for many reasons. Especially, to test the RiutBag idea with those outside my social circle, to understand whether I had communicated it well, to understand how real rucksack users would approach it. Had it not been successful, I would have gone back to the drawing board on my communication of the idea, as well as addressing whether the RiutBag itself was flawed.
Reaching the funding goal to put the first production run together was a vital goal for this important reason: it would let me go through the process of taking my prototype to the right manufacturer, build a successful relationship with them, get them to source materials, give me their final price based on their version of my prototype, put the contract in place so they can order the materials and THEN manufacture. And package, ship, label and post all over the world to my wonderful backers!
The funding is there to put in that first minimum order with the manufacturer. My chosen form of manufacturing is in China with complex textiles specialists who work in large quantities - minimum order 1500. This is what enables me to get RiutBag's Kickstarter backers their RiutBags for between £45 and £65.
In advance of a Kickstarter campaign, I had to prepare things which may never have been required had the funding not been met: manufacturing, logistics, web development and suppliers. Whilst I got them ready - I paid two manufacturers to start working on their sample of the prototype, and estimated to the manufacturer and logistics companies what I imagined the numbers would be - I could not know for sure whether it was going to happen and, if it did, how much I'd be after. Not until the campaign was over.
Meeting the funding goal is amazing. It means you get to do plan A! All that stuff I was preparing was ON. However, it wasn't until the last day that I could know for sure. Every day, whilst individuals out there decided they would support the RiutBag, some days up to five backers would drop out! Over the course of the campaign, over 100 backers pledged and dropped out. This could have been a much larger number. So even after the funding goal was met, this could have changed. That's why success only enables me to test all the assumptions on which I built my expectation last Wednesday for the first time.
Often business problems - even things that seem impossible to get round - are a matter of communication. That's why I'm going to China. Making decisions about alternatives and speaking face to face to understand how we can meet the timescales is the next step. Crucially, I want to share with you that this is happening for reasons:
1) It may impact the delivery of your RiutBag. I am working to make sure this isn't the case.
2) If everything goes to plan, you'll know the real work, problems and solutions that go into making it happen. This is true of everything around us in the urban world. Every day when your bus is on time, your lift works, the post if delivered it doesn't mean everything ran smoothly; it probably means that problems arose but they were solved to get you what you hoped for.
I'll be blogging frequently during the completion of the Kickstarter process. If you have questions, feel free to contact me via the Kickstarter campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1090074666/the-revolutionary-rucksack-riutbag