RiutBags meet their backers! + user manual + how did we get here?
February and March backers in the UK only, if your RiutBag hasn't yet appeared, please contact me. International February and March backers, your RiutBags are in the post and will arrive in the next week or 10 days. Please let me know when they arrive! Let us see your RiutBag in its new home onwww.facebook.com/riutbag and www.twitter.com/_riut. There, you'll find videos showing you tips on how to get them most out of the design. When you're used to wearing a rucksack the other way round, there are a few new things to get used to! If you have friends, colleagues or family who would like a RiutBag, please ask them to sign up at www.riut.co.uk. I will be releasing the final RiutBags from the Kickstarter run to preorder online in March for £70 arriving in May 2015. Postage is free in the UK and costs £20 to addresses outside the UK.
We've come a long way in 3 months. The RiutBag was funded by you on 26 November 2014. And here we are now, RiutBags have arrived with Feb/Mar UK backers, and they are on their way to international backers. Thank you all for backing, reading, engaging and sticking by the project.
Problems + solutions: risks
The risks of manufacturing, freight and postage are now on a par with the normal risks that every business faces. The risk that I - as a first time Kickstarter project creator, designer, manager of manufacturing and importer - posed to the project are dramatically lower. The project has now performed the complete cycle of prototype, manufacture, quality control, Chinese customs, freight, UK customs, road freight and postage to you, its backers, successfully. This process will now be repeated to get the rest of the RiutBags to you.
I have learnt that making one RiutBag perfectly - or any textiles product - doesn't entail that the next one is perfect. For the remainder of this project, the focus will be on quality control. 1100 RiutBags are still to be created. This remains a risk, no matter how often the process is repeated.
April and May backers, your RiutBags do not yet exist! Fear not - they will. And you'll find the time comes round really quickly, I'm sure. In terms of risk mitigation, I will be there to ramp up the quality check so that you all receive the RiutBag you want. And I know now, that the approach to manufacturing, customs, freight and postage can definitely get your RiutBag to you.
There is one new risk on the horizon. I intend that the next 500 RiutBags, made in March, will be brought back via sea freight for May backers. It will take 30 days to arrive from China. This is a new form of transport to this project. This will be managed by the same outstanding companies I've been working with. So I'll be managing all possible risks to ensure they arrive safely.
That's it for the risks. Now for a little celebration...
Milestone: 1st RiutBags arrive with backers!
Last week, from my perspective, was the most incredible week of the entire fulfillment of this project to date. Having allowed plenty of time for things to go wrong, when they went right it almost went too fast for me.
On Thursday 12th February the RiutBags left China's busiest port - Xiamen - on one of the final flights out of China before Chinese New Year 2015. They flew via Luxembourg and landed successfully in London Heathrow on Monday 16th February 2015. It was a colossal moment and my relief was not quantifiable. (Read below: "How did we get here?".)
I drove just a short distance from Reading to Heathrow. They had made it all the way from China. Even though the RiutBags were designed here, they had never been here before!
One quirk of my Kickstarter rewards: I promised to sign the first RiutBags for backers. I thought it might raise a few eyebrows with my freight company, but they were just fantastic. They put the RiutBag boxes to one side, made me a cup of tea and helped me to unpack, quality check again, sign and repackage for 4 hours. Here's a blog about them, if you're looking for a great UK freight company.
The next day on Tuesday 17th February the RiutBags started their journey up to Lincoln, to Parcel Ship's postage warehouse for packaging, labeling and postage.
Everything has taken longer than expected until now. Yet, they reached Lincoln on Wednesday and were immediately posted. I'd allowed a few days for them to hang around, be labelled and maybe consider leaving the warehouse on Friday. Yet, to my genuine surprise, they were on many UK backers' doorsteps on Thursday morning. And alerts were jumping up on Twitter and Facebook that they had arrived.
And backers' first impressions? See for yourself:
Whilst most RiutBags are going out by post, I made a few hand deliveries by special request. It was with joy and a little disbelief that I walked to hand deliver my first RiutBag.
RiutBag user manual
Most of us have used conventional rucksacks for one, two or many decades! Our habits of using those bags are well rehearsed and embedded in the way we move, pack and travel. The RiutBag has only existed for a few months so it's new to us all, even me. And it's the other way round, which means there are a few things which will take a little getting used to. So I'm building a library of videos called the RiutBag user manual.
I've been using a RiutBag prototype to travel for a few months and have some tips to help you get the most out of the RiutBag. I don't want you to come up against aspects of the design which require a new approach only to become frustrated! I upload these every few days on www.facebook.com/riutbag. "Like" Riut, and you'll see a new tip appear for you to try out.
Whilst I use the RiutBag as I intended it, every backer I meet shows me different ways of using and interacting with the RiutBag. So I'd like to share my tips to help it help you on your travels. I believe you - the users of the RiutBag - will have tips too. So share your ideas wherever your favourite social space is: www.twitter.com/_riut, www.facebook.com/riutbag or Linkedin, Google+.
How did we get here?
One last thing for this update. I have to remind myself that things weren't always this way. It seems so clear to us all that those sketches would result in physical RiutBags: prototyped, funded, manufactured, shipped, posted and arrived at the first backers' doors. And being put to use! Yet, this sequence was not inevitable. At each stage, success and failure were possible outcomes.
When I left my job on 28th February 2014 - almost a year to this day - there was no knowing that the 6 months of prototyping and design would lead to a product that worked. We made the RiutBag prototype fundamentally to check my reasoning. It's possible to delude yourself much more easily than other people. The RiutBag prototype was truly a "proof of concept". I.e. proof that there isn't a major flaw in my thinking.
In September 2014, 6 months ago, I looked at the third prototype; the one you saw photographed and filmed on Kickstarter. It was precisely what had been in my head. Yet, at that stage, there was no way that I could know for sure whether anyone else would think it was an idea worth trying out. I had to believe it was possible that other people could see the benefit to their urban travel. But, it wasn't inevitable that others would look at it, understand it, feel that the style could fit in with their lives and back the idea.
By the 26 November 2014 at 05:36 GMT, you and over 1000 backers breathed life into this project. You gave it fuel, energy and a launch pad to set it on its path. When we took a moment to celebrate - physically if you could get to London and digitally if you were elsewhere in the world - my head was deep in the manufacturing, freight and logistics to come. I'm glad photos were taken, because my mind was elsewhere, mentally trying to foresee what problems could arise to stop the success of this project.
The next steps, done right, *could* lead to a successful first production run. Yet nothing was inevitable. If I didn't do anything, nothing would happen. And if I did something wrong, failure could result. There were many unknowns. It was no longer my money which was on the line. It was no longer only my expectations, interest in this project and desire to travel more calmly at stake.
There was finally a turning point, though. It was only when I got the email saying that the RiutBags had arrived in the UK that I stopped. I was overwhelmed with the immensity of every step having come together to achieve this moment. It was the first moment of relief; a sense that this project stood up to the tests of reality.
They arrived. And I have never felt more relief. They arrived because of the idea of a humble rucksack user and the support of over 1000 people who gave that idea a shot. Thank you for giving me the chance to get it right.