Sunday, June 14, 2015

Kickstarter As Test Market, Not Crowdfunding

On Jun 13, 2015, at 10:04 AM, BN wrote:
Hi John,
I am embarking on a journey to design my own product and I would be grateful for your advice along the way.
I've never done anything like this before and I haven't done any market research but everything has to be a first. I've taken inspiration from a fellow on Youtube.
My goal is to fail/succeed fast and cheap with the help of kickstarter. Kickstarter allows me to gauge demand for the watch.
***OK... the error starts here.  Kickstarter is for crowdfunding projects.  It can also gauge some demand, but for what?  You are imagining kickstarter obviates the need for a step I call critical, and that is market test of a product that solves a problem.  What you describe next skips that critical step.***
-First step is to develop a product specification.

***Based on what solution to what problem?  And what criteria?***

-Second step is to select a supplier and make a prototype.

***You'll want the best supplier, and to convince them to work with you, you'll need of names the buyers who said your idea is good and does not exist...***

-Third step is to produce a simple marketing material (video) for the kickstarter website.I will document the process in a blog to be able to show the amount of work and passion I've put into making this watch the best it can be.

***Again, by whose criteria, and what makes you think your work and passion is what will sell your product?***
As for the second step, I've learnt much from you how to source products and find supplier.

***You are very kind to say so, but recall I also say the best suppliers will not consider you unless you've taken the fundamental Plan A steps of testing your solution to your problem with those very stores you expect to be your customers.***

The third step I have some experience with. But the first step when it comes to the product development I have no experience but I aim to figure it out. My goal is to finnish the product design and specification by the end of this summer.

***Well, in business the customer is the most important thing, and design is the hardest thing.  Without customer input, getting the design right is unlikely.***
Would it be a good idea to contact a supplier/manufacturer to ask what sort of specification they are looking for before I start writing the specs? Or should I write my own design specs first and then contact the manufacturer?

***You approach the best maker with your specs, informed by customer feedback.***

I don't have a company yet and I don't see any point in having one until I have some sales. 


As for the name of the company however I suppose I should have one. This is always a dilemma since I will be stuck with the name forever. I don't want to name it after my own name for a couple of reasons. Firstly I don't have a very unique name and secondly I wouldn't be a good ambassador for the brand.

*** You think a name makes a business?  A business makes a name.  The reason companies hire pitchmen is cuz no one in the company is a good ambassador.  Don't worry about that.  Just use your name.***
This is going to be a fairly pricy product so it should have a name that conveys heritage/history. Of course, this is a common dilemma when it comes to starting a new product brand.

***Not sure why you think that... if you use your name, you can associate any thing you want with it...***
What would be your tips. Should I hold off with naming the company for now?

***Starting now identify the item with your name, and stay with that.

You may not have noticed you are also depending, by implication, on web-based B2C business model by assuming Kickstarter will make you.  Well, the web is no place to conduct B2C, since only about 6% of retail sales take place on the web (and the most expensive customer acquisition costs) and you really need ot act B2B, wholesale to get enough orders to cover the suppliers minimum in a workable amount of time profitably.

By following the plan you outline, it is do or die as you say above.  My guess is likely die.  On the other hand, sticking with Plan A, and running a kickstarter after the fact, if Kickstarter does not pan out, you still have a viable item to pursue.

There is absolutely nothing new about kickstarter, throughout history, in times of peace and prosperity, private projects were funded by subscription (underwriting, literally writing the names of backers under a description of the project.)

Kickstarter has changed nothing.  use it the way it as intended, and maybe it might help, but don't depend on it or organize around ti...

hope this helps...


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