Is Your Product Really Ready for Kickstarter?
In our previous blog post we discussed how a nice prototype or sample of your physical product can have a big impact when trying to promote your product. As well as how important it is to have an actual working product on hand when preparing for the crowdfunding campaign. Anyone who tried to start or worked on a product startup will tell you that there are many development stages before you are have a fully functional prototype in your hands. Hardware consumer products are hard and can take a long time to develop before you can mass-produce them and deliver them to your backers or future customers.
The Early Stages
Many of the successful everyday consumer products, smart devices, cameras and others do actually start with a sketch on a napkin and the story goes from there… The process, in general, is pretty much standardized and as an example for this blog post let’s say you are developing and launching non-electronics based product for example a water bottle with a cool lid. You have already visualized it in your mind, it comes in different colors, in BPA free plastic or double-wall insulated stainless steel version, the fitness, and office tech freaks will just love it! But then you do market research and it tells a different story.
Determining the Market
You will quickly find out that a similar product has been done already 5 years ago and it sold in Target and was funded on Kickstarter raising $48k, it was a mediocre win but it is not available anymore and the company now sells 20 models of generic models and they print custom logos on them - what happened? The market is saturated with all kinds of bottles, they even come smart, with self-cleaning technology, you would think there is no way you can push your idea too.
This is wrong because while there is so much competition, the story and overall brand messaging is what holds major products high and selling, they sold their idea the right way! Following the story of Swell bottle or Hydroflask, the story is the same as yours and they started with the movement, with having a unique angle and the sales took off. You always have the chance! Now with the product idea and category figured. All you need to do is design and develop your product.
Design and Engineering
With the aim to fund the manufacturing side on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, you need first to develop the product and come to that ''functional prototype'' stage. You will need an industrial designer and possibly a mechanical engineer to work on your bottle. Start with the design and the visuals of it! The designer will do your design style research and make a suggestion on what fits the market, what is trending, what colours, materials and finishes. There are many aspects that make one product successful and your product designer should cover and communicate this information. From the initial designs, concepts and functional ideas, the 3D model and CAD are necessary to ultimately make your sample and when you are searching for the prototyping and mass manufacturing price. These files and technical details are crucial.
The packaging and branding can be thought of along the product development and here also a branding and graphic design agency or individual that can do wonders if you can afford them. Remember, you need to tell a story that stands out to the customers. Which has to be honest and promote the benefit for the end user.
Where to Prototype
This type of product is fairly straightforward but you want a good prototyping company/manufacturer that will deliver 3-5 samples you can use for your campaign and to send to influencers while promoting your upcoming launch, if you can afford up to 10 great samples, do it! South China, Shenzhen or Dongguan are great places to find your right manufacturer and if it is possible for you get there you will be amazed by the environment which breeds invention, design and manufacturing and meet your manufacturer. By getting on the factory floor, seeing how the production line works can even bring you more ideas and ways to optimise your development process.
You can also hire a product development company to handle all of this for you, including the liability.
The manufacturer will ask for the CAD, offer materials they work with for prototyping and production. Later on you can agree on finishes and what kind of packaging you want. All of this all can be agreed on while visiting China for a couple of weeks. The prototype might take 10-20 days, shipped to your address and if it is what you like, you are ready for a photoshoots and social media sharing. You have a valid product idea in your hands, congratulations!
As discussed in our last post, your prototype should look almost like the final thing. Be functional and something other influencers will like to be seen with and share with their audiences.
Who will want your prototype?
Start with top Youtube reviewers (in this case they are hydration and fitness freaks, outdoors, office hydration...) and ask them if they would like to review a new amazing water bottle with cool features, pitch your product to them and be clear that you will be sending a prototype prior to a crowdfunding campaign launch, many will say yes. After this, see where your branding fits, what groups will like your message and if the community will take you on as their own - people like a newcomer with an idea and they will like your effort to present and crowdfund. Your inspiration clearly can be Instagram and what is trending, what is the hot new packaging style and what materials to use and feature as everything positive about your brand is selling your product, this might even result in a distribution deal before you even launch your campaign. The market is vast.
Why not start today?
The ideas are plenty and one can be indecisive but picking a winner is hard and even if the effort doesn't prove to be fruitful, the process will teach you so many aspects of a business, how the market works and brand positioning. Pick an idea and stick to it, this is how major brands started and their founders did not have these fast and amazing design and prototyping options. It is never better time to launch your napkin sketch idea.
If you're ready to talk with an expert for free about your idea without up front costs or silly retainers, let's talk!