Visit Qingdao

Visit Qingdao

In August, our design team visited Qingdao, China. During the visit, we conducted interviews with various modern Chinese mothers. The goal was to gain insight into the pains and gains of a product used by working mothers in China.

All mothers were asked to prepare a homework assignment before the in-depth interview. They were asked to collect pictures that showed the daily routine of the product. During the interview, these images were used as a tool to explain their stories.

It was an inspirational and insightful visit. The results will be used during the Analysis phase of the project. We want to thank all mothers for their cooperation. Xièxiè!

The Pro’s & Cons of Crowdfunding

The Pro’s & Cons of Crowdfunding

Pros & Cons of Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is becoming an increasingly popular way for creators to raise money and start businesses. There are of course a lot of upsides to using crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo but what is often overlooked are the downsides. Below we have listed some of the pros and cons of launching a product via a crowdfunding campaign:

Pros:

  • Raising Funds: The obvious advantage of using Crowdfunding is that it gives creators the ability to raise finances in order to fund their ventures. $3.71 Billion has been raised so far on Kickstarter alone and the average successful Kickstarter campaign raises $25,671.
  • Control: In comparison to traditional funding methods raising money through crowdfunding means that creators are able to generate investments without giving up a percentage of their company. This allows them to have greater control of their business.
  • Validate Market Demand: Crowdfunding allows creators to gauge the demand for their idea before bringing it to market. This allows creators to determine if it is worth investing in before they have spent all their time and money.
  • Consumer Research: Running a crowdfunding campaign gives creators access to a wealth of consumer data. Not only can creators test out ideas, but they can also communicate with backers about how to make the product better.
  • Marketing: When it comes to free marketing-nothing beats sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo at generating publicity. These sites attract millions of visitors from around the globe including bloggers, tech magazines, investors, and more.

Cons:

  • Giving away your intellectual property (IP): The main disadvantage of crowdfunding is the necessity of making public your intellectual property. This can lead to copycats stealing your idea and creating a clone of your product. Sometimes before you’ve even finished your campaign: Stikbox selfie stick case.
  • Workload: Running a crowdfunding campaign by itself takes a lot of work, many experts recommend to start planning the campaign at least 4-6 months before the launch. Assuming you’re working full time on it.
  • Expense: Although it is possible to create and run a crowdfunding campaign for free, it is very difficult. Creating content for your campaign can be very expensive and time-consuming. Having a professional introduction video, for example, can cost upwards of €7,000.
  • Fees: A final downside of using crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo is the fees. Generally, the fee is about 8-9% of the total funding raised, broken down into 5% for using the platform and 3-4% for transferring the money.

Conclusion:

Crowdfunding can be an invaluable tool for creatives to bring their projects to life but it is not without its drawbacks. Whether it is right for your product depends on a range of factors, such as the type of product, time frames, funding amount, and more. But ultimately it’s up to the creator to decide whether or not the pros outweigh the cons. If you want to find out more about crowdfunding click here to check out our crowdfunding tips.

Top failures in the manufacturing of Kickstarter projects

Top failures in the manufacturing of Kickstarter projects

Starting a crowdfunding campaign on platforms like Kickstarter and  Indiegogo have proven to be a fruitful way for start-ups to gather funds for concepts. However, high profile failures draw a lot of attention in the crowdfunding world. When looking at past Kickstarter campaigns it is hard to ignore the very publicized large-scale failures that have taken place over the years. Nobody wants to disappoint their backers, but the reality is that it happens all too often. Below we will break down some of the largest failures, the mistakes they made and how to avoid them.

First example; the Zano Drone became Europe’s largest Kickstarter, raising over $2.3 million in funding only to file for bankruptcy later that year after shipping less than 4% of the 15,000 orders. The drones that were shipped were riddled with glitches, bugs and hardware issues. According to the creators, design upgrades suggested by backers during the Kickstarter campaign presented extra technical challenges and lead to delays and higher costs than anticipated. In addition to that, the company ran into some unforeseen tolerance problems that affected a large volume of their production units, causing problems in the calibration of the units. The product was not performing, and the board had to pull the plug. The main takeaway here is ensuring that you and your team have the necessary technical expertise to take on the challenge of bringing your product to market.

Another similar example would be the CST-01 watch. A 0.8mm flexible wristwatch with an E Ink display that advertised as the worlds thinnest watch. The project raised over $1milion from 8,000 backers, but nearly two years after it was supposed to be delivered, the project announced that they had parted from their production partner were unable to fulfill the rest of their orders. The company credits their failures to problems with their production partner and the complexity of manufacturing a product of the 0.8mm thickness. The cautionary tale highlights the importance of the right production partner. Being dependent on a single supplier is a huge risk.

A final example; The Tiko 3D printer. A $179 3D printer that raised $2.9 million from 16,538 backers only to delay the product being shipped by 18 months. When it finally did ship the design, flaws were so severe that almost all the 4000 printers that did ship were returned. This forced the company to file for bankruptcy, leaving close to 15,000 backers empty-handed. They claim their main error was committing to inventory too soon. When design flaws materialized, it was too late for them as they had spent all there funding. In addition to this Tiko is also heavily criticised for their lack of communication with backers. They claimed the reason for this was to not tarnish their reputation in order to increase their chances to secure additional funding- “The headlines of our failure would hurt the odds of reaching a deal”. However, with the benefit of hindsight, this proved to be a significant mistake.What most of these examples have in common is that the creators of these projects hugely underestimated the difficulties of transitioning from a working prototype to a mass-produced product, within the time and budget. Backers will usually expect the product as advertised after 7-12 months. What are the difficulties in this transition? Some of the key themes:

  • Being dependent on original design manufacturers (ODM) can have a great value, they can be an engineering partner and will manage the production. They can ask low development fees because the will earn the money in production. However, it creates the risks on a lock-in (if they own a part of the intellectual rights. Furthermore, there are not eager to resolve bugs when the production is started.
  • Relying on early stage quotations of suppliers is a great risk, suppliers can use design changes to increase the price.
  • Committing to bulk orders before the final design is ready.
  • It is essential to find a good fit with a capacity of the manufacturers that suits your demand. A supplier to small will not be able to deliver, a supplier to large will only produce in large volumes, forcing you into commitments.
  • Overpromising and overstating the capability of your product in the campaign.
  • Projects can be more complicated than anticipated in the planning, make sure have a buffer for this.
  • Ensuring that your team has sufficient competences in the field of manufacturing, planning, and reliability.
  • Production tolerances play an important role in the production of large volumes. Not anticipating the tolerances in the design prior to production can influence the performance of the product, delivery time and costs.
  • Late changes in the design of the product, can have a huge impact on the project timeline and costs.
  • Lack of testing procedures during the design and production can lead to the risk of losing grip on the quality of the products.
  • Overestimating the capabilities of manufacturing partners, make sure to know your suppliers’ competencies and capabilities. At SLIMDESIGN we ensure that we have the right skills for the job and if not we have the ability to call upon our network of specialist partners. Click here to see more about our unique design process.

To find out more tips and advise, check out our page of Kickstarter tips here.   In the end, backers decide on the validity and worthiness of projects. Backers tend to be involved in the development process of the product, therefore they can be more forgiving than other consumers. Clear communication with backers is a must, you will have to create and maintain trust in your backers. Without communication, backers will be less understanding. As a creator, you are responsible to fulfill each of the rewards towards your backers. And you must strive for high quality, reliable and professionally made products.Our industrial design agency SLIMDESIGN has over 15 years’ experience in making concepts reality, for both startups as established companies as Panasonic and Nike see our projects. Since the introduction of crowdsourcing we have offered support in the design, engineering, and sourcing for numerous Kickstarter start-ups, our latest project is the Circa Smart Alarmclock. If you’re a serious about bringing your idea to market and want to ensure a smooth and seamless transition to mass production without disappointing backers, then contact SLIMDESIGN and we can talk about the ways we can help you bring your product to the mass market.

New ballpoint pen design for Monami

New ballpoint pen design for Monami

New ballpoint pen design for Monami

Monami has a long-lasting history as Korea’s leading manufacturer of stationery products and office supplies. Their basic ballpoint pen, named ‘153’  has continuously been on sale since 1963, with over 3.3 billion units sold. This iconic design, recognizable by nearly every Korean has significantly influenced daily life in Korea, according to the Korea Design Foundation.

We are proud to announce that Monami was commissioned SLIMDESIGN to design a new ballpoint pen.

For more info about Monami, please visit their website.

Circa Smart Alarm Clock funded on Kickstarter

Circa Smart Alarm Clock funded on Kickstarter

Circa funded on Kickstarter

We are pleased to inform you that Circa smart alarm clock has recently raised €117,056 on Kickstarter. To make this project a reality, SLIMDESIGN is engineering the project for production. If you missed the Kickstarter, You’re now able to pre-order Circa on Indiegogo InDemand.

Please visit the Circa Project on our website for more info about this project.