What Kickstarter doesn't tell you

The Kickstarter process isn't as simple as it seems.

Why? Making a campaign video and a product prototype is significantly easier than taking a product to market. And the very nature of Kickstarter means reasonably inexperienced people will be out of their depth.

In the case of our first product, Plan V. We spent around 10k AUD producing a prototype, put together a campaign video, and set it live. We had no manufacturing partner engaged. We had no idea of global distribution. We had no customer support processes in place. And to top it off, we both had full time jobs.

We took a risk on an idea half expecting to end up on the scrappy floor of broken Kickstarter dreams. Instead, Plan V became a success. We had created a product with a demand. High fives ensued.

Not so fast! That's not where the story ends. It's not that simple. Taking a prototype design to manufacturing is a challenging prospect for companies both small and large. There are many (very time consuming) challenges that must be overcome.

via Digital Trends

via Digital Trends

Manufacturing partner
Before the launch, no one wanted to know about us or our idea. The manufacturers that did reply to our requests were keen to know how many tens of thousands our first run would be. It was a bit of a chicken and egg situation. Without the demand, we couldn't find out the essentials to do business. And without the manufacturing insight we couldn't estimate product cost. Enter risk #1, the product-cost gut decision.

Distribution
To drop ship from China or to freight to Amazon? It's a tough decision to make before knowing distribution numbers or packaging weight and dimensions. In the end we partnered with sendfromchina.com, despite some negative online reviews. Their service was fast, varied, and reasonably priced.  China's mail system is government subsidized to keep the flow of goods rolling globally. Not knowing exact product size and weight, we needed to take risk #2. The gut price of global shipping $5AUD

Mass production
I still remember the conversation I had with Evan after our Kickstarter campaign ended. I said, "The campaigns done. The CAD files have been delivered. The hard work is over."  I cringe as I think back to that moment. The road between prototype and mass production is long and winding and ever dotted with Chinese public holidays. Don't underestimate this process. Just because you can make it easily in small batches does not mean you can mass produce your design.

Quality Control
Does your manufacturer care about customer satisfaction? Yes and no. Mostly no, Certainly not as much as you do. They care about the business and they care about further business. However, you cannot rely on them to ensure 100% of your products will be fully functional. You need a strong QC process from an external party. Test, test, and test. We learned this the hard way.

Having said all of that, Kickstarter allowed Evan and I to do what we love most. The learnings were immense, and interacting with our backers was like nothing I've ever experienced. You guys really are an inspiring bunch. We couldn't have made it through our first Kickstarter campaign without you. 

Needless to say, this time around we'll be doing things differently, By the time we take Failsafe to Kickstarter, it will be mass production ready, thoroughly tested by our Beta Team, and it will be distributed by Amazon (so no shipping delays or disappearing orders)!

Why Flintu Chose Hong Kong

Hong Kong is the ideal location for a hardware startup, despite the fact that there are so few factories in the country. Why is that? Flintu’s co-founder and tech guy Evan Stuart explains.

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The fact is, Hong Kong doesn’t need any factories. It has one of the world's largest mega-factory cities at its doorstep, Shenzen. A short three hour drive  across the border is  all that separates the two cities. Shenzen was literally farmland 30 years ago, and now this city makes many of the gadgets we buy and love. (Looking at you, Apple fans!)

Hong Kong was once a factory city as well.  However, its factories were all relocated in the 1980s as part of a industrial relocation program.  "Made in Hong Kong” became “Made by Hong Kong” as it transitioned to providing design, investment and management. Today Hong Kong is a bustling international financial hub, home to more skyscrapers than any other city in the world.

The city is home to an increasing number of tech startups. In 2015, the number of incubators and startup companies increased by 50%. It makes sense. Hong Kong has access to the startup trifecta:investment, a factory and a product. With Shenzhen’s manufacturing capabilities and Hong Kong’s investor pool it’s easy to see why it’s one of the fastest growing startup scenes in the world.

For Flintu, having a presence in China is essential to delivering a quality product on time. Product development relies heavily on prototype iteration. Reducing time between each revision is key for overall time-to-market. From a manufacturing point of view living in Shenzhen would be ideal, but it's digitally isolated by the great firewall.

With 12 hours factory-to-office delivery, its burgeoning startup culture, fast internet access, and undeniably amazing restaurants and bars you can understand why Hong Kong is the place to be.


 

 

#ThePowerTo finish what you started

When you're running out of battery, you need your phone to stay charged just long enough for you to do the essential tasks, whether that's  looking up directions in Google Maps, finishing up that business phone call, or requesting an Uber.

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Failsafe by Flintu is your smartphone's lifeline, featuring a 400 mAH internal battery. That's enough to provide a quick top-up charge equal to about two hours of talk time or an hour of video playback. 

The best bit is the internal battery gets topped up while your charging via USB. That means this emergency reserve is ready to go more often. And you don't need to remember to keep it charged.

Don't let your battery life dictate your day. Failsafe by Flintu gives you the power to finish what you started. 

#ThePowerTo make use of USBs

An Old Fashioned garnished with a maraschino cherry and a slice of orange. The Godfather Part II. Journey's 'Don't Stop Believing'. Some things are just classic.

This product preview first appeared in our newsletter. Don't miss any updates!

This product preview first appeared in our newsletter. Don't miss any updates!

That's how we feel about our USB functions. Failsafe's USB connector allows you to charge your phone whether you're at home, at the office, or in your car. You can forget about carrying around that long, easily tangled cord. Failsafe means USB chargeability wherever you are.

Plus you'll always have a USB drive handy. Failsafe features flash storage while allowing you to data sync between your phone and your computer. You're welcome.

 

 

 

Behind the scenes with Flintu's design process

Hey Friends of Flintu, Luke here! It's been a wild couple of months leading up to our upcoming product launch. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, jump on our mailing list to keep up to date.) 

As product manager at Flintu, it's my job to make sure that the final product meets the needs of our customers in a way that's simple and intuitive. A major component of that process is overseeing the industrial design, or the process of defining how a product will look, function, and feel. 

For us the design process starts with a couple cups of coffee and ends with a list of essential features and a sketch. From there, we slowly refine our design, through CAD drawings, 3D prints, user testing and, yes, the occasional heated discussion. 

Our new product, Failsafe by Flintu, has quite a few design restrictions which has made for a particularly exciting process. The design nerd in me loves every second of making a product that's functional and designed to fit users' everyday lives. They say that working within constraints builds creativity, and we've got two major restrictions.

First, Failsafe is as feature-packed as a swiss army knife. As you've seen from recent blog posts, Failsafe does a lot, and yet it still needs to be pocketable. That means every millimeter of the product has to be engineered meticulously! We've spent a lot of time testing and iterating to find the best configuration for all of the pieces that make Failsafe tick.

Second, Failsafe by Flintu lives in a very harsh environment -- your pocket or handbag. This means both design and materials need to be smart and tough! Like I said earlier, my job is to make sure that the product meets customer needs, so it's especially important to me that we end up with a product that can withstand the rough and tumble of real life.

There you have it. That's our design process in a nutshell. We're in the thick of product development for Failsafe by Flintu, so we're living and breathing this stuff. At best , the process is smooth and linear, at worst... well let's not talk about that ;o)

 

#ThePowerTo charge the devices that matter most

Almost everyone we know has a smartphone, and almost everyone we know experiences low battery anxiety, at least once a week. Not to mention those who experience the frustration of a dead phone... That's the problem we solved with Plan V.

Since then, we've thought about the other gadgets that we use in our adventures and in our everyday. Our friends have GoPros, digital cameras, and smart watches that have limited battery lives as well. Why not protect those devices from battery emergencies too?

That's exactly what we did. Failsafe by Flintu can be used to charge everything that is USB-C, Micro USB, or Lightning compatible, covering you for all of your device emergencies! You have the #ThePowerTo stay connected and capture your experiences with Failsafe by Flintu.

What device are you most excited to charge with Failsafe by Flintu?

 

#ThePowerTo choose your power source

People have asked us what makes Failsafe by Flintu different than our original product, Plan V. Over the next few weeks, we'll reveal new and upgraded features that will hopefully get you as excited for our Kickstarter launch as we are!

Plan V started with a single goal: create a smart phone charger whose power source didn't rely on the grid for its power, an emergency charger that had you backed no matter where you were. We used a 9 volt battery for our power source. They're a standard size battery which can be found in convenience stores across the globe.

Failsafe by Flintu keeps that core functionality and expands on it. Now you can attach AA, C or D size alkaline batteries to charge your phone, when you're in an emergency, on the go, or off the grid. It continues to act like a jumper cable for your phone, but now you have even more flexibility when it come to power sources.

And this is just the beginning. Check back next week to see what else Failsafe by Flintu gives you #ThePowerTo do. 

We're getting a little nostalgic over here

 

The Flintu team is in the midst of preparing for the launch of our second Kickstarter project, and we have to admit, we're getting a little nostalgic over here. Let's walk down memory lane with our back story as told by a few noteworthy numbers.


We still do an internal happy dance when we look back at the success of Plan V by Flintu. We really couldn't have imagined that our idea would resonate with such a large community of people across the globe.

We don't want to lose that sense of community with our next launch. If you have a smartphone, a sense of humor, and a sense of adventure, we'd love to have you along for the ride.