Part 5 – From Sketch to International Distribution … in 5 Months!

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As I explained in my previous chapter I had set a funding goal based on backing for 1000 Pen Rest due to the volume pricing.

Sadly although the project was running for 45 days I could see it would not reach its goal.

I had pledges amounting to almost £4000 but this was way short of my £12,500 target.

So I decided that I would go back to UK engineering works and see if I could reach a deal.

I approached one engineering works in Nelson, Lancashire and arranged to meet the Works Manager.. a guy called Steve.

He held and studied my prototypes and I asked if he would be willing to make at least 150 blocks and tops minimum based on the Chinese manufacturing cost, the shipping and 6% duty.

He said there was no problem at all. He showed me samples of other work and declared that he could produce the exact same blocks and tops with no problems at the cost.

He dropped me a line and confirmed the price verbally agreed in writing and on this basis I contacted all the backers in Kickstarter to advise that I was terminating the project and relaunching it with a new funding goal.

For the record I did not receive a single backer on Indiego. Not because there is an issue with Indiego, but because all my marketing efforts were focused on driving traffic to Kickstarter.

Almost all of the backers came back on board immediately… this gave it a real boost and encouraged others to jump on board too due to its perceived popularity.

The project was over funded within 48 hours. The funding goal was just £3,500.

By Day 12 I had reached pledges just short of £5,000 … but this dropped back and funding ended up 127% of the goal.

I could see The Pen Rest would be a reality and so kept in touch with the engineering factory, in particular Steve.

On one call to Steve I asked if he could tell me how the blocks would be wrapped after anodising as I was having a box made for The Pen Rest based on discussions with the retail trade.

Steve told me to call the anodising people that would be completing the job local to my home. When I called them … they said they had no idea who Steve was or the engineering company! “Warning Bells!” so I called Steve … who said don’t worry and said that there was just a misunderstanding and no problems.

I arranged to see the anodisers so that they could demonstrate the wrapping. After they had shown me the wrapping method and they had seen the prototypes I left.

Whilst there they said they had no idea how they could have quoted Steve for anodising as they had not seen the blocks or tops.

They then contacted Steve at the engineering company by email and informed him that they could do the job, but advised he should use a certain grade of aluminium. More on this later…

Try as I may it was difficult to increase significantly the backers further, however the end result was a resounding success.

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I managed to raise £4,451 from 76 backers… Almost 250 Pen Rest orders.

So with this knowledge I contacted the Steve to place the order for 300 Pen Rests.

To cut a long story very short, his boss got involved and said that it would cost 7 times more than quoted. That the process was not as simple as they thought, and they could not guarantee the quality.

On this basis I went back to China. I tried to negotiate the same volume price for a lower production but they wouldn’t budge.

Meanwhile I had a meeting arranged with the buyer from a major retail chain. She had been very encouraging the entire time during the development.

I now had retail packaging to show her and The complete Pen Rest … she loved it!

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Sadly her managing Director didn’t!

So let’s recap…

I had orders for a minium of 250 Pen Rest .. paid for.

I needed to order 1000 as a minimum to get the original unit cost, the one retail chain that I was sure would take it … haven’t yet.

So my options were to give everyone back their money, lose the commission paid to Kickstarter and the costs of marketing, prototype, packaging etc… or take a chance, order 1000 Pen Rest and find ways to retail them.

So I ordered 1000 blocks and 700 tops from China.

The following day I hit another problem!

China came back to me to say that the prototypes were made using 5 axis CNC machine. The quote for 1000 volume was based on casting the Pen Rest. However, they then proceeded to explain that they could not guarantee the finish using this process and even showed me images to prove the point!

It would cost more to manufacture using 5 axis CNC machining.

In for a penny in for a pound! So I agreed the new order.

Find out what happens in Part 6 now that I have committed to such a large order.

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