Part 2 – From Sketch to International Distribution… in 5 months!


So the concept, designs and costs were all in, but the next stage was to conduct the market research that would indicate if this could sell or not.

Over many years I have learnt that one persons view on style, design or concept is not proof alone, on the failure or success of a concept.

If my wife listened only to my views she might never buy animal print clothing!

When I asked friends and family about The Pen Rest …. well … frankly they laughed!

So there had to be a better way to establish the following;

  • if people wanted the product without manufacturing it
  • I needed to reach a mass audience on a low budget
  • I would need to use every conceivable free bit of marketing in my test
  • my budget was limited so testing had to be exceptionally sharp

The answer had to be crowd funding.

If you’re not familiar with crowd funding then you’ve been living under a rock! This is the latest new wave of marketing and developing a concept to reality.

Here you set a funding goal, work out what you are asking people to back and then promote like crazy to reach the target for your project.

So I set about writing up all the project details on two crowd funding sites. I chose two of the biggest… Indiego and Kickstarter.

My funding goal had to be based on manufacturing 1000 Pen Rests, covering costs incurred, packaging, carrier and postal charges, etc.

I needed £12,500 for my funding goal… All or nothing… that’s how it works.

Both campaigns ready… I submitted them for approval.

Sadly they were not granted 🙁 There was problem with the images… No photorealistic images were allowed!

I needed prototypes making, if this was to get approval and get it off the ground.

See how I get on in Part 3.. Getting Prototypes.

Part 1 – From Sketch to International Distribution.. in 5 months!


I specialise in marketing… internet marketing to be exact and my company PIMdesign is now some 19 plus years old according to my LinkedIn profile.

Often in chatting with all sectors of commerce I am told how tough business is or how difficult it is to get the next sale.

Now that’s interesting.. We all know that when everyone sells the same products and services, prices are competitive and you have to fight for every bit of business.

In my discussions with many clients we discuss the merits, often, of social media, adwords, SEO, PR and other manners of marketing a business, its services and products.

However, often I am confronted with a challenge of a new product or service .. totally unheard of and asked the best method of marketing.

So one day in December 2014 I decided it was time to test what worked when marketing a niche unheard of product. To do this… I created one!

So I set about inventing a place to put my pen. All too often I would lose it under a pile of paper, leave it in a bag or jacket pocket and faced with the fact that I actually like my fountain pen I decided to set about designing a Pen Rest. This was so obscure, marmite, niche that this would make an excellent test.

So before I could get to the marketing stages what follows is a series of articles that will take you through the entire concept to consumer and businesses.

My first challenge certainly not being a designer was to draft what I wanted.

My main focus when thinking about the product were the following criteria;

  • not perishable
  • no sell by date
  • modular
  • shows off the pen, not just somewhere to put it
  • premium feel and look
  • small desktop foot print
  • function-able
  • smooth lines

A sketch was not enough and I did try to make some clay models which clearly demonstrated the flaws in the design, space between pens, centre of gravity and design flexibility to allow for different styles of writing instruments.

Speaking to manufacturers, they all said they would need 3D CAD drawings of my design to be able to give me a cost. So, the next stage was to find a 3D Cad designer… someone that could take the idea and concept and create a 3 dimensional drawing that manufactures could use and create some photorealistic images.

From this I was in a position to shop around for manufacturers.

I was on a mission now .. I needed prices, prototypes and needed to think about marketing.

Manufacturers I found were reluctant to give me prices here in the UK. When I did find companies willing to give me a price they quoted individual costs that would end up being 7 times the price found elsewhere.

So I approached China. I did this by researching Alibaba. I wanted a responsive company, excellent feedback and references that might assure me.

Out of the three I approached, only one responded. As a result I entered into negotiations with them .. mostly between 6-30am and 9am and late at night often after midnight…. although in fairness they were available in the mornings generally until just after lunch.

I knew that in order to create a momentum I would need a price for 1000 units.

My plan was to crowd fund it.

Check out Part 2 to see how I get on.