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.



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!



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.

Part 4 – From Sketch to International Distribution … in 5 Months!

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Everything was now in place to launch The Pen Rest on the crowd funding sites.

I decided though in order to maximise the exposure of one over the other I would only use links to Kickstarter. This way I could monitor exactly what response I got without marketing specifically on Indiego. If this community were able to support The Pen Rest on its own I would know.

Because the volume price was based on 1000 Pen Rest I needed a funding goal of £12,500 which would cover everything including costs, marketing, manufacturing and shipping.

Every day without fail I posted to Twitter, Facebook and sent emails to other creators in the Kickstarter community for cross promotions.

In addition to these obvious things I also engaged a PR company to send out a press release to thousands of major journals, newspapers, media and other journalist sites.

I was looking for traffic … I suspected that if I got enough people to see my Kickstarter project I might just get enough funding to make The Pen Rest a reality.

This was a marketing exercise at the start to see how to drive ordinary people to find something so desirable as back it.

As I studied Kickstarter I began to realise that the algorithms they used to display projects in a category were directly proportional to the response. My thesis that if people saw the project they might back it, was more likely if I could keep the project high in the rankings.

So I invested in a variety of services dotted around the internet that offered to increase social awareness, more followers, and to increase the popularity ranking on Kickstarter.

I also placed adverts using Adwords on Google, Facebook, paid advertising on certain high traffic websites and joined a website specifically for people who backed projects on crowd funding sites.

In addition to this I contacted every blog owner that I could find that was in any way connected to pens, ink, stationery and the like.

When contacting other individuals like blog owners and co creators I asked for links back to the Kickstarter project and a testimonial on what they saw in the project.

(Everything that I did by the way pointed to my Kickstarter project. I decided to let the Indiego project market itself to see if it could generate anything on its own. It would prove if my efforts or that of Indiego brought the backing.)

The results of where the traffic came from were fascinating and perhaps not quite what you might expect.

Find out in Part 5 where the traffic came from and how I got on funding the crowd funding projects.

Part 3 – From Sketch to International Distribution .. in 5 months!

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Manufacturing prototypes sounds such a simple process and to me … it is… but then I’m not making them! I had no idea what exactly was involved in making The Pen Rest and frankly that was really not my worry as long as I could get my hands on the actual prototypes I would be able to get photographs and launch my crowd funding project on Kickstarter and Indiego.

The cost of prototypes is way more expensive per unit than the volume manufacturing price I previously received from the manufacturer… so here was another added expense.

I was certain that I wanted an Apple like finish and wanted the Pen Rest prototypes manufacturing quickly, so I agreed to the prototype order, parted with my money and waited with bated breath!

Two weeks later I received the prototypes. Amazingly they looked exactly like the photorealistic images… and the finish.. actually superb!

One of the items I bought off Kickstarter not so long ago was a product called a Foldio. This is a portable fold up photo booth with lights and backdrop.

I spent the next few days taking images… but something was missing.

If you have read my book on “How to Create Royalties” then you will know that sometimes you need to contact the obvious people to get help.

I contacted a well know established retail chains head office that sold pens. I called and established who the buyer was and contacted Louise.

I received an email back from Louise very interested in the product. I called her and after a chat we agreed that I could go into the local Manchester store, set up my folio and camera and take loads of photos of different types of pens on The Pen Rest.

The results were superb!

So now that I had loads of great photos it was time to upload them to the crowd funding platforms and await approval.

And approval was swift, so I launched the project on both Indiego and Kickstarter ensuring that I began spreading the word through many many channels.

Find out what happened when I launched the social media and PR in Part 4.