Part 20 – From Sketch to International Distribution … in 5 Months!

Well the Kickstarter campaign finished bringing in £3611 before commission and card charges. It was 515% funded from its initial goal!

But the marketing did not stop there…

The next stage as I approached the end of the campaign was to compile all the data of the pledges and mail merge to everyone ensuring that what I was about to send them and their address details were correct. Furthermore an option to increase their orders further with a special price.

Although I wouldn’t receive the money from Kickstarter for a further 14 days I was able to take my time and pack the orders ready to ship.

Inside each box was the tissue wrapped blocks and tops. In the magnetic gift boxes was a piece of non slip matting, a piece of velour .. enough to cover the sill and base and a voucher offering a discount code when making further purchases on the pen Rest website at

As backers started to receive them I received the following feedback from people like Christina ….

Just received my gold pen rest and top this morning , and WOW ! What a superb product , much better than I expected and I’m real fussy !! The packaging was fab , and the gift box was a nice touch ! Everything about this product & campaign was quality! I will definitely be on the website soon to order more ! Thank you somuch ! Very happy ūüėČ
and you know what … she placed two further orders!

Part 19 – From Sketch to International Distribution … in 5 Months!

Well Stephan contacted me, as a distributor in Germany and despite liking the product, he is not willing to sell the product to his customers. For him, it is just not the same quality as his other products that he sells. Disappointed.

The Kickstarter campaign had now reached the half way point with over £2500 pledged. The campaign by this point was more than 300% funded over the initial funding goal.

The next challenge was to provide felt for the sill covers. I had found a company based in Yorkshire that said they could provide a thick felt that would be the ultimate in luxury for the pens. They sent me samples that appeared to be quite good.

However when I agreed a cut sample to specific dimensions what they sent was compressed, not square and not even to the exact measurements that I requested.

They promised to send more samples so we’ll wait and see .. in the meantime i tracked down a company that sells adhesive backed velour in black. Nice product, a velvet feel but not as thick.

Despite requesting the new samples from Stephen the felt supplier, I was shocked when he emailed me to advise that there was now going to be significant tooling costs in order to ensure that all felt pieces were exactly the same.

Sadly this made felt a non starter.. I decided to go ahead with velour, and judging by the reaction of those that have seen the velour on the blocks, they prefer it.

So now having past the £2500 mark I decided to include velour with every order.

Find out what happens next when the second campaign on Kickstarter comes to an end in Part 20 – From Sketch to International Distribution – in 5 Months!

Part 18 – From Sketch to International Distribution … in 5 months!

So I decided to start a New Kickstarter campaign for the Pen Rest and added the streamline now in Midnight & Oxford Blue.

The campaign can be seen here

collection stack

I set a relatively small funding goal of just £700 .. after all I had the stock.

I sent out a mailing to all past backers to say I had launched this new project and within 24 hours I had surpassed my goal by 140%.

Let me make it quite clear though that more than half of the backers are new.

Within a week I had backers amounting to £1800.

Interestingly whilst this was going on I had investigated about the felt that was needed for the sills. I had found a supplier not far from me here in the UK that had sent over samples.

I had two issues to address.

to give a soft protective surface for pens to rest on
to eliminate the small movement which was seen if the stack was moved between blocks and tops (This was required to allow a tolerance between the blocks and tops.)
My felt supplier, a nice guy named Stephen sent me various samples. The thick felt was perfect! It was adhesive backed and covered the sill beautifully retaining the sill contours as designed. I was very pleased with this solution.

I sent the manufacturers specification sheets to a specialist to ensure that the felts would not cause any issues to pens or their users.

Stephen also sent me a very fine felt that was so thin that I was able to apply a small strip in the cavity of the blocks and tops so that they locked in place when brought together.

I went back to Stephan in Germany. I told him that I had found a solution to the two issues he raised and he willingly allowed me to send him the felt pieces to apply to the samples I previously sent him. So I sent them in the post … he’ll get them within 5 days. Then we’ll see what he says.

I have now ordered the felt sill covers and the small non slip pieces that can be applied by the user if required.

So right now I watch and wait with bated breath as to the outcome of the Kickstarter campaign and for Stephans response to the felt pieces. Will he place an order and back the Pen Rest or not? If he does and it proves popular would I want to manufacture another 1000??

Find out what happens in the next part of From Sketch to International Distribution … in 5 Months!

Part 17 – From Sketch to International Distribution … in 5 months!

I guess if you’ve been following my project you are no doubt wondering why it went all quiet and why the sudden vanishing with the daily posts?

Well actually for good reason and one which I’ll share with you.

You will remember that when the blocks arrived one third were meant to be left as black, such that I could then sell them on Kickstarter again.

The blocks that arrived were not black… more like a bluey black and worse still the tops didn’t match! Infact they were more of a definite blue.

Zed, my chinese contact agreed to resend the tops on receipt of one of the blocks. They arrived but were all pitted!

So they agreed to resend again. When they finally turned up they were a pretty good match to the blocks… but certainly you would struggle to call them black.

So here I was with loads of blue tops from the first batch and loads of bluey/black blocks and tops ready to launch a new Kickstarter.

I’ll come back to that in a moment…

Meanwhile Stephan in Germany the distributor that was waiting on the samples received them… he was not happy. In his opinion the Pen Rest required a sill cover to prevent expensive pens touching the metal surface .. and that was not all … he said that he felt they came apart too easily and this must all be addressed before he was willing to order them. In his words it was too risky!

Hmm.. so back to the dilemma of the remaining stock.

Selling off the remaining stock given that it was not going to be a simple “The Pen Rest – Now in Black” launch would be complicated.

So hence the delay in my last postings and the continuation of this ongoing marketing project.

So I decided that in order to market the blocks and matching tops I would call these Midnight Blue and the paler tops I would call Oxford Blue.

I created a simple video using iMovie and then put together all the testimonials I was receiving from the owners of The Pen Rest in my promotional text.

I then figured out what combinations would sell such as a silver block and Oxford Blue top and created the campaign to run on Kickstarter here

The phone rang on Friday evening … and whilst I was waiting for my wife to get off the phone so we could have dinner I decided to launch on Kickstarter.

Find out what happens once the project is launched in the next part of ‘From Sketch to International Distribution … in 5 Months!’

Part 16 – From Sketch to International Distribution … in 5 Months!

So when exactly do you know you have a winning product? Is there such a thing when tackling a niche market?

One persons view is not a great representation of the many .. and even during the last elections the greatest pollsters out there got it wrong.

One of the things I’ve learnt along this journey and marketing exercise is that you have to excite people to want the product .. you need to help them feel it, touch it and make it so desirable that irrespective of what they initially think of a product suddenly they want a part of it.

A good salesman listens to the needs of the buyer looking for angles to present a solution from a different perspective. It gives them the edge.

So it was with The Pen Rest … there was no demand or desire initially to want or desire this product. It was in fact at concept stage as you would hear Duncan Ballentine on Dragons Den say “I can’t see a need to place your pen on a piece of metal … I’m out!”

The consumer is like a sponge. They love to be sold to and the success of any product or service is often governed by building up that desire.

So when you look at some of the marketing channels that I mentioned in Part 13 and ask yourselves Does this Channel somehow make the product desirable you can ultimately come to the same conclusions as my results showed that by saying “Hey look at my product!… you might be interested” It’s a bit like 100,000 people at a ball game all shouting instructions to a player.. nothing gets through and the player just switches off.

If when promoting on Facebook, discussions breakout and products become desirable through popularity, excitement, perception, etc then you ultimately get desire.

It was during this entire marketing exercise that I could see this and adjusted my strategy accordingly and hey presto backers came along.

At this point I’m still waiting on the missing stock although I see it in transit.

In my next update .. Part 17 – From Sketch to International Distribution … in 5 Months! find out if the missing stock arrives, if the tops match the blocks and if there are any further updates on the distributors.