With only 5 days to go on Hiplok’s first ever Kickstarter campaign to bring AIRLOK, the world’s first high security bike storage hanger, to market, we asked Ben Smith why Kickstarter and whether he would do it all again.
How did you make the decision to launch AIRLOK on Kickstarter?
We’ve seen the need for better designed secure bike storage for our homes and offices for a while and so after months of throwing ideas around we moved on to conception – AIRLOK was born! But as we moved through our intensive design and development process, it became clear that as a product completely different to our current range, AIRLOK needed considerable investment in development and tooling. Kickstarter helps us to validate the product and allows our community of backers to get AIRLOK first as well as raising upfront funds to make it happen.
So what were the alternative funding options?
Although still very much an option, traditional funding through banks can be very restrictive and ultimately costly for growing businesses such as Hiplok. By asking for our customers to invest in the product in order to make it happen we are not only testing AIRLOK in the market place prior to launch but we are building up a genuine community of cyclists that we can bounce future product development ideas off. Basically a community essential to future product development at Hiplok.
As an established business, have you seen any negative repercussions from Kickstarter?
We’ve had a couple of comments along the lines of “won’t you just make it anyway?” but this has been easy to answer with a big NO! The reason we are doing Kickstarter is that we need to invest a huge amount in tooling to make AIRLOK happen but we will also only bring AIRLOK to market if people want it as measured through the success of the campaign.
So how has the campaign impacted on the rest of the business?
On reflection, launching Kickstarter in the same week as Eurobike and just before The Cycle Show and Interbike could have been a little ambitious. I don’t think our team has slept for a few weeks but as they say, if you feel in total control you aren’t going fast enough!
Do you think crowdfunding has opened up a new age in product development ?
I think it’s given more people the confidence and means to put great new products out there. Even just amongst our British cycling fraternity, there’s been some fantastic new gear which just wouldn’t have happened without Kickstarter – check out the Blaze laserlight or the latest cycling apparel with integrated lights from Lumo.cc..
Have you learnt anything so far from your personal campaign?
Sounds obvious, maybe a little cliché but communication genuinely is key! You can have the best product in the world but if you don’t tell people about it, it won’t happen.
Would you do it again?
We’ve still got 5 days to go on this one so no right now and we’re not taking our foot off the gas – we truly believe in the product and want to deliver more AIRLOKs to more cyclists. So the answer is, ask me in a few months’ time – the priority for us right now is getting AIRLOK delivered to our first backers.
There is still 5 days left to get AIRLOK first at an Early Bird Price of £110. Back the Campaign Here >>