Kickstarting The Belll: episode #4 NOW!

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Kickstarting The Belll is a series of blog posts that documents the process of crowdfunding a product design project by Dutch product design firm Veeel. This fourth and final post is all about “Now!” and tells you about behind the scenes insights and our plans, now that the project is successfully funded.

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We made it!

After 40 days in our 45 day campaigning period we reached our funding goal of 25000 GBP. What an amazing feeling! You feel so grateful towards all those people who you don’t actually know, but believe in your product. So, first thing you do is thanks them from the bottom of your heart. Next thing you do, is set up a meeting with the manufacturer, because it just got real.

Now what?

This is the moment when you realize that you now have to start living up to the dream. Of course, we planned out everything before launching the campaign, but there are always some details of which you thought “we’ll figure that out later”. Well, later is now! And a good meeting with your manufacturer helps smooth out the remaining wrinkles. Final decisions and advise on the material, the planning, the finishing. It’s really important to have discussed this before production starts, because changes now are a lot faster (and cheaper) than changes later.

Behind the scenes insights

Kickstarter is a great platform. As a project creator it is highly addictive. I’m not exaggerating if the entire Belll team got more addicted to ‘checking’ Kickstarter than let’s say, Facebook. They provide nice stats and charts and even better, they share this data. So, next to their own visualizations, other parties can chart it out in different formats and views. Here are some of the stats of our campaign.

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Some more fun facts & figures

  • Of the current 29K (=117% funding!) 17K originated directly from Kickstarter and the other 12K from external referrers, so spreading the word is very important!
  • We now have 719 Backers and our average pledge per person is 40 GBP, although the most popular reward (see chart above) is “the entry model”
  • Looking at were people that pledged came from (not Kickstarter or external referrers)
    • Google scored best (2,86% of traffic)
    • Our own website http://www.thebelll.com is next (1,96%)
    • Closely followed by our Facebook fan page (1,62%)
    • Combined blogs that wrote about us (0,48%)
    • We’re not very effective on Twitter (0,26%)
    • And neither on LinkedIn (0,05%)

The Belll is successfully funded and will go into production soon, but every form of support is still always welcomed!

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Kickstarting The Belll: episode #3 HOW?

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Kickstarting The Belll is a series of blog posts that documents the process of crowdfunding a product design project by Dutch product design firm Veeel. This third post is all about “How?” we were  able to launch this project.

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The start

In order to be successful we knew we had to reach a lot of people, so promotion and building a community were our first steps. We shot a cool video to tell our story, created a websitesocial media accounts and actively went out into the world to tell our story. We approached the media and the people who had already indicated that they liked the product and we started preparing them for what was coming. By creating a buzz before launching our crowdfunding campaign we were off to a rolling start. Definitely recommended to start this way!

The secret

Since we are one of the first companies in The Netherlands to launch a project on Kickstarter we got and still get a lot of emails, messages and phone calls on how we managed to get on it. Because Kickstarter is only open for people that have a permanent address, bank account, and government-issued ID from either the US or the UK. Most of the people that contacted us thought that we found a way around these requirements. We had to disappoint them, we didn’t. The secret (and a lousy one at that) is that the only way to launch on Kickstarter is to have someone on your team that fulfills the requirements… How’s that for an anti-climax?

The actual secret

Campaigning for Kickstarter is a lot of work. There is no such thing as a free ride or a guarantee for success. Up to the launch you already did the hard work. At least that is what you think. But once your project is reviewed and approved by the Kickstarter staff and you press that nice green launch button in your email, you unleash a beast. First of all you have to get it out into the world. Here is where your pre-build community comes in. But then the world starts asking questions. And giving comments. And providing suggestions. That’s were you really start interacting with your future customers. You learn about their doubts, concerns and needs. So valuable that this alone is worth launching a crowdfunding project! How to manage this? Put in all the time and effort you can, because there is nothing as important as these people who believe in your product. No Oscar-contending video or picture perfect brochure can match a direct and personal relation with your backers.

The Belll is currently over 70% on its way, so things are looking good, but every form of support is always welcomed!

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Links

Our project on Kickstarter to support us directly by pre-ordering The Belll.

Our page on Facebook to support us by sharing it with your friends.

The next post in this series will be #4 NOW? and will show you some insightful behind-the-scenes facts & figures of our project.

Kickstarting The Belll: episode #2 WHAT?

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Kickstarting The Belll is a series of blog posts that documents the process of crowdfunding a product design project by Dutch product design firm Veeel. This second post is all about “What?” 

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Since we launched our product – The Belll – on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter we have been getting a lot of attention. People from all around the world contacted us to get to know more. Most of them had specific questions about our product itself, but we also received a load of requests to explain what choices we made up to the point of launching.

At Veeel we start each and every project by asking “Why?”. And we keep on asking this simple question until we are at the very core of the situation. So, for The Belll we started with “Why?” as well. See my previous post for the answers to that question. Next up is setting the “What?” of our project.

What do we need to know?

What are the most important aspects of The Belll? Our main goal was to see if people who said that they liked The Belll would actually like it enough to pre-order it. We realized that by asking people to support us, we should be able to turn their trust into satisfaction as fast as possible. A perfect production of The Belll would therefor be our first priority after successful funding. So before launching our campaign on Kickstarter we already put everything into place with our Dutch manufacturing partner. We also wanted it to sound superb. We talked to experts in the field and came to the conclusion that brass would be the only suitable material for the inside. What did we wanted The Belll to be? High quality in the first place.

What will be the USP?

What was the unique feature of our product that we wanted to highlight? We had to finalize the proposition for our product. Our product is a bicycle bell. And we had to be honest: it would not save our planet. It would keep you safe(r) in traffic, but every bike bell does that. The Belll caters to a different need. In urban areas around the world people start to see more and more advantages for cycling. For instance New York showed an increase of 289% of people riding bicycles and that makes sense. Cycling is healthy, it’s fun, and it makes you feel free. And, people started to care for their bike because it became increasingly important part of their life. We wanted The Belll to ooze that same feeling. It wasn’t just a bell; it was The Belll. With an extra L to celebrate your fun and healthy life!

What will be the market?

What would be the ideal customer for The Belll? We knew there was interest from different industries, like the bicycle and fashion industry. Even before actually thinking about it, the gadget people were knocking on our doors. We were honoured, but decided that this was not the way we wanted to go at the moment. We were starting a company in the celebrating life business, not a hype. Of course, the numbers in this industry are appealing, but we wanted to make a product that made a connection with people. A product they would anticipate and would feel connected to. So what was important to us? That The Belll could be customized to anyone’s wish.

The Belll is currently over 50% on its way to making people celebrate life from Australia to the USA, so things are looking good, but every form of support is always welcomed!

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Links

Our project on Kickstarter to support us directly by pre-ordering The Belll.

Our page on Facebook to support us by sharing it with your friends.

The next post in this series will be #3 HOW? and will tell you how we turned the WHY and WHAT into essential parts of our campaign.

Kickstarting The Belll: episode #1 WHY?

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Kickstarting The Belll is a series of blog posts that documents the process of crowdfunding a product design project by Dutch product design firm Veeel. This first post gives answers to our reasons “Why?”

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Having been in the product design business for years we have seen a fair share of designs leave our office in the hands of others. That is what we do. We provide our clients with a blueprint of everything they need to fulfil their vision or solve their problem. Not only beautiful visuals and detailed production files, but also essential market knowledge and suitable business strategies. Fully prepared our clients head out to put their newly designed product on the market. That is what they do.

However, as entrepreneurs we have always had the urge to take that next step as well. We had the desire to be our own client and bring our own products to the market. Over the years we learned that if you are going to do something, you should better do it good. So, to be able to put our design –The Belll – on the market we had to make a solid start.

We decided that crowdfunding platform Kickstarter would be the perfect place to launch The Belll and give us that solid start. For those who haven’t heard about crowdfunding here is the concept in a nutshell: instead of convincing a single investor to invest a large amount in your project, you look for a large group of investors who each invest a small amount.

So why crowdfunding?

Over the years we have followed the development of the crowdfunding industry with interest. We attended multiple seminars and meetings and researched the possibilities of the different platforms with forerunners in the industry. The funny thing was that the main message conveyed on these events was mostly about how much work it would be to successfully fund your project. All attendees should be warned! There is no such thing as easy money. That didn’t surprise us.

What we missed in all these seminars and meet-ups was the notion that crowdfunding is an ideal tool to do preliminary market research. You can reach your future customers before your product is available in stores. You get confronted with their questions, preferences and needs before you even produced a single product. It basically tells you whether the product you came up with actually has a market.

For us, this formed the great advantage of crowdfunding over more traditional forms of funding. It was something that – next to launching our product – provided a way to see whether this product would fulfil our company’s mission and people would actually love The Belll.

Why Kickstarter?

Kickstarter is currently the biggest and most well-known crowdfunding platform. There are many other forms, but I don’t have the time and space to go into those now. If you want to know more about the many forms of crowdfunding than www.douwenkoren.nl is a great place to start. (Fun fact: Gijsbert, one of the founders of that company was actually one of the first designers in the Veeel community.)

We figured that we would need the biggest platform available since we were looking to launch a relatively small and low-cost product. In order to achieve our funding goal of 25K we decided we would need the platform with a global reach. The more people we could reach, the bigger the chance of success. Simple as that.

Second reason to choose Kickstarter is that it is reward-based. That means that you allow people to make a reservation on one of your future products and you make a reservation on some of their money. If enough people make a reservation, these reservations turn into orders and the exchange of products and money takes place. That provides an ideal set-up for a product design project. You could say that you are looking for people to pre-order your product.

Other platforms provided (a lot less) administrative hassle and – geographically speaking – a much more centralized target audience, but we chose to follow our calculation, intuition and ambition to launch on this global juggernaut of crowdfunding platforms. The Belll is currently over 30% on its way to world domination, so things are looking good, but every form of support is always welcomed!

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Links

Our project on Kickstarter to support us directly by pre-ordering The Belll.

Our page on Facebook to support us by sharing it with your friends.

The next post in this series will be #2 WHAT? and will tell you what we did to be able to launch our project.

Hagelslag schieten als James Bond op een Vespa

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Zoals eerder al bericht, organiseert Veeel elke laatste vrijdag van de maand een netwerk-event voor ontwerpers. In de setting van een informele vrijdagmiddagborrel behandelen we een actueel en uitdagend thema dat betrekking heeft of gaat hebben op de ontwerpwereld. Deze keer was het thema gelinkt aan het nieuws dat Albert Heijn uit dozen gaat verkopen. Net als Aldi en Lidl, maar dan anders. Shelf ready packaging heet dat. Meer eenheden van een bepaald product in een grotere verpakking die zonder uitpakken of herverpakken in het schap gezet kunnen worden. Voordeel? Lagere kosten en een ‘potentieel hogere omzet’ voor AH. En een uitdaging voor hun leveranciers.

Shelf Ready Packaging is daarmee een interessant onderwerp om te behandelen met een selectie van productontwerpers en grafisch ontwerpers. Hoe ontwerp je bijvoorbeeld een kartonnen doos voor 8 flessen Coca-Cola met als voorwaarde dat je de flessen zelf niet direct mag zien? Dit was de uitdaging waar de Portugese ontwerpster Tâmara mee aan de slag ging en een even verrassende, als haalbare oplossing uit de hoge hoed toverde. Ze eindigde er mee op een gedeelde tweede plek, samen met de gezellige Social Wine oplossing. Product ontwerpster Bar (goeie naam voor bij een borrel trouwens) ontwikkelde het winnende idee. Haar favoriete product was hagelslag en haar (toegewezen) doelgroep James Bond fans (Venz?). De oplossing kunnen we natuurlijk niet prijsgeven, je had erbij moeten zijn… De volgende editie staat gepland voor 30 november.

Naast het ontwikkelen van Shelf Ready Packaging oplossingen trakteerden we de deelnemende ontwerpers op een presentatie van de Italiaanse art director Christian Vernaschi. In vogelvlucht nam hij ons mee door de geschiedenis van het Italiaanse design. Hij stipte niet alleen de highlights en beroemde, tijdloze ontwerpen als de Vespa aan, maar legde ook een interessant verband met de historische gebeurtenissen en invloeden die zich in Italie afspeelden. Ondanks de interessante discussie achteraf bleek het nog steeds lastig om de vinger te kunnen leggen op de factoren die Italiaans design zo goed maken. Het blijft iets wat zelfs door een geboren Italiaan maar moeilijk uit te leggen is. De prachtige tijdlijn die Christian heeft gemaakt voor deze presentatie vind je hier: Italian design in history.

Wij kijken terug op een zeer geslaagde tweede editie van DesignerDrinks waarin ons concept weer meer vorm heeft gekregen. Daarvoor willen we alle deelnemers bedanken en kijken nu al uit naar de volgende editie aan het eind van deze maand. We houden in de tussentijd onze oren en ogen open voor een nieuw uitdagend en actueel thema om te behandelen. Mocht je nou denken een interessant thema aan te kunnen leveren, dan kun je ons dat natuurlijk hieronder in de comments kenbaar maken. We zijn benieuwd!

 

 

Ontwerpers, het zijn net mensen.

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Wij zijn een bureau dat werkt volgens een beproefd proces en met gespecialiseerde ontwerpers, Veeel ontwerpers. Ons proces is de afgelopen jaren uitgekristalliseerd en wordt uitgevoerd door het vaste team. Onze groep ontwerpers is qua formaat gegroeid van een A4-tje met 10 nummers tot een Excel-sheet met 100 NAW-gegevens tot een platform op internet met meer dan 1500 profielen.

De praktijk leert dat hoe meer wij weten over een ontwerper, hoe beter wij hem of haar kunnen matchen aan een van onze projecten. Naast vakinhoudelijke skills zoals het werken met bepaalde software zijn ook de persoonlijke interesses en achtergronden opgenomen in onze profielen. Want wie kan nou beter betrokken worden bij het ontwerpen van een nieuwe baby-wieg dan een productontwerpster met minstens 5 jaar werkervaring die onlangs moeder is geworden van haar tweede of derde kindje? Of wie kan zich beter inleven in de ontwikkeling van een nieuw type surfboard dan een aantal designers die zelf graag in het water liggen?

Uit zo’n profiel van een ontwerper valt al een heleboel op te maken. Heeft deze persoon oog voor detail? Heeft hij/zij een drang naar out-of-the-box oplossingen? Ligt de kracht meer in de fuzzy front end of juist in de uitwerking aan het eind? Maar een profiel – een combinatie van een portfolio en een cv – zegt ook niet alles. Daarvoor moet je iemand toch eigenlijk face to face spreken.

Precies om die reden hebben wij vorige week vrijdag onze eerste editie van DesignerDrinks gehouden. Het idee is simpel. Elke laatste vrijdag van de maand stellen wij ons kantoor open voor de ontwerpers die zich bij ons hebben aangesloten. Op basis van een telkens wisselend thema houden we een korte brainstorm waarbij iedereen zijn of haar expertise kan laten zien en daarna volgt een gezellige borrel om elkaar ook op het persoonlijke vlak te leren kennen.

De reactie van een van de aanwezige ontwerpers spreekt boekdelen: “Ik zoek altijd naar interessante mensen om hun ideeën en visies te ontdekken. De avond vond ik erg leuk, zowel om iets van jullie projecten te zien, mee te denken met de ontwikkeling van Designrider en om andere ontwerpers te spreken. Vooral leuk om te beseffen dat de diversiteit aan ontwerpers binnen Designrider zo ontzettend groot is en wat de mogelijkheden eigenlijk wel niet zijn als deze goed samen kunnen werken in een netwerk.“

We zijn ons ervan bewust dat het leren kennen van 1500 ontwerpers op deze manier nog een flinke klus gaat worden, zeker als je beseft dat die groep elke dag verder groeit. Maar de start is er. Al met al lijkt DesignerDrinks een mooi concept dat een zeer positief gevoel achterlaat bij zowel ons vaste team als de andere aanwezige ontwerpers. Het liet in ieder geval goed zien dat er nog meer achter het lijstje werkervaring, skills en referenties schuil gaat, Veeel meer.

Want to get hired as a designer? Why showing your best work isn’t enough.

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This entry was originally posted on the Productdesignhub.

As a product designer you speak to the world through the products you design. They show your vision and communicate the story you want to tell. All these stories (products) combined tell the bigger story and give a more complete impression of who you are and what you do best. And the medium that designers use to communicate their stories to potential clients or employers is a portfolio. Whether online or offline, in your portfolio you want to show the best you’ve got, right? And that’s wrong.

Well, at least if you want to get hired. If you are using your portfolio for historical purposes and want to highlight all your accomplishments so that you can sigh and feel proud about yourself, it’s fine. But it will not land you the job. Here’s why.

We all know the general design process. You start with a problem or vision and then that indescribable thing called creativity starts to flow. You get ideas, lots of ideas. Clever ideas, crazy ideas, impossible ideas, but you get a lot of them. Or at least you should. Next step is to go over all these ideas and see what elements or directions make a nice fit with the problem or vision you started out with. The most promising ideas are then taken aside, thought over some more and get turned into concepts.

Concepts are basically ideas that are made presentable. Often, this is the stage where your client or boss gets involved again. Concepts visualise your thoughts and are used to answer questions about the underlying idea and vision or solution to the problem. Concepts are great discussion tools. A bit of Q&A and if everything goes according to plan a concept is chosen to further develop into a final design. The final design goes into production, put onto (virtual) shelves and everyone involved makes some money. Good products, good results. That is what keeps a designer’s blood pumping.

Chances are big that you want to add this last success to your portfolio. After all, it was a lot of work and you have the world a story to tell. Unfortunately, nobody besides your client or boss and yourself really cares about your accomplishment, this fantastic result. Thing is – and recent studies at Stanford University showed this –that people often prefer potential rather than achievement when evaluating others. “This person has won an award for his work” appears to be less appealing than “this person could win an award for his work”.

Heidi Grant Halvorson in Harvard Business Review:
In a particularly clever study, they compared two versions of Facebook ads for a real stand-up comedian. In the first version, critics said “he is the next big thing” and “everybody’s talking about him.” In the second version, critics said he “could be the next big thing,” and that “in a year, everybody could be talking about him.” The ad that focused on his potential got significantly more clicks and likes. [Source]

For a designer this should make sense as well. Your new client doesn’t want to see the perfect solution that you designed for a competitor. Your new client wants to see what you can do for him. And because you probably haven’t designed anything yet for him, you have to trigger him with your potential. And not with your past successes, how counter-intuitive that may feel.

Showing your potential to a new client or employer isn’t hard. It’s done face to face. Once you’ve scheduled a meeting and you’re sitting at the table, you can easily convince the person on the other side of your potential. You tell about your background, some personal facts, how you handle things, how you would handle things, etc. You can use your resume or portfolio as a guide to elaborate on the magic that happens behind the scenes. Because that’s interesting.

But how can you tell about the good stuff without you being physically present? Show your concepts, especially the ones that didn’t make the cut. Because there is a lot of value in them, more value to new clients than the successes you’ve accomplished for existing clients. Why only show the tip of the iceberg if you can tell a more elaborated story on what is beneath? It’s not the destination, but the journey that matters. Show your concepts, show your process, show how you can be of incredible value and show your untapped potential. That will get you hired.

Note: this isn’t the best blog post I’ve ever written, but it very well could be. Go judge for yourself: https://veeel.wordpress.com/author/riemersma

About the author: Jelmer Riemersma is co-founder of Veeel designers in Amsterdam with an ongoing interest for innovation and its underlying processes and models.

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