I’d left a career in sales & international business development and started travelling looking for a venture of my own. I visited friends in Asia and the Middle East looking for opportunities and understanding emerging markets. I actually came back the London for a few days and came across crowdfunding and various products which had been launched.
I found inspiration to design a licensed keyring connector that could also be used for promotional markets & marketing, which gave birth to the idea of the Connect charge key.
First we designed a single connector key, and then immediately began working on a dual connector design. Once we managed to get Apple approval on the design, I started looking for a small team and found a couple of guys who had some inspirational marketing talents. We found an office and started working on the final product which could launch on crowdfunding.
Typically, we drew inspiration from other products on the market which were changing the accessibility of charging. With battery life being a contact problem for most of us, it was a headache solving solution for us personally, which millions of others happen to share around the world! It just made sense and things grew from there.
We experienced several issues with first single connector product, it was too flexible which compromised the lifetime of the internal wiring and connectors. But we learned from this and the new product has hard plastic around the connectors, and a TPU body, which is a flexible plastic but not as much as the original silicone body.
Crowdfunding is creating its own buzz right now, showcasing up-and-coming products from inspirational thinkers. The most important thing that crowdfunding offers is a platform which enables you to test the market’s response to your product before you invest time, life savings, or loans into something which the market may not respond to.
On top of that the "pre-sales” contributions assist with production funding, and give you an immediate consumer base. With the backers ability to interact with you we also get feedback on design, colours, packaging, and more, so by the time the product is produced, it’s already gone through extensive market research!
Absolutely! It’s taken a year to get here, many sleepless nights, and all my savings to get to the point where we’re ready to launch a product which we believed in but ultimately didn’t know how it would sell. The response has been overwhelming, not just on the campaign but we now have a network of distribution partners we’re discussing with, so come July we aim to be selling into over 20 countries!
We had to go back and forth a couple of times to get a design they were happy with. Finally, we had to integrate a switch mechanism which enabled only one device to charge and sync at any one time. We imagine the design approval must also be attributed to the number of iPhone accessories which require micro-usb charging, such as charge banks. Now one key can charge you iPhone, and your Mophie, or charge bank, GoPro, and more!
1) Market research
2) Whatever you think it’ll cost you, double it!
3) Don’t be afraid to look at what other people are doing. Don’t copy, but look at improving what’s already out there. It’s called evolution!
4) Know your partners. Especially when manufacturing. It’s highly competitive, and cheaper isn’t always better. Especially with Apple devices; there’s a massive grey market out there for licensed connectors which doesn’t mean your product is MFI certified.
5) Consider crowdfunding. Use it as a platform to test the market’s response to your product. If it’s successful, you’ll get the funding you need to take it to market, and sales/distribution partners who support your idea and want to help.
Marketing and production.
We have warehousing and logistics in place, we’d already identified our manufacturing partner, so the minute we knew we’re successful in the campaign we could push the button. Now it’s all about responding to all questions, campaign updates, and making sure all our backers have all the information they need!