Why We Started Another Crowdfunding Platform – Makers Threshold
We started with this question: Is there a better way to launch a product than Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms?
Many ideas and inventions come from the dissatisfaction with the status quo. Makers Threshold is no exception and was born out of frustration with two major problems:
- Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and other crowdfunding platforms: I’m a big fan of Kickstarter and crowdfunding, but it seems like half of the projects end up having some type of issue. Whether it’s a delayed timeline, a poor quality product, or not receiving the product at all, I’ve grown weary of the next new thing on Kickstarter.
- Product Launching from a Typical Manufacturer’s Standpoint: As a manufacturer, I want to help launch new creative projects but the lack of funding makes it difficult to spend the required time to successfully launch a product.
So why do so many crowdfunded projects struggle?
There’s a fundamental problem with crowdfunding. It’s just that – crowd funding. It only helps the creator with the money side of things. It doesn’t help with the manufacturing, shipping, or customer service side of the business. This stuff takes years to master, yet creators are expected to deliver right away. On top of those challenges, creators are trying to launch a product that has never been created before. This takes manufacturers extra time and resources to develop properly.
The Manufacturer’s Dilemma
Creators on crowdfunding platforms typically have a nice explanation of how a project will go. A timeline is provided. They seem to have all their ducks in a row. They’ve even already created a prototype of their brand new product. So why do problems still occur? Why can’t the manufacturer just do their job? Well, there are a few struggles that we and other manufacturers are battling. Yes, I’m complaining but it’s good for creators to know what we’re dealing with.
Shop Local vs Out of USA
Many of the products on Kickstarter are manufactured out of USA. The potential pitfalls here are obvious: the distance, language barriers, cultural differences, regulations, expectations, lack of relationship, patent violations and more. Any one of these things can lead to the downfall of a product.
So why not make it locally where you can even drop by the plant and build a relationship? Well, for Nonstop Printing, there’s no shortage of requests from creators to partner up to launch a bold new project. When pricing is mentioned though, we lose. It’s great to be in LA, but it’s tough to keep up with all the costs of higher wages, higher taxes, higher insurance, higher blah blah blah….you get the point. It’s simply more expensive to make stuff in places like Los Angeles.
Prototypes vs The Actual Production Run
They’re typically made by hand or with a completely different machine than how the final production run will be made. That means that a prototype can have one set of issues and the final product can have an entirely different set of issues. So why can’t we just print one or a couple of prototypes on the real deal?
The equipment needed to fulfill a higher quantity of products typically have higher fixed costs and lower variable costs. We need to create custom tools to create custom products. These custom tools are expensive. That could mean if we’re going to make 1, we might as well make 1000 since it takes so much time and money to get just one good product out.
Manufacturers like productivity and efficiency. That is very difficult to have when we’re working with someone that is brand new to the process. Most creative projects are started by people who have a unique idea but have zero experience in manufacturing. The amount of time it would take to educate someone on all of the intricacies and variables of our manufacturing processes would take more time than we’re willing to commit – with no guarantee the customer would even choose our business.
This is the cost of an order to be processed and navigated through customer service to production. Every order that a manufacturer does has a cost that usually isn’t captured in the cost of the actual product. It’s the time we would need to take to make sure your brand new custom product will work well. When we quote out a project, our goal is to use the least amount of time while making sure our quote is accurate and competitive. Sometimes our mentality is, “let’s get the project and worry about the details later”. That type of mentality does not lend itself to ensure the final product will be produced at the highest quality.
So Makers Threshold solves all of these problems?
Yup! The Makers Threshold concept in its purest form solves a lot of these challenges, but we recognize it likely will create new challenges. We’re figuring a lot of the details out, but the basic concept is that we get to be a force for good between creators and manufacturers. We think that, by having a platform that partners with creators before the launch, there is a safe place for creators and manufacturers to meet and collaborate more effectively and successfully.
Our goal is to prove the concept with Nonstop Printing as the first manufacturer. With your help we can make a couple of these initial projects go viral to prove the concept which will help us recruit other manufacturers to join the movement. With Nonstop Printing as the first manufacturer, we’re confident in the products we’ll produce. The real test will be if other manufacturers can believe in this crazy, but simple new concept.
Why We’re Starting with Print Related Products – The Backstory
The concept of Makers Threshold would not exist without Nonstop Printing. The other half of the frustration I mentioned earlier is related to my experience with Nonstop Printing. It’s why I know what it feels like to be on the manufacturer’s side. Makers Threshold is as much about helping Manufacturers as it is helping product creators. With that being said, here’s the backstory.
I run a business called Nonstop Printing located in Hollywood, California. My dad and mom started the business in 1993 and I joined the family business in 2011, after working for PepsiCo as a production team leader. I loved working for PepsiCo, but my long term goal was to run five businesses and be like Elon Musk. It seemed like there was no better place to start than to help my mom and dad take the business to the next level.
When I arrived, we mostly focused on basic print items, but the business was slowly declining. Since we’re located in Hollywood, we knew that we would need to focus on the more premium areas of print in order to grow the company. We made big bets on expensive equipment and found ways to say yes to projects that we knew would stretch our capabilities. From 2011 to 2018, while dozens of print shops around us were either closing down or selling, we added new methods to print and bind in-house. It’s now why we are currently one of the most versatile and agile commercial printing companies in LA. While we’re seeing steady growth and having a great time adding new capabilities, I wasn’t able to work with people on some of the projects that inspired me the most, solely because our prices were too high.
Join the Movment
If you’re interested in launching a print project, you can submit your idea here. If you just want to see how we’ll do, keep in touch with us @makersthreshold and you can keep up with our journey by joining our email list.
If you’re just interested in the concept and see how this crazy idea grows, share this with others. We know the only way to get other manufacturers to join is for them to see success. If we can get a couple of these projects to go viral, the rest will take care of itself.
Thanks so much for reading through this post! You can reach us with general questions by commenting below or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Travis Jensen is a San Francisco/ Los Angeles based photographer. While his personal work focuses on candid street scenes, street portraits and urban landscapes, he works as a commercial branding, lifestyle and editorial photographer. His latest photo book takes us...