Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Huy Nguyen week 11

This week I started to edit the Kraken promotional video that will debut during our final presentation. I've also been outlining the final research paper based on our research and the feedback that Matt provided. We also made our first sale this week. My friend Connor is going on a skate road trip and needed a backpack and I provided him one. He was very happy with the purchase but vocalized to me that he wish he had two straps. If this project last after the semester and goes somewhere maybe the next incarnation of the Kraken Bag will have two straps.
I also started a facebook page for kraken.


This was a great way to network and market globally. Within 24 hours of being on facebook some skate shop from Thailand found out about us by word of mouth. They contacted us asking about our price. We are currently in conversation with them about sales.
If this deal goes down, Kraken Bag Co. New York will be global.

Week 11 - Yu-Yi Chen

This week,
Because the upcoming week is our final,
I refreshed what we’ve done on branding.

Here is the outline of our process.
1. Basic on our main idea, a waterproof and high-capacity bag.
Each of us has drawn some sketches of bag design,
and they became the initial design of our bag.

2. Each of us came up with a couple of ideas about the name of our bag
and then made the final decision together.

3. We made some mood boards to inspire us to create our brand image,
including logo, colors, and design.

4. We made a prototype of our bag.
In order to enhance our design,
we met Gene, who is an expert of making bags.
We got a lot of great and practical suggestions from him,
so we figured out what can really be done and what cannot.

5. For next few weeks,
we kept making different attempts to enhance our design based on customer's opinions
such as adding a pocket, , adding reflective material, keeping our design simple, and establishing brand identity.

6. We shot some pictures for selling purpose.
These pictures were used in public,
so we tried to well show people the specialty of our bag.

7. In order to make people feel the spirit of our bag,
we started to shoot a promotional film.
We were trying to deliver stronger passion through the film.

An important thing I’ve learnt from this process is that design basically depends on the demand of market.
We can’t really make things that we want to make,
but we have to hear customers’ voice and adjust our design.
Then, customers might buy our product. 


Anthony Driscoll Week 11

Huy delivered some exciting news yesterday.   A shop in Thailand has approached us via Facebook and is interested in carrying our bags in their stores.  We have yet to have a formal discussion with them regarding pricing and quantity they want to carry.  They are a smaller skate shop so i'm not sure what kind of quantity they will be looking to carry.  If it is around twenty bags, we can have them made here locally, but the price may be too high for them and might not leave very much meat on the bone for us. If we can get some more eastern exposure and interest then it would be very smart for us to have them made in China and avoid importation taxes to the U.S. all together.

In preparation for talking with the shop I have been preparing numbers for both possible situations.  I have been talking to a few manufacturers trying to work out some logistical approach.

It's pretty awesome we are getting national recognition.  Maybe things will start to snowball here in the next couple months.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Jackie week 11

This week included research and talking to people.  I tracked down some skateboarders in Union Square and reached out to some other people who are skateboarders as well.  These are their stories: 

Interview with skaters in Union Square group of 3 guys:

I approached a group of 3 guys sitting on the steps of union sq with their skateboards.  
The beginning of the conversation had started a little strange but they had invited me to sit with them on the steps of union square.  One of the guys had gotten up and skated away a little.  He came back every now and again to rejoin the conversation.   

All three said with much enthusiasm that they value the condition of the board at 10.  In the past one of the guys has wrapped his board in plastic bags when it rains to protect it... His friends thought that was a good idea to protect a board.  I told him that was kind of funny because the idea had been born form that originally when Huy had wrapped his board in plastic one rainy night leaving school.  They thought it was a good idea. 

The conversation we had covered several topics.  I asked them about their bag preferences and we talked about some other skateboard bags and skateboard caring solutions that were out there.  No one was in the market to buy a bag and talking about rain on a beautiful sunny day probably didn't help my argument much.  I was also able to show them a picture of the bag we have.  They really like the ability of the roll top to use the bag separate from a skateboard.  They admitted having brand loyalty but didn't name any specific names.  

As we were talking i got to know the guys a little as well.  Two of them were photographers.  They did art and fashion photography.  Having previous experience with back and white analog photography I was able to ask them about the work they did.  One of them showed me this beautiful retro camera he was using to take pictures.  And I told them about how kraken has an Instagram account.  We also talked about the JR art work that is currently going on in Times Square because one of the guys was thinking to start a portrait project with random people in the city.  Turns out that we follow some of the same people on Instagram.  

I had explained that this was part of a project when I had initially asked the guys for permission to ask them some questions.  They asked me if we were given money from the school to execute the project, that too is a little funny because people keep asking me that when I interview them.  I also explained to them that I was not a skateboarder but I was working with one to bring his vision to reality, they were really nice and accepting about that fact.  I wowed them a little when I asked about the “pop” of their boards.  The guy who had been skating and joining in every now and again was all like “you got it!” I let him know that little by little I was learning the ling.  Another one of the guys who had been sitting on his board, stood up and smacked it on the ground to show me the “pop” it had.  I think that they found it a fun question to be asked.  

My interview with other skateboarders went well but  were a little more straight froward and less tangental. 

Skateboarder 1:
I value the condition at 6
I have done nothing to protect my board but ride carefully 
Brand loyalty 0
no bags
This latest board hasn't needed parts 8 months old
I'd spend 100-300 on a board because my 250lbs needs it
I skate with a backpack 
I also have a longboard with no kick on the nose or tail, its just for going for cruises on nice days and getting from Columbus circle to work quickly.

Skateboarder 2:
I'll say I give it an 8. -> good grip tape and ply condition can determine the pop, the bearings tell you how much energy you (don't have to) waste when using it.

I don't know what a bag is.. haha 

I typically spend 50 or less on a complete skateboard and it works.
No brand loyalty as long as I can see it in person.

I don't replace the parts. I've broken 1 skateboard because I meant to intentionally 
Usually they get fucked up by things other than me and that determines when I need a new skateboard.

I don't skate with a backpack, but I'd attribute that to the age group - under the age of 16 and no driver's license, and keeping shit like a towel, a first aid kit, water, snacks, probably drugs. Who knows. The skate companies would market backpacks that looked cool so that definitely helps.

Mine still has pop, yeah, depending on # of tricks a person tries to do per-day, or if they like to do tail or nose-slides I guess, would wear down the nose or tail and eventually reduce their length. If someone likes to skate on flat ground and do tricks constantly, their board will shrink but that's still fun - just gives kind of a getting-used-to period when buying new boards.

Also - what about shoes eh?

Skateboarder 3:
The bearings are important other things are expendable.  Long boards are more expensive.  He has painted the board and put grip tape on it for protection and rubber risers to protect the board where the wheal parts sit.  Typically he spends $30-150 on boards.  And he has brand loyalty.  He replaces his deck between three and five months.  He also skates with backpacks and currently has a new board with pop but the old board does not have much pop left.  He like the idea of having a bag for his long board because his regular skateboard is kind of a beat up board.    

The idea of creating custom bags to accommodate different sized boards such as long boards has come up a few times.  I we would need to determine if this is an avenue we would like to explore in the future and if so why.  

Aside form all the enthusiastic people and no sales we did get some good news that could lead to some sales!  The exciting news is that a friends friend saw the Facebook page and has a skate shop that they would be interested in selling the bag.  the skate shop is located in Thailand.  It is also currently rainy season in Thailand so this bag would be a welcomed item on the market for skateboard enthusiast.  The questions we need to figure out now is how would this be possible... Manufacturing, import export cost and taxes, etc...  I plan to reach out to some people I know who import and export international and see what I can find out to how this could be done.  Next week may also include more interviews but I plan to be working on writing a final paper about this project, research, and creating a revenue model.  

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A. Driscoll week 10

This week I talked to the owner of Classic Skate shop, he thought the bag was cool and a good idea but  I didn't get the notion he was ready to put them on the shelves.  I talked to him about consignment and he would be all for it but would want more than one to display.  I explained to him that the bag was the last prototype and the next version will have a zippered pocket and removable shoulder strap.  Long story short he wants to see our absolute final product.  So we may have his shop on board once we run the Kickstarter.

A couple kids that were in the shop really like the toned down branding and the overall look of the bag, but no one offered to buy it.

I don't think we'll be making the $1500 by the end of May but I do think we can set our selves up to make a real business out of this by the end of May.  I'm definitely feeling that our Kickstarter will be successful.

Our meeting on Monday went well,Yu-Yi and Huy's video footage and photos are looking awesome!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Huy Nguyen week 10

This week we felt the need to take time and focus on our group goals for the remainder of the semester. Our main points of focus for our meeting were; The final presentation, final paper, continuing validation, and starting our kick starter campaign. Sadly the only time we could all meet outside of class was for an hour on Friday afternoon. Despite an undesirable time to meet, the meeting was very constructive and useful for getting us all on the same page. We made a rough outline of the expectations behind our research paper and final presentation.

 Over the weekend I met a few skateboarders at Brower Skatepark in Crown Heights, Brooklyn that were intrigued by The Kraken Bag. Duncan, an avid skateboarder and Mathematics major at Long Island University was particularly excited about the bag, he really liked how a board could slip inside and be protected, as well as the fact that the bag could be rolled down into a more reasonable sized backpack for daily use. I offered to sell him a bag, but he respectfully declined because he couldn't currently spare the expenses. Nonetheless we exchanged contact information and I told him I would e-mail him in the future about purchasing a Kraken Bag. Though I did not make a sell right here, he helped me validate our assumptions that skateboarders will find value and utility in our product.
Monday brought the first rain that we have seen in a couple weeks. It really wasn't even that much rain, merely sprinkles. Yu-Yi and I have been patiently waiting for a wet day to film The Kraken Bag in the rain for our promotional video. The bulk of the video is filmed, we just need to film a few extra scenes for continuity issues. The promotional video will most likely be debuted during the final presentation. Next week we must continue working on validating our assumptions and trying to make that first sell.

Week 10 - Yu-Yi Chen

This week,
Huy and I are still working on our promotional film shooting,
and we’ve shot some scenes on the streets, in a skate park, on a ferry, and in the rain.
We will keep working on it.
In past few weeks, the weather was so nice, but we need a scene in the rain.
Finally, we got a chance to shoot in the rain this week.
Our bag is a waterproof bag,
and I think that’s also the prime value of the bag
because it’s really hard to see a waterproof skatebag.

I’m trying to let more people know about our bag through Facebook.
I think information transmits very fast on social network,
so I chose Facebook, which I also use very often.
When I chatted with my friends,
I would tell them the information of our bag.
From my point of view,
if more people know about our bag,
we can get more opportunities to sell our bag.
When people need a waterproof bag with a big capacity like ours
they might think of getting one from us.
Because they’ve already had information of our bag in their mind,
when they need it, our bag would arise in their minds naturally.
The key words would be waterproof and big capacity.


Jackie week 10

With finals around the corner and every one being busy I decided we should find some time sooner than later to get together and talk about the bag.  It is important that we are all on the same page so that we will have a stellar final presentation.  The meeting went well even though everyone was late.

It was important that we address some of the topics that came up during Grace Ngs visit.  First order of business for our group was it sit down and really figure out what our elevator pitch is.  Huy who had the idea is a skateboarder and this issue hits close to home for him but that does not mean that he should be the one to constantly be presenting the idea.  Even if he is the one who ends up presenting the pitch at our final presentation I believe it is a good idea that we are all able to say a sentence or two about the bag.  What we came up with is: 
“Rain water destroys and drastically hinders skateboard (because...), this is not conducive (better word?) to the condition and performance of the skateboard.”  
The statement still needs a little tweaking but I feel good that it will be solid for the final presentation.  

The next question we needed to tackle was the validation board.  What questions could disprove the bag idea?  What kind of information are we looking for from our target market?   These are some of the questions and subquestions we created: 

On a scale from 1-10 how much do you value the condition of your skateboard?

What have you done to protect your board?

Why do you care/ don't care (above or below 5)

How much do you typically spend on bags ?
Do you have any brand loyalty?
What drives your decision of when/why /how to buy a bag?

How much do you spend on a skateboard?
How often do you replace it or parts of it?

Do you skate with a backpack? What's that link?

Does your board still have pop? How long have you had your board for?

The next steps will be to find some skateboarders and ask them some questions.  A part of me in visions that will mean running after random skateboarders in union sq asking them if they will talk to me.  I did not particularly enjoy sitting in a skate park being questioned by police about my age.  On one hand I guess it is flattering to think that the police thought I look young enough to have needed to be in high school or something.  On the other had, I did not appreciate having to show my ID to a couple groups of cops and sit in the cold for several hours. 

The meeting was also really insightful.  I learnt more about the video that the boy are putting together and even a couple things about video editing and retouching.  Huy also enlighten us on some skateboarder lingo.  Apparently “pop” is a big deal for a skateboard.  No, I don't mean like “pop” music or “pop” culture or “pop” as in soda.  What “pop” refers to in skateboarder terms is about the board.  Pop. It is something that skaters ardently look for in a skateboard. For some, finding it is as important as the quest for The Holy Grail was to King Arthur.”  I can totally relate to this idea because I am a snowboarder.  “Pop” is something that you will come across with a snowboard as well.  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Anthony Week 9

This past week we have been getting a trickle of interest over the internet on Kraken Bags Co.  A few comments on Facebook  a little over a hundred on Etsy.com, and Huy just set up a new site that has already gotten over a hits as well.  Yu-Yi's photos look great and I think we are delivering the style and look we want to put across to consumers.

We received a comment from Agora Skateboards over Facebook stating that our bags "look sick" and a like from Portland Skateboard Trading Post.

This week I will be bringing a bag to two local shops in Bayonne.  There is actually a big skate scene here and a lot of the skaters are younger high school kids.  The one skate shop is called Classic Skate Shop and then there is a skate spot called Under the Bridge.  Hopefully when I go to the skate spot I'll be able to collect a couple emails and maybe get a few pre orders.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Huy Week 9

After one week of krakenbags.wordpress.com being live on the internet, we have received 140 visitors. Though the numbers are not astounding we are still happy that we got some visitors. Most of which came by way of posting from my own personal facebook account. Some of my friends even reposted the link to share with their friends. Though the reception was warming we still have not sold any bags. We realized that it is not an issue of our product, but more so the placing of it. Just because you put something on the internet (etsy.com) doesn't mean that it is going to sell. We must do a far better job of marketing our product. I put together some business cards for the group, in hopes that we can spread the word of The Kraken Bag Co, the old fashion way. If the cards don't get us any customers, hopefully they will get us a free meal, if restaurants still do business card drawings.

We are focusing our efforts on making a professional kickstarter campaign. Yu-Yi and I have been working on filming a promotional video for our company. Unfortunately for us the weather has been very nice and sunny and we need a rainy day to finish our shoot and film the bag in the rain. Despite the good weather, Yu-Yi and I spent our Sunday filming at various locations in Manhattan, including; L.E.S skatepark, Underneath F.D.R drive, The Staten Island Ferry, Computer Lab and various streets. The footage turned out great and tells a story behind the bag. We hope to have the video finished by next week, and the kickstarter campaign on the web ASAP.  

Jackie week 9

It has been a trying week working on this bag. The shops are on line and have gotten a decent number of views.  None of the views have lead to sales.  The question has now become: "why is no one buying this bag?" 

The past week has also been very insightful. The visit we had with Grace Ng was helpful.  She was able to give us specific feed back relating to the validation board. Because of Graces questions, explanations and feed back I have a better understanding of how the validation board works.  I had thought I understood the validation board from class and the validation board videos but, I was clearly wrong.  I wish we had been able to speak to her weeks ago when the validation board was first introduced to us a tool.  

I have heard back from potential customers about the bag.  Many people have asked if it is reflective.  The bag is not but we are looking into how we might be able to incorporate reflective material into the bag.  I took a trip to Pacific trim and priced out some reflective trim.  I was not able to get any swatches but I did take pictures of all the trim (pictures bellow).  Prices range between $2.5-$8 per yard.    

Meeting with my group, Phoebe Espiritu and Matt Raoul to discuss the progress of the bag was (for lack of a better word) a bummer. The constant drive and question of sales has reminded me why I never continued a career in the music industry and a gripe I have with my current job.  I feel that the bag has become driven by numbers, and that is not what I want to learn about.

Reflecting on this bag and my motivation to return to school just drives me to dislike sales even more.  One of the reasons I had decided to take a class about entrepreneurship was because I thought it wold be helpful to learn more about business.  As an artist I realize that I am my own business, too often artist do not realize that and I am trying to be more pro active.  Previously I started a sole proprietorship as an artist and met with the small business association of New York.    

Looking back on my entire experience I have had due to this bag what I did enjoy was the people:  the community around skateboarding and what skateboarders get out of skateboarding.  I am going to focus on the people, after all that is what I like.  Attending the even to rase money for the Rockaway skate park is more the mind set I want to be in.  So going further what ever return I make on the investment is going to just get donated.  This may also help when I need to do my taxes.  While the bag has turned out to cost more to create a prototype than everyone expected I look at is this way: It is still probably the least amount of money I have spent on a class project.  

A few weeks ago we had a visit from three young entrepreneurs: Kelsey Falter, Alex Godin, and Robert Gaal.  Hearing their stories was also helpful because it brought to light the lifestyle of what it means to be an entrepreneur, and I do not think that I want that.  Recently I had a really wonderful lunch meeting with an alum from MFA DT.   One of my many take aways from my meeting was: “be exited about what you are doing.”  I am not excited about being this type of entrepreneur.  I know I will need to deal with having my own business as an artist and possibly as something else but I will deal with that when it happens.  Apposed to forcing it prematurely which is what I feel I am doing with this current bag project.  

Although I have lost steam on this project I will still see it out to the end because that is my work ethic.  I have never been good at quitting.  The next step for this bag is to continue to talk to skateboarders and finish the video that Yu-Yi and Huy have started.  We plan to put the bag on Kickstarter and or Indi go go.  Kickstarter has its advantages because it is well known but if we do not reach the goal for the bag all the money goes back to the backers.  Indi go go is appealing because any money we rasise we are able to keep.  

I also spent a considerable amount of time sewing the patches onto one of the bag prototypes.  I can without a question of a dough say that I have invested both blood and sweat into creating this product.  I learnt the hard way that when sewing by hand thimbles are your best friend.  The patches had to be sewn on by hand because when the prototypes were created we did not have the patches.  

Typically when creating a bag you do all the patches and accents before putting the bag together.  This fact was pointed out to me by several people who saw me sewing the patches on.  I had hoped that I would have been able to find a work around by using a double sided fusible fabric to iron on the patches but that was not recommended when I consulted with some accomplished garment workers and bag designers.  Going further we may need to reevaluate the material used for the patches because it seems to fray a lot.