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.  

Week 9 - Yu-Yi Chen

For the rest of weeks,
I think the the most important issue is to sell our beg out.
For achieving the goal, we've done something this week.

1. Huy and I is still working on film making.
    Via social media,
    a short film is like a commercial could attract people feel interested in our product.
    The progress of this week,
    we spent around 4 hours to shoot some life-style scenes.

    One of our scenes is skate park,
    and we were not just shot the film there.
    There were a lot of people there on the weekend,
    so we took the advantage of it to have some talks with some skateboarders.
    Just a small talk but selling, and let them know about our bag.
    That might be more acceptable to people
    because people usually don't like people talk to them just because of selling something.

2. On the other hand,
    we think maybe we can raise costs a little bit to improve our design.
    We think we might add a reflective strip on our bag.
    Why we wanna do this?
    First, In order to attract customer.
    On the other hand, it's for the safety of users,
    because the practicality is an really important part of a good product.
    For a research, Jackie has gotten some information and taken some pictures of it.
    The range of price is $2.5~8.
    It's a little be high,
    but if we can make people buy it, it will be ok.
    As a result, I tried to make some design of it.

    I wanna keep it simple to keep the same design style of our bag.
    Meanwhile, we can save costs as well.




Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Anthony - Week 8

This past week I filed all reciepts and reported expenses to Jackie.  Jackie has come with a price point based on our expected manufacturing costs and expenses so far.  Right now we are attempting to pre sale bags through Etsy, Ebay, and Goodsie.  We have received a lot of viewings on our Etsy site but no bites on the Ebay or Goodsie. I have still been meeting with and contacting various manufacturers in the tri boro area trying to find a better price per bag for sewing services.  We are continuing to varify our product to people on the streets and skate parks.  Right now its a matter of getting our first sale and building a few pre orders to generate some revenue to make our first run of production.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Huy week 8

 This week Yu-Yi and I filmed a few shots for our upcoming promotional video in between class when our schedules correlated. We want to show the world the bag in action to try to get people excited about it. It is much easier to show someone a product as opposed to telling them about it. The skateboarding industry itself is a media based industry. Ever since the 80's videos have been the main vehicle that has helped spread skateboarding culture. Nowadays with the internet, the skateboarding industry has grown faster and much more quickly to a global audience.

The general idea behind the promotional video is to tell a story that involves the Kraken bag at different times in the day and in different weather situations.  There will be a loose narrative of an urban commuter throughout the day showing the bag in different user scenarios, from waking up and leaving the house, to going home at night. We hope that the video will help bring our product to life in the eyes of potential consumers and help us gain a presence on the internet. We will also be able to see the analytics of the site, to easily see where our visitors are coming from, how long they are on the site and how many people click on our Etsy link.

In terms of the internet, we may rely on our blog at krakenbags.wordpress.com to be our landing page for the time being while we figure out our host and how to code html. Though the address may be long and a bit of an eyesore, being on wordpress will help us out in the infant stages of our company. It is somewhat easy to gain followers on wordpress and since none of us are web developers it saves us a lot of time and energy that we can use to focus on validating our assumptions and selling bags. We need to focus some efforts on making "blog" friends like Stichtagram so we can reach a wider audience base.

Last Wednesday there was a thunder storm and I happen to be outside of 2 w 13th enjoying a cigarette underneath the scaffolding. Many people took refuge under the scaffolding from the torrential rain, including a skateboarder named Donte. I started speaking with Donte and ended up showing him a picture of the Kraken Bag. He was extremely excited about the bag and said he "need one, now" and asked me several times when they would be available. I took down his e-mail address and told him that I would contact him as soon as it was available. He also started following @krakennyc on Instagram. Though our Instagram account is only a week old and we only have 7 pictures we are starting to gain followers outside my own friends. Users are finding us through hashtags like #skatebag #skateboardbag. One of the users that began following us in an independent bag maker in the UK called Rucksack Village.

Unfortunately for us because we are trying to sell water resistant bags Spring has seem to sprung in New York and we were blessed with another nice weekend. As usual I spent Saturday afternoon cruising around Brooklyn with my skateboarder friends on bikes looking for new things to skate. The picture below shows various methods of biking with a skateboard. My friends were once again very impressed by my bag. They were curious of when the would be available and for how much? Price point has been something that we have been wrestling with. I asked them, how much would you pay for something like this at a skate shop? The average answer that I got from the group of 5 guys was $50-60.

Week 8 - Yu-Yi Chen

For the update this week,
Because our bag is on sale now,
the next step I'm thinking is that we can produce other colors of it.
So far we only have one color,
so only those people who like that color would buy it.
I'm thinking if we give customers more choices,
we might sale more bags.

As a result, I added 3 more colors of our bag.
The design of our bag is simple, so I didn't use some unusual colors.
Meanwhile, general colors would be easily accepted by most of people.
If we want to make more colors,
we can do it after we earn some money.

I also did some research of colors.
This one is helpful: http://www.usabilitypost.com/2008/09/29/a-guide-to-choosing-colors-for-your-brand/

Another part of my update of this week,
Huy and I are shooting a short film for our bag.
We have shot a few scenes of it this weekend,
but we still have a lot of work to do in order to get it finished.
We want our bag can impress people through the film.


Friday, April 12, 2013

Jackie week 8

The Kraken bag listing on Etsy has gotten an ok number of hits when it was first posted but no sales and buzz has lessened.  I got feedback from the rest of the group regarding the description of the bag.  They wanted it to sound more "badass."  I looked at some other bag companies to see how they approach bag description.  What I found was two things: 1, I have no idea what a "badass" bag description is and 2 that a lot of bag companies offer lifetime guarantees.  Feeling stuck I turned to a friend who has a background in editorial writing for advice.  She revised the statement and made a suggestion to list the size of a skateboard and the size of the bag.  I went back to some old emails and found Huy's sizing of an average skate board.  Next step is to find a tape measure and get the bag dimensions.

Reaching out to my marketing contact brought about some more feedback.  She showed the Etsy page to her boyfriend, he is a skater.  He liked the bag but thought it was expensive.  The bag was priced at $70 with a 10% discount.  My contact told him it was hand made so $70 was not expensive.  He still did not buy one.  I am pretty sure that not all skateboarders have girlfriends like my marketing contact so it lead us to rethink the price of the bag.  This also brings up the question of the importance of handmade in the USA.  Due to time constraints, budgeting and space outsourcing labor is not an option.  We do not really have enough time for the turn around of outsourcing nor do we have the capital or space to store a lot of bags.  

These are some statistics form the first week on Etsy when the bag cost $70:

This brings up the question: is our target market willing to pay more for a bag that is hand made?  Regardless, the price of the bag was lowered on Etsy to $59.95 and no discounts for first time buyers.  We have not seen much of a change in traffic.    

I was able to show the bag to an accessory and bag designer as well.  She provided some insightful feedback as well as having additional suggestions for sales.  I will start with the feedback on the bag itself.  She liked the pictures we took and said that it looked like a durable bag.  She also noted that it looks like a mens bag.  Her suggestion for sales was to create a paypall button straight on our website.  This way we will be able to sell directly from our site by using paypall.  Paypall takes between 2.2%-2.9% + .30 dependent on volume of sales during a month.  

The fact that it looks like a mens bag is good but I question how many men shop for themselves on Etsy.  So the logical next step for me was to find some men and ask them where they shop on line.  As it turned out many of the men I asked shop on ebay.  I even asked some women where they shop for men and where the men they know shop.  Ebay was another popular answer.  

We now have an ebay listing for our bag.  It can be found: http://r.ebay.com/mWcgRt till April 22, 2013.  The bag has a starting bid of 49.95.  The Ebay link has been tweeted by some and I hope to see some movement in sales.  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Week 7 Update - Anthony

Hey guys,

This past week I got all our expenses together and got them to Jackie so she could figure out a price point for the bags to insure that we at least break even by mid may.  Right now I'm still looking for a seamstress who can sew ten or so bags for a reasonable price.  $30 a bag is just too much for us right now. I have even been contacting seamstresses in Jersey and borders of PA too.  Its just really hard to find someone who does bags.   We have enough fabric left to do about ten bags, we would need to grab the other trim stuff though.

The photos look great that Yu-Yi took and the thank you Jackie for setting up the etsy site!

The branded patches make the bag complete and look awesome too!

Lets sell some bags!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Huy Nguyen week 7

This week we got together as a team and had a product shoot. We used the photo equipment at the AMT 10th floor Lab on 2 w 13th and the photos came out really nice. None of us really come from a photography background but we put our heads together and figured it out. I took my first stab at male modeling, I don't think i'll be getting too many jobs in the future. Luckily we are trying to sell a backpack so most of the photos are of my back, so you don't have to see the goofy faces that I was making. Our photo shoot took to the streets of New York City after the studio and we were able to get some compelling lifestyle and action shots. These photos will be available on our website soon, which had a minor set back this week. I was planning on using my parsons server space, but decided that it might be best to purchase web hosting space. Even though we're trying not to hemorrhage any more money on this project, it has already begun to dig a hole into our pocketbooks. I am currently shopping for different web hosting services, so I don't have to give GoDaddy any more money. 
Yu-Yi and Jackie holding it down in the studio.

My modeling debut.

I also created an Instagram account for our company, you can follow us @krakenbags. This was very important because for the first time people could see our product and so far the reaction has been very positive. We've received comments that validate our assumptions that skateboarders want a water resistant bag like; 
@kenstacks_birdworth "I want one"
@mrgrantmartin "need one"
@nataliebohm "This is great!"
@sangpres "sold"
The positive responses that we've received off of being on instagram for 36 hours are reassuring. I've also been extensively wear testing the bag and it has been holding up to my standards of comfort and usability. Over the weekend I went on a bike/skate mission with a small crew of my friends. Each of us had a different style or backpack to carry our boards. My friends were particularly impressed by my bag and how professional it looked. The feedback that I got from them was very reassuring that we do have a "real" product and that it does have a place in the market.
Our next step is to get web hosting, launch the site, and start pre-selling Kraken Bags.

Jackie week 7

This week we got together a photo shoot for the bag.  It went well.  I must say the team got the photo equipment set up and took some really great pictures.  The bag looks good, we have a product that we can sell.

Now we just need to sell some bags.  Using the photographs from Sundays shoot I started an Etsy store for Kraken Bags.  I have emailed the other group member the link to the Etsy store as well.  An indivudual email was sent out to the people who had filled out our survey about the bag.  In the email I thank people for the previous feedback and invite them to check out the bag on Etsy by attaching the link.  I also encourage people to let us know if they have any additional feedback about the bag.

The store:

We explain that at the moment we are out of stock but happy to hold bags for people.  Currently the bag is priced at $70 with a 10% discount.  With the Etsy post we also hope to validate the price point of the bag.

What a week.  After adding all the numbers I got from Anthony, Huy, Yu-Yi and myself our expenses are a bit higher than expected.  As a result I have decided to step back from offering people free bags until I can figure out exactly how much we have spent on the current prototypes of the bag.  The next step for us will be to sit down and figure out the proper means of production.

Week 7 - Yu-Yi Chen

Hello Team,

This week,

We spent much time in AMT Lab to do a photo shoot of our product.

These photos are gonna be used on our website and other online shops for selling.

We took a lot of photos,

and here are a little of them:

Some life styles:

and now we are figuring out which photos are gonna be used.

Here are some other photos about our preparing before the shoot: