Design The Everything
THE SPIRE KICKSTARTER
DTE’s mission is to, “Make things people love to use every day.” We make things that add value to your everyday life.
We wanted to quickly ship a product on Kickstarter to help us gain experience with everything around involved shipping products and the Kickstarter process.
We decided to launch a project on Kickstarter as part of their Make/100 initiative to learn about how the process worked on the Kickstarter side and to force ourselves into shipping a product. We had been talking about making a pen for almost as long as we had known each other, so that was a natural choice. We knew it was unlikely for our first ever product to be a huge success, so we put all our efforts into shipping and learning, rather than hoping for a runaway success.
The Spire was our first experience with physical product design. My Co-founder, AJ, is a mechanical engineer with a background in woodworking, 3D printing, and generally just fiddling around with making things, so that is a huge asset to us. I tend to ask questions about whether we can do things and AJ will tell me how it can be done. We are both responsible for making sure the product is useful for our customers, but I am generally responsible for the aesthetics and he is generally responsible for making sure what we’re doing is possible to build. Though we often crossover into each other’s areas whenever necessary.
During the creation process we decided to make a pen that could only be made with 3D printing. Something that could not be made with traditional manufacturing processes was much more interesting to us and we believed would result in an interesting product, both aesthetically and in its utility.
When we came to packaging we came across yet one more thing we had no experience with. We decided to go with something we could make, which would allow us to control it and allow us to make it in small batch sizes, instead of ordering something in thousands. After making maple prototypes with 4 magnets in them we ended up outsourcing our boxes. They because tighter fitting, with 2 magnets (1 on each end), and were made out of walnut with no finish.
DTE has 3 principles, Practical, Intuitive, and Useful. Our goal is for everything we design to be used every day.
Writing the Kickstarter page was my responsibility. Kickstarter’s own help pages on how to run a successful project were very informative. I also read the most successful Kickstarter pages and some pen and product design pages that had succeeded. A running theme of this project was that it was done quickly and so I did not have as much time as I would have liked to think through all the content people reading the page would like to see. Looking back I think the page was sparse. I would have included more about our journey, how Spire and DTE had gotten to where it was, and where we wanted to go.
We came out the end of the Kickstarter with 25 backers and $1,742. We had some issues with variation in our 3D printed parts, but we found ways to overcome them and fulfill all our backers. I’m super proud of the fact that we were able to have an idea and carry it all the way through to completion. AJ and I both learned a lot about product design, marketing, copywriting, and how to ship.
Let’s Start Something new