I am Hoang - Founder of Tinipak, welcome to Tinipak. I worked in the Online Industry with ten years of in-depth research on User Experience, and I'm also a backpack passionate. When I was a little boy, my family could not afford good gear for me, so I only used a cumbersome genuine leather briefcase given by my relative from the Russian Federation during my primary school days. After using it too long, I often drew on the bag to make it look lovely in my eyes, and I even wished I had new bags like my peers. Thus, when I could afford my needs, I collected different backpacks as in my wishlist and piled them up in the closet. Gradually I became a backpack enthusiast ever since.
I noticed that the original backpacks were born for the war as soldiers had to carry much luggage when marching. Later on, it was used more widely in life, but the special features required for particular purposes were not optimized. Many big guys acknowledge this and try to improve User Experience (camera backpack with Peak Design, Travel backpack with Nomatic). However, there is no attention for school backpacks while students have to carry many accessories on little shoulders: books, notebooks, pens, erasers, rulers to school, and of course, they lose or miss their tools. Millions of children around the world haven't accessed the good backpack yet. I've also struggled to find a perfect backpack for my son when he started primary school, which I spent a year considering.
On the other hand, I come from Vietnam - the cradle of many of the world's big backpack brands, but no Vietnamese brand could compete with them. This thing is a big question for me and motivates me to find the answer. I have thought for many years, how to create the first Vietnamese brand?
Tinipak was born in a market that suffered fierce competition from many big guys weighted in financial potential and modern facilities. How can we be different?
How we started up, and our first failure?
I've had the idea for two years and always question where I should start. Fortunately, I joined a Facebook group about Industrial Styling, and tried to look for a partner who knows 3D design, loves backpacks. After a few unsuccessful attempts, I found two members to group a team of 3. In November 2018, after making sure that we will start up, we operated in a small room as an office, called PAK DESIGN. And after goodbye to the Online industry, working for more than ten years, I spent full time on product design, hoping to solve the problems that users were suffering, including my son. This matter is always the motivation to boost me to go straight.
My passion for backpacks and luckily to know many brands worldwide helps me understand design and update the trend. With experience working in the product design industry, I take advanced processes to industrial design. While others in the Team know shaping products, perfecting each other's weaknesses, we worked passionately to create an innovative product to launch to the world via Kickstarter like other guys.
We carefully analyzed the student's body based on the average height according to WHO data, listed the school supplies that children bring to school, and observed the children's behaviour like my son. After deliberation, Helipak was born: Helium is a very light noble gas, the light criterion for the product, and Pak stands for Pack - Backpack. After researching, we came up with a vital standard to pursue: Zipper is a great invention, but it is still a struggle for young kids, and we would love to design a backpack without the zipper, and kids operate just with one touch with a button.
After creating the product prototypes on paper, I met the production experts at large factories specializing in processing enormous orders for the world's top brands. All of them gawked at the Team's idea and hesitated at the difficulty of production. We've then gradually absorbed after each meeting, understanding the production process, how to sew products, and to approach suppliers of raw materials in the industry such as YKK, Woojin, Fidlock, etc.
We've tried adjusting for more matching ideas, with up to 10 versions. But with creativity, we continue to face obstacles when the design of things goes far from the available molds, leading to difficulties in implementation. Many things accrue at enormous costs, and our finance cannot afford them. After 15 months, when the creation was impossible, the team members gradually lost their faith in success and had their plans, so our Team broke down. I was confused about whether to stop or keep pursuing my dream.
Stop or keep pursuing my dream?
I was stressed and sleepless for a week. Then I slowly looked through the problem and met other startups to share difficulties and ask them for advice. I acknowledge that I couldn't succeed: "Think big, start small" is the slogan of the startup, but I started with an over task and being overconfident. I could not swim in the river but asked to be in the sea.
When I calmed down, I think we need to start from the basics first. I took a complicated issue break to create a task that we could solve till we gained enough potential and experience. We selected ideas that have been researched for more than one year, applied to develop in the small market first, and Tinipak was born for launching in Vietnam. With our experience for the last lesson, when switching to a more suitable task, we proceed very quickly and set the goal of producing 300 sets of products, launched in July 2020, before the new school year.
However, until August 27, only seven days until the school day, we could deliver to customers who have pre-ordered. Although it's very close to the new school day, we quickly sold out 100 sets of products in just a few days and received a lot of positive feedback about the lightweight, smart gadgets and especially the characters of the patch on Backpack (Paker) is very friendly with kids.
After the Back To School season, besides being happy as the product was appreciated by the local community, I still desire to bring Vietnamese brand launch to the world. I tried to post the project video to the Carryology community - A group of passionate and knowledgeable backpacks worldwide to gain their feedback and suggestions. I received a lot of complementation, encouragement and suggested that we bring this innovative product to Kickstarter, out of my thinking. In the past, I thought that Kickstarter is a game for super innovative products, and we couldn't play, but after receiving such encouraging words, I feel as fed up with the energy to make my dream come true.
I immediately set a new goal for the Team, researching detailed Kickstarter legal procedures, and implemented the points to update for the global version.
Our road to Kickstarter
I always think that while Vietnamese is known for being diligent, skillful, and the world's factory for decades, we have not yet had a brand of backpack launched in the world. From the first day of establishment three years ago, my dream was to be the first Vietnamese backpack brand in the world.
However, this is not an easy task?
You can put products on e-commerce platforms like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, etc., but this will take a lot of effort to expand. It takes a long time to got the brand name and product philosophy.
Another way, like VinFast, the first Vietnamese car brand to launch to the world, they bring their product at a global event, gathering many professionals and media such as the Paris Motor Show, along with the appearance of world-class stars like David Beckham. After just one night, all the media mentioned Vinfast. This is the big man's way, so how will a super small Startup like Tinipak do?
We choose the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform.
Kickstarter is like a Paris Motor Show, but it's online and free. This is a place that allows product creators to present innovative projects to raise funds from backers.
At that time, Kickstarter had raised 6 billion USD from 20 million people for 200,000 successful projects. Based on the considerable number of followers and gathering, many creative experts will help your product be exposed to many people worldwide and could gain suggestions to complete products. This will be a chance to get orders and the funds for the production process. If your project is considered outstanding, you can be on world-class media channels for free.
But unfortunately, Kickstarter only supports 25 countries, and Vietnam isn't listed.
Kickstarter is tight as many virtual projects disappeared after receiving a lot of funding. You are only on Kickstarter if you are a resident or a business with at least a member who is a citizen of the 25 listed countries. This is so hard! It is part of the reason we stopped Helipak, and Tinipak was born for the Vietnamese market.
Fortunately, Tinipak received a lot of support from local and foreign followers, and as be aspiring to have a Vietnamese backpack brand, I tried again. I can't remember how much content the team sent on the Kickstarter Facebook groups, emails to the Kickstarter team with no hope: "We are a Design company in Vietnam with products already having customers, If Kickstarter has any exception?". We only got very general answers about their regulations.
In many different ways, from finding out the procedure to the cost of setting up a business in Singapore, New Zealand, then the US while emailing with Kickstarter. On a nice day, a saint replied to us from Kickstarter. He revealed a ray of light at the end of the road, igniting hope to make the team continue to persevere in the pursuit of procedures, after three months forming a US company, waiting for a tax code approved by the US bank. Finally, Tinipak has officially been allowed to join the global creative playground on Kickstarter. We have passed through a very narrow door.
P.S. If you still don't have a Kickstarter account, please sign up here to support the innovative projects in the global.
The struggle for the first time on Kickstarter.
After overcoming the legal barriers of Kickstarter, we focused on setting the goal for the project launching in April 2021 to production and delivery in September for kids to catch on to keep the school year with new backpacks. We outline to reach:
Prepare videos, images with the updated global version.
Create the content on Kickstarter.
Create the content on community groups on launch day.
Find influences to review products.
The most complex task is how to expose the product's features and philosophy by the words. We took a survey of more than 40 different projects and carefully analyzed their presentation, finally finding a suitable outline combined with elaborate video and enthusiastic pictures.
10:00 PDT April 26, our burning time, we launched officially on Kickstarter. Immediately we received the first order of $321 from Poland. We screamed for joy. At the end of day one, we have $1066 on our target of $7000. Day 2, day 3 with $1763, and by hitting $5,130 on day 13th.
After 17 days left to go, I realized we missed our chance to be the standout project. Tinipak's product has received a warm welcome from the community, and the startup story has inspired parents. Still, we hurried up to launch without building a strong enough community to become a feature project.
Overconfident after passing the legal to launch and miss the Pre-Launch step of building a demanding community. Deliberating about this, we decided to cancel the project to make it better because we want the product branding name.
We built the Tinipak.net landing page for this preparation, introduced the project to the parenting communities, and found the appropriate influencers. We aim to launch back in August 2021, with just one month left.
If you are interested in Tinipak, feel our story, and love the product that we have spent three years pursuing, please do not hesitate to sign up here to receive 40% off (Limited) on the launch day.
If you need more information about the project, don't hesitate to contact me. Please continue to follow and support Tinipak!