I'm a minimalist at heart. I love simplicity and I avoid things that are complicated and unnecessary. I spent a lot of years wearing belts that kinda sucked. I just wanted a simple belt that didn't have any holes, a belt flap or that awkward bulge under my shirt. As an aspiring product designer and engineer, designing my own belt was a fun place to start gaining some experience. I went to work brainstorming, drawing and prototyping. After a few months it started coming together. I showed my new creation to my best friend Dave. He seemed interested, so I gave him a prototype. He started wearing it around and LOVED IT! I was surprised at how much he liked the belt. He became a walking infomercial, telling everyone about it.
Soon I was making dozens of prototype belts for friends and family. The feedback was great and I started to think I may have created a real product. Crowdfunding the belt on Kickstarter seemed like a great way to both test the market and fund its production. I spent a few months getting everything ready, purchased a $500 camera to take pictures and video, and clicked the 'Launch' button. I'm not a super social person and I don't have a lot of friends so I expected a slow start. My hope was that if I was lucky, I might double my $7,500 funding goal. And if I was really lucky, I might triple that goal. Within the first day I had surpassed $8,000. Compared to a lot of other kickstarter projects, that's not too special, but for me it was huge.
As the project progressed, the backing stayed very steady and by the end it finished at $106,827. I was blown away, ecstatic and a little nervous. I had planned to make a few hundred belts in my garage. Now I was in deep with over 8,500 belts to deliver. I immediately started getting quotes to have other companies do the production. They all came back with outrageous prices and I simply couldn't afford it. With a little help from my friends, I convinced myself that I could get a few machines and make several thousand belts in a reasonable time frame. After all, I love making things with my hands and I'm quite good at problem solving, troubleshooting and making things more efficient.
The next several months were basically hell, but with some amazing support from my wife, family and friends, we did it. Grip6 belts were shipped all over the world and used by thousands of people. The comments began pouring in and people LOVED their belts. People left messages like "Seriously, best belt I've ever owned." I was both relieved and satisfied. It was an amazing journey and opened up the door to pursuing my passion: creating amazing products. Thank you Kickstarter backers! It's been an amazing beginning and hopefully a lot more great things to come. BJ
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