It’s been an emotional rollercoaster leading up to official launch of The Passport Protector on Indiegogo. I wanted to share a ‘behind the scenes’ peek into the work we did over the last 9 months up to this point. Good news is we’re well on track to hit our goal of $15,000 in presales and crowdfunding.
Each of these steps could be its own extensive post on a critical lesson in business and product development. Here’s a brief of what we’ve done to get here:
Step #1 – The Idea
Our trip to Europe was ruined when my passport had ‘wear and tear.’ So I came up with the idea for a hardcore passport case. After seeing what was currently on the market, I was surprised by the lack or great products. Nothing so far seemed to be truly waterproof, have innovative design, or a pure-play in the category.
Step #2 – Attorney Feedback
I spoke to a local patent attorney, Bryce Miracle, who I’d met previously and gave him a quick, excited pitch. He gave me some research to do and asked if I had designer yet. Being totally clueless, I luckily got hooked up with an industrial designer firm in Columbus.
Step #3 – Concept Development
I met with Steve Sauer, who owns Bigger Tuna design firm, and has a wealth of knowledge on taking products to market. I told Steve my story and possible ideas for how I envisioned the product. His team came back with amazing innovation and creative ideas.
Step #4 – Prior Art Search
We went back to the attorney and compared our ideas to every possible related patent over the past 100 plus years. Long story short, we have a patent strategy, although I’ve become less and less hip to patents throughout the whole process. I’ll bet our future on creativity and moving quickly, not squatting on intellectual property and suing all trespassers.
Step #5 – Concept Refinement
Because we don’t have endless monies and distribution, it was time to focus. Startup hipsters drop buzzwords here like ‘niche, getting lean, beta, pivot, and minimum viable product (MVP).’ Fifteen possible cases boiled down to one final concept based on what we would want, the patent landscape, and ease of manufacturing.
Step #6 – Rough Sketch Model
Time to go from drawing board to holding something in our hands. Steve created a rough sketch model that we could test and experiment. It ended up super thin, but in order to hold larger passports and be manufactured, we had to go a little wider.
Step #7 – Brand Development
While design took shape, we started to think about branding, target markets and distilling our story. I realize part of our big challenge is educating consumers that they actually need to have a passport case. Hence, the name is the world’s most straightforward value proposition – The Passport Protector. I borrowed a move from THE Ohio State University. ‘The’ lends to original, premier, best. As far as our slogan, ‘Ensuring worldwide travel,’ a friend mentioned it over coffee and I liked how it could play a double meaning on product and scholarships. I loved the way the logo took shape with an image that resembles a passport and also has elements of a moving flag.
Step #8 – Website Draft
When I was thinking of possible names, I was excited to see domain passportprotector.com available. The team at RevLocal developed a draft to encompass a first impression of travel and the product’s functionality. I looked outside the industry and tried to incorporate the feel from sites like Airbnb, XJet, Bing backdrops and the ski industry.
Step #9 – Final Prototyping
We made prototypes through 3D printing and Stereolithography. One was painted and dressed up to be used for our photography, video and marketing.
Step #10 – Manufacturing Quotes
We talked to companies in the Midwest who have experience in plastics manufacturing. Many different approaches and prices came back to create steel injection molding tools, select materials, and make the product. If there is a Rosetta Stone for understanding manufacturing, please let me know. Trying to make a smart decision about a $15,000-45,000 investment is hard when I don’t have any background or know who to trust. After a long process, we finally narrowed it down and had an idea of how much to raise on crowdfunding and pricing the product.
Step #11 – Video Shoot
Eric Wager, who normally is busy working with major brands like Tim Hortons and Nationwide Insurance helped with our video. The owner of Uniglobe Travel Designers who booked our original trip was also nice enough to be interviewed about the product and why she supports what we’re doing.
Step #12 – Prelaunch Video
Friends from all over the world shared quick clips saying what our slogan ‘ensuring travel’ means to them and the type of life experiences that can’t happen without a passport. Days where the work gets the better of me, I watch the video again for motivation. Mario Masitti in Denver was awesome in editing everyone’s clips and blending it together.
Step #13 – Crowdfunding & PR Study
For the past 6 months I’ve studied successful crowdfunding campaigns, read blogs, and learned about PR strategy. I hired an executive assistant to do a lot of the heavy lifting on research and organizing our campaign. But for all the research and planning, there’s still hours on end of hustle every day to keep the funding moving.
Thanks for backing the project, giving your feedback and investing in our success! Please share with friends, family, or world travelers you know who might appreciate what we’re doing.