By utilizing our rustic pair of prototypes, we learned the huge benefits generated from everyone who tried them. They were extremely comfortable and immediately provided a natural lift to ones' pack that made them feel like they had better posture and that weight had magically disappeared from their pack. So, we gathered the criteria and started creating several rounds of prototypes that eventually led to a design that laid flat behind your backpack straps and, by the pull of a zipper, arced out moving the pressure point from your shoulders to your chest. It allowed the user to quickly adjust where they felt discomfort, so that it wasn't always in the same location, causing fatigue. It was an ingenious creation and the basis behind the final product.
PAIN RELIEF FOR BACKPACK USERS
BetterBack, parent company of SuperStraps, was in search of their next great product idea. One that could truly broaden their product offering. So, we set out on a journey of several rounds of research, looking for insights from their existing and potential customer base. It was important to us that we stuck to their ethos of providing their customers with products that helped them eel better every day. A simple byline that is not, by any means, simple to achieve.
We had already located and partnered with the manufacturer in southern China that we would employ to produce the final assembly before the campaign even began. We ended up spending more than 6 weeks on-site at the manufacturer to lead the initial production setup for SuperStraps, negotiate pricing for all parts/assemblies, source 3rd party manufacturers, and implement aesthetic revisions before production. We had to figure out, process by process, how to mass manufacture a product that doesn't even fit into a typical product category. It's not just a new product, it's an entirely new product line. So, there was lots of work to be done before we could even dream about shipping.
The CEO came upon an idea to focus on different muscular groups for each product they offered. Since they already had a successful product that focused on relieving back pain, we had thought focusing on the neck/shoulder area might be the next logical are of focus. During user group research it became immediately apparent that there were a lot of backpack users that were experiencing a wide variety of pain/strain issues in their necks and shoulders. So, we took the data we had and created several concepts for products that could help alleviate some of those issues. SuperStraps began back in early 2018 as shaped foam blocks that were utilized to prove out the design for what would become a huge Kickstarter success.
We helped create the Kickstarter campaign for SuperStraps, which raised over $725k in 60 days, surpassing our initial goal by 3600%. Funding campaigns teach you so much about the potential long-term success of a product. It gives you an immediate understanding of the market needs, which is typically not quick information to garner utilizing traditional capital investments. Before the campaign even ended, we were off to the races. We had approximately 6 months to deliver somewhere in the range of 15k pledges, which meant immediately focusing on production of at least 40k units. As anyone in this industry knows, a production run that large for a brand new product, is risky, to say the least. It's always best to start out with small production runs and grow from there so that you have time to make any and all adjustments for optimization. This simply wasn't an option.
In the end, we successfully shipped 14k pairs to all of the Kickstarter backers on time. There were lots of hiccups starting at the concept phase and all the way through production completion. But, that's truly what product development is; surpassing obstacles on a daily basis. We are excited about this new product entering the market and can't wait to get feedback from customers around the globe. It was a pleasure working with the BetterBack team and truly look forward to their next product or iteration in the line-up!