New website is now live, and other updates

This morning, we launched the long awaited update to our website. Not only is the site brand new, but it also is the first time we’ve shown pictures of our updated iPad clipboard to the public.

About a week ago we were in a town just outside of Pittsburgh, PA visiting the manufacturing facility where Clipboard+ is made. We met with the people in charge of our project and went over the final details necessary for getting our product from their plant and into your hands. After a tour of the facility we went back to the office to nail down exactly how our products need to be packed for shipment to the fulfillment warehouse. I included some pictures from the trip at the bottom of this post.

We finalized our packaging design over the weekend and the boxes should reach our manufacturer in two weeks. We will send out an update once the product is ready to ship. In the meantime, always feel free to send me an email with any questions or comments you might have at kevin@clipboard-plus.com

A view outside

on the floor

work in process

Clipboard+ Release Update

A few weeks ago we received what was supposed to be the final prototype iteration from our manufacturer. Unfortunately the functionality and quality of the product we received didn’t meet our standards so we sent it back to the manufacturer to be reworked.

Yesterday we received the revised prototypes, and we were very impressed with what we saw. The first thing you’ll notice when you pick up the new Clipboard+ is how solid and secure it feels in your hands. The iPad bay is perfectly tight enough to securely hold the iPad, yet it’s also not a struggle to insert and remove the device. The good news for everyone awaiting the release of the our newly updated iPad Clipboard is that we now have a much better idea of when the Clipboards will ship. Right now we are anticipating to ship in October. In the meantime our product will be photographed for packaging artwork, then the packaging will be manufactured and packed with our product before being sent to our fulfillment warehouse.

Please feel free to reach out to me directly at kevin@clipboard-plus.com with any questions or comments you might have. Pictures to come soon.

New Product/Website Update

After shipping the Kickstarter orders, teams are faced with taking the next steps for their product. Right now we are in that post-Kickstarter phase.

We knew that in order to go forward with Clipboard+ we would need to:
-Update the product
-Switch to a new manufacturer who could reliably produce our product
-Create retail-ready packaging
-Set up a network for distribution
-Overhaul the website to better represent our brand and our products
-Switch from self-fulfilling orders to an outsourced automated solution (Amazon Fulfillment)
-And a bunch of other stuff that I will lump together collectively as “Miscellaneous”

Anyway, for a little bit over the past month, Clipboard+ has been working out of Denver on all of these things. We successfully partnered with a new manufacturer based out of Pittsburgh who made improvements to design. We are super excited to be working with them and we are currently waiting to receive the samples of the new model. We decided on packaging for the product. The website (currently just a holder page), is done except for product photos of the product we are waiting to receive. We set up fulfillment through Amazon, which is something I am most excited about because it will save a ton of money, and more significantly save us a ton of time running to the post office. As far as “Miscellaneous” goes, you probably don’t want to read about “Miscellaneous”, but it’s going good.

There was an unexpected delay with the material used in our shock absorbant foam liner, so right now we are shooting to have our product available in early September. If you have any questions, send me an email at kevin@clipboard-plus.com

-Kevin

Spending The Summer in Denver

For about the last six weeks, myself and the rest of the Clipboard+ team have been working out of Denver, Colorado. I packed up my car in early June and drove out from Philadelphia for my first venture west of the Mississippi. Today is my last work day before I head home, and I sit at my desk thankful that I decided to try something new this Summer. Why Denver? Well, two of the other CB+ founders graduated this year and decided to move out here to work on their start up College Gym Tracker. They provide custom applications and attendance analytics for university fitness facilities. Check them out.

So I had an opportunity to come out here and live with them, or work remotely with the rest of the team from Philadelphia. In retrospect, it was an easy decision. While we’ve been out here the team has been focused on a rebuild of our website, and preparing for the release of our new product this September. We also got the opportunity to network with some awesome people from the local Denver/Boulder entrepreneurial community. One of the highlights was meeting Brad Feld at Galvanize.

I am a huge outdoor enthusiast, and beyond all of the great entrepreneurial networking and Clipboard+ work we’ve been getting done, living in Denver is like living within short driving distance of the Disney World for outdoor activities (the Rocky Mountains). We’ve been river tubing, hiking, mountaineering, camping, trail running, and a slew of other fun things that you can’t do in the Philly suburbs. We climbed Mt. Elbert (2nd highest mountain in the lower 48 states, highest in CO) and decided to bring Clipboard+ to the summit.

Mt. Elbert

Anyway, I guess my take away is that you should be willing to try new things, whether its a new city, new food, new sport, whatever. Getting outside of your comfort zone is the only way to grow, and I can promise you will be glad you did it. I got to eat some amazing mexican food out here, climb some amazing mountains, experience some amazing weather, and who knows, maybe I’ll end up moving to this new city that I never would have experienced otherwise.

-Kevin

Spring Update

Hello everyone, now that the founders have returned from France and the world of public accounting we are getting back to business with Clipboard+.

We have been listening to all of the feedback we have received from our backers, along with all of the emails we have gotten from people interested in our products. We have taken this feedback and decided to refine the iPad clipboard from a polished prototype to a full version product. Over the next few months and into the Summer we will be to source a new manufacturer that will be able to implement the changes we want to make, along with setting up full scale production and fulfillment for the new product release.

In addition to the refined version, we also have some exciting ideas for a completely updated version of the smartphone clipboard, along with new designs for the iPad clipboard and an iPad mini model.

Happy 2013 from Clipboard+

Happy New Year to everyone from the Clipboard+ team!

Things here at Clipboard+ are going to be temporarily slowing down over the next few months. Kevin Merlini will be working full time in an Audit position at KPMG, and Eric Reale will be studying in Paris, France.

Sales of our products will continue through our website, and we will still continue to work on Clipboard+ during our spare time until later this Spring when we can focus our full attention back on the company.

In the meantime if you have any questions or would like to contact us for any reason, please email info@clipbaord-plus.com

Being a College Student and Achieving Kickstarter Success – What we learned from Clipboard+ [Before Launch]

For the past few months, we at Clipboard+ have worked very hard to fulfill the orders of our faithful Kickstarter backers.

Side note to Kickstarter backers: Thank you so much for your feedback and support. We couldn’t have done it without you. Since the success of our Kickstarter project, we have learned quite a bit and would like to share the resources we used and strategies developed along this fantastic journey.

Kickstarter Logo

Is this Kickstarter advice for me?

Since the other three co-founders are still in college and I am a recent graduate, we had to be quite creative in the implementation of our Kickstarter strategy. After many mistakes and a lot of research, we came up with some awesome guidelines that will help any project in any category. With our Kickstarter success and recent fulfillment, we thought it would be helpful to openly discuss the tactics we used.

You will benefit from this series of posts if:

  • You have no money/ no time, but still want to launch a Kickstarter project.
  • You are currently in over your head and a part of a launched Kickstarter project.
  • You are knee deep in customer orders from a recently funded Kickstarter project.

Clipboard+ & Kickstarter

Below, Clipboard+‘s efforts are divided into three different sections: Before Launch, During Launch, and Post Launch. In this post, we will exclusively discuss how to prepare Before the Launch of your Kickstarter project.

Part 1: Before Launch (The 3 R’s)

  • Research.

    Questions to ask: What is the scope of my project? How long will it take? What competing products have been successful/failed in the Kickstarter space? How much money do I need to complete this project? What content will be in my video? What will my project page look like? Who will support my idea? How will I reward my supporters? How will I get the internet’s eyes on my project? (*Adapted from 9 Essential Steps for a Killer Kickstarter Campaign by Mashable’s Stephanie Buck.) 

Here are screen shots of information you need to know, straight from the stats page on Kickstarter:

Kickstarter Statistics Projects & Dollars (Dec. 5, 2012)

Kickstarter statistics (Projects & Dollars)

(Related: check out the comprehensive 2011 statistics report published by Kickstarter.)

Below are excerpts from an infographic published by Apps Blogger titled “The Untold Story Behind Kickstarter Success.”

Kickstarter Margins of Failure & Success

The Untold Story of Kickstarter Stats

Chance of Success on Large Kickstarter Projects

Chance of Success on Large Kickstarter Projects

What Variables Matter?

Effect of Variables on Chance of Kickstarter Success

*Important Final Research Step:

Vet Your Idea. Stop talking about your new project! Step back and consider the possibility that it is a bad idea. Be critical. Step into a nay-sayers shoes and ask the hard questions. Also keep in mind, if your idea doesn’t create polarity, it also might not be a good idea. (It is a good thing if not everyone likes your idea.) If you can’t/ don’t now how to develop your own ideas, please refer to The Founder Institute’s Idea Development Guide.

  • Read.

    This should be thought of as an extension of your research. It includes blogs that could be interested in your project, other projects’ pages and social copy, news sources about Kickstarter and any recently successful Kickstarter projects. Reading to benefit your project is something that should be enjoyed. Kickstarter is meant to help fund a passion project, if you are not enjoying the necessary reading it might be worth reconsidering launching your project all together.

Tools to help you read more, faster:

RSS Feed (ex: Google Reader ) – aggregate content send to Instapaper.

Instapaper – Organize & read content.

Google Alerts – Track specific keywords and stay on top of your areas of interest.

Evernote – Write notes about impactful content and save url for future use.

  • Reach Out.

    Once you have read and researched, it is time to take your cool new idea and reach out to people that matter. Use the time you have spent reading and connect with the bloggers whose content you have genuinely enjoyed. At first, don’t even mention your project. Focus on making a real human connection and success will follow. If you want to make a genuine connection we highly suggest “the Impact Equation” by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. It is a great read that is well worth your time and money.

Use these steps when contacting a blogger/ news outlet:

  1. Introduce yourself, your product, and the launch date.
  2. What the news is about.
  3. Why is it a big deal?
  4. Website access or screenshot of what you are launching.
  5. Your name, your telephone number & meaningful social network.
  6. P.S. – something meaningful, memorable

(Sales tip: Always remember a “no” is just one step closer to a “yes.”)

Final Thoughts

One of the most common Kickstarter slip-ups is not properly planning ahead. Make sure you have a clear idea of your timeline going forward. Keep your date of delivery always on top of mind. Additionally, make use of your networks. We had some great support from friends like, Roger Osorio, but failed to fully tap into our networks until mid way through launch. Our biggest misstep was not connecting with bloggers early enough. This early connection to people (bloggers), who can get your project noticed, requires time invested months before launch. Make it your goal to stay connected to at least five bloggers. This will make your path going forward much easier.

We would love to hear from you! Please comment if you have any additional information about how to prepare for Kickstarter pre-launch.

Thanks for reading. We will be back next week with “Being a College Student and Achieving Kickstarter Success” (Part 2 – During Launch)

Related Posts

Rewards have shipped!

I began the last update by saying that I was excited to announce that we were almost ready to ship. Well that was several weeks ago, and we once again learned that things are almost always going to take longer than expected. However, this time I waited until the packages were safely in the mail before posting an update; so I can now say with certainty that your rewards are on their way.

I want to thank you all for your continued patience and support while we have been working to fulfill these orders. We have learned so much and we are all extremely grateful for your contribution; we can’t thank you enough for giving us the opportunity to make the dream of Clipboard+ a reality.

Not only are you our financial backers, but you also get the opportunity to be our beta testers. In the letter included with your reward I explain how important your feedback is to us. So please don’t hesitate to contact us with any issues, ideas, or other feedback you might have.

Thanks again for supporting Clipboard+!

Keep an eye out for your reward! (Photo courtesy of one of our backers, Caroline Radvansky)

 

image-179017-full

Clipboard+ Progress and Purchasing Information

I’d like to thank everyone for their patience as we near completion of our initial manufacturing run.

Right now we are finishing up and anticipate being able to ship ideally within the next week. If you went to our website looking to purchase a Clipboard+ but were disappointed when you couldn’t figure out how to buy one, I apologize. The reason that we don’t have a store up on our current website is that we still haven’t fully completed manufacturing and are therefore would be unable to fulfill orders. However we’ve built an online store and plan to launch it in place of the current website once we have fulfilled all of the Kickstarter orders.

We plan to sell the Clipboard+ iPad for $50 and the Clipboard+ Smartphone for $25. Once the new site is online you will be able to place your orders through our store at www.clipboard-plus.com. In the meantime, please direct any questions you might have to me personally at kevin@clipboard-plus.com or our customer service address at info@clipboard-plus.com

We’re Funded! Thank You!

Well, it took a strong finish thanks to the help of friends, family, and individuals from around the world, but we have successfully surpassed our $10,000 goal and the 30-day Kickstarter campaign has finally come to an end! We could not have done this without all of your help and support, it has served as both encouragement and inspiration throughout the process. Your optimism emboldens us to continue working hard at providing products that can truly change the way you work.

We’d also like to thank Kickstarter for providing us with the platform to expose our product to a wide audience, get the ball rolling with our company, and to receive diverse feedback on our ideas. We are so pleased to have been able to participate and succeed with this project. We look forward to hitting the ground running now that Clipboard+ has been successfully funded! Image

Supporters, backers, friends, Romans: we thank you for all of your feedback and suggestions thus far, know that we value each and every comment we receive. This next part is where the true work begins, the Kickstarter campaign is through and we have our work cut out for us. In addition to fulfilling the rewards, we will be spending the next few months looking into implementing design improvements, marketing plans and much more. We will keep you posted on major developments as you are all valued members of the Clipboard+ story.

Again, thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts, we are so happy to have completed this campaign successfully and we know it wouldn’t have been possible without you. Don’t forget to keep an eye on this blog, Changing the Way You Work, and our website for updates!

Sincerely,

The Clipboard+ Team