"A series of unfortunate events"
ACT III: Exodus
Before going on with the stories of my kickstarter odyssey, I want to clarify an important thing: ok, maybe I was haunted by an unusual amount of bad luck, statistically speaking, but what I experienced is likely to be normal, in certain contexts. After all, I took the task of producing a big range of miniatures, and I wanted to create a high quality product. Moreover, for obvious reasons, I had to commit crucial production steps to external collaborators. I don't think I was lucky (not at all...), but for sure my inexperience didn't help.
In hindsight, I think that in the end "it could have been worse".
As we were saying, in August we started to deliver the first rewards: after months of frustration, it was a great emotion for all of us.
Finally I felt that we really created something.
I know that this statement could seem a bit pitying, but in fact 'till that moment no matter the years spent on sculpting, designing and working on that project: officially we hadn't put yet any products on the market.
However, even if, after the dramatic setbacks manifested during the previous months being able to ship some reward was for me an incredible joy, the situation remained still bad.
I feared so much, since the beginning, the moment of shipping: I'd never had to deliver so many parcels in my life, and I was worried by that logistic challenge.
In my original plans, I scheduled a solid and easy pipeline:
-take care personally to fulfill the rewards (banally: put the right miniatures in the right box).
-once every reward is ready, prepare a couple of pallets to be picked-up by a sorting center, that would materially handle the deliveries.
As you may imagine, it's cheaper to pick-up hundreds of parcels at the same time, rather than paying for many, but in August (and September) I had only a few resins of several stretch goals, and I would have received only small amounts of replacements, spread over the following weeks: it was simply impossible to ship all the rewards with a single pick-up. Moreover, I had to optimize everything to be able to deliver as many rewards as possible, because a lot of backers (luckily!) ordered extra stretch goals, or added more Familiars and Bulldogs to their rewards.
So I had, again, two roads before me: my pocket or my honor.
- red pill, and you'll wake up in Pietra Ligure, with a big headache and no wallet.
What did you expect, by taking a weird pill from a stranger?! -
To stick to my original plan and optimize the expenses for shipping, I should have delayed again the deliveries of rewards, by 40 days at least (consider, in fact, that I received the last replacements only two weeks ago).
To me, it was unacceptable.
I decided to think at first to my backers (as everyone would have done, after all), and I started to deliver the rewards little at time, shipping 30/40 parcels a week (with peeks of 70-80 parcels, when replacements started to arrive). Moreover, I decided also to split the delivery of several rewards in multiple shippings: some backers, for example, ordered a bundle that I could fulfill, but added extra miniatures that I hadn't the resins for. I thought it would have been horrible to make them wait a whole month because of a single Angry Bulldog or Imperial Erdraz, so I decided to ship at first the big box, and then wait for the resins to arrive and schedule for a second delivery. This increased significantly my expenses (I calculated that I spent about 2400-2600€ extra budget), but relieved me a lot of stress and, above all, my guilt, so it's money I had a real pleasure of spending.
- how fail-casts influenced my campaign, in a nutshell -
However, money is important but it's not all that matters in life and, above all, in that moment of my campaign: i was able to deliver all the rewards, even if slower than expected and with months of delay, and people that received their dwarves were enthusiastic about them.
Considering all the setbacks and troubles we were afflicted by, I could not ask for anything better.
In late September, the last reward was sent to the sorting center, and (at least for what concerns me) I was able to consider the mission accomplished.
I can not say that everything is gone in the best way, especially for what concerns the stocks originally planned for the regular sales on our online store.
As you may imagine, I ordered an extra stock of resins, in order to be able to start selling my dwarves immediately after the end of Kickstarter delivery.
Unfortunately, all the fail-casts that haunted the production destroyed completely my plans and I found myself, now that all the rewards have been sent, with a very few amount of resins and several characters (of course, the most loved one!) completely out of stock.
However, let's look at the glass half-full: without those extra stocks planned for my online store, I should have delayed the delivery of rewards even more!
Was it worth it?!
Quoting probably one of the worst song of one of my favorite metal bands, here we are with the queen of all questions: was it worth it?
We worked on this project for more than 3 years, we overcame a lot of obstacles and setbacks, we faced months of panic and depression and after this incredible journey we collected about 8k € of profit, that obviously isn't enough to move to Shibuya and live like a Lord, which is my final goal (yeah, I'm a spiritual individual).
Without any single doubt, however, I can easily answer to that question: YES.
Before going on, I think we have to focus on the real meaning of a Kickstarter campaign.
Before starting this project, Durgin Paint Forge was barely nothing. It's true, we sculpted and produced already several miniatures, including a little Kickstarter campaign, but let's face the truth: nobody knew us.
This campaign was not intended only to collect money: they are important, of course, to give us a future as manufacturers, but my first goal has never been simply money.
Moreover, especially nowadays, I think that Kickstarter works well as a "money farm" only if you are a creator with a solid, possibly industrial-size, company: think about coolminiornot, for example. They not only make great products: they are an industry, with years and years of experiences and resources that allow them to present theirselves to customers as industry leaders. They are able to use Kickstarter as a luxury showcase for their products: they don't need a "kick" to start, they already hit the market!
Our situation is, obviously, way different: there is a big difference between being able to design interesting miniatures, and being a great company.
We were starting from zero, and we had only our dwarves to prove the world that we were worth your trust!
This campaign had, for me, two priorities: to reach as many people out there as possible and to be able to produce as many new characters as possible.
I set the campaign not with money in mind, but to fit with these goals, and I can't be more happy about the result: almost 600 hobbyists now know our name, and I was able to produce a lot of extra characters.
Moreover, all the setbacks that haunted this project contributed not only to my experience as creator, but also they strengthened the relationship with all the backers, giving me way more than money (as I told you before: I'm a spiritual individual!).
For these reasons I regret nothing about this project: of course I would have preferred a smooth production and a punctual delivery, but in the end I'm just so thankful of being able to accomplish this first quest of us: we made it, guys, we made it all together as a mighty team!
- Me, after the last reward was shipped -