The Trip That Made This Little Kickstarter Campaign Start To Kick Cosmic Ass
This is the story of how a German interior designer, a world-class Thai chef, an Austrian designer, and two recent college graduates brought a bespoke belt across international borders. It culminates in them patiently and nervously awaiting the arrival of man only known as “Jack” in a speak-easy whiskey bar in Singapore.
One of the smaller Kickstarter Campaigns “BAELTS: The World’s Slimmest No Buckle Belt,” (live until May 15th at midnight EST), recently pulled an enormous stunt.
This team is looking far beyond just meeting their Kickstarter “Goal.”
Fifteen days into their campaign, BAELTS packed up their precious product parcels and departed their workshop in Bangkok at 4AM on a Saturday to catch a flight to Singapore to hand-deliver their product to their First Backer.
With tickets booked only the day before, and travel plans made essentially overnight, by 9PM that same evening, at the rendezvous point with “Jack,” the BAELTS team was weary and famished, but oh so excited and hopeful.
Why would they pull such a stunt? Was their campaign so successful that they had the confidence and the cash to blow on a glory trip to deliver their prize product to their first backer?
In fact their campaign was only 20% funded when they sprung for airplane tickets to hand-deliver to their first email responsive Kickstarter Backer. On this campaign, so far they have had all the guts and as of yet, none of the glory.
This is the story.
“Jack” was working at a little-known whiskey bar just around the corner from the big Raffles hotel in the heart of Singapore’s hippest neighborhood, perhaps the most perfect coincidental stage for this uncanny encounter on a Saturday evening.
While Jack poured some whiskey shots for the weary travelers, the four BAELTS team members prepared their special package, a brushed metal box containing a canvas satchel. This satchel was sealed with a bright red tassel and emblazoned with the Chinese character for buffalo:
“牛,” a tribute to the neighborhood where the BAELTS workshop is located, Bangkok’s Chinatown.
Inside the satchel was a single strip of first-grain, vegetable-tanned, Neatsfoot-oiled Thai water buffalo leather.
Now Presenting!! The World’s Slimmest No-Buckle Belt…
This belt features only one moveable aluminum-plated stud and three holes, crafted to last a lifetime.
The unveiling of the belt could not have been more perfect had it been scripted. Jack was a serial Kickstarter backer, with an eye for excellent design items and a passion for high quality and innovative items. He also happened to be a world-class scuba diving instructor and an aspiring Red Bull-sponsored sky-diver.
Eloquent and empathetic and deeply invested in the concept of Kickstarter, Jack was a charismatic host and an instant kindred spirit. He had initially backed the BAELTS Campaign for two belts, one to give to his girlfriend. She arrived at the whiskey bar to meet the team and with the gradual accumulation of friends and good spirits, the evening ended in musical revelry by friends of the Florian’s, May and Nick, also proud recipients of belts.
The smell of water buffalo leather and single-malt whiskey mixed in an evening of friendship consummated by cosmic Kickstarter happenstance.
In fact, the BAELTS team was so enamored with Jack after one evening that they ended-up making a belt for Jack’s adorable three-year old son Isaac before leaving back to Bangkok the next day.
So why did BAELTS go all the way to Singapore to have a chat and an impromptu party?
BAELTS has taken a unique approach to Kickstarter from the very beginning. They have focused on the people that click instead of the pursuing clicks at the cost of losing those Backers that know how to find hidden gems.
Baelts Campaign Idiosyncrasies Summarized:
- They selected a 60-day campaign. Masochistic marathon, not savvy sprint, style. This gives them time to build up their production technique while also engaging backers.
- They didn’t promote their campaign at all for the first 30 days. No emails to friends, no paychecks to outsourced marketing companies, no MailChimp mail-merging…the team hoped that their Early Adopter Kickstarter Backers would be ones who stumbled across their product because of natural attraction.
- There is nothing terribly techy or trendy about BAELTS. They offer something very different from the flashy pieces of robotic wonder headlining most Kickstarter “Featured” lists. Their belts are items intended to be so personal and lifelong that they almost resemble your own flesh.
The BAELTS team realized that an ideal Kickstarter Campaigns would be one where “Backers” would be real sounding boards for the design of the belt, contributing to the long-term life of the product.
The BAELTS team didn’t want Kickstarter to be simply a “pre-sale platform.” They believed, perhaps naively, in the power of the randomness that comes with Kickstarter’s vanguard grassroots funding notion.
It is people like Jack who had the savvy to sort through the bits and bytes and marketing schemes of big-business campaigns that make Kickstarter the Kickass platform that it can be.
The BAELTs Team is in it for the long-haul, and their product offers a lifetime gentleman’s guarantee to keep your pants up until you pass on.
All of the ideation and planning for the months before the Kickstarter Campaign launch was conducted by Daniel Kattenack and Florian Gypser.
Daniel is a professional interior designer based in Germany, and one of Munich’s original graffiti artists. One of the biggest perks BAELTS offers the Kickstarter community is the opportunity for logo personalization sketches working one-on-one with Daniel.
Florian is a truly pedigreed designer and a former student of world famous maverick architect Zaha Hadid. (And if the head of the team is Florian, then the neck of the team is his girlfriend Goy.) Goy is the head chef of Nan King Gui, the top-rated Bangkok restaurant she runs with Florian out of their apartment. She is the strong directional force in keeping the team on track and reasonably on-budget.
After Daniel recently headed back to Munich, Florian picked up a pair of over-educated underemployed recent Harvard graduates for the BAELTS team, Li Murphy and Awais Hussein. They were classmates at Harvard who graduated last spring and were passing through Thailand, joining the belt revolution after being intrigued and inspired by the excitement and skill of Dan and Flo and Goy.
BAELTS wants to “Back their Backers,” or at least make sure their Backers’ Backsides are covered for life…Can you imagine a world without belts?
Obviously the Hero of the Story is the First BAELTS Backer, Jack, who set the bar high for his willingness to provide his opinion about the product and for being a model Kickstarter citizen all around. The transcript for the legendary interview with Jack will be published in full form very soon.
BAELTS continues to welcomes all feedback, from backers and any journalists. Press inquiries can be sent to email@example.com. Their mission is to craft the most sublime and slim belt the world has ever seen, please get in touch!
Anonymous and Objective Third Party Observer
UPDATE! the Kickstarter Campaign was fully funded.
Thanks to all 63 backers. Baelts are in production.