first Kickstarter campaign to fund the development and deployment of our prototype Quikbyke Q•pod solar-powered, mobile electric bicycle rental popup shop. ">
For Sale: Custom, one-of-a-kind street art mural. Measures 8 ft by 20 ft on corrugated steel panel. Has been 'on exhibition' last five years in Miami, Chicago, Tampa, Washington, D.C., Omaha, Havana, and various other locations. Piece formerly integral part of pilot electric bicycle rental project. Asking price $10,000.
That could be an advertisement that I might be running sometime around the year 2021... or it might just be the figment of my imagination, illustrating one of the challenges to creating a Kickstarter campaign: What do you offer as incentives for potential backers?
One of the things Kickstarter suggests is that you make incentives unusual. An example they give being, "send me a pair of your shoes and I'll walk in them for a day." Apparently, the quirkier, the better. So, as I sat down and tried to come up with a list of inducements, from low entry level to high, I struggled with what I might offer that fit with what I was wanting to fund and didn't cost more to deliver on than I was asking for. On the low-end, a T-shirt and a Quikbyke e-bike rental certificate, good for 3 years, seemed appropriate. On the high-end, there is the mural we'd commission to go on the back side of the 20 ft shipping container, something like the illustration above. Since we estimated the service life of the unit at five years, the art work, obviously worn by salt air, graffiti, and handling by longshoremen would be available for some appreciative lover of the genre. Banksy's are going from a quarter of a million and up.
Now I really don't expect someone to actually want to buy a 8 by 20 feet sheet of steel sight unseen. What I am hoping we'll do is attract 150 people with a couple grand in their pockets who'd like to own very special bamboo electric bicycle. [See "The Making of the K15 E-Bike"].
And therein is the real challenge our upcoming Kickstarter campaign faces. What we're wanting to fund is actually two things: our first prototype Q•pod AND those 150 bikes. Logic - and a couple of friends - tell me that I should only be seeking funds for the container, while others are telling me to do the bikes. And truth be told, doing just one or the other would make life a lot easier. That's what most crowd-funders do. I wanted to be different in the walk-in-your-shoes-sort-of-way.
So, here's what I came up with. It costs me $XX,XXX to buy those Greenstar Ecoforce 1 bikes from the US importer. It costs me €XX.XXX to buy and import the Zehus BIKE+ motors from Italy. Then there's the 'lacing' of the motor to the rear wheel and the machining and mounting of the special bracket to the rear dropouts on the bike into which the wheel and motor are attached to the bike frame. Finally, the firmware on the bike must be programmed. Then the bike has to be tested and disassembled for shipment to backer. I have a pretty good idea what these costs are because I've already built one: and trust me none of this is cheap. This bike isn't the 'cheapest electric bicycle you can buy.' But it is priced less by more than $1000US than a comparable steel frame bike in England with the same motor.
Having a pretty good handle on my fixed costs, I figured in a 50% margin - comparable to what Apple gets for its iPhone. That margin is what I will use to build our first rental pod, the container with the 8 x 20 mural on the back. 150 backers get a wonderful, extraordinarily light and beautiful electric-assist bicycle, while helping me engineer, fabricate, test, and deploy our first solar-powered, mobile rental 'pop-up' shop.
Granted, there are probably better ways to crowd-fund this and more appropriate incentives; and I know we'll learn a lot of lessons (probably a fair share of them hard ones) from this first effort, which launches on July 14th. Certainly, Kickstarter had no objections to my funding goal, which admittedly is substantial, nor to my incentives; and they have some pretty firm rules on what you can and can't offer.
Still, with the official K-Day (as opposed to D-Day) less than a week away, I have to tell you that I am anxious. The first couple comments on Facebook weren't encouraging, one person calling my funding goal "greedy" and another calling the bike "sh_tty." Interestingly, five different people rode it yesterday and loved it, one wondering where he could buy one. Will this be a blockbuster or a flop? I haven't a clue right now. I am just giving it my best shot. Stay tuned.
ADDENDUM:Quikbyke's Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign went live at 4AM CDT today, July 14th. Check it out: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/412869013/quikbyke-qpod-electric-bicycle-rental-system.
Posted By: Bill Moore [09-Jul-2015]
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