How to Survive Kickstarter as a Watch Micro Brand

In September, we wrote two posts on TiMe22, a Dutch startup company currently on kickstarter with a new titanium wristwatch they have designed. This article looks back at their experience including how they survived on Kickstarter, the bumps in the road, and some of the kickstarter lessons learned. These are generalizable lessons for any micro brand watch company looking to take on kickstarter. 

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(Company photo)

After an initial goal of €40,000, their fundraising stalled out at about €27,000 after 2 weeks. TiMe22 received additional outside investment, giving them the opportunity to lower their Kickstarter goal. They decided to restart the kickstarter (cancel the first campaign, start a new one) with a new goal of €20,000. This was a risky move but paid off: their campaign was successfully backed within 26 hours and is now in an “extended goal” period. As a result, people continue to sign up for the watch because it is a guarantee they will get one.

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It appears that what held up the first campaign was that people were worried it wouldn’t reach its goal. This happens when backers see a goal as unattainable and stop backing the project in favor of other projects that are guaranteed. When the momentum slows, a kickstarter project can be doomed regardless of how good of a product it is. However, their new campaign has reached its goal and is now selling beyond their target with 30+ days to go.

What TiMe22 Offered:

1) It is a highly engineered watch made from Grade 5 Titanium, which is virtually scratchproof. This is not unheard of; there are other watches made from such high-resistance metal, but not at the $500 price point. (for more on the engineering behind the watch, read our earlier article on this topic)

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Some of the early TiMe22 prototypes while testing the design (Company photo)

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(Company photo)

2) The watch is not another re-make of other popular watch models out there. It is unique and has its own character. It doesn’t look like a Rolex, or a Tag Heuer, or a Breitling — it looks like a TiMe22. Uniqueness in the watch industry has its own value. We appreciate the unique retro-1970’s design of this highly-engineered watch.

3) The company offers a lifetime warranty on their watches. Again, this is not common, especially in the $500-700 price range. Of course, this implies TiMe22 exists into the perpetual future, but either way, that is a big guarantee they are making and they use a digital maintenance tracking system for their watches. You can see your watch’s maintenance history online, as well as register as the current owner. This may not seem like much, but for those who have had to argue with a watch manufacturer as to when the warranty period started and ended based on ownership, or what maintenance should be free, this is a big deal.

4) Lastly, having spoken to the founders Marc and Stefan on a few occasions, they appear to be two founders who know what they are doing and know how to create a quality product, develop a brand, and run a business. Both are experienced businessmen and have the managerial know-how to make TiMe22 successful.

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Stefan (left) and Marc, the founders and engineers behind TiMe22 (Company photo)

Kickstarter Lessons Learned

-Don’t set the goal too high. Momentum is key to being successful on Kickstarter and momentum is hard to gain when backers view the goal as too far off to be a guarantee. Having reviewed many watch projects on Kickstarter, the sweet spot for getting funded seems to be $15,000 – $20,000. Companies frequently get overfunded beyond this once they meet their goal.

-Have a differentiating product or an actual value proposition. TiMe22’s watch is unique and therefore differentiated. Surprisingly, most watches on Kickstarter are not. Even if you think your offering is unique, ask bloggers or watch enthusiasts for their opinion. Usually, the “value proposition” of a watch on Kickstarter is really not that compelling.

-Have a well-charted marketing plan, but also be willing to adjust it. TiMe22 worked ceaselessly to network with bloggers and online publications to get their watch reviewed and promoted. This is critical to getting the necessary attention to gain early momentum.

-Have realizable future plans following the Kickstarter campaign (i.e. have a business plan/model, not just a product). TiMe22 has secured outside investment already and used Kickstarter as a launchpad rather than the main event. This allowed them to plan and promise beyond the Kickstarter, which boosts backer confidence.

-Value the feedback Kickstarter provides. Backers vote on your product with their money. If no one is backing your product, that should be feedback that you take seriously. This isn’t to say you should give up, but you should take this as a hint that your product needs a redesign or better communication of the value it provides.

Kickstarter is a great way for new physical products to get a start and test market demand without incurring massive debt obligations. We enjoy keeping an eye on the innovation coming out of Kickstarter companies, which is currently one of the few hubs where innovation in wristwatches takes place. If you are a Kickstarter company or looking to launch a wristwatch on Kickstarter, send us an email — we’d love to take a look.

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I have a passion for watches and am a collector of luxury watches. I write opinion-based articles that try to bring the business lens to my writing to provide readers with a view of the business, marketing, and strategies of the watch industry companies I look into. In addition to Watch Ponder, I do speaking, freelance writing, and publish in other watch blogs and magazines. I do this as a hobby and because of my passion for watches. I am also a member of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors.

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