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23 September 2019

Pix: interactive on the surface of a backpack

Ukrainian startups have developed the world's first interactive backpack, on the surface of which you can display pictures, animations, widgets and even play games. This invention was called Pix and raised 150 thousand dollars in Kickstarter. It has become such a fun and popular product that the first Chinese fakes have already appeared. Margarita Rimek, CEO of the project, tells about all the intricacies of its creation and development.

“This idea was born at the end of 2016. It was then that my partners and I realized that people have limited opportunities for self-expression and transmission to society of their feelings, emotions, and attachments. Therefore, we decided to create an interactive backpack so that everyone could change their appearance in a few seconds, ”says Margarita Rimek. Prior to this, the team already had the experience of a joint startup - the development of a “smart” collar for pets. But, unfortunately, he never saw the light, as competitors launched a similar product on the market a little earlier.

From prototype to market model

Pix's CEO says they’ve manually assembled the first prototype interactive backpack. His presentation took place at the DIY Lab, a non-profit lab supporting young inventors. I liked the idea, and the organization allocated a thousand dollars to create the prototype of the product.

“Our first prototype was a baggy checkered backpack purchased for 100 UAH in the market. Having cut a hole in the fabric, we glued a small screen of plastic pixels into the hole, which were uneven and, as luck would have it, constantly fell away. It was shapeless and heavy, ”Margarita recalls. “But after the 15th sample, it dawned on us: we need to integrate the screen inside the backpack, under the fabric.”

During the first year, the founders invested 10 thousand dollars of their own funds in a startup. Then attracted investment from two business angels.

Find your target

For a product to sell successfully, you need to understand who its target audience is. At first, the founders of Pix thought that their invention would be interesting to children. But, as it turned out, they were mistaken.

“During the first year, we, with a not very attractive prototype, visited 6-7 exhibitions in Ukraine. There were always a lot of people at our stands - both adults and children. We carefully “collected” feedback and watched those who are more interested in a backpack and are ready to purchase even our unsightly product. So we managed to “calibrate” our target audience: this is a young and ambitious guy, over 25 years old. He loves gadgets, innovations and is not shy about declaring himself, ”explained Margarita Rimek.

Crowdfunding investments

Having a portrait of their audience, the founders of Pix decided to go with an interactive backpack to the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform. There were several reasons for this:

  • Here you can raise funds for production without attracting investment and without lending to a bank;
  • Kickstarter is a good tool for testing ideas, promotion and PR product;
  • A large number of backers ("investors") on this site are representatives of the target audience of Pix.

Our interlocutor says that before the launch of the Kickstarter campaign, the team was preparing for about three months, not counting the creation of the most “golden” model of the backpack. They carefully tuned to bring the product to the site, because they realized that only innovative developments that were not yet on the market were selected there. Therefore, it was necessary to do everything as best as possible so that the interactive backpack found an audience. During the first month they shot a lifestyle and a product video. Another month involved in branding the page, copyright, legal issues, preliminary launch, advertising.

“Even before the launch on Kickstarter, we began to actively work with foreign bloggers and the media. More than fifty prototypes of illuminated backpacks were sent to them. Half are for bloggers and media, the rest are for testers and influencers on Instagram. YouTube’s reviews had the greatest effect on product promotion. All of them were free. Our Pix has done his job, ”Margarita rejoices.

In the first two days, Pix raised $ 35,000 on Kickstarter. In general, the campaign lasted 45 days. During this time, about 150 thousand dollars were collected and pre-orders for almost six hundred backpacks were received.

After the end of the Kickstarter campaign, the project was launched at another Indiegogo crowdfunding venue focused on Europe and Asia. They collected more than 338 thousand dollars from 1200 beckers.

Interactive Pix Chips

“We tried to create not just a backpack with a screen, but a convenient urban“ satchel ”that can be used every day. It is not afraid of rain, flexible and light - it weighs only 900 g. After all, despite interactivity, it must fulfill its main function - to be comfortable. It has all the main compartments: for paper, a notebook, pens, various charging wires, a key keeper, as well as a hidden “anti-thief” compartment for a laptop, wallet and documents. It is displayed under the back of the owner. The volume of the product is 27 liters, the screen lasts up to 12 hours on batteries with a capacity of 20,000 mAh, explains Pix co-founder. - On the backpack itself, you can display pictures and animations from the gallery in the application, which we constantly update, widgets (time, timer, etc.) and even play games using the phone as a joystick. Another highlight: users can create their own pictures and animations in the application editor. ”
The interactive Pix backpack costs $ 259. As the co-founder of the company explained, their product is aimed at the USA, Europe and Asia. In Ukraine, there is also interest in backpacks, but it is quite niche. Therefore, sales here make up only a few percent of the total. Margarita Rimek also noted that at the moment in Ukraine they are trying to sell Chinese fakes, but the company has a registered patent, therefore, it is constantly struggling with the sale of counterfeit goods.

Subtleties of registration and production

Pix is a prime example of how a domestic startup can become a business with international roots. Our interlocutor spoke about this in more detail: “We decided to register Pix ourselves not in Ukraine, but in the USA. Attracting foreign investors is much easier on an American or European project. ”

Register a project in the United States helped a specialist who is versed in this matter. His services cost a thousand dollars. An account with an American bank was opened independently. All that was needed was a social security number. Margarita had such a document since she previously worked in the United States.

Backpacks were also not made in Ukraine for several reasons: most of the components came from China, which affected the logistics process. Since there were often cases when a product was stuck at the border for a month, which made the production planning process impossible, they decided to establish a massive tailoring of backpacks in China. Moreover, it is half the price.

The search for a contractor was approached very carefully. First contacted dozens of factories. Someone answered quickly and quickly sewed product samples. Others did not hurry with a fitback. In November 2018, the team flew to China for a month to visit 10 factories that they chose. Two of them were finally preferred - did they offer a better price for production, delivery, and better terms.

Margarita Rimek notes that to start production in China you just need to get a certificate for the product and find a logistic agent who will take care of the delivery of the goods.

Pix launched mass production in January 2019. In just over half a year, 4,000 interactive backpacks were sold worldwide. It is planned to cross the mark of 11 thousand units by the end of the year.

Team issue

“At the start, the startup team consisted of three people who“ covered ”all issues, including marketing and advertising. So he worked for a year. Subsequently, a designer joined Pix to help create the perfect product, Margarita recalls with a warm smile. “Now there are eight of us in the team, but a third of the team does not work in the office.”

Once a week they come together to discuss current issues and plan further actions.

According to the interlocutor, in a startup, making plans for the long term is very difficult. You constantly have to correct something, choose the paths that are the best at the moment. And the team is inspired to work and develop their product.