In search of the best Kickstarter Project, Ryan Sim launched We The People, the world’s first retail stores for funded Kickstarter products.

With a tinge of gratefulness that crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, Ryan launched his first Kickstarter campaign in 2015. With the launch of a slim wallet, this marked the start of the series of Kickstarter projects that eventually opened up an opportunity for setting up We The People, the world’s first retail stores for funded Kickstarter products.

Can you share more on your journey with Kickstarter?

I was a serial job-hopper and I couldn’t stay in one place for too long which was great as I was exposed to a variety of industries. During my work as a suite at a digital agency, I launched my first Kickstarter campaign. It was a slim wallet. We aimed to raise $2000 and we wound up raising $5000 which was humbling for our first try!

We went out to launch a second wallet and raised $39,000. Clearly, we were on the right track with this. We launched the third wallet with a hope for $5000 and raised $130,000 in the end. This was when I officially went full time into developing my crowdfunded slim wallet brand, Kisetsu.

Without crowdfunding, I wouldn’t have been able to do all that. Crowdfunding then became an integral part of the business. We’d continue to create more products and launch them on Kickstarter.

What did you learn from all the Kickstarter campaigns you have launched so far?

People on Kickstarter are the best! These people are the ones that will tell the world about your ideas. They will be the most important people to your campaign even after it ends. If you created something meaningful, they’ll definitely support your subsequent campaigns.

Another important learning point is the importance of deadlines – Keeping to your promised timeline is crucial. However, if something sets your campaign back and you have to delay the fulfilment date, just simply be truthful. People much rather see active communication (even if it’s bad news) than receiving radio silence. Keep posting updates as frequently as you can to earn the trust from your backers.

I would say don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and experience it yourself. Crowdfunding will change your life and outlook on business. Regardless failure or success, crowdfunding gives you a free market testing, market acceptance and free database. Big companies would burn a huge amount of money to get all that information while you have all that before you start your business. it’s risk-free.

According to the recent report from Forbes and many news sites, retail stores are no longer performing. Why did you decide to set up retail stores?

There isn’t anywhere in the world where you can touch and feel only Kickstarter-funded products. And our concept is as such; items purchased from our store come with the warranty. Prices customers pay are cheaper than if they were to buy online because we absorb shipping charges.

These are things online retailers cannot provide. It’s tough to build trust, but having a physical store for brand new products that have barely begun to hit the international market, makes all the difference.

For the huge space in Millenia Walk, we hope to provide individual products with more breathing space. Millenia Walk is also home to our very own “creator-derived” concept, known as Live Funding. Picture this with me – you see a product on Kickstarter that you really want to get but you’re just not too sure and would really love to touch and feel it first.

Well, we have a free section dedicated to hosting projects that are still trying to raise money on Kickstarter. The creators send us samples of the products and we’ll display them. Customers can get a clearer understanding and can then pledge to the projects directly, on the spot. We do not take any money from the creators and we also urge creators to come down to the store during the peak periods to try converting the offline crowd.

To put all this in perspective – I think it’s easier buying my iPhone online than products on Kickstarter. There are no worries of it not working or not having the warranty at all while it’s different when I want to buy a new Kickstarter product online. How do I know it’s gonna work? Is there the warranty? Will they even respond to my email if the product doesn’t work? What if my product gets lost during shipping? Too many what if’s.

A physical store for these budding brands allows customers to find out for themselves. It’s peace of mind we’re providing. And hey, it’s always fun to get to speak to people about Kickstarter products.

Where do you envision We The People in contributing or evolving the design industry in Singapore?

Moving forward, we’re going to be the go-to store for Kickstarter crowdfunded products. In a couple of years, we will have stores in the States and around Asia. The stores will be more accessible to more people. If you wanted to properly kickstart your product, you’ll want to have it all over the world for people to touch and feel. For successful projects, our stores will be the best place to retail it at.

We The People is really a store for creators, by creators.

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