On Monday, June 2, 2014, THE UT.LAB launched their second Kickstarter campaign. This Las Vegas technology driven footwear company is releasing their newest creation, THE NINJA slip-on.
The team reached their baseline goal of $15,000 in just over 8 hours, becoming the fastest funded shoe in Kickstarter history. After one day on the site, they had reached over 170% of their starting goal.
Aiming to change the way shoes are brought to market, THE UT.LAB has effectively re-imagined their original footwear design and manufacturing process with this latest product. Early backers were able to secure a pair for only $38. Limited pairs of THE NINJA will continue to be sold at a discounted price and can be purchased through Kickstarter over the next 29 days.
“We create footwear that is impossibly light,” said Joseph Constanty, co-founder of Unbelievable Testing Laboratory. “We advance science through every aspect of our design, material choice, and business model. But most importantly we are all about empowering tomorrow’s leaders by cooperating with leading education organizations to get kids access to to awesome educators. In the US we have partnered with Teach for America Las Vegas.”
“We’ve had an amazing experience so far with the entire downtown community,” Joseph Constanty continued. “I think THE UT.LAB is a company that is able to bridge the tech, fashion, and maker scene just because of the variety of our founders’ background. Token Hu, the Design Director and co-founder, has worked at frog design and Microsoft prior to founding THE UT.LAB. Shaun had previously worked with several lifestyle brands including Quiksilver, and more recently LIDS. As for myself I have had the good fortune to work on a variety of tech start-ups in BD mode out of Shanghai since 2005.”
“THE UT.LAB team is the same crew behind all the Kickstarter campaigns. The three founders, Joe, Token, and myself, plus a team we have spread out around the world,” added co-founder Shaun Nath. “Design in Shanghai, Customer Service in Manila, Manufacturing in South China and Colombia, IT in Mumbai, and we are beginning to recruit for our Sales & Marketing team for Las Vegas. Ultimately we would like to move a piece of our production to downtown Las Vegas.”
Rather than go through the guesswork of making projections as to what the market wanted, they decided Kickstarter.com would be the perfect venue for the community to tell the team what they wanted, and how much they wanted it. In June 2013 UT.LAB launched their first Kickstarter campaign, a Limited Edition set of their first non-prototype Light Wing Trainers. In less than a day, they reached the initial goal of selling 200 pairs of Light Wing Pencil. It was the single largest day of commerce for the company up until that point.
The team said they learned a lot from their first Kickstarter campaign.
“The most important is doing all of your homework for media and activating influencers within your social networks to start out of the gates with a lot of momentum,” said Shaun Nath. “This naturally gets you to the top of the Kickstarter food chain, and onto the homepage where a lot of curious backers tend to explore. To be honest international logistics was a nightmare on the first go-around. We had to solve it on the fly. That’s what got us thinking about how to redesign our retail/shipping packages for our current Kickstarter. Every millimeter matters in shipping, and it forced us to really think about packaging that could become a re-usable branded bag.”
This time around, the UT.LAB team says they are seeking attention on social channels to give them the boost they need to succeed.
“We had a great first couple days, but now we are fighting for some media attention. We have created an amazing product both from a manufacturing-led design side of things, but also a very usable and everyday product for everyone,” said Shaun Nath. “We are trying to tap into a variety of markets that we hadn’t reached out to previously, like travel, because you just can’t find a better shoe for any sort of travel occasion. Our goal is to keep the momentum from the first 2-3 days through the entirety of the campaign.”
Joseph Constanty says teams face 3 challenges when running a Kickstarter campaign.
“Great Product. Story-telling ability. And Media. There are so many great Kickstarter projects out there now, that you really need to find a way to get their attention in new and relevant ways,” he said. “We see a lot of great projects fail because of failed PR activities. There are some projects, like the Oculus, that naturally have amazing press, but there are other amazingly successful campaigns that can base their success on incredible tactical PR. We like to keep every component of the campaign in-house. It’s just the way we like to run it.”
Joseph Constanty says their current campaign wraps up July 3, 2014, then 3 weeks later they go directly into an Indiegogo campaign.
“This is super exciting for us because we are taking the winning design from a 6 month contest we launched with Teach for America Las Vegas Valley students,” he said. “We are working closely with the student, Cristian Lopez and his teacher Ryon Tanara to build out the campaign. All the profits from this campaign will go back to TFA Las Vegas. We are super excited.”
At the same time, the team says they will be showcasing their brand at THE AGENDA and LIBERTY trade shows in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and New York City throughout the summer.
“We also are tinkering with a TYVEK® boot for winter, that we might try to Kickstarter in August (fingers crossed). And of course preparing our Fall 2014 production and sales,” said Joseph Constanty.
UT.LAB could use the help of the #VegasTech community right now.
“Anyone who is reading this in the month of June 2014, we would love your support of THE NINJA on Kickstarter, or if that doesn’t float your boat, check out some of our TYVEK® paper shoe designs at theutlab.com,” said Joseph Constanty. “Like Shaun mentioned earlier, activating our social networks is key, please share our campaign with your friends. We’ll be back in Vegas for the entire summer, so we would love to sit down with fellow makers to see where collaboration may be possible, so please reach out to me on twitter @joe_constanty.”