My business journey with Notabag began as a real life challenge, which made me think of a practical solution that evidently led to the birth of a new smart product.
The Notabag idea was born during a trip to the local farmers market. It was one of those situations that many of us can identify with: the grocery bag filled up very quickly and I still had to ride my bike home. That’s when the real “fun” began.
Things got pretty tricky once I found myself in the middle of busy city traffic. I was trying to maneuver my bike, while having a heavy shopping bag on my handlebar bumping against the front wheel. I couldn’t help but wish that I had my backpack with me, or that at least I could carry my shopping bag over the shoulders. At that moment, I started visualizing how a simple bag could be transformed into a backpack.
Once the idea came to me, it took me about two years until I started developing the prototypes. I had a vision and sketches of how it should look and function, but when I moved back to Europe and was closer to my friend Ilaria, who is fashion designer, I decided to proceed with the creation of Notabag.
We created more than 20 different prototypes, testing it for durability, material quality and aesthetic. We had our friends use Notabags and give us their feedback (keeping it somewhat secret, since the patent procedure was still pending).
Once our patent application was accepted, we introduced Notabag through Kickstarter platform in December 2012. It was a great success, which helped us bring the production to the next level. The Kickstarter campaign proved that there is a demand for such a product and it also gave us international exposure. Our fans share their Notabag love in all corners of the globe.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Our first sales were generated trough pre-orders on Kickstarter. Channels that generate most sales for us are:
Direct Sales trough media features
Deal Sites (such as Monoqui in Germany, Touch of Modern in USA or Monoco in Japan)
Corporate Sales using Notabag as promotional and branding merchandise.
Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?
In general I have to say that Shopify was an enormous help, which provided us with everything we needed to get our online shop running quickly. While I was handling the fulfilment by myself from home, I found the Order Printer app to be very helpful. It let me customize our invoices and labels, which made our branding consistent across the board. Since the beginning of the 2014, we have decided to hire a fulfilment team in Berlin, Germany to handle our orders. It is certainly a big help and allows me to focus more the business development.
What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?
Since Shopify provides pretty much everything necessary to run an online store, my recommendation to new shop owners would be to spend a bit extra time to customize the design of their online store. Having a professional presence, consistent branding and messaging makes a big difference. We are interacting with global audience and our online store is the first point of contact with our customers. It is very important to establish that level of trust and professionalism, where our customers feel confident enough to make their first purchase.