Peak Design, it’s time to stand on your own two feet

I enjoy Kickstarter. It’s great to see the innovations that appear from new companies looking to get themselves out into the market.

I’ve invested in a number of products over the years, many of them photography related, and ultimately they have all been successful. Not perfect, but they delivered what the promise.

Recently now, I saw Peak Design list a new travel bag for a Kickstarter campaign. I apologise if I offend anyone who is a Peak Design fan, but frankly I’m a little disappointed in Peak Design and Kickstarter for allowing this. Peak Design isn’t a new company, they’ve been around since their first Kickstarter in 2011 so that’s 7 years out in the market. They produce good gear, no one is question that…but they don’t need to crowd source their goods. If they aren’t financially stable enough to fund their own development and manufacturing, then I would question how their management is running the company.

There are two things in particular that disturb me about this:

  1. They aren’t discounting this heavily. I got 2 Shimoda bags, with multiple inserts for the same price as the Peak Design. If I am investing in a Kickstarter, it’s typically a start up and you’re getting it at a substantial discount on the basis you’re helping them build their brand and fund the creation of something new by paying in advance. In this case, it’s not particularly discounted and not particularly innovative (see point 2).
  2. It’s not particularly innovative or outside of their normal line of business. It’s a backpack with modules. Wow, who would have thought of something like that? Other than everyone on the market? It’s like Fujifilm putting up their X-T3 on Kickstarter. It just makes me think they are a Mickey Mouse business if they can’t fund their own development after they are this established.
  3. They are doing so at the expense of their distributor and retail arm – What do I mean by this? When you kick off a product, you build up a retail arm of suppliers who are prepared to promote your product in the market. What they have done now is take their distributor margin and given that to their customers if they pre-order, so they are losing nothing. If I was a retailer or distributor and I saw this, I would stop stocking Peak Design and tell them what they could do with themselves, but I am not known for my diplomacy.

So, Peak Design, you achieved your goal, you got some good funding, but I don’t think you are doing the right thing. Good luck to you if you think this is the right way to move forward, but personally I think you will kill your retail base.

3 Comments

  1. Thank you for writing this! I don’t know anything about retail but Peak Design keeps coming back to Kickstarter. For sure peak design does not need to fund their product development this way. Surely they have a brand that is well recognized and they can get investor funding. Also, the products being offered are not innovative anymore.

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  2. I can see why you might want them to act more like a traditional manufacturer. But, I don’t think that’s who they set out to be.

    You have the option of launching a new line of products, that is in a slightly broader swim lane than your previous products. You don’t have to guesstimate how much product should be produced for the launch. You can cash-flow the entire launch by having people pre-purchase the products. And, you get tons of free publicity by conducting the launch on a platform that reaches millions of people.

    I think bringing good gear to market over and over again (7x) and showing all outward signs of being a healthy company is definitely standing on their own two feet.

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    1. But they are still doing it at the expense of distributors and retailers who are carrying stock and supporting them, so it’s an inward looking selfish perspective and they are doing it without offering any discount. It’s just lazy selfish profiteering. Retailers and distributors support them by selling their product, carrying stock etc. They may survive on the success of their kickstarters, but when the kickstarter ends they have to continue selling and that’s where having that retail base is important. In short, my perception hasn’t changed and I’ll make it clear to them by not purchasing their products, ever again.

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