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Nathan Resnick:

Hey, welcome back to Product Sourcing Stories brought to you by Sourcify. My name is Nathan Resnick, and today we have the founders of Brutal Buddha with me. Evan and Roe, thanks for joining. How are you guys doing?

Roe:

Yeah. Doing well, Nathan, thanks for having us here this morning.

Nathan Resnick:

Awesome. Yeah, my pleasure. So before we get started, I’d love for each of you to give us a brief 30 second introduction about yourself.

Roe:

Yeah. So I’ll go ahead and go. I’m Roe, I am originally from South Carolina, but I’m currently living in Hong Kong. I’ve just started my first e-commerce brand together with Evan. And before that I was working in the financial technology industry.

Evan:

Awesome, cool. And my name is Evan, I’m originally from Florida. I had been living in Hong Kong for over five years. But most recently I’ve been in transition to Australia and currently in Hawaii. As you can probably see. And I’ve been in the consulting business for some years, technology, finance. And with Roe, about a year and a half or so ago we started Brutal Buddha. So got into e-commerce for the male yoga fitness industry.

Nathan Resnick:

Got it. That’s fantastic. So I want to ask each of you, what was the first product you’ve manufactured? Or was this the first one? And then, tell us a bit about that experience.

Roe:

Yeah, Nathan, so we have one product, actually, we’re doing men’s yoga shorts. So they’re the world’s most comfortable three in one men’s yoga shorts. So they have an outer short, an inner liner and what we call a package protector. Which is basically underwear built, so guys can just use one pair of yoga shorts for their yoga practice. Very first product. I have learned a lot, have made a lot of mistakes. And yeah, it’s been a journey.

Nathan Resnick:

Awesome. That’s really cool. Evan, what about you? Is this your first product you manufactured? Or did you have prior manufacturing experience?

Evan:

First manufactured product before this, I had an information services products. So I had a chapel technology software application. And in the past, I’ve dabbled in a few different physical products startups, but haven’t actually manufactured myself.

Nathan Resnick:

Got it.

Evan:

So it’s been a great experience so far.

Nathan Resnick:

Cool. So how did you find you guys factory? I mean, walk us through that process.

Roe:

Yeah, I mean, we basically went to Canton Fair in Southern China and found our first factories that way. That was a few months into our original idea, so we pumped out a prototype pretty quickly within about four or five months. And then we took a step back and thought, “How can we scale this up and really go out to the masses?” And so that’s when we actually … and Evan and I were actually in the process of moving from Hong Kong. So that’s when we decided to hire a sourcing company to help us find factories after that initial prototype.

Nathan Resnick:

Nice. That’s awesome. Yeah, I kind of imagine you guys were at an advantage being in Hong Kong and having access to China right there. But what fueled your final decision to work with this factory? Was it after multiple visits? Was it reading up and seeing who they’ve worked with? What really fueled that decision to work with this factory?

Roe:

Yeah, so I would say it was a number of different things. So I think first of all, we were looking for expertise in this space. So factories that had done active wear, ideally for men but also for women. We only sell to men currently. I think secondly was their ability to communicate. So being able to speak English and understand us. And I think third was their professionalism. How well they were able to answer our questions and how quickly they were to respond to us. Whether through platforms like WhatsApp or WeChat. And having experience with Western customers, whether in Europe or US.

Nathan Resnick:

Got it, that’s awesome. And I know you guys just wrapped up an incredible Kickstarter campaign. I’m curious, even before the campaign, walk us through that idea to product process. What went through the sampling process? And then follow up question to that would be, what went into developing this awesome Kickstarter campaign?

Evan:

Yeah. I appreciate that, Nathan. So I’ll take these. Essentially a little unconventional, we decided to go to the Canton fair in Guangzhou which I’m sure you’re well aware of. And really touch and feel and see what type of products exist in the market. So we got a few samples made just to see what’s possible and that really sparks know some desire for both of us to really fill the gaps and build a niche product. So we decided to go for three in one for the shorts and have an outer layer and an inner layer as the liner, compression short. And then also a trademark package protector.

Evan:

So we put our heads together and decided we needed to really iterate and come up with the very best shorts that exist in the market for simplicity and for functionality. So we got great feedback and we made sure to pre-sell to create the buzz, make sure guys would actually be willing to come onto the Kickstarter. And that allow us to see a nearly 40 K Kickstarter campaign.

Nathan Resnick:

Yeah, that’s incredible. I mean, hats off to you and the whole team and everyone behind that big of a campaign. What do you kind of mean by when you said, validate the concept and campaign? Kind of walked and talked a bit about the prelaunch phase, but as any successful campaign knows, that’s one of the most crucial parts of any crowdfunding campaign. Can you walk us through some of the strategy and just tips for people that are looking to create their first crowdfunding campaign?

Evan:

Absolutely. So we work closely with our dear friends at enter China and we learn quickly the importance of “getting out of the building.” So we need to speak to hundreds of guys who are into yoga to really understand what they’re looking for and make sure we’re validating our product. There’s nearly 50 companies that are doing yoga shorts for men and the only way to get into the minds of these guys who are practitioners, beginners all the way to expert level.

Evan:

So I would say the customer interviews was a huge piece for us in a concept that Roe and I really took under our belts and made sure to make it part of our daily routine. Reaching out to potential customers and staying close in touch with them and asking a series of questions. We also executed on some surveys. But I would say that was kind of the core of figuring out what is necessary. And then also getting some samples from the factories themselves once we went through the Kickstarter funds behind us and made sure that the material felt right. And Roe in the final processes, which I’m sure he’ll get to. But hopefully that helps to answer, Roe anything to add on that?

Roe:

Yeah, no, I would just say, as Evan mentioned, we validated the idea. But it’s one thing to validate an idea, it’s another thing to actually get people to take out their wallet. So we wanted to make sure that people were actually willing to spend money on the product. So we actually built up a reservation list where people committed, not monetarily, but they committed to the campaign to have some further validation.

Nathan Resnick:

Got it, that makes a lot of sense. I appreciate you both shining light on that. I’m curious too, a lot of people wonder the organic drive of Kickstarter. Did you see a lot of traffic and conversions coming from Kickstarter itself? Or was it mostly driven externally by your community that you’ve developed?

Roe:

Yeah. I mean, that’s a good question. I mean, we were hopeful that we would drive quite of a big following through Kickstarter. I mean, ended up doing is probably about 20% of our campaign was driven by the platform itself-

Nathan Resnick:

Nice.

Roe:

I would say. So we did get a nice boost from Kickstarter. We had a lot of back and forth between them and Indiegogo. Ultimately we were happy with Kickstarter. I mean, the rest was from friends and family and then also an email list we had built up before the campaign.

Nathan Resnick:

That’s great. I’m curious, what was the back and forth between Kickstarter and Indiegogo? Was it more so around which platform to go on? I mean, what was that decision process like?

Roe:

Yeah. I mean, look, we were introduced to folks at both organizations. And this is a very challenging, I think … it’s not very clear which platform to go towards and there’s pros and cons of both. I think ultimately we went with Kickstarter because they’re a larger platform, they have a larger audience. So we figured having more eyes on the page was better than less eyeballs.

Roe:

One of the things we liked about Indiegogo though was the ability to integrate your pixel and track some of your data a bit better than Kickstarter. But at the end of the day, Kickstarter was more tried and true, more eyes on the page. And it seemed to me, more focused around our product niche. Whereas Indiegogo seemed to be a little bit more sort of like a tech play platform.

Nathan Resnick:

Got it, that makes a lot of sense. So I’m curious, I mean, this is more of a current event question. But how do you think COVID-19 and everything going on in the world right now, how do you think that impacted your campaign? I mean, people are shifting and becoming more familiar with eCommerce and buying more online. Do you think that helps fuel the growth of the brand? And do you foresee that continuing being a trend even after the world gets back to normal hopefully later this year?

Evan:

Yeah, that’s a great question, Nathan. It’s something that we’re continuously trying to figure out. I would say, first and foremost, we were lucky enough prior to COVID really striking, in early 2020 this year. But through the pandemic experience, we found that men and women, but men especially are starting to practice yoga a lot more at home. They used to traditionally go to the gym, maybe join a sports team. But with those off the map right now, guys are finding new and unique ways to stay in shape and to work through the stress of working from home and balancing their home life with their work life all under the same roof.

Evan:

So that means ¬†we’re engaging with them on a daily basis through our VIP page, our community page, and a variety of different social platforms.

Nathan Resnick:

Awesome.

Evan:

So it’s definitely helped with our post campaign success. We moved to BackerKit and have seen about a hundred or so shorts sold there after the campaign ended.

Nathan Resnick:

Great.

Evan:

So we’re trucking along and we’re about to launch our Shopify page. So we’ll be selling immediately and directly.

Nathan Resnick:

Nice. That’s awesome. That’s really cool. Yeah, one thing that I recommend doing, if you haven’t already, is creating a Facebook group. Groups have great engagement on Facebook. And I think with your brand in particular, you can post a lot of yoga oriented exercises. I mean, I know for me at home, I got a yoga mat and I’ve been trying to practice every morning. But I’m probably not as good as most people are right now, but like getting there. I’m curious, so right now it looks like products are in the process of being sent out, if I’m correct or they’ve already been delivered.

Roe:

Yeah. So basically we are in the final stages. We essentially have close to what’s called the golden sample. So we’re about to place the large order. So we would have our orders shipping out worldwide, I would say, by the end of July to close to a thousand customers.

Nathan Resnick:

Great, that’s amazing. So a lot of people are going to have questions on how you’re planning to handle the logistics of shipping a thousand of these units out right off the bat from a campaign. Are you hiring a third party logistics company? Are you doing it yourself? What does that look like?

Roe:

Yeah. So we are actually hiring a third party logistics company to support us with that.

Nathan Resnick:

Awesome.

Roe:

Because we didn’t prior experience to this.

Nathan Resnick:

And are they based in Asia or are they based in America?

Roe:

They’re based in Asia. They’re actually based here in Hong Kong.

Nathan Resnick:

Oh, nice. Which one is it?

Roe:

Oh, so it’s Floship.

Nathan Resnick:

Cool. Awesome. Yeah, we’ve partnered with Floship before, I’ve heard great things about that team. So I’m curious, when it comes to the foreseeable future and growth, I mean, what’s your main focus as you launched on Shopify? Is it driving ads through Facebook and Google? Is it really establishing more of your community and content through different videos? I mean, what’s going to be your main focus from a marketing standpoint?

Evan:

Yeah. I would say, marketing has always been key in this industry to make sure we’re putting out great content, helping guys live longer healthier lives. Our mission is to help active men seeking balance live longer healthier lives. So with longevity as our stamp on the business and the industry, we’re making sure to put out that type of content.

Nathan Resnick:

Cool, that’s awesome.

Evan:

So through a variety of emails, but also [inaudible 00:14:26] pictures and whatnot.

Nathan Resnick:

Right. That’s fantastic. And wrapping up here, what’s one tool your supply chain couldn’t live without? I mean, what’s something that you really rely on? I mean, it could be something as simple as spreadsheets or WeChat or who knows what. But what is it?

Evan:

Yeah, I’d say WeChat and spreadsheets are definitely up there. I think from a communication perspective, it’s definitely WeChat and making sure we’re staying connected [inaudible 00:14:55] to the factories, the goal and process oriented perspective. Spreadsheets and using tools like Asana to really focus on the objectives at hand and how to obtain those objectives through key results is something that we’ve focused on as well.

Nathan Resnick:

Awesome, that’s that’s really cool. So wrapping up here final question because I know a lot of people are listening because they want to learn. If you were going to take a step back, go a year back, is there anything you would change about your process of bringing this product to life? I mean, is it getting exact tech packs for your product? Is it spending a week in the factory? I mean, is there anything that really hits home when it comes to your product sourcing experience that you wish you had changed up? And maybe there’s nothing you’d change.

Roe:

Yeah. I mean, look, that’s a great question. Hindsight is 2020, right? So I think my biggest piece of advice would be to take digital marketing very seriously. Your online presence is very, very important. Whether it’s your first landing page to your first website to your email list. I would say your digital presence is as important, if not more important than other aspects, especially you’re doing e-commerce.

Nathan Resnick:

Awesome. Cool. So Evan and Roe, if people tuning in want to learn about you both or get connected or learn about Brutal Buddha, how can they find you?

Roe:

Yeah, Evan, you want to take that one?

Evan:

They can go to brutalbuddhagear.com and sign up for our email list. So that’s brutalbuddhagear.com. And once they sign up, just first name and email, they’ll start to receive some good content. And then can stay in touch with us. Can also find us on Calendly and that’s calendly.com/brutalbuddha. And then we’re also on Instagram as brutal_Buddha.

Nathan Resnick:

Awesome.

Evan:

So a variety of channels, our Facebook page is active and live. We can send the link over as well, if that’s helpful.

Nathan Resnick:

Cool. Yeah, that’d be perfect. Well, Evan and Roe, thank you so much for joining us. And everyone tuning in, thanks for listening again to Product Sourcing Stories.

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