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.

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