Kickstarter Pick of the Week is Vulcan Post’s weekly series where we share some of the most noteworthy and creative projects that pose to make positive improvements in our lives. Come across anything interesting on crowdfunding websites? Let us know at email@example.com!
Despite a jail term of up to 3 years in Singapore, pickpocketing is still happening. These thieves are getting audacious. They’re constantly coming up with elaborate schemes to snatch victims’ belongings, often without them realising it. I, for one, tend to get irrationally anxious when I’m carrying my backpack. I’m always looking over my shoulder, for fear that a pickpocket might be lurking around the corner. When people bump into me by accident, I would never fail to give my bag the once-over to verify that I still have my untouched possessions.
Will this insecure behaviour ever stop? With the RiutBag, it might.
With seven more days to go, it is described as a revolutionary rucksack with no outer zips. In other words, no one can access your belongings better than you. The RiutBag is already making waves on Kickstarter with many backers praising its design and functionality. No surprise there, the project was fully funded in a week.
Who knew a bag with inner zip pockets could save us from hassle? A commuter bag built with a 20-litre compartment, it can easily fit a 15″ laptop and a tablet. What’s more, it has zip pockets for cables and keeps A4 papers free from wrinkles. I am particularly in awe of the bottle holders and invisible ticket pockets. The cleverest part of the RiutBag is that even if you don’t use the bottle holders (which can also hold small umbrellas, newspapers and travel coffee mugs), the space is free to use inside the bag.
Ever since from a young age, I can’t stand school bags with netted bottle holders. I find them off-putting, as they don’t look good (Who’s with me on this?). Needless to say, the minimalist in me is very, very amazed.
The next feature is going to put travel buffs at ease. As mentioned before, the RiutBag is adorned with invisible ticket pockets on each strap for tickets. Travelling can be rather stressful at times; the last thing you need is searching high and low for your travel pass. With this smart feature, it’s going to be a piece of cake. Above all, it has an adjustable chest strap. At the top of the bag, a smaller pocket is provided for your phone, keys and wallet (Take that, pickpockets!).
I was pretty surprised when I found out that instead of using the extra funds to offer more features, Giblin is using it to cover the cost of more RiutBags and shipping fees. Sure, I was bummed that the bag comes in only one colour, but now that I’ve read her two cents worth of thought, I totally understand what she’s trying to do here. As the RiutBag is her inaugural project, she’s focusing on setting the right tone and getting it to the backers as soon as possible. I couldn’t agree more with what Giblin said here: “I’m treating this campaign as Riut’s first steps; aspirational but manageable first steps.”
Was the RiutBag, by any chance, also inspired by a personal experience?
It is based on all my personal experience, but not a specific one. I travel around cities alone – it’s accidentally become a hobby of mine over the years! Having lived in Manchester, London, Paris, Berlin, Beijing and visited countless others, I’m happy in the city.
The only problem I’ve experienced is that I worry about where my passport, phone, keys and wallet are when someone crushes up against my bag which happens a lot on public transport. At that moment, I stop enjoying my city experience and start thinking: is that person going to take something? Is everything still there? Can’t they give me a bit more space? Most people think that’s just part of travelling. But I had a feeling I could remove that worry. That’s where the RiutBag came from.
You were invited to TEDx to show the RiutBag — that must have been surreal! Could you share what was that like?
Alongside some truly inspiring speakers, I was part of the Ideas Lab, the interactive aspect of TEDx Brighton. Dressed in a white lab coat and with my RiutBag prototype on, I spoke to as many visitors as I could, asked them their views and to pass the word on!
Meeting people on and offline is so important. Online you can hide behind professional photos; but offline its just you and your prototype. I’m really pleased to say that TEDx guests came and backed me online after the event – one guy right on the spot at the event! So it was a great day. It also taught me a lot about what is important to people who have never seen the RiutBag before. Lots of learning!
I’m sure Vulcan Post readers would be curious about the creator behind the revolutionary rucksack. Could you share what you were doing before working on the RiutBag?
I haven’t taken the usual path to rucksack design, that’s for sure. And that’s central to my company: Riut.
I studied politics and economics at the University of Manchester, but my job whilst I was studying was being a classical singer on the radio for the BBC. After that I moved to Berlin where I became a journalist, then I came back to the UK and worked in financial services in public relations.
Of course, whether I was singing, studying, interviewing or working in financial services, I was always carrying my rucksack! Without realising it, I was doing very personal market research for my future product and company.
I believe the users of objects are best placed to know whether they work on or not. That’s why I called the company Riut: Revolution in user thinking. I want to show everyone that it doesn’t matter what you’ve done until now. If you have an idea that is better than what’s out there now, then go and do it! It is possible.
The RiutBag was 100% funded in one week. You must be over the moon! Any advice for aspiring designers who are bringing their creation to Kickstarter?
You cannot force the crowd to do anything. If they don’t like it, it’s not going to happen. Kickstarter is an amazing force which teaches you so much as a creator. But it’s high risk. At the start of this campaign I had no idea whether it was going to fly or fall. But I did everything in my power – everything I could influence – to make it work.
It’s a long answer. Ready?
In January this year, two months before I left my job, I started blogging – just a free blog . I started formulating my ideas on anything relevant to urban life, bags, cities, safety, users and commuting life. Photos of planes, benches, anything I thought was weird or wonderful.
Then I left my job and told everyone in person and social media — friends, family and colleagues — what I was doing. I asked for their help. I built free surveys about rucksacks and commuting, and asked everyone to take part and share them online. That did a few things: gave me data, marketed that I’m doing something, what it’s about and got people involved.
Once I’d done a few small surveys which about 300 people took, I learnt from my mistakes and got ready for the big one. I really pushed it on social media, finding every Google+, Twitter and conversation about bags, theft, commutes and cities all over the world. 700 people took my biggest survey. That meant 1000 in total had spent a few minutes giving their thoughts on rucksacks, knew I was creating a new rucksack and 200 of them gave me their emails. They wanted to hear about it once the RiutBag was ready. I kept blogging, kept asking people to sign up for blogs, to hear news.
In September the RiutBag prototype was finally finished. I grabbed it, worked with a professional photographer to photograph it for 10 hours! A film producer filmed for two days to make the Kickstarter video. And then I needed to let everyone know the Kickstarter campaign was soon to happen. Shareable content based on the photos and two core marketing messages I had invented: “I predict a Riut” and “Wear your bag the Riut way round”.
I was still tweaking my funding goal and pledge levels in the days before it went live. I wanted it to be affordable but absolutely make sure the Kickstarter campaign didn’t leave me with a loss.
That’s how I prepared. But I made sure I still had fun in the process: I saw friends, kept travelling and researching! So in all that time since I quit my job I visited Paris, Beijing, Shanghai, Doha, Dubai, and I pressed the Kickstarter launch button in Istanbul.
What was the toughest challenge you’ve faced during the process?
Definitely other businesses. Kickstarter, the backers and my friends have been amazing; I’ve had so much support and help! But it’s other businesses that have let me down: deliveries not turning up on time, companies hired to help have caused more work and stress than good outcomes.
The biggest thing I hadn’t planned for was other professionals’ mistakes! But then, maybe I expected too much; RiutBag is important to me and my backers, and I need to do more to explain that to the partners I work with.
How would you describe RiutBag in one word?
Hisbe (It’s a word I learnt at TEDx. Google it!).
The RiutBag will put you in the spotlight. It provides secure storage and marries function and fashion perfectly. You can back the project here.