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Slashstarting 5: Upheaval!

October 25, 2013

So, numbers crunching is a damn nightmare, let me tell you. We have received numerous quotes for printing slash most of which chime in the range of multiple tens of thousands to make between 1 and 2 thousand copies. The best of these (as you can see here) comes from overseas printing via at roughly $5.55 per unit, plus shipping and other incidentals. The challenge with a quote like that though is the total price — roughly $33,000 when all is said and done. — puts us in a precarious place vis-a-vis Kickstarter. Should we run a KS campaign for $35K?

Well, no, that would be foolish, we are a first time developer and out of the gate asking for backing like that, regardless of how strongly we feel about the product is unlikely to succeed. And, assuming it fails we will have then expended a great amount of social capital and good will getting those people who did contribute to do so.

So should we run a campaign for $25K and make up the difference with personal investment? That is possible and an option. I am confident that during the campaign the GPD crew could independently muster the $10K shortfall. In the worst case scenario we would have until shipment arrives to make up that difference though as a large chunk of the cost in the calculation comes at the end with shipping, storage and other processing fees.
i.e. ~$33,000 bill = $22,500 from KS (after fees) + $10,000 personal investment

Of course after all that we would likely have 1500 units (which is a lot) left to sell directly, or through Amazon, which would leave us with a return of $14,500-$36,250 (depends on how they are sold) That still is no walk in the park as I question the ability to make $25k on the first kickstarter. The return would leave us well funded for our next product, or to do future runs of slash which is a important consideration as this project is intended to launch a business.

The last thing the GPD crew contemplated was to shoot for 2k units which puts unit price between $7ea and requires a total of about $22k to realize. At that price point we could run a $15k kickstarter campaign, already something far more reasonable, personally fund the shortfall and potentially sell off a chunk of the post-kickstarter run to distributors to fill the gap. Say 500 units at $10ea to a distributor, so $5000.
i.e. ~$22,175 bill = $13,500 from KS (after fees) + $3,675 personal investment + $5,000 pre-sold to distributors

After all the runaround, bills paid, product shipped to backers and sent to distributors we are left with 850 or so units, a little more than we want on hand, that we can sell through various means for a return of $8,500-$21,250. At this scale we have a more reasonable and achievable KS goal, less personal investment, a more manageable (though still high) inventory. The return, if managed correctly would fun further print runs at a reasonable return (basically we can ignore the Kickstarter cut, and frankly if there continues to be demand for the product finding additional backing would not be super hard). Right now this is what we are planning on.

But there is another option.

We can produce a modified version locally, through various contacts Glenn and Dan have. The card and box quality would be different (card sizes would be business card sized and the boxes would be upcycled VHS cases) but acceptable. The hell? you might ask. Well consider these points:

• The Business card size is not a huge loss. Glenn and Dan have made very high quality cards in the past and they are not the flimsy slips of paper you might imagine. The cardstock we use is a pre-coated 111lb paper which is bright and has the snap you expect from a playing card.
• The VHS cases can have custom covers printed (again, locally and cheaply) and inserted by hand. This is the route than many early runs of board/card games have taken and we’ve seen reasonably attractive results. It is not a glossy heavy stock two piece box but it is significantly more affordable.
• The form factor of the box plays an important role. At the dimensions of a VHS cassette we can ship everything using small flat rate USPS containers. This drastically reduces our shipping costs.
• We can do very short runs in this format (i.e. sub-1000 units) for a price more in line with the unit price of a 3k-4k run. This is of course off set by doing a lot of the manufacturing work personally. And i mean that literally I would be spending a few weekends printing, cutting, collating, boxing and shipping,
• Since it would be locally sourced we could potentially get the product our far in advance of our previous estimates. Something closer to late-December/early-January

We can do this at a Kickstarter goal of 10k, which we all believe is well within reach. After printing, shipping, etc there wouldn’t be inventory as we would be printing to fit the order size. This means nothing to sell without further investment. But we did get the project done, but the business remains in neutral.

We’re talking about it tonight. More news as events warrant.

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