Kickstarter is a gold mine of ideas that beg to come to fruition. However, there is no telling if the money you pledge supports a winner, and getting a dud in return is a risk many backers don’t want to take.
“People see things on Kickstarter but they don’t get to try, touch the products or feel them. Without physical contact, they might not have confidence in the gadget,” says Nison Chan.
“There are also stories of buyers who get the product, but it’s not what the makers say it would be. There even have been cases where some backers don’t receive their products at all.”
This is where We The People comes in. The company sells products that were successfully funded on the crowdfunding platform but now buyers get to try them before making a purchase.
WTP already has four stores in Singapore and is looking to open its first branch in Malaysia.
“We know that in this age, everyone is going online and rental is high everywhere, so it is crazy for us to open physical stores. But we believe in what we do and we know that this business model works because of the sales we make every month,” says Chan, the company’s managing director for purchasing and brand management.
It all started about two years ago, when one of the founders placed an A5-sized sign stating that the product he is selling was funded on Kickstarter.
The product sold out, and Chan and the rest of the WTP founders – Jay Kang, Ryan Sim and Joel Liew – realised that there is a Kickstarter market that hasn’t been tapped in this region.
Chan had initially sent over 200 e-mails to the project owners on Kickstarters, asking if they would be interested in selling their items at WTP.
“In the beginning, no one had faith in our concept, but we managed to convince some of them. After we did our first event in Singapore, things changed very quickly. They noticed us and they come to us now,” says Chan.
For the projects to be featured by WTP, the products must be successfully funded, backers must have already received the products and the items must have received positive reviews.
“We usually buy a small batch from Kickstarter, or we contact the curators directly. Usually they are more than willing to send us a sample and we test them. We also read reviews, go to forums, and check out comments about the product on the Kickstarter page,” he says.
WTP also provides after sales care – those who buy a product at its physical or online store will get a one-for-one replacement if it’s faulty, provided that it is still under warranty.
“We are approaching 200 brands – that’s not too bad for a company that has only been around for about two years. Each brand has multiple products, so that has helped build the wide range of products that we offer,” he says.
The company also claims it gets the items at a cheaper price, as it buys them in bulk.
The best sellers are from the travel section, says Chan. Items like bags, adaptors, RFID-blocking wallets and wireless earbuds are almost always sold out. But it’s not surprising that novelty items such as the “floating light bulb” is also on its best seller list.
If you can’t wait for the physical store to open, you can purchase the Kickstarter items from WTP’s website at wtpstore.co. The shipping fee starts from S$8.65 (RM25).
WTP also hopes to support good projects that don’t have enough funding to reach their goals by highlighting them on WTP.
“When someone enters our stores, sees these projects, and like what they see, they can back them on the spot. WTP doesn’t get a cut from it, it’s totally free. We are providing a service that contributes to their funding, and this we believe is our way of giving back to the Kickstarter society,” says Chan.
On top of retail, WTP also has an education arm for conducting classes and courses that teaches students how to create and sell their own products.
“They learn about starting, manufacturing, procurement and more. This is a great idea because you get a never ending flow of new projects, and students can realise their dreams of starting their own brand,” says Chan.
Visit We The People at its roadshow on LG Floor at NU Sentral in Kuala Lumpur. The pop-up store will be open from 10am to 10pm on Saturday and Sunday.