About this project
Birdman Bats produces top-quality bats at the Major League level not just for work, but because we're a bunch of kids at heart who love baseball. Birdman was born from that passion. Now, we're ready to bring the whole world into our nest.
Five years ago, to the month, Gary Malec turned the first Birdman Bat on his hand-wired lathe in the garage. Gary had crafted bats before, but this one was for his brother, Mark. This one had to be special. So Gary went digging through his brother's sketchbook, found the Birdman amongst his quirky illustrations, and the company was born. He turned it into a sticker, sent it off to Mark, and he and that bat went on to win the Junior College National Championship later that year.
The brothers moved to San Francisco with their love of baseball following them every step of the way, and they kept playing, coaching, and making bats. Fate, luck, and a hard work eventually led them to Lars Anderson, a former top prospect and 1st Baseman for the Red Sox, currently in the Dodger's organization. He took one look at the unique logo, and the Birdman piqued his interest.
From there, the nest only kept growing. As Gary kept learning, Lars brought the bats into some of the world's greatest clubhouses. And the excitement was palpable. Using feedback from professionals, Birdman honed its designs and began taking orders. Somewhat unsurprisingly, we quickly had far more demand than we could handle.
And then our lathe broke.
But the lost lathe, which Gary wired and re-built by hand, is a blessing in disguise. Now, after taking a few months off production, we have become a registered LLC, built a robust business plan, and secured legal representation. With our foundation finally in place, we need you to help us take flight.
Ever since we first starting spinning bats, Birdman has been using birch. Widely available and quickly growing in popularity, birch has the hardness of maple with the flexibility of ash. And it is both lightweight and durable. Since its introduction to professional baseball in 2006, birch has been continuously rising in popularity among pro ball players. As testified by Pro Baseball Insider, “Birch bats, in my opinion, have the best characteristics of maple and ash, put together in one bat.” Most importantly, they have the look, feel, and sound that gets big leaguers hooked.
Because look, feel, and sound matter. There are few places where hitters can show off some personality – and their bats are the most important. But there is not a single bat company offering modern, funky, or interesting bat aesthetics. From Louisville Slugger to Chandler, every major bat company has been reinventing the wheel, sticking to tired, traditional designs and logos. We offer personalization and customization from fungos to softball bats, and mounted trophies bats for every baseball enthusiast.
Oh, and did we mention that we offer, without exception, free shipping on all Birdman orders. The price you see is the one you pay -- and that's that.
The Many Bats of Birdman:
Spending five years turning bats for whoever walked in the door taught us how to make any bat great. That's why we offer bats for softball, youth, and coaches as well as premium MLB-grade bats. And if you love the game and love a quality piece of woodworking, we offer all of our bat styles in trophy models.
One hallmark of the bat business is the natural variability of products, which has allowed Birdman to nearly eliminate waste. If a piece of wood is too heavy to make a good bat, it becomes a trophy bat. If it is too light, it becomes a “fungo,” or practice bat. We already have designs in place to use every piece of wood we’re given, making us more efficient than large manufacturers. We hate to waste good wood, and we have the know-how not to.
Where You Come In:
We anticipate being ready to make and ship bulk orders of bats by July 1st. To get to this point, we are raising at least $30,000 in start-up capital through a combination of founder investments and crowd-funding. This secures us our first CNC Lathe, drastically reducing our production time and allowing us to produce 150 new bats each week.
Currently, we are asking for $25,000. This money will be spent primarily on the new lathe and laser engraver, which will allow us to immediately begin full-scale production:
- $15,000 -- Lathe
- $1,500 -- Laser Engraver
- $5,000 -- Wooden Billets
- $2,000 -- 8% Kickstarter Fee
- $2,500 -- Rewards Fulfillment (shipping, shirts, stain, etc.)
If you guys are as amazing as we think you are, and we overfund the project, we already know exactly where the money can go:
- $15,000 MLB Licensing fee, required for selling
- Precision spray paint system, allowing more color options
- A second lathe, greatly increasing production time and sales.
Risks and challenges
We've been making bats for the past 5 years, but we haven't been making 200 of them a week. Like most young businesses, we understand that there will be issues as we ramp up drastically in scale, and that we can no longer simply pump out bats from the basement.
We have, however, secured warehouse space in South San Francisco for a competitive price. And the machinery purchased through this Kickstarter allows us to produce a lot of bats without needing to hire any full-time employees for the first year.
The success of our business rests on our ability to break into the MLB market. While we have already done the hard work of making connections with players (Lars Anderson, Ryan Kalish, Manny Ramirez, etc.), we still need to have our bats reviewed and approved by a Major League Baseball Commission. This is in addition to a $15,000 licencing fee due in January and a required $11 million general liability insurance policy.
While these costs are steep, we know these stipulations because we've already started preparing for them. We are working with sport and entertainment insurer BWD Group, who represents almost every major league team and has intimate knowledge of the business and of legal hurdles. We also secured legal representation through the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, helping us navigate through any thorny or unforeseen issues when beginning the business.
Finally, there is always potential for disruption based on the year's wood supply. Because birch currently has a lower market share than maple, we eliminate the need to compete with Louisville and other major companies for a finite quantity of good lumber. To further protect ourselves, we've developed relationships with three different mills: one in Washington, one in Maine, and one in Eastern Canada. This will cover any short-term supply issues and prevent the danger of a regional shortage.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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