The inception for VSSL literally goes back to when I was a child venturing into the great outdoors of the Canadian North. Back then we didn't travel far from home, so being "prepared" for us meant a pocket knife and, if we could get away with it, some matches. As kids entering our teens, our adventures took us farther out and the supplies we had to take with us became more important. Even then I was very aware of the inadequacies of many of the "off the shelf" emergency supplies we came across, and so the idea was planted to create a functional unit that we would have been proud to own.
Eventually life and other ambitions took over, and as grown-ups we often end up taking paths completely unrelated to our early experiences. For me, I got involved in ventures far from my roots so the idea never came to fruition.
Flash forward several years, and now I've got children of my own who, not surprisingly, head off into the woods. I started thinking about my experiences and of course, their safety. And the idea fermenting since I was young became tangible because I now have the desire and the experience to make this idea a commercial reality called VSSL.
VSSL currently comes in four types: Supplies, First Aid, Shelter and Zombie.
Over the course of development I've been working with several manufacturers for the many different components that make up each VSSL. I made it a goal from the beginning to use the best vendor for each part, regardless of origin, keeping in mind that "best" to me is a combination of a) quality and b) commercial viability. If price wasn't a hindrance these projects would be far easier, but most of them also wouldn't get past the prototype stage.
The goal is to keep the quality high while at the same time maintaining commercially viable manufacturing costs. I'm confident we've done both.
It's been exciting to see a product I envisioned in my mind become a prototype (or more accurately, several versions of several prototypes). I'm now confident enough with all the components to move on to qualification (or trial) orders with the approved manufacturers.
So today I'm reaching out through Kickstarter for backing in order to secure enough orders to go through a complete manufacturing cycle. The prototypes we've manufactured have provided proof of concept, and we're satisfied with the vendors that we've selected, but it's not until we've gone through a production run that we will know where product alterations, re-designs or vendor changes will need to take place.
Your support will allow us to go through this necessary production curve and bring this product to market. See below for more details on each product.
Assuming we meet our funding goal, the anticipated timeline is as follows:
For full disclosure, this is a very aggressive timeline and we really can't have many things go wrong in order to get product out to our backers within this timeframe. In fact, in order for us to make this schedule a reality, we're going to have to get a good sense that this project will fund by the end of September, early October.
While we've stated February 2015 as the anticipated ship date for the product backer rewards, we are going to give it our best effort to fulfill rewards by mid December 2014.
I've learned that just because you can make it work on paper, doesn't mean it will work in reality :). As much as we can control it, order fulfillment will be determined on a first come/first serve basis, so if getting product before Christmas is important to you, back us early and tell your friends!
VSSL First Aid
Risks and challenges
Whenever someone asks you to support a startup project, ask them, "What keeps you up at night?". An honest answer will tell you what you need to know about the potential weaknesses of that project. If the answer is "Nothing" ... the likely truth is, they either don't have enough experience to know what could possibly bite them in the ass or they're simply not passionate enough about the success of their project.
So for me, what keeps me up at night? It's the logistics of managing multiple vendors (some domestic and some overseas) and consolidating and assembling parts from these vendors here in Canada and the US.
I've done product design and I've worked with international vendors through various companies and I'm leaning heavily on that experience for this project. For VSSL (in most cases) I've sourced multiple vendors for each part in order to ensure a stable supply chain. If a primary vendor has production issues for some unforeseen reason, a backup has already been pre-approved. Up until now, this has been a little more than just a theory as we haven't done enough manufacturing to test the theory's stability. So that's why we're here on Kickstarter.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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