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Some smart guys on Kickstarter just raised $150,000 to make a messenger bag, briefcase, and backpack with built-in batteries, which they call Phorce.
Project leader Marijn Berk, who previously worked on solar power solutions for people in developing nations to charge their mobile phones, said he was overjoyed by the response — especially given the bag’s $200-$280 price.
“We’re really excited — Phorce is not a impulse buy item in the $20-25 range that you often see on Kickstarter,” he told me this morning from Amsterdam.
With 19 days remaining in the campaign, Phorce has collected $151,173 in pledges from 585 backers, including 250 at the $199 level, 250 at the $279 level, and one backer each at the $1,000 and $5,000 levels. The project’s $10,000 level does not yet have a backer.
If the campaign reaches $750,000, Berk and his coleader, James Jeffrey, will increase the bag’s battery, which will charge a phone six to eight hours, and a laptop for four to seven hours, by another 10 percent.
Berk chose the project because he didn’t want to make just another gadget:
“People will always be bringing stuff with them … this is not a trend item,” he said. “A bag is one of the very few products that you use on a daily basis, and that was my initial interest. If you can change the fundamental product, you can really start having an impact on people’s daily lives. Otherwise it’s more of a gadget … and I’m not interested in that.”
The bag industry, Berk says, doesn’t understand electronics. And the electronics industry doesn’t understand the soft goods market.
“They’ve never really collaborated … even though bags are mostly used to carry around electronics the soft good industry really has no clue how they work. It’s almost funny.”
Now Phorce is preparing to shift to a fulfillment phase. The first bags should ship as soon as May, Berk said. While he and his cofounder want to be as quick as possible, he said, they won’t sacrifice quality. In fact, they may run manufacturing, at least for the electronic components, in Europe to keep its quality high.
And given the very successful launch, Phorce is already considering adding retail channels to its website and Kickstarter.
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