This post is part of a series in partnership with New York's Next Top Makers, a community-sourced incubator dedicated to connecting innovation with local production.
We first met Alex and Nicole of blink blink at our event in NYC with Wix.com. blink blink is a Creative Circuit Kits company that provides all the necessary tools to engineer your own arts, crafts, and fashion projects with technology, specifically focusing on girls and their beautifully inspired and uninhibited creativity. What started as a graduate school thesis project has now, after numerous co-designing sessions with their target audience and a successful Kickstarter campaign, turned into a fully fledged company. We loved this project and were thrilled to get the chance to chat with them again as part of our series with NY Next Top Maker.
blink blink started as a graduate school thesis project, what made you decide to take it to the next level and turn it into a full-fledged business?
The idea to turn it into a business has always been there in some form. Participating in 4.0 School’s Launch program, an accelerator-like program for entrepreneurs innovating in the education space, helped us to begin thinking about blink blink as a business as opposed to a graduate thesis project.
The STEM market targeting young girls is heating up right now, what do you think makes blink blink stand out from its competitors?
I think that’s great! The more toys to get girls excited about STEM, the better it is for our mission. It’s an opportunity to partner with new companies and see how they’re tackling the same problem.
You received early feedback from girls in your after school workshop programs in NY. What were some of the more surprising insights you took away from those workshops.
We were able to ask girls directly why they had not worked or created with technology, what types of activities they liked, and how they interacted with our kits and the materials in our kits. I wrote an article about co-designing that may provide some insight.
A number of startups in this space have created subscription models for their products, is that something you’re considering for blink blink? Why or why not?
We’re developing a summer subscription right now actually, but we’ll be attend Toy Fair in a few weeks to begin this process.
What does being a NY Next Top Maker fellow mean for blink blink?
Being a NY Next Top Makers means more resources and people helping build blink blink in NYC.
You successfully funded your Kickstarter campaign in 2015. What were some of the major lessons you learned from that process? Were there any keys to its success you can share with other entrepreneurs interested in launching a campaign?
The biggest key was planning. Kickstarter is an amazing marketing tool, but there’s a lot of upfront work that goes into making sure your campaign is a success which includes lining up press, developing your communications, and your kickstarter page.
We add a section on the “business of making” so that our audience can see how projects get off the ground. We have three questions we ask as part of this:
How have you been funded up until now?
We’ve raised money via our kickstarter campaign on Kickstarter and participated in 4.0 Schools Launch program.
What materials/tools do you use in order to manufacture and prototype your product? Where do you typically source them?
Alex and I are both designers and makers; therefore, we prototype the ideas of new kits and projects together using a variety of different materials. From there, we curate the best selection of materials to use in the kits from a number of different sources.
Have you partnered with any organizations in your city that have helped you in your process?
We have! To name a few, we’ve worked with 4.0 Schools, Parsons School of Design, and Girl Scouts.
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