Hey everyone, today I have an amazing interview by Jennifer from Linjer! Her and her husband Roman created a minimalistic company for people who wanted a high quality product without the flashy brand. Check out her interview and see how they were able to raise one million dollars quickly from kickstarter!
1. What inspired you to start Linjer?
It all started when my partner and co-founder, Roman Khan, needed a stylish, functional leather briefcase for work. His requirements were simple but hard to find: well-made, affordable and without a big flashy logo. When we couldn’t find one that met his needs, I got the idea to design one myself.
2. Did you have to convince Roman or did Roman have to convince you that this was something worth pursuing? If so, what did that look like?
We both saw a clear need for Linjer, and we both thought it was an interesting business idea. From the start we were both ready to give it a shot.
3. Tell us about the early days of finding your tribe at the StyleForum.
The key to our success was connecting with a hardcore and genuine community online on Styleforum, where men around the world go to share their passion for menswear. A few senior members took interest in us and positively reviewed our products, which gave us credibility. These guys saw what we were trying to do and how much we were nerding out on specs, and it created a very strong level of trust. Once we found a community online that cared deeply about quality, our products sold themselves.
4. Where did you learn the things that made your campaign so successful?
After we raised $50,000 in 24 hours on Indiegogo for our first bag campaign, we knew we were on to something. This was great market validation for our idea.
Create something that other people want. It doesn’t matter how much you love your product — other people have got to love it for you to be successful. Our minimalist designs are very appealing to many, and I think our product quality and attention to detail has been a major key to our crowdfunding success.
5. What were some of your biggest challenges when you first started?
We’ve faced major challenges in trying to meet demand because our production couldn’t keep up – which totally caught us off-guard. We’ve had to work hard on scaling our supply chain — making it more efficient so that we can reduce wait times.
Customer service has also been another challenge. Until about a year ago, we were doing customer service ourselves. But at one point, we realized it wasn’t the best use of our time.
6. What was one of your biggest mistakes when first starting Linjer, and how can others avoid it?
We could have avoided some production issues if we had been more present at our factories or hired somebody to represent us there!
7. Can you please describe one of your biggest breakthrough moments in building Linjer into what it is today?
Launching our first collection of watches in mid-2016 was a big moment for us as the category opened up a whole new market. It really energized us to see such enthusiastic reception for our designs. We ended up raising almost $1 million through that Kickstarter campaign.
8. You sold 1 million dollars worth of bags in your first year and have kept multiplying from there. How did you manage this sort of explosive growth?
Planning for scale and good communication. The Kickstarter campaign doesn’t end when you stop raising funds. There’s a lot of work to do to prepare all of the rewards and send them out to your backers.
We always keep our suppliers looped in as to how our campaigns are doing while they are in progress so they can plan appropriately — because if they don’t have time to plan, you may find your production getting delayed, which will be frustrating for you and your backers.
9. What goes into making your bags and watches different from the rest of the market?
We focus relentlessly on customer experience. As a bootstrapped company, our relationship with customers is extremely important. For us, it’s all about respecting the intelligence of our customers, connecting with them, and listening to their feedback. It’s a totally different approach than traditional luxury brands who are all about exclusivity and creating a wall between them and the customer.
10. How many hours a day were your working before you both quit your day jobs and started working full-time at Linjer?
We were working our day jobs and then working until midnight or 1am on weekdays. Weekends were almost full-time Linjer.
11. As an entrepreneur overseeing a constantly growing business – what does your daily routine look like?
We’re in a quieter period right now so I generally start working at 8:30am and leave the office at 6:30pm. I take 1-1.5 hours for the gym almost every day and my commute involves an hour of walking – physical activity is super important for me to stay productive. After I get home I usually work another 2 hours or so, and I try to get to bed at 11pm!
12. Who are some of your biggest heroes as an entrepreneur?
Nelson Mandela. I read his autobiography, The Long Walk to Freedom, a few years ago, and he wrote about his exercise regime in prison. Every morning he would run in place – in his cell – for up to 45 minutes, do 100 fingertip pushups and do 200 sit-ups. Whenever I’m struggling with something or feel down, I imagine Mandela in his cell, pushing himself through adversity much worse than anything I’ve ever experienced. It’s helped me through a lot of tough situations.
13. And lastly, Is there any advice you would give to other entrepreneurs and side hustlers first starting out?
In our experience, you learn the most from people who’ve exceeded you. When we were preparing for our first crowdfunding campaign we read Tim Ferriss’ guides. He has one on building a pre-launch list, with Harry’s as the case study; and another on raising $100,000 on Kickstarter in 10 days, with Soma Water as a case study.