Kickstarted: Fort Worth startup finds the love for ultimate diaper bag

Aspen Tyke Traveler Diaper Bag


Aspen Tyke Traveler Diaper Bag

Kickstarter fundraising goal: $10,000

Amount raised: $24,047.

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After their son, Alex, was born, Sarinya and Glen Oliver struggled to find a diaper bag that had all the necessary functions to keep everything on track. The disorganized and disheveled engineers set to work to design a new multi-purpose diaper bag.

That’s how they came up with the Aspen Tyke Traveler. Released under their company Rdy4It, the bag is lightweight, can be worn as a messenger bag or a backpack and features a visible checklist, a magnetic changing station, clothing and item organizer and more.

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After talking with TECH Fort Worth representatives about a year ago and showing them the prototype, the couple decided to take to crowdfunding with a Kickstarter campaign to bring their design to life.

The Olivers set out on a 30-day campaign and a $10,000 fundraising goal to pay for their first production run in Thailand, but when all was said and done at 9 a.m. on Aug. 19, their 216 backers had helped them raise $24,047.

“It’s pretty incredible what they were able to do,” TECH Fort Worth Assistant Director Hayden Blackburn said recently. “We were looking at some of the stats, even last week, and for the design category there’s only a 36 percent chance success rate with all the campaigns since Kickstarter started years ago.”

With the additional money they raised, he said, the Olivers plan to complete a larger production run of about 300 bags, with 200 backed and sold by people on Kickstarter.

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The rest of the bags will be sold at retail for about $125.

The Aspen Tyke Traveler includes vertical pockets arranged on the sides inside and out with zippers and elastic closures, as well as a top lid that opens to provide fast, easy access to all items. It also includes stroller attachment rings and a roller bag sleeve to help with convenient travel.

The Tyke Traveler is made of water-resistant fabric and includes two insulated pockets. But the bag doesn’t stop being useful when the baby grows up. Customizable labels and the removable magnetic changing station help users adapt the bag to other needs.

The Kickstarter campaign offered nine pledge options at various cost levels that included different items. The most popular by far was the “Trendsetter” with 108 backers. People at this level donated $109 or more and will receive one diaper bag and a phone holder and accessories pocket.

Their shipment is expected to arrive in October so the first bags can be sent to the original backers. Sarinya was flying to Thailand on Aug. 23 to meet with the manufacturer and test bag quality before the bags are shipped.

Four backers signed on for the “Retailer” pledge level. Those backers pledged $400 or more and will receive five diaper bags and five phone holder and accessories pockets.

“The thing with Kickstarter is you don’t know who purchased your bag, but they had a category for retailers so the retailer can start with five diaper bag sets and get up and going,” Blackburn said. “They have four backers on that level so they’re interested to see which ones are truly retailers that they may be able to jump right into and get on some store shelves if their five original diaper bags sort of sell out quickly.”

In October, the Olivers are going to attend and manage a booth at a Las Vegas trade show and a conference called ABC Kid EXPO.

“It’s all about baby products and goods and services for the parents and children,” Blackburn said. “They are heading up there in mid-October and building some relationships with retailers across the country.”

After that, Blackburn said, their next step will be getting their product on Amazon, adding that TECH Fort Worth will help them continue to address the challenges they face as they move forward.

“I couldn’t ask for any better type of entrepreneur that will geek-out on learning something new that they can apply to their business and share that with other entrepreneurs, as a founder sharing it with another founder,” Blackburn said. “They are great when it comes to the coaching mindset and really exposing ‘we’re not really sure about this, what can we do?’”

The Fort Worth Business Press got to speak with the Olivers about their new product and their fundraising campaign.

How did you come up with the idea for Aspen Tyke Traveler?

When we first had our son, Alex, lack of sleep and stress resulted in both of us feeling like zombies. This caused us to be quite forgetful. It was frustrating having to dig around in regular diaper bags trying to find things we needed, only to discover we didn’t have them, especially, when he cried in public and people were staring at us and we could not find a toy to suit him …

As engineers, we are used to working to make sure manufacturing systems are more efficient, reduce mistakes, and are easy to use. We kept wondering why no one had applied these basic principles to diaper bags.

What makes your product different than diaper bags currently on the market?

The intelligent system to help parents quickly determine what needed to be packed and if they have it in the bag, before going out with their child. The labeled pockets and X-Check system make sure that everything is where it needs to be when you need to use it … Its versatility allows the bag to be repurposed as your child grows.

How does it feel to have raised over double what you set out to?

Awesome. One of the big worries as the creator of the product is “do people really see value in what we are offering?” The Kickstarter platform allowed us to truly test our concept to worldwide market.

The organic testimonials in social media channels show that people are excited about it. Plus, the tremendous support we received from Kickstarter backers is proof that people perceive its value and want our product. The confirmation that we have developed something people really do want and will use is exciting.

Following this Kickstarter, what’s next for both Rdy4It and Aspen Tyke Traveler?

Currently, we are in full steam of getting the quality product completed and shipped to the backers in a timely manner … Those who missed our Kickstarter still have a chance to pre-order the bag through our Indiegogo Page to get a discounted price. We will be at the ABC Kid EXPO 2017 in October and will join several other trade shows later on…

Moreover, we would love to give forward and give back to the entrepreneur community by sharing our experience with others to inspire them to pursue their business dream and promote local community.

What are your hopes or goals for your business overall and for Aspen Tyke Traveler?

Successful growth and expansion. We would love to be able to bring our innovative parenting solution to the world as well as create a pipeline where other products that would benefit people can be brought to life.

Once the business expands, we can create more jobs and be an engine to move our local economy forward.

How has owning your own business and developing Aspen Tyke Traveler impacted your lives as a couple and as a family?

It has been challenging. We both see thing from different angles and always have different points of view. Debates over business is not unusual for us. However, this is the prosperous scenario for the business. Different points of view result in better solutions, superior products, or improving business processes. Therefore, we always welcome feedback from others and consider every feedback seriously.

As we have to make sacrifices to build the business, we also must be careful to make sure to still make time for our son so he never feels he comes second to the business.