A new product launch can be both exhilarating and terrifying. For startups, the emotions are even more intense; the launch often determines the ultimate success or failure of the company.
We ran across a cool product that we really liked – smartphone protection without the usual bulky smartphone case – and were fortunate to converse with Bumpies Protectors co-founder Alexander Karp (Michael Chapp and Victor Chung are also co-founders), who shares his thoughts about the product launch with us here.
First, a bit about the product. Bumpies Protectors are incredibly small, with a simple, sleek and elegant appearance that enhances the look and function of your smartphone while adding critical drop protection.
We’ve used Bumpies Protectors on our iPhone 5s for six months and love them! It’s a lot easier slipping a thin iPhone into your pants pocket than one housed in a bulky Otterbox or Speck case. And our phones have survived multiple drops without damage.
Alex: Bumpies Protectors are tiny, specially-designed protectors that are applied to the four corners of your smart phone. They allow you to enjoy the touch and feel of your actual device, not its case, while providing critical drop protection.
Alex: When I first held the iPhone 4, the weight and robust construction, and the feel of the stainless steel and glass instantly conveyed a sense of craftsmanship and an impressive integration of engineering with design. Like many other engineers, I have a wide variety of hobbies and projects. At the time, creating a protective case was one of these labors of love. Through all of my concepts and iterations, I never produced a design that felt as great as the naked iPhone 4. I had whittled my case down to two bezels, holding four rubber bumpers on the corners. Frustrated by the sharp bezels and their less than desirable appearance, I scrapped the idea and molded silicone rubber directly to the corners.
The concept worked beautifully, but the rubber wore down after a few months and the installation process rendered my phone unusable for 24 hours! New materials, sophisticated tools, and many, many iterations of design, test, and repeat lead to the first version of Bummpies (yes, two ‘m’s at first).
Alex: Bumpies Protectors utilize patent-pending Probabalistic Dynamic (ProDyn) Protection, inspired by nature, which joins a soft, adhesive-infused membrane with an exoskeleton-like shell to dissipate and redirect energy during impact. Having four Bumpies Protectors protects all sides, while the beveled edges elevate your phone to protect it from scratches while on a flat surface, and from impact if it is dropped.
Probabalistic determination showed that most accidental drops happen on flat surfaces and likely impact the corners of the phone. This allowed the Bumpies Protectors team to separate the traditional protection case into a system of small elements. Our ProDyn Protection was inspired by the principles nature uses to safeguard the human brain. That is the innovation that enables our ultra-small product to provide critical protection for smartphones.
Ultra-slow motion video analysis was critical in selecting a soft, adhesive-infused membrane that allows the dynamic cushioning motion of the exoskeleton-like shell, similar to how the brain floats inside our crainum, made of rigid bone. The proper installation of Bumpies Protectors at precise locations is achieved with the help of a specialized instant bonding, semi-permanent adhesive and uniquely developed packaging, which also serves as an installation template customized for each smartphone model.
Alex: Competition is not a bad thing, if you introduce new ideas to the world. With at least three competitors, you know there is demand and a market!
Early in the development of Bumpies Protectors, we engaged the community through beta testing and crowd-sourced funding platforms. As the company grows, building strong community relationships remains a core value for the team. This currently includes working with university senior design classes, near-sourcing components from southern California-based suppliers, and contracting manufacturing services through Partnerships With Industry (PWI), a local non-profit organization devoted to job placement and development for differently-abled adults. The Bumpies Protectors team is committed to growing a product portfolio and company with more that profits as our main driving force.
We’re also passionate about remaining close and in-touch with our customers, because we are dedicated to limitless, purposeful, refinement of our design. We are continually leveraging and developing our intellectual property (design patents and trademarks), while investing in radical new ideas!
Lastly, thanks to a dedicated Bumpies Protectors team and a lean design process, we are able to efficiently expand our Bumpies Protectors product portfolio to underserved electronic devices, not just a select few flagship models.
Alex: We plan on focusing on three distribution channels:
Within each channel we’re using a mix of digital and traditional media, including printed and online publications, product testers and reviewers, online videos, social media and, hopefully, word-of-mouth to spread the word about Bumpies Protectors.
Alex: Other than the crowd-sourced funding platform, we’ve been self-funded by the three co-founders.
Are you specifically targeting any of these buckets? Avoiding any of them? Who’s your target customer?
Alex: We designed Bumpies Protectors to have appeal to all three segments of phone users.
With Bumpies Protectors, smartphone owners are able to enjoy their phone in a variety of everyday life activities, just as the original designers intended. Customers who prefer to enjoy the beauty and workmanship of their smartphone can now do so while reducing or eliminating unnecessary damage and costly repairs. Plus, Bumpies Protectors have less environmental impact, with as much as a 90% reduction in material usage compared to traditional cases. Even our packaging is minimal in design and made from environmentally-friendly paper material.
For those who want to express their individuality, Bumpies Protectors come in multiple colors that either blend in beautifully with a phone or add a touch of color for individuality.
Regarding protection, many existing cases on the market are designed to be rigid in form, and are made out of poor materials, like silicon and cheap plastic. These cases do not provide actual drop protection and will shatter on impact, or, worse, transfer the shock to the phone, leading to catastrophic breakage. Cases that do provide quality protection are typically bulky and add significant weight and size to a phone. We strove to provide the best of both worlds.
Alex: Great question. Through time, consistency, and an open dialogue, we will build trust with our customers and demonstrate the value of the Bumpies Protectors brand. This means using traditional forms of advertising to build awareness and directing people to engaging media content (in-depth articles, videos, word-of-mouth testimonials from influencers), so as to teach the world about Bumpies Protectors and our company.
Alex: Finding the right suppliers, developing a supply chain, creating new packaging, launching a new website, building awareness, finding distributors, expanding the product portfolio… each accomplishment brings a new challenge. Each problem is different, but we approach them all with a similar mindset: trusting our team, relying on our partners, understanding the openings in the market, and learning new skills.