With the internet, the seemingly impossible really can happen. In the past, a product like a fidget toy would probably never have been invented because convincing enough people to invest in a strange concept would have been tough. However, nowadays, there’s a huge audience out there, and finding like-minded people interested in niches is comparatively easy. And that’s what happened with the Fidget Cube, a Kickstarter-funded product that raised a whopping $6.1million through 150,000 funders – the goal was a tiny $15,000! Antsy Labs and Matthew and Mark McLachlan are the brains behind the magic, and they’ve been explaining what makes an aimless toy with switches, spinners and rollers to ease boredom so attractive to consumers.
The McLachlans were sceptical about their ability to invent a popular product despite having a passion for it but eventually settled on the idea of a Fidget Cube and went about putting the wheels into motion.
In 2015, they founded Antsy Labs, however they claim that was just the official date and that they had been a work in progress long before that. Before the Fidget Cube, they were trying to secure funds for a charging dock known as ‘Duet’.
The Fidget Cube has been in development since 2012 but was put on the back burner with all of the other work that the brothers were working on. The idea came because this was a product that they thought they could benefit from themselves. They recognized the issue with clicking a pen or other annoying activities and wanted to create a solution that was not only more satisfying for the user, but less frustrating to other people – hence the Fidget Cube was born, and soon after, the specific fidget spinners would be too.
Were the brothers sure that the idea was going to be a success? Not at all. As a totally unique invention, there was no precedent for it. When testing the waters, the response they got was generally one of confusion, with few understanding the purpose of the device or why somebody would want one. But they stuck to their guns, hoping that if they had found something which helped them, it would also be of interest and use to others.
However, it was the thought that the Fidget Cube wouldn’t hit the jackpot that made them delay its release for so long while other ambitions took priority. But they needn’t have had those concerns, as the Fidget Cube proved to be head and shoulders above any of the previous four projects that they had launched on Kickstarter.
Those products included he aforementioned Duet, which was then followed by a similar product known as the ‘Trio’, which answered people’s requests to develop a charging deck that also supported tablet charging. However, while useful, the project was scrapped by Kickstarter when it failed to reach the required funding. Further showing the diversity of the brothers’ inventions, they also invented a table-top game called Storm the Gate. And in an attempt to showcase the struggles and successes of Kickstarter hopefuls, the brothers tried to launch a book called Bright Ideas. Somewhat ironically, the project didn’t reach its goal – an indicator of the real struggles that inventors face.
Recovering from setbacks isn’t easy, since much time and effort has gone into them – from scratch. When you have a lot of belief in an idea, it can be tough to accept that others simply aren’t as enthusiastic about it as you are. But the test for a true inventor is whether they can fight back from disappointment.
It’s not always about the product. You have to know when, how and who to market it to. For example, if you want to launch a gift-intended product like the Trio, there’s no value in pitching it to consumers late in the year, when it’s far too late for them to get that product for the upcoming holidays. You just can’t create the enthusiasm required.
They admitted that $15,000 wasn’t going to be enough to get the Fidget Cube completely off the ground, but that it would be a key contribution that they could then back-up with their own funds – it would have paid for the materials and tools required. But they didn’t have to worry with the huge financial influx that they were to get.
It became clear to them that the Fidget Cube wasn’t like any other product that they had tried to launch on Kickstarter before, but it wasn’t until after a few days that they realized how truly extraordinary it was. The invention attracted attention and funds almost straight away, crossing the $100,000 barrier after just four days, but that was still less than 2 percent of what it would end up raising. What really helped to send things into overload was when the Fidget Cube started to go viral on social media – especially when the popular page NowThis Futures shared the product on their Facebook page. That sort of free advertising proved invaluable and the Fidget Cube reached more than two million people straight away who were then able to link others to it. With a direct link from the video to the Kickstarter page, it was easy for people to head over and chip in a few bucks.
They knew soon after just what was happening when the video shot up to tens of millions of views in a mere two days. However, while there is plenty of excitement about what’s been happening with the Fidget Cube, they are doing their best to stay grounded, knowing that there’s still plenty of work to do if they want to turn it from an idea into a popular product.
Production is now underway and they have the intention of taking the product international. Tooling has begun and a factory has been tapped to produce the Fidget Cube. And the brothers have set themselves a strict timeline with the Fidget Cube, in the hope of cashing in on the holiday season.
Those who got on board with the Kickstarter product early would have received it in December, but those who didn’t will have to wait until March – which is still a rapid turnaround time in reality. Progress has b
een good and there haven’t been many production issues to disrupt the timetable. But quality is the priority over quantity. Should anything go wrong or adjustments need to be made, then they would rather set the schedule back than rush and produce an inferior product. After acquiring such a great reputation, what would be the point in putting it all at risk just a few months’ later?
Next for the brothers will be to put together an effective sales strategy that will allow the Fidget Cube to reach the heights that the enthusiasm suggests it can. The product is patent pending and they have teased that there are a few retailers who would be keen on stocking the product. If they get it right, then the McLachlans look set to earn a fortune. With total 100 percent ownership of the Fidget Cube, they remain in full control. But perhaps most amazing of all is that they only needed to make a $5,000 investment themselves for a toy that could make them millions.