Take an established business with a solid customer base, add a great idea for product expansion and what do you get? The need for capital. For Diamond Brand Gear in Fletcher, N.C., developing an innovative modular wall tent meant turning to Kickstarter to launch a campaign. The social media platform was unfamiliar territory to Diamond Brand Gear’s CEO John Delaloye, but as it turns out, it is a strategy that has been well worth the effort.
Spark and substance
The idea for Diamond Brand Gear’s LMNL tent system with its retractable roof, glamping potential and modular components, was born of exploring a new way to manufacture wall tents that would be less cumbersome for sewing operators to assemble, according to Delaloye.
“The most difficult part of manufacturing a [wall] tent is the final assembly,” he says. “Right now, the weight and size for the sewing operator to put this type of tent together is huge. Part of sustainable manufacturing includes improving the experience the people working on the tents have—in addition to the impact the tent has on the planet.”
The resulting vision for the product included portability (the entire system can fit into the trunk of a car) and user-friendly assembly. Materials focused on durability, sustainability and incorporating easily replaceable components. By doing things modularly, the system allows for using more than one material in its production. The roof can be made of one material, potentially synthetic for UV and water resistance, while the walls can be more breathable.
Diamond Brand Gear pitched its idea to investors using the Kickstarter platform, looking for a way to meet several goals.
“Over the last 40 to 50 years, we transitioned from an outdoor brand to a contract manufacturer and wanted to reconnect with consumer markets with this product. We thought it might be a good way to reach some individual consumers in a new way.”
Funding the project through Kickstarter allowed Diamond Brand Gear a platform from which it could connect with enthusiastic end users—to garner their investment dollars as well as feedback.
“The immediate benefit was that [Kickstarter] puts you in direct contact with customers,” Delaloye says. “We have 79 backers from a lot of different locations, including some in Canada, which was great because one of our goals was to connect with the Canadian market.”
Diamond Brand Gear’s LMNL Kickstarter campaign went live on July 27, 2021, and was fully funded on August 24, 2021.
“I think Kickstarter is a good place to tell your story. It was a lot of work for the whole team and involved all aspects of tent design, production and fulfillment, but it was worth it. Without a doubt.”
Sigrid Tornquist is a writer and editor in Minneapolis, Minn.