Today I hold the final ORITY ONE Backpack sample in my hand. For the first time in two and a half years I am certain that the quest to start an esports brand is going to come to fruition. As manly as I like to appear, I must admit there is a tear of joy in running down my cheek. One of the side effects of my economics studies is that I take cost-evaluating approach to emotional situations and this is an emotional situation.
But who am I? I am Adrian, one of the seven founding members of ORITY.
Half of our team originated from the esports arena, and the other half are professionals from the backpack industry. I am a member of the latter group. I was formerly part of an international sales team, and had over 6 years experience with bags, and how to sell them, prior to our start. I am just now starting to comprehend how little I knew about what making backpacks actually takes.
There are many ways to design and make a backpack. The easiest and cheapest is to browse the internet, find a bag you like, send this bag to a backpack manufacturer and ask the manufacturer to copy the bag with some minor changes. A harder, and more costly, way is to sit in front of a white piece of paper and create something out of nothing- something unique, a legacy to be proud of!
Everyone with an entrepreneurial heart will rule out the easy choice at an instance. Facing the rocky path in front of me actually filled me with pride and craving for adventure, but who would have guessed how challenging and costly this path would become?
Our first step was to make assumptions and verify them. Questions like “Is there a need for a backpack especially designed for the needs of an esports enthusiasts?” “What equipment has to fit inside?” and “Is it ok if you have to leave the zipper open to fit in your keyboard?” (it is not), came up. For months we sat together after work and on weekends, checking feedback from our surroundings and clarifying our assumptions.
2.5 years ago, we were finally satisfied with the interim result and sent the first product briefing to INS Vina, a backpack manufacturer in Vietnam. Due to our network from the backpack industry, the decision about where to produce wasn’t difficult. We chose Vietnam due to it’s backpack manufacturing know-how and quality, and INS Vina as a manufacturer due to their skilled development department.
2 mock-up samples and 3 months later the first milestone approached. Someone had to visit the manufacturer and suppliers to discuss the next steps. In the founding Team I was the first to quit my job and work full time for ORITY, so the task was mine. Light-hearted and fairly inexperienced I accepted the task. I recall thinking to myself “How hard could this be, I am an experienced sales guy, I have a studied economics, sold heaps of backpacks and I am backed by Simone, an experienced product manager and Immi, a world class designer” the next months will be a piece of cake. I was mistaken! :D
For my first trip Simone, Immi, and our manufacturer Daniel, had prepared my schedule. It sounded fun at the beginning “learn how to make buckles-, fabric-, zippers-, foam, etc. and meet the suppliers”. After countless days with less than 4 hours of sleep between business dinners, and early pickups, the fun started to change into doubt. One particular day, after having a meeting a webbing supplier in the morning, and only hours later a meeting with an “elastic” webbing supplier, I really questioned my teachers’ intentions and if they hadn’t overdone their preparation. Luckily meeting suppliers is quite pleasant, so I kept on going.
What I remember most from the meetings is the welcoming attitude, and that everyone seemed to understand our situation as a start-up, low quantities and high development demands. More than once I learned that the one rule of business is “All customers are treated equally”.
It took more than 90 hours of business dinners, 30 months of networking, 15 development samples, 7 return train tickets, 6 weeks in hotels, 4 return flights to Vietnam, 3 trade shows, a strained liver and a lot more weight gain than I would like to admit, to learn the lesson and at the end benefit from the special treatment we received. The pain was definitely worth the gain. Today, backpack in hand and grin on my face I fully understand that the unspoken, second part of the one rule of business, is the true answer to the cost of making a legendary backpack “all customers are treated equally, but then they are actually not.”
To me, the ORITY ONE Backpack is already legendary and with our skillful supplier network at our side I am confident that this will not be the last ORITY product.
But now I am late for Dinner with Daniel.
The ORITY ONE backpack is assembled by experienced seamstresses and workers from more than 230 parts, 30 different materials which come in 60 different sizes and features. Getting to know most of the suppliers allowed us to offer a supreme level of quality without the burden of high minimum order quantities or surcharges. Thank you for supporting us. Check out ority.gg for more info, or follow us, @oritygg on facebook, instagram or twitter social media.