Lessons from 2 Years in Business — Professional Backpacks in B2C and DTC
We can’t believe that it’s been two years! Knack shipped its first bag on November 5, 2018 (you can check out our inaugural “launch” blog post here), and we’ve seen incredible growth since “Day #1”!
To celebrate two years in business (and getting through 2020), Knack leaders Chad Mellen and Keith Bristol thought it may be interesting to share some of their reflections on the past two years running a startup, and to provide you with a little behind-the-scenes insight into Knack and the journey we’re on.
Design Feedback from Knackpackers
Before digging into specific milestones, Chad and Keith wanted to share one of the biggest surprises of the past 24 months (brought to Knack by you!).
As you know, Knack was founded by these two self-professed “Bag Nerds,” who assembled a team with years of experience at other bag brands (like Tumi, North Face, Coach, Samsonite, and eBags). The Knack team then took the best of our collective experience to create the concept of #OneBagLife.
So what’s the big surprise? Neither Chad nor Keith anticipated that Knackpackers would also be such big bag nerds and play such a large role in Knack’s development!
“The number of comments, suggestions, observations and thank-you’s continues to overwhelm me. Our community has really made Knack so much better, in so many ways, than it would otherwise be without them,” shares Chad.
The Knack team takes all Knackpacker feedback, from comments on Facebook to emailed photos, and thoroughly reviews them to understand how to continue to create products that make it easier to carry your life with you. “I read every comment from customers and I’ve been overjoyed with how our customers interact with our products and how we are truly changing how they carry their life,” says Keith.
Chad & Keith’s Favorite Feature: Expandable Luggage Compartment on Laptop Backpack
Unsurprisingly, both Chad and Keith’s favorite Knack Pack feature is the hidden, expandable suitcase compartment. This is the key innovation that truly makes it possible to live a #OneBagLife, because it enables one bag to replace the need to carry several bags.
Chad explained, “The hidden packing compartment is my number-one favorite feature. It’s the reason why we created Knack, and I still think it is the best solution out there that allows me to keep my work things and travel/gym things separate, but in the same bag. For me, it’s replaced several bags that I used to use everyday with one bag.”
Keith added, “I love using that extra compartment as a replacement for my gym bag. Also, while traveling, that compartment has personally saved me so much time and energy. I’ll never forget the first time I flew with my Knack Pack; I didn’t have to gate check my bag on a layover flight. When the flight landed, I walked off the plane past all of the people waiting for their checked bag. I bet it saved me 20 minutes, each way. It also saved on baggage fees. Then, when I was able to walk around NYC without having to pull a wheeled suitcase, it sealed the deal for me. Since that first time I used my Knack Pack I’ve saved so many hours and hundreds of dollars by living a One Bag Life.”
Key Moments in Knack Bags History
Chad and Keith also reflected on a few key milestones that got Knack to where it is today. It’s hard to condense two years into a single blog post, but here are some highlights:
- October, 2015: Chad has idea for “one bag that does it all” while on a trip to Costa Rica
- September, 2016: Reviewed the first sketch of a Knack Pack
- March, 2018: Placed our first production order for Knack Packs
- November 5, 2018: First Knack Pack shipped
- October 23, 2019: Launch of Knack v2.0
- July 20, 2020: Launch of Equity Crowdfunding Campaign on StartEngine
- November 2020: New product release
Since shipping that first bag, Knack has delivered products to 31 countries and over 10,000 Knackpackers. We’ve also outfitted Knack Packs for corporate gifting at Fortune 500 corporations, NFL teams, law firms, real estate companies, start-ups, and graduate and undergraduate university programs.
THE ULTIMATE CURVEBALL: COVID-19
In 2018 and 2019, Knack was cruising along — developing new products and outfitting thousands of professionals and digital nomads with the best multi-purpose expandable backpack in the market. Knackpackers were easily going from home to work to play and back again — all with one bag!
And then, March of 2020 hit. Like many businesses, Knack had to adapt in totally new ways, and Chad and Keith led the Knack team during a period when they really weren’t certain what tomorrow would bring. (We’ve shared a few posts on how we did this here and here.)
The Knack Team spent the first part of 2020 adjusting resources and messaging for the “New Normal,” providing Knackpackers with insights into the new world of remote work and remote job searches, and listening to Knackpackers to better understand how to provide solutions for new problems.
When asked what he was most proud of to date, Chad shared, “I am most proud of the fact that Knack remained relevant to Knackpackers during the lockdowns. As a brand that stands for products that help you easily carry your life wherever you may go, I was really worried what would happen when large portions of the country weren’t going anywhere. But from the emails, calls, and reviews we got from Knackpackers during the lockdowns, I saw that our bags helped people work from outside during nice weather, “commute” from a home office to another room, combine work with pleasure during quick trips to see family, etc. Basically, even during lockdown, Knack continued to play a role in helping to make peoples’ lives a bit easier.”
WHAT WILL 2021 HOLD?
As you may have noticed in the timeline above, Knack will be releasing new products in the near future. “We have a few exciting products in the pipeline that we’ll be releasing soon,” shares Chad with a smile. “Of course, Knackpackers who sign up for our emails will be notified first!”
Adds Keith, “I’m looking forward to some type of normalcy! Like all of us, I’m craving more face-to-face human interaction and spending time with friends. But, I think, from Knack’s perspective, 2021 will be a great year.”
Do you have questions for Chad or Keith? Drop them in the comments below!