The Launch and Growth of a Bootstrapped Electronics Brand
"The Number 1 thing we have learned during all these years in the business competition is to know and respect our customers. Please, do take it very seriously."
Who are you and what do you do?
I am Andrew Kong, the director of brand marketing and responsible for developing the brand INKBIRD in our targeted markets all over the world. I have been working in INKBIRD for almost three years.
Now we are making every effort to serve our users better and to get closer to them actively.
What is INKBIRD?
INKBIRD.com is our official website. We do not only present INKBIRD products to our users and customers, but also offer an improved customer service system, besides, we have opened our online Community on our official website to keep interacting with them.
We have been keeping increasing our investment in our R&D these years. Currently, we are also launching a new INKBIRD app for our users to integrate all of our Wi-Fi and Bluetooth products for a better user experience.
So, now we can connect our users and customers more efficiently via INKBIRD.com, the online community, and the INKBIRD app to offer faster and better service to offer a more friendly user experience and brand experience.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
Mr. Ken Xie, INKBIRD’s CEO, found INKBIRD about 12 years ago in 2010, he and his brother Bicky were inspired by the history of the quill-pen and the spirit of The Wright brothers’ making the world's first motor-operated airplane successfully happened.
They named the brand with the word INK which is used for writing with the quill-pen and the word BIRD which is the prototype and the inspiration of human being’s flying tools to encourage the development and continuity of the company as well as to motivate their solid steps of chasing innovation and freedom.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
Our first product is INKBIRD ITC-308. At the very beginning, we would like to make some temperature control products to help our home-brewing lovers to make tasty beer, so we did lots of research about brewing, especially home-brewing, beer tastes, and the processes of beer brewing.
And then we sat down to make the product ID design and function development for our first idea based on our understanding of our target customers and users, especially our American and European customers and users. It failed us many times. We tried and failed, we failed and tried. Finally, it took us almost half a year to settle the product ID design.
However, when we put the product ID and the developed functions into production, we found that the production progress did not match our requirements, then we had to re-evaluate and improve the production line and equipment again and again. When our first INKBIRD ITC-308 came out from the production line, it had taken us almost another half a year.
Nothing is easy. It took us almost a whole year to get our first INKBIRD ITC-308 out of the production line from ID designing to product production. It was a hard journey for us to walk through at that time. But now when we look back, we are very gratified that all of our efforts and failures are worth it.
After all these years, INKBIRD ITC-308 has been adopted, praised, and popular among the whole American and European markets. Besides, we have had launched INKBIRD ITC-308-WIFI after we won the competition with INKBIRD ITC-308 and it also performs very well all f these years.
Currently, the application contexts of INKBIRD ITC-308 and INKBIRD ITC-308-WIFI have been extended to home-brewing, aquarium, pet breeding, incubation, seedling, and more.
Describe the process of launching the business.
At the very beginning, we just wanted to focus on helping home-brewing lovers make tasty beer and wines more easily with our knowledge of temperature control. We did not recognize we could make it into a global business, because we just wanted to enjoy and realize our interests and hobbies.
However, when more and more end-users from all over the world loved INKBIRD ITC-308 and shared with us how we could help with their home-brewing and other application contexts or even called us GAME CHANGER, we have begun to realize that we could do more for our users and the markets, so we started to operate it as a business.
We have been inspired and encouraged by our users and we are very grateful for that. So our teams have been devoting ourselves to offering better and better products to them and to doing more for them.
Our users are the foundation and the destination of our business.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Just as I mentioned above that our users are the foundation and the destination of our business. The most important mission for us to do for them is to keep offering high-quality products and services.
For all of these years, INKBIRD has been keeping increasing investment in R&D and product development. Currently, we have had four R&D centers and our product lines have been covered with smart controllers, food thermometers, smart sensors, and sous vide cookers, which are all centralizing on helping our users enjoy a better smart home living.
Besides, we have been keeping improving our service systems for our end users. For now, we have built an improved official website INKBIRD.com, an online community, and an INKBIRD app, which can let us get closer and have more interaction with them and provide better services for them. We are very delighted that now our service system for our users is multiple and closed-loop.
What's the reason customers pick INKBIRD over your competitors?
The development of one industry is NOT anyone’s solo. INKBIRD respects and welcomes competitors. Co-existence and benign competitions are good for the development of the industry.
According to our analyses, we think the major reasons for our customers to pick us over our competitors are:
1. The high-quality and well performance of INKBIRD products;
2. The reasonable and high cost-performance of INKBIRD products;
3. The high-quality and considerate services of INKBIRD teams;
Based on these, we are very honored, delighted, and grateful that they call INKBIRD GAME CHANGER.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Now, as always, we keep focusing on our R&D, product developing, and improving customer services to do more and do better for our customers, and we are making every effort to decrease the impact of COVID-19.
As we all know that COVID-19 is a huge disaster for the whole world, but we do believe the future is very promising and all of us will have better smart home living, because the disaster will be gone, normal life will be getting back and everyone will make the best to live. It won’t take long to see.
Since starting the business, what's the number 1 thing you have learned?
Doing business is not as easy as we think. We have to offer the best products with the best services if we want to win.
While the number 1 thing we have learned during all these years in the business competition is to know and respect our customers. Please do take it very seriously.
No respect, no customers; no customers, no business at all.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
As for the sales platforms, we are in the mainstream e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, eBay, and Walmart;
As for the customer service offering, we will adopt some professional CRM and project management tools.
The only standard for us to adopt some platform/tool is to be good for our customers.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I have read lots of books and keep reading. Our teams have been doing reading share periodically for almost 10 years. Among all the books I have read so far, Stay Hungry Stay Foolish by the Indian non-fiction author Rashmi Bansal hit me the most.
It keeps reminding me to stay humble and learn, especially keeping learning how to respect the world and what we should do to the world. Thank Rashmi Bansal for her great writing.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
I do not think that I am qualified to offer advice to others, but I do love to share some core experiences with others. The first and the most important experience I would love to share is to know and respect our customers, please do take it seriously.
The next thing we want to share is to keep learning, just as Rashmi Bansal writes Stay Hungry Stay Foolish.
I really hope my share will help other entrepreneurs and I love to take others’ share.
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Frequently Asked Questions about INKBIRD
How Do I Set up My INKBIRD Temp Controller?
Most of our INKBIRD temperature controllers are out-of-box and plug-and-play, while a few of them may need to be set up before we use them such as INKBIRD ITC-1000. Besides, the set-up process may be different for different models and we have set-up steps and processes in detail in the product user manual.
If our customers have any issues with setting up, please visit our online community/official website INKBIRD.com or can send e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org for help. Our professional after-sales team will get back to them within 24 hours. So please do not worry about the setup.
How Do I Know When My INKBIRD is charged?
As for all the rechargeable INKBIRD products, they have clear indicators for the charging and we also have clear descriptions in the user manual for recharging in detail, so please take its indicators for reference when recharging the device.
Can I Use the INKBIRD Thermometer in an Oven?
Most INKBIRD thermometers such as INKBIRD IBT-4XC, INKBIRD IBT-4XS, and INKBIRD IBT-24S can be used in ovens, but the specific use context should be made based on the specific product, so we do recommend our user to read the user manual first before using it.
How to Register for INKBIRD Pro APP?
Now we are investing more in our app to provide a better user experience for our users and we have launched our new INKBIRD app to replace INKBIRD Pro app.
Currently, we are guiding our existing users to switch from INKBIRD Pro APP to the INKBIRD APP step by step and we are sorry for the inconvenience we brought to our users, we have to do this for coming better services and user experience for our users, so we hope our users can offer us some understanding and forgiveness, we will do our best to make this switch smoothly.
It’s extremely easy to register for INKBIRD APP, just enter your user name and e-mail and click register.
How Long Does INKBIRD Take to Ship & Deliver?
If the inventory is not tense, it just takes us several days or a shorter time to make the delivery for our users.
At the beginning of the COVID-19, our delivery was affected, but now all of our delivery has been got back to normal. Please feel free to make a purchase.
INKBIRD - Customer Reviews
INKBIRD has a rating of 4.2 out of 5.0 based on 60,957 customer reviews.
I have a small greenhouse for two tropical yard plants that could be damaged at sub-freezing temps. In the past, I plugged in a heat lamp when temps were expected to dip below 32 degrees. Plugged it in and it was a continuous cost until unplugged.
My INKBIRD with Wi-Fi gives me current temps and historical graph temp data on my smartphone... plus I can adjust the settings from my phone even if I am 3 states away! Yeah! Will save electricity by only powering my heat lamp when actually required.
It was my 1st time using the INKBIRD ISV-200W Wi-Fi Immersion Circulator Precision Sous Vide Cooker today. Will be using all the time as it is easy to use and a great way to making tender steaks. Thanks you Darlene for this awesome tool.
Delivery was really fast, less than 1 week, item came in a perfect condition, working perfectly, I am really happy
Really enjoy the accuracy of INKBIRD devices and how seamlessly they work with the app. Game changer!
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