How a Belgian 23-year old built his watch brand from scratch
Hi, I’m Nathan, the founder of IGNITE Watches. And this is the story of how I started my watch brand from absolute scratch.
Before I started this journey, I had 0 experience in terms of product development or building watches. I already had a couple of e-commerce stores trying to sell wallets, resistance bands, and make-up bags.
Unfortunately, those were not successful because I was only trying to sell other people’s products.
I had a long dream of building my own successful company, so I decided to take on the next challenge. When I was still 21 years old, my first watch brand ‘IGNITE Watches’, was born.
Because there were so many watch brands out there, I wanted to build a unique style, something different: skeleton watches. These are automatic watches where you can see the movement because of the open dial.
I wanted to build the design absolutely from scratch and used help from a 3D render specialist to create my first 3D pictures of the watch. For six months, it took a couple of revisions and modifications to get the right design.
This is what it looked like:
Getting my first customers
Before I started focusing on selling the watches, I created my small, simple website to get my first potential customers.
I got some interested visitors by running a couple of Facebook ads right to my landing page. People had the chance to reserve a free spot to buy the watch once it was live.
People started signing up, which was amazing. So I began to contact every single person and ask them to jump on a phone call with me. I wanted to learn what the reason was they were interested in the project and if they were actually going to buy. Eventually, I spoke with over 50 potential customers.
Kickstarter campaign (pre-order)
The manufacturing was expensive because I had to order at least 150 watches (MOQ) to get started. I already knew I was going to have my own pre-order campaign on Kickstarter from the very beginning. People had to pledge before the watches were made, and this allowed me to raise enough money to pay for the watches.
So I launched my Kickstarter campaign in June 2020 and told all potential buyers they could pre-order IGNITE for a limited time. And some of them did! When the campaign was finished, I managed to raise over €11,000. This gave me enough funding to pay for the watches.
When my campaign ended, I started looking more into manufacturing. I eventually ended up working together with a sourcing agent who helped me to find the right manufacturer. For me, it was important that my clients received the highest quality watch possible. Together with the producers, we started looking into picking the best automatic movement, high-quality glass, smooth leather bands, a robust case, and more.
3 months later, I was very excited because I finally received the first real prototypes.
During the waiting time, I tried to give as many updates as possible to my backers.
Eventually, six months after the Kickstarter campaign, I received the 150 IGNITE watches.
The next step was to prepare for shipping. Back at that time, I had no idea how all of this was working, and it took a lot more work than I was expecting. Since we were so small, I decide to ship everything from my home in Ghent. My room was literally like a fulfillment center.
I had to buy e-commerce shipping boxes, watch boxes, business cards, and I also wanted to include a hand-written card for every single customer. We also ended up buying our label printer since this would make the process a bit easier.
Eventually, we were able to ship all watches to the Kickstarter supporters. We were stunned by all the positive reviews coming and exceeded people’s expectations!
This has been a fantastic journey so far, and I’m looking forward to creating more amazing timepieces for you.