Finding a Product That People Will Buy

This, of course, might be my fatal flaw.

The product I’m creating is a competition to the humble Enamel Pin, but better.  Our products are different but in a good way. 20171022112223_235x

They are full color (with minimal limitations on color), scalable from single badge to 1000 badges.  The image to the right is a series resulting from a collaboration with a designer, Alyssa Harris, a young designer from Idaho.  As you can see, they are full colors, random shapes and can look pretty damn cool.  Due to the manufacturing method I’m using, and the back end code that I use for generating the badges, I can scale pretty easily based on fairly simple input.

The closest analogy to this product is the enamel pin.  These are lapel pins that are carved/stamped out of metal and then painted to give the color.  These have been slowly gaining popularity for a year or two. There is a large number of the pins on Aliexpress, and so within the Pin community there is a hell of a lot of Rick and Morty pins going around.  These are exactly the same pins.  Emojis are also extremely popular due to the familiarity and generally free artwork.   There is a growing number of kickstarter campaigns where people crowdsource funds – sometimes thousands of dollars to get the first batch done.  Now there are also a lot of absolutely amazing designers and pin collaborators out there.

Soft enamel pins seem to have stabilized at around $9-12 retail.  So that would tell me that somewhere in the $7-10 range would be reasonable – if the financial side maps up.

So how is Badgly different.

  1. These don’t need to only be pins.  Since they are an unfinished blank when we receive them I’ve settled on pin backs for pins, or magnets.  This allows the same design to be used for Lapel Pins on leather jackets, pinboard pins, hat pins.  The magnet form can be for fridge magnets, cubicle magnets or lockers.  So I’ve got a fairly broad set of applicable options.  On Badgly, the purchase options for all designs is either magnet or pin.  I currently don’t differentiate on price since either one comes down to a few cents.
  2. There is no metal, the badges are made out of sandstone, so they are considerably lighter.  A design for a typical enamel pin will usually have the walls in the design, where the metal prevents colors from mixing.  For the Badgly pins there is no wall, you can have colors right alongside each other without needing any separator.
  3. Since we don’t have a die to cut, a single badge is effectively no more expensive than 100 badges.  For custom designs, this makes the difference between a $15 purchase and a $150 baseline purchase.
  4. Designs are easy.  In the simplest form, it’s an image to simple 2D badge.
  5. 3D. Badgly pins can be 3D, in the simplest form each individual color can be raised or lowered to different heights – providing a very unique experience.
  6. Contoured 3D.  Beyond the straight 2D extrusion, Badgly pins can have any 3D contours you’d like. This is similar to 3D cast pins.  3D cast pins have an entry cost for about $200.

Head over to and tell me what you think.


The Long Slow Path to E-Commerce

I’ve had Badgly open for about 2 months now.  Traffic is slowly building, but as is typical in Shopify stores bootstrapping themselves and coming from nowhere, I haven’t made a sale, yet.  I’m actually completely fine with that for the moment, since it allows me to understand what is going on before I feel I am risking customers.

My understanding of the who e-commerce growth aspect goes something along the lines of…

  1. Have a product that people want to buy
  2. Have a website that organically ranks for people looking to buy.
  3. Invest in social media to grow a following
  4. Invest in advertising to get more people

That, of course, sounds very simple.  Now particularly with drop shipping, there are many thousands of stores that throw a nice face on a product using stock photography, market the hell out of it and as orders come in pass them off to a wholesaler who does shipping and other logistics.  In theory a nice little opportunity for some relatively passive income.

I’m not in it for that.

Based on some experiences previously, I’m creating pins, badges, and magnets using full color 3d printing, finishing by hand.  These are more or less in direct competition with enamel pins, but I’ll get onto that later.  So let’s pull apart my assumptions above and see where the lead.

So next post… the product…

This is a post that is part of me documenting my experience building the Badgly store.  All the articles are grouped together under the Badgly Category.

Learnings from an Online Store

I’ve recently opened an online store for Pins, Badges, and Magnets using 3D Printing technology.  The store is called Badgly and is at go there, the link to the left has a 10% off discount applied. They are mostly equivalent to Enamel Pins, but don’t have the high upfront costs of creating the die and manufacturing them.

As part of this journey, I’ll be documenting my experiences with Shopify, Adwords and building an online presence.  I’m not going to guarantee that my assumptions will be 100% correct, but I hope that my experiences will help others going through the same process.

All the postings will be under the Badgly category.  Feel free to post comments, corrections or insights below.  Some of these posts will be cross-posted to Badgly, depending on the contents – on, I’ll be a lot more open about the frustrations, machinations, and pain that goes into building an online presence.

Meltdown and Spectre Computer Vulnerability Cubicle Magnets

When something bad happens, like Meltdown or Spectre, or Heartbleed, your engineers end up having late nights,  grueling daily update meetings.  At the end of the day when the dust settles, we don’t get a Service Ribbon that shows your involvement in those days of battle.

With the security industry creating well-recognized brands and logos some of the bigger vulnerabilities, we might have those opportunities to make sure those that join the firefight get the tech equivalent to the service ribbon.

At Badgly, we’ve created some cubicle magnets that allow for a commemoration of those days when you lots lunches, nights and weekends to solve some of your companies biggest and burning issues.  We’ve got a set of Vulnerability badges for Meltdown, Spectre, and Heartbleed.  We’ll update this post with images when they get back from the printers.  Some sample renderings are below.

For geekiness points, all the vulnerability badges will be golden-ratio rectangles.  Is there a vulnerability that you’d like to see memorialized?  Post comments below.



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