Travel Tuesday: I Kickstarted a New Travel Product
Over the years, Kickstarter has had an interesting trajectory. While it was originally associated with art projects such as independent films (including some that were criticized for using the site to raise money when the creators were perceived as having the ability to self-finance… whether or not that was actually true) and musical albums, it seems that the platform these days is often used to presell products at various stages of development. In the past, this has also proven controversial as long delays, major changes from prototype to finished item, and even unfulfilled promises have abounded. Despite those downsides, a couple of weeks ago, I decided to support my first Kickstarter project in years. Why? Well, because it’s an interesting travel product that I’d love to eventually review: The Sleeper Hold.
Since I won’t be able to review the Sleeper Hold for some time, for today’s Travel Tuesday, I wanted to share what about the product caught my eye, what the process of pledging to the campaign was like, and what I expect to happen from here.
Kickstarting the Sleeper Hold
The Sleeper Hold is pitched as the world’s best travel pillow. In contrast to several other Kickstarter efforts I’ve seen in the past, this doesn’t mean packing in a ton of overkill features that sound like good ideas but really just result in an overpriced, overengineered disaster. In contrast, the Sleeper Hold’s concept is simple.
Basically, it attaches to your airline seat (or similar) to help you keep your head in place while dozing. As someone who knows the annoyance of what the product description aptly refers to as “Bobble Head Syndrome,” this solution spoke to me. What’s more, it includes a built-in eyeshade, which I’ve found to be surprisingly effective on past flights.
Incidentally, the Sleeper Holder is an invention from Rener Gracie, who previously created the Quikflip hoodies that I love so much (and own two of). In fact, when I first saw the IG ad for Sleeper Hold, I recognized him right away. I suppose that also factored into my decision to support the project and my confidence that it will make it to market.
As I noted, Kickstarter campaigns have largely become preorder opportunities for products like the Sleeper Hold. Basically, it’s a chance for startups to show there’s an interest in their items, gives them the capital they need to manufacture said items, and often also allows early adopters to score a discount from what the expected retail price will be.
On that note, when I made my pledge on launch day, I was able to preorder one Sleeper Hold for $29. Since then, this tier has risen in price, now coming in at a cost of $37. Meanwhile, if and when it hits retail, it will apparently go for $60. In addition to the core product itself, there are also patches available, with fun patches that can be attached to your eye mask, with saying such as “Sorry 4 Snoring” and “Wake for Food.” A bundle with patches and the Sleeper Hold (sold under the moniker Sleeper Hold Pro) are currently $44 on the Kickstarter and are expected to retail for $75.
One kind of annoying issue I ran into when pledging was false scarcity. See, for whatever reason, this tier had a limit on it — which would be somewhat understandable, except they kept raising the limit. Despite these regular increases, there was a moment when I was unable to complete my pledge because it said that the tier level had been filled.
After briefly considering purchasing a two-pack instead, I decided to start over and go for the single — which worked the second time. I’m not sure if this was due to an error in how the campaign was set up (in other cases, I’ve seen a “super early bird” tier set up with a pledge limit and then a higher tier that’s open once the lower one fills) or what the deal was, but I’m glad I was able to get through it after this hiccup.
What happens now
According to the Kickstarter site, the Sleeper Hold campaign will close on June 2nd. As of this writing, the product has already raised more than $800,000 — far higher than the $50,000 goal. As for when the product will be in my hands, their FAQ states that they currently expect to begin shipping in October. Of course, as the supply chain debacles of the past few years have taught us, that could always change. Actually, though, while I was writing this post, I got an update saying that they were now expecting to begin shipping in “early to mid-September.” So that’s encouraging.
Personally, having been through the Kickstarter process before, I’m not going to spend too much time worrying about when my Sleeper Hold might arrive. Despite this, I am pretty confident that it will, indeed, deliver — unlike some other famous projects. On that note, I very much look forward to giving it a shot as I think it could help fix a real problem. And, while it will certainly look a bit silly, I’ve learned a long time ago that there’s no looking cool in economy on a long-haul flight. So, bring on the Sleeper Hold!