August 20, 2014
From potato salad to mini 3D printers, we’ve all seen some very interesting projects on Kickstarter this year. According to their site, “Kickstarter is the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects. A home for film, music, art, theater, games, comics, design, photography, and more.”
Mugo Muna is the founder of Bora Wear, which is a fashion brand “that produces socially responsible handmade products for men.” He says they’re on Kickstarter to get a collection of handmade belts produced. Here’s what you should know about their campaign:
- “Bora is a Swahili word meaning: first-rate, excellent, better, or best.
- The whole idea was that we were going to both make great products and support Kenyan artisans. Each belt is 1) Handmade by local artisans in Kenya, 2) Uses the highest-quality local Kenyan leather, and 3) Each mold is destroyed after the belt is made, making each belt one of a kind.”
Bora Wear has less than 30 hours to go on Kickstarter and had raised $15,650 dollars, with a little over $1,000 to go.
“It’s super nerve-racking,” says Muna of launching a Kickstarter campaign. “There was a point in the middle of the campaign where pledges kind of stalled, and you wonder if you are doing something wrong. There is such a difference between doing the research and prepping for the campaign and actually being 27 days into the campaign.”
More about Bora Wear and Muna
Muna says living in Kenya has shaped the direction of the brand, but he originally started making t-shirts in summer of 2011. His idea has somewhat pivoted since then.
“The idea was to have different African digital artists submit designs that would challenge the typical portrayals of the continent. Long story short, it didn’t work out, but the idea continued to warp and shift until what it is today,” says Muna, who grew up in Kenya but moved to the US when he was 11.
Muna also attributes much of his entrepreneurial success to his education at Cornell University; involvement with the eLab, an accelerator at Cornell; and joining the Pop Shop, the university’s coworking space.
“The eLab partnered me with an MBA student and other mentoring while the Pop Shop put me in touch with all the other students who wanted to start their own businesses,” says Muna. “Without these two groups, I don’t think I would be where I am right now.”
Advice to entrepreneurs and lessons learned
“I’ve learned that I can’t solely depend on motivation,” says Muna. “There are days where I just didn’t feel like doing anything, my friends were all calling me to come and get ice cream, and I hadn’t been outside in like 36 hours. But it’s in those moments that I realized the importance of caring about what I was doing, having a reason to stay up late.”
Like most young entrepreneurs, Muna has learned that if you want to turn your idea into something viable, you’ll have to take a leap of faith.
“Whatever idea you have in your head, go for it!” says Muna. “Worst-case scenario: you have to come up with another one and maybe the ridicule of your peers. Best-case scenario: it works.”
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