Vanacci: how they’ve repeated used Kickstarter to grow from £60k in year one to £220k in year 2 (that’s 267% up!) (episode 121)

James Whitfield is the one in charge at Vanacci, together with Ryan Ward the Sales Director and Shaun Sykes the Creative Director runs an online only retailer, who also do wholesale. They are bringing a fresh modern look to men’s accessories – and becoming masters of the crowdfunding product launch. They launched in late 2014 and had a year two turnover of £220k up from £60k in year 1.

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About the business

  • eCommerce Business Structure – Online Only
  • Product Range Scale – niche
  • On Shopify
  • Based in the UK, sell worldwide
  • Team
    • We interview the 3 founders, there are also a crafter and an agency PR assistant

Listen to learn how they’ve modified Shopify with custom programming, and how they use Auto Print.

Getting Started

James, Ryan, and Shaun used to be design consultants, working on everything from computer mice to paint trays. When the products they were working on came to an end, they decided that if they designed and produced their own products, they could create much higher-quality, more useful items for people. It was nice to take a step back from consulting on a varied mixture of products, and start designing things they actually cared about.

They decided to go the eCommerce route for control of their products. Vanacci is their designs produced their way.

Listen to learn the benefits of outsourcing content creation for decent, curated content as part of an overall branding and marketing approach.

The Products

Vanacci sells men’s accessories. They have things like wallets, card cases, watches, and fragranced jewelry. They developed a material called Lockstone, which allows the buyer to capture and extend the life of their fragrance. The buyer can infuse bracelets, pendants, and cufflinks with their perfume or cologne, allowing the fragrance to last about seven times longer than if it was sprayed on the skin.

Most Awesome Thing Right Now

At Vanacci, they’ve managed to marry their love of design and give people products that aid them and that they enjoy.

They create things that they really love, that other people love, and that help their customers in their everyday lives with how they want to be perceived.

They enjoy the entire design process, and that’s leading to happy people the world over.


James, Ryan, and Shaun began crowdfunding from day one of Vanacci due to necessity. They had the ideas, but not the money to fund production. Their first Kickstarter raised 24,00 pounds for a carbon fiber wallet. They’re now on their seventh Kickstarter.

Running Kickstarter campaigns builds a following and a community. There are a spectrum of backers, from serial backers who’ve backed hundreds of projects to individuals who come out of nowhere but are interested in what you’re doing. They’ve had some people back every single project, and can rely on them.

Vanacci can also use those reliable backers to see if the product needs to be tweaked. One of them even critiqued an entire project for Vanacci during a Kickstarter campaign.

Crowdfunding also allows them to measure risk before spending a lot of money on something people aren’t interested in. Normally, if something does well on Kickstarter, it will also do well on the website and wholesale.

Top Tips for Running a Crowdfunding Campaign

Be prepared to put time into the marketing side of it. It’s not a sales platform, it’s a marketing platform. You don’t come out of a Kickstarter with a lot of profit, but the reach you get is sensational if you put the time into research and marketing.

If possible, have a small batch of samples ready to send to bloggers and people who will talk about the product before you launch the Kickstarter. It gives you a head start from day one, and instills confidence in the backers.

Put the work and effort in before the campaign launches. Don’t run into a campaign and then start trying to do everything. Have everything laid out, and know exactly what you need to do before you launch.

If you’re sending products, really do your research on the shipping. If you don’t put enough towards shipping, you can hemorrhage the funds you’d managed to collect. It’s very important to get shipping right.

Listen to learn how they reward backers with limited edition perks.

eCommerce Book Top Tip

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • Kickstarter

You can hear about all this on the podcast, for free – right now…

Tool Top Tip

  • WhatsApp
  • Dropbox

Start Up Top Tip

Know the market inside out, and be prepared to invest in the marketing. Be ready for that to be hard, and for it to not get any easier. Don’t take marketing firms at their word, because things can change so much that their promises may be impossible.

Interview Links