Kiwi Kickstarter campaign raises $360k

By Ben Chapman-Smith

Two Kiwi entrepreneurs have been left stunned after raising more than $300,000 in a crowdfunding campaign for their start-up travel gear company.

Doug Barber and Jimmy Hayes launched a campaign on US site Kickstarter last month, with the aim of raising $30,000 from the global travel community.

Their first product - a stylish carry-on bag - has attracted the support of nearly 1,500 people from all over the world.

A total of $US304,000 ($NZD360,000) has been raised, with 17 hours remaining in the campaign.

Speaking from Thailand today, Nelson-born Hayes said the two friends were feeling "pretty damn stoked".

"We weren't joking around when we set the target of $30,000 and we thought that was realistic. It's really taken off for us."

Most backers have pledged $229 or more which effectively means they have pre-purchased one of the bags.

Hayes said although the friends did not expect to raise so much, they were prepared for success and had systems in place to cope with increased demand.

"We have a good manufacturer and we've been planning this so long that we're not facing any problems. It's all in hand. We'll be packing a few more boxes but that's it."

Barber and Hayes founded their company Minaal after spending 52 days travelling around North America together and deciding there was a need for lighter and more practical travel gear.

After designing their product in New Zealand, the pair moved to San Francisco earlier this year to prepare for the Kickstarter launch.

They are both now "living out of backpacks" in Vietnam to oversee the manufacturing process.

Their carry-on bag opens flat like a suitcase and features straps which can be zipped away, a compartment for electronic devices, a phone pocket, passport pocket, pen holders, and a key clip.

The first run of bags is on track to be completed in April next year, Hayes said.

Through Minaal, the friends aim to make "durable, professional travel gear that gets you where you want to be - faster, happier and more productive".

Their target market is the dedicated traveller who wants to travel light but maintain a professional appearance, rather than looking like a backpacker.

Once the carry-on bag is in the market, Minaal plans to manufacture other pieces of luggage and clothing items such as an an easy-maintenance business shirt.

Hayes said receiving the funding round had confirmed there was a need for their product.

"The dollar amount is very much secondary. What really matters for us is that we've now got a crew on board that we can move forward with."

Kickstarter announced yesterday that it would be opening up to Kiwi-based projects from November 13.

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