Josh Bechtel experienced the power of crowdfunding firsthand with his previous Kickstarter project, the bicymple, an innovative bicycle design that is chainless and minimalistic while still being stylish and functional. Along with exceeding his campaign goal, he received a lot of press coverage from numerous outlets such as TechCrunch, Gizmodo, and the Discovery Channel.
Now he is back again with an entirely different idea: the Plate & Board. It sounds simple enough, but it's probably something most of us hadn't considered before: wouldn't it be much more satisfying and efficient to eat meals like steak off of a plate that includes a cutting board? No more dull knives, damaged plates, or that scratching sound that makes you cringe as you try to cut up your food.
I had the chance to chat a bit with Josh and learn about his motivation to create, the meals the Plate & Board is meant for, and more!
I happened to notice that last year you ran a Kickstarter campaign with much success. Not only was it completely funded, but you actually earned twice as much as your original goal. To what would you attribute this success?
That campaign had a bit of a head start. The product had been out and about on the internet for several months before we launched the Kickstarter campaign, and there was already a large Facebook following and demand for it. By the time the campaign went live, there were many backers waiting with payments ready. Aside from that, it also had the benefit of being a unique product in an industry that is full of people very passionate about what they do. Hopefully with some more support, Plate & Board can repeat that success.
Would you consider yourself an inventor?
That's a tough question! I can be weird about labels, so I'll say that I consider myself to be a curious person who likes to turn ideas into reality.
Are you passionate about cooking or food in any capacity, or are you more interested in creating new personal projects and seeing them through?
Both, actually! I do really enjoy creating new projects and seeing them through. I can be a bit obsessive like that at times. Once I have an idea and think it might be viable, it gnaws away at me until I can get it to a point where I can release it out into the world to prove itself (or fail)! That said, if the product isn't something I'm personally passionate about, I'm much less likely to be so driven.
With Plate & Board, it was a no-brainer. I love to eat and cook, and from the moment I had the idea of bringing a cutting board onto the plate, I knew I'd use it all the time and would be pleased to serve others with it. I have to say, the feeling of slicing food on a cutting board right there on your plate is fantastic! I didn't realize just how much the act of cutting on a ceramic plate bothered me until I got to use the first Plate & Board prototype for the first time! It might sound silly, but having used Plate & Board, it's going to be hard to use anything else!
How long did the design process take, from the computer sketches and models to the initial physical prototypes?
Looking at the calendar, it was about four months from concept to prototype, but that was largely due to the other priorities on my plate (pardon the pun!) slowing the process down.
What sort of person would be interested in using Plate & Board? What is your target audience?
Anyone who ever uses a knife on a plate should be interested in Plate & Board. So too could a person who wants to elevate the dining experience for themselves or their guests. It just feels classier when you sit down at the table with Plate & Board and the whole experience is improved. Anyone who likes to cook knows how good it feels to use a sharp knife on a quality cutting board. Plate & Board brings that experience to everyone at the table.
The target audience is those people who see eating as more than a simple matter of caloric intake and are always looking for ways to improve the experience!
What meals or foods would be best served on the Plate & Board?
Obviously, anything that requires cutting at the table -- steak, chicken breast, pork chops, etc. I can also see it being used to serve a salad, where vegetables are rough cut in the kitchen, then each guest can chop them just how they like them right there at the table!
A nice added benefit of the design is that when the cutting board is removed, the recess functions quite nicely to keep sauces and syrups divided on the plate! I love syrup on my pancakes and bacon, but would prefer to keep it away from my eggs -- with Plate & Board, that's no problem!
What prompted the decision to make the awards for each pledge level strictly different quantities of your product?
I wanted to keep it really simple. With a product like this, I think people just want the product itself. They're not likely to pay to wear a shirt with the Plate & Board logo on it, so why take up unnecessary space with superfluous rewards? Back the project and get the product. Simple as that!
Though your Facebook fan page only has a little over 100 followers, you already seem to have a high level of engagement. Do you have a promotion strategy in terms of Facebook and social media in general?
We're just getting started so it will be interesting to see how that plays out! We all (I think) know the power of social media, so there's always got to be a strategy of some sort! My general approach to developing a brand in the social media realm is to focus on providing relevant material to your audience while still delivering your message. It's a balancing act that, when done well, builds a great sense of community and partnership.
What do you envision for the future of your product?
If all goes well, beyond getting them in households around the world, I'd like to see Plate & Board in restaurants. I love the idea of being served a meal on a plate that has its own, personal-sized cutting board. I'd also like to work toward partnering with knife manufacturers and offering combo sets with knives and the Plate & Board in one package. I think there are a lot of possibilities! We all just need to help spread the word to hit our goal on Kickstarter! The financial backing is absolutely critical in this phase.
As an average guy brought up in a working class family, I love the concept of crowdfunding. It gives anyone with an idea a very real chance at developing their idea into a business without the usual financial constraints related to generating capital, taking on debt, etc. I really appreciate you taking the time to ask some questions to better understand Plate & Board and me! Cheers!
If you feel inspired to support him, head over to his Kickstarter campaign! Even $1 helps, but if you choose to pledge at higher levels, you could receive the original Plate & Board or a two-piece, four-piece, or even eight-piece set!
Josh can be found elsewhere on the web at his website or Facebook page. Follow him on Twitter @PlateAndBoard.