Up to now, switchTop has been a reseller of products made by other manufacturers.
Our goal for 2021 is to move into in-house designed products, in particular keycaps.
After looking at how the keycap process works, it seems to go something like this:
- Design a keycap set
- Post to forums for feedback and compatibility tweaks
- Get preorders to meet MOQ
- Wait 12 months or more for production
As we looked at this, a few things did not seem right:
- Risk. Asking buyers to pre-order and then wait a year or more seems like a not great user experience. What if the manufacturer messes up? What if a buyer changes their mind? What if there are unexpected delays? So many things can go wrong.
- Price. I love high end caps as much as the next guy. But we think it’s important to keep the space price reasonable. We believe that the hobby is only going to expand in the coming years and want to make beautiful designs available at an accessible price.
- Speed. The “usual suspect” keycap manufacturers have wait times of around 12 months right now. Ooof. Maybe this is not so bad if you have a pipeline of designs going out years, but that ain't us. After speaking with manufacturers, these waits do not look likely to decrease going forward.
- Collaborative Design. After observing our fair share of group buys over the years, we were torn. On one hand, getting feedback is absolutely necessary to refining the design. On the other hand, message boards can be confusing with dozens of contradicting ideas.
Putting this together, we arrived at these design principles:
Design & Theme: We want to put out keycaps for users who want a piece of art that means something. We would like our keysets to fit together as part of an overarching theme. The theme we have selected is: MYTHOS. It will highlight spirits and creatures inspired by religion, myths, and tales from around the world.
Well Built Yet Affordable: We want our caps to have excellent build and print quality while selling at a reasonable (by civilian standards) price point. After comparing several samples and quotes we have partnered with a China PBT keycap factory that will be able to rapidly onboard new designs as we scale.
Simple: For our first keysets, we are looking to produce a basic kit and are reluctantly giving up some compatibility to make this happen. Our hope is that as we grow, we will be able to meet higher MOQs from our supplier to get custom packaging that will have room for more compatibility keys while keeping the price reasonable.
Community Input: We believe in serving our customers and stakeholders first. We have recruited a group of 10 beta testers from our email list of previous buyers to help us select the right manufacturer, refine our designs, and make trade-off decisions. Once a set hits the IC stage, we want it to be as close to final as possible.
Risk Reversal: Instead of asking you to absorb the financial and time risk of production, we are bearing that risk. We have scrimped and saved to finance our initial production runs so that your cash is not being tied up in our supply chain. We will only collect money when your keycaps are checked into our warehouse and ready to ship.
If you have any questions, comments, or want to get involved WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU.