Constructive Thoughts: GMK Rocket - A Failure to Launch

So here is a bit of learning and discussion I think we can all benefit from. Recently Project Keyboard has canceled their group buy for GMK Rocket. I think as a community we can learn by constructively looking at what we know about the cancellation to hopefully gain insight about running keysets and the difficulties they have.

First. What is GMK Rocket?


That’s GMK Rocket right there. A red white and blue set. If the blue was darker I’d say it could have been retrofitted as a US Flag set. Since the official page is down on the projectkeyboards website,
here is the link to the GH GB Post:https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=102257.0

More Notes: Using all stock GMK Colors means that the MOQ to hit was 150. The price for the base kit was $125.

So this was posted the other day by Rise of Project Keyboard:
image

And some further poking around led to this picture of their final purchase numbers.
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This keyset was to be run until the end of the month. 1/3 of the month through and 1/3 of the sets sold to meet MOQ. While technically on track to meet MOQ, that is definitely a tough climb since most sales happen either at the beginning of the group buy, or the final 48 hours.

So why did GMK Rocket struggle to hit higher sales numbers? Could there have been any other extraneous factors that Rise mentioned in his Discord post that led to this final outcome?

I believe that the main struggle for this set was marketing - the lack of it. I honestly did not know this set existed until I did research and poking around for my weekly news show, This Week in Keyboards (self shill :stuck_out_tongue:). Before that I had no clue this set existed. I’m usually pretty tapped into the community on what sets are coming out when, so the fact that this felt like it came out of left field to me must have possibly meant it seemed to come from outer space for others.
The marketing presence was weak. There was not a sufficient amount of renders of this set. I believe this can single handedly be pointed at the reason for the failure of this set.

While competition this month is quite fierce, I believe there are currently less sets running than in August (as of 9/10/19). While it can be said that a lot of people are probably tapped out of funds from last month, that is more speculation than not since we still don’t have a good way of assessing the keyboard purchasing power of the community yet (maybe that would be a fun project to work on… what do you think @jshufelt?)

Is this a point of proof demonstrating the transition to the post MOQ world is a tough one indeed? Is this simply a result of market pressures being too intense? Is this an example of the importance of marketing in our community?

I’m curious to hear what you all think.

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I stumbled upon this by chance too. I will however add that despite the lack of advertisement i dont think the set had much going for it anyway. The colour combination is generic and the novelties sparce.
Also it was much to easy to mistake it for an US flag set indeed. No true identity means no emotional connection that moves me to want this. Thats how i feel at least

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Yeah, the thing that kills it is that it just looks… cheap. Like, this feels like a Tai-Hao colorway, not a GMK one.

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I think if this were run with a slightly tweaked palette and maybe a manufacturer change, like JTK (if they ever, you know, get back to that whole “shipping” thing) it could be a successful set. The alternate kit is a unique look, and could go well - but this is too toylike to be a full-on, $125 GMK set.

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While it can be said that a lot of people are probably tapped out of funds from last month, that is more speculation than not since we still don’t have a good way of assessing the keyboard purchasing power of the community yet (maybe that would be a fun project to work on… what do you think @jshufelt?)

My guess is that we don’t have enough publically available data to hang any meaningful statistics on, but that’s a guess - I could easily be wrong. At a minimum, for every keycap set over the last few years, we’d need the GB close date, the kits, # of sales per kit, and final price per kit. Let me see what I can gather?

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Actually, looks like someone has already collected a reasonable amount of data here: https://matrixzj.github.io/

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The alternate kit that was all white with red legends actually looked pretty sick imo, I was def considering it

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I definitely agree with the points about marketing being absent and the set looking cheap (specifically, it’s like I’d expect these colors to be used in a toy for children). To a certain extent, marketing in this hobby relies on the set being interesting enough to get people talking about it. The IC thread was started 4 months ago and it isn’t even 2 full pages long, including the posts talking about how it was cancelled. That means it isn’t getting bumped to the top of the list enough for people to discover it.

Similarly, Reddit posts don’t really get noticed if people don’t upvote them since the vast majority of people who are subbed won’t be going directly to the sub every day to see all the posts that are only at +20. You’d also need multiple posts about a given IC/GB in order to make sure all the regulars see it since e.g. I don’t really check Reddit on the weekends, and you will basically never see a post from Saturday if you’re looking on Monday.

That said, I don’t think it was really a lack of renders since there are plenty of them on the IC thread. But they were all posted at once, none were ever added, and they weren’t posted on the GB thread.

I think Dixie Mech hit the nail on the head back in this video when he said you need to spread out announcements about your set. You need legitimate reasons to bump your geekhack thread and to make more posts on reddit. You need to be able to get people talking about your set again a month after you posted the IC, even if it’s just a few comments. Because if I see something in April and I think it’s cool but then it drops off the map until you’re selling it in August, I’ve probably already forgotten about it.

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I just want to point out how amusing I find it that nowadays we’re looking at the $100-$130 range for GMK sets, even from non-MassDrop vendors. Whereas this time last year we’d be looking at the $150-$170 range, sometimes as low as $140 with Phantom for example.

And with it I’d say it looks like an entire shift in the expectations from sets that hit that upper range if color choice alone is enough to make you consider it not worth it, especially when that $125 is at the 150 MOQ point, nvm 250 like most sets nowadays are needing to hit. I wonder if perhaps it’s more of something similar to that attitude that contributed to the set’s failure.

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The popsicle novelty not being triple-shot was a missed opportunity.

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I had never heard of this either, but agree that it looks rather cheap. There is no shortage of sets these days so I feel like you have to have a compelling theme and color scheme to attract attention

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They’d need JTK for that, AFAIK GMK does not have the capabilities to do triple shot sets. That said I do agree, a triple shot novelty would’ve been awesome for this set. Although I doubt it would’ve turned the tides. I think basically all the factors discussed so far in this thread all came together in the perfect storm to damn this set right now. I am surprised the alternate set with all RoW keys didn’t go over big, maybe if that was the focus of the GB & the popsicle colors was the alt. it would’ve done better?

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I agree with @Manofinterests.

I was very surprised to see this enter GB. I feel like FroYo was the same: I didn’t find out that it was in GB until 2 weeks in.

I think FroYo had a forum sig image. I’m pretty sure Rocket did not. I think those go a long way.

I also think the timing was bad. Rocket, based upon theme, should have run June 1st :slight_smile: September just doesn’t feel right for the summer vibe (in any hemisphere).

FWIW, I was in for base + whiteout kits (wanted something kind of similar to DCS Red Alert).

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Yes - that’s it. I 100% missed his third “megaupdate” to the Rocket IC thread.

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Hey @Manofinterests !

Appreciate the constructive feedback and I agree with a lot of the points you brought up.

Just like your Youtube channel, the expectation that it was going to launch didn’t quite happen. It’s important to take note on what went wrong and improve on it. “Failing” is just another chance to learn how to do things better.

I apologize to all those who joined/were joining GMK Rocket. Rise and I could have done a much better job in various aspects and we are not giving up on the set and Rise is already actively working on it.

Thanks again!

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Quite frankly I’m surprised we’ve seen as many kits run and be successful as we have recently. There are a lot of designs out there, many of which are divisive or repetitive, that have met MOQ. I think it was only a matter of time before we saw and see a set or two fail to hit MOQ.

Perhaps this is indicative of a saturation point but I think it’s too early to tell.

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:thinking:

Pretty sure Nathan Kim’s and Topclack Discord knew about this set and was pretty hyped in said locations.

The IC has 13,000 views on Geekhack

There is a floating Google spread sheet with all IC’d and slated GB of keysets that is widely shared in bigger discord servers.

Due to this… I believe some of your premise of not knowing or lack of marketing is lacking.

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There’s an awful lot of people who don’t use Geekhack (me) or are in any keyboard discords anymore (also me). Three circles does not an MOQ make.

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Also, having eyes on you =/= marketing. I’d be significantly more interested if the first time I saw this set was with the novelties and all of the fancy-pants branding. I think that this definitely has potential, and i hope that @onefiftynine can get a better GB off the ground. Part of the reason why i’m so supremely uninterested in this set is because of the environment i saw it in - it’s literally just a base kit sheet, which makes it look worse than a pretty on-board render would.

This is anecdotal… So was the original premise, hence why I posted a rebuttal

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