Constructive Thoughts: GMK Rocket - A Failure to Launch

Handarbeit made it but this didn’t :thinking::thinking::thinking:

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it was run by Krelbit, what do you expect

To say that “I didn’t know this set existed” is debatable. The base sheet pic is just how this thread presented it.

Here are some quick notes:

  • Timing (just like fashion, trends for colors change)
  • Competition/Saturation (We had 11 GMK sets run the previous month
  • Money (see above - many are recovering from increased spending on kb related purchases)
  • MOQ prices set a 250 would require a good amount of extras purchased by vendors (US sales are almost always the majority of sales)

Hope that helps!

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Lately, many lauches are quickly gaining backing on discord and reddit. I only occasionally visit those spots when I’m trying to buy something second-hand. I would wager a bet that Reddit ICs often suffer from a lot of early hype that fails to pay off when the product launches for GB. You have to remember that even though reddit has a vibrant market and discussion for keyboard products, these are still the same people who would hesitate to pay full price for ANYTHING. Sorry, but the market that r/mm has created is foul indeed.

Anywhoo, I was really hoping to get the alphas and the white/red mods to go on a red board. Hopefully it happens again down the road.

I do notice products that are advertised on Instagram generally tend to be successful. But, maybe that’s just my browsing habits. I didn’t even realize I wasn’t following projectkeyboard. I AM NOW. SRRY! Probably just not a good time to run stock GMK color sets. Lot’s of interesting ideas out there lately to compete with.

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With all the views and floating through two large discords, the set still sold slowly. It could just be due to market saturation and coming right after one of the busiest months we have ever had. I think it would have reached MoQ, but only just.

The Nathan Kim and Top Clack discords have a lot of people, but they are still a small part of the communities - they also both have a lot of new people that are still learning about the hobby. I dont think the set was that hyped, just talked about - and most of what I saw was about the desk mat.

As for the spreadsheet - it needs a lot of work. There are blind spots in the sheet, especially with profiles other than cherry or SA. If that is due to prefrence of the maintainers that kind of invalidates its use as as master sheet and turns it into someones perspective of whats coming.

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I was about to hunt this data down and plot it, but the author has posted things on Github. Some sets don’t include order counts, specifically the Dixie Mech sets I checked out.

Should be straightforward - if a bit tedious - to submit a PR with publicly-available kit sales data, then parse the N rows after link to get total sales volume.

cc @Manofinterests

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Kicking off this analysis with a launch pun is interesting. In high-risk ventures, launches are aborted when data hints at problems. Operationally you want to stay nimble, but doubling-down on a project with waning prospects limits your options.

One thing I’ve noticed in my little time in this hobby: folks really care about hitting MOQ. It’s rational, of course! You have designed a :sparkles: Keyset :sparkles:, and you want to see :sparkles: Your Keyset :sparkles: exist. Several August GBs crept past MOQ in the last couple of days. Those were probably bought out for extras. I felt for those designers. It’s rough.

That said, one can argue this is an over-commitment to an operational decision in business. This is often a mistake. I imagine Project Keyboard collected enough data to suggest Rocket would require buying out kits, leading to less cash-on-hand for other ambitious projects or keysets like GMK Bingsu or GMK Ashes.

I can’t speak to why this project failed. I personally would’ve insta-copped a base set with alphas + the Whiteout Kit. The mods weren’t my taste, and onefiftynine is probably onto something re: taste in colors.

That said, Project Keyboard deserves credit. Their terminated GB is not a failure - it is an operational decision. We’ll see more like it as keebs mature, lower-MOQ options like KAT and dye-sub gain popularity, and vendors explore higher-quality materials in their boards.

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When I said, “I didn’t know this set existed”, I definitely believed that. Sure I may have saw it at one point or another before hand, but nothing resonated with me since, like many have pointed out, it was not marketed well. Every time I probably saw it felt like the first time as opposed to a concerted effort in marketing.

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Two discords I’m not in and don’t follow. :man_shrugging:

As those view numbers are not unique, it’s hard to say how many are people who wanted to check that thread often for updates or other people who found the set.

My main part of the lack of marketing comes down to the general exposure of the set.

While there may have been many in Nathan Kim’s and Top Clack’s discord who knew about the set, I do not believe that marketing of the set resonated through larger audiences in the community. I have no doubt it was probably well marketed and teased to friends of Project Keyboards, but I do not believe much effort in marketing was used past that.

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that was the better kit imo, I think many people would have rather had that

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“My main part of the lack of marketing comes down to the general exposure of the set.”

Exposure:
:white_check_mark: Geekhack
:white_check_mark: Reddit
:white_check_mark: Instagram
:white_check_mark: Newsletter
:white_check_mark: Top Clack
:white_check_mark: Taeha Types

Missing:
Keebtalk
Manofinterests

  • “Larger audience”
    Where?

  • “Two discords I’m not in and don’t follow. :man_shrugging:
    The two biggest content creators in the community and you’re not following?

  • “I have no doubt it was probably well marketed and teased to friends of Project Keyboards”
    According to Instagram insights, you saw and actively liked my post. Despite the fact that you’re actively avoiding other parts of the community, the set still reached you.

Huey, I want what’s best for the community. This community is growing and we need veteren/experienced enthusiast, like yourself, to provide objective information. Honestly, I’m a bit disappointed for a few reasons:

  1. You did not reach out to me once to discuss the result of this GB.
  2. You decided to post a thread out of context and without research.
  3. You are continuing to be abrasive and rejecting any feedback to comments that correct/contradict/disagree with your OP.

9 sets are running in September and 12 ran in August. To me, this is absolutely amazing because a few years ago you would have to wait MONTHS for another GB set to run. So what’s the problem? Did we forget what a group buy was? The 15th GMK set in the past 2 months didn’t meet MOQ (priced at 250) and the responsibility lands on the Vendor(s) to make it happen?

Let’s go over the numbers for week 1
Base (MOQ: 250): 55
Alt (MOQ: 100): 18
Spacebars (MOQ: 100): 21
Novelties (MOQ: 100): 14

70% of which are US sales and based on data from other vendors (about 80% on average). Let’s say the vendor(s) decide to pitch in and pick up extras. Now do we expect all proxies to evenly distribute the burden when majority of the market is in the US? No, I don’t roll like that. Which means PK picks up majority, if not all, the extras. Now what about kits that are ways off and need to be dropped? Here are a couple things that will happen followed by 14+ week lead time:

  1. Cancelled orders because they can’t get their kits.
  2. Supporters have to suck it up and end up with an incomplete set.

How many times have you joined or heard of a GB that didn’t met expectations, got delayed, or even unfulfilled? I can’t even count. The community is sick and tired of it.

I actively communicated with the designer and the proxies throughout the GB. The decision was made based on data. There’s no room for emotions here when you’re responsible for other peoples money.

If you’re bored, be bored. But don’t drag me into whatever the crap you’re doing here because I’m trying to run a business. Deuces.

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Oops, my bad. Apparently that was “off-topic” and “flagged by multiple people”
So I’ll just say this.

What happened to this community, huh? Have we forgotten that not everything is going to hit MOQ? No matter how much you market some things, they’re just not going to be successful if we continue to have so many sets running at once. There will not be a “Post MOQ” point in the community for a long time, and we’ll see things like this continue to happen. The set simply doesn’t resonate with enough people outside of the North America crowd, and even with those here in NA, it seems to me that they are holding off on buying sets right now due to some of the other keysets that are close approaching.
People see sets selling in large numbers and have to nonsensical idea that ALL sets are going to be able to do that now. But that’s clearly not the case. I fully expect to see more upcoming sets not hitting or barely hitting MOQ in the next few months. There’s simply too much happening at once, and not enough people willing to spend money on it all.

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To preface my response to you, I’m happy you are indulgent to challenge my conjecture with a strong response of your own. Discussions like this are a necessity if we are to see this hobby grow and become more knowledgeable.

Let’s get down to it shall we?

Now let’s examine these checkmarks. Simply saying it exists in one spot or another is not definitive of “good marketing”. While that term is subjective, I think it’s fair to compare the marketing of this set with recent successful sets.

Geekhack:

image
Actually pretty healthy view count although iirc, GH tracks all views, not unique views.
As a comparison:

Reddit:


Not a good showing of advertising here, but not too much either from 9009 also concurrently running.

Instagram


Just two posts. One in August and the other when the GB began. On the other hand, Dixiemech has already made 4 9009 posts this month…

For 8008, 7 posts were made

Newsletter:
I don’t have any insight on the size of your newsletter or Dixiemech’s, so I won’t discuss these.

Top Clack:



32 hits between both members of Project Keyboards. This actually is decently active for a big discord. Moving on to our comparison, I looked up Dixiemech’s mentions of 9009. That’s a pretty penny more.

But in case you might think, "Well some of those results could have been from R2 or R1, then fair enough. Let’s change the parameter to something recent and R1: GMK 8008.
.

Taeha Types:
For these search parameters, I changed it to overall discussion about the topics since with the large population on Nathan’s server, I think how often it is discussed by people in the masses is as important as how often it is pitched by the vendor or runners of the set.


As you can see from these comparisons, simply checking the checkbox isn’t the same as a concerted effort.

While I find your jab at this forum and myself quite hilarious to be honest, most sets don’t have IC or GB threads on this forum and many would still say they are quite visible. While many here would appreciate more ICs and GBs posted in our small forum, no one here is offended when they are not. Yet even when they aren’t posted here, we’re still apart of the keyboard public perception and are aware of what’s what (usually).
Myself as a source on the other hand? I look through information as I can quite routinely. Heck, I even covered GMK Rocket the week it launched so you can mark that off your checkboxes.


But if you asked me before the episode if I remembered the set? I would have shrugged my shoulders.

How about this one:
image
Or this one:
image
Sorry, that may have been too tongue in cheek, but here’s my point:
I think it’s clear from the numbers above. While I agree sure, you checked all of those boxes (and even more), you still failed to capture recognition for the set beyond the posts.

Nope. not sure why this is a point I have to address.

You know what. I’ll plead guilty to mindlessly swiping my way through instagram and liking whatever I see with a keyboard on it. It’s easy to guess whether or not I’ve seen something before. But on September 1st you asked me “Huey, what keysets are running this month?”, then I would have probably replied with the half that I remembered whose marketing struck out to me.

I also want what is best for the community hence this open dialogue.

  1. I don’t feel like I’m required to reach out to discuss the results of this group buy immediately. I did actually reach out to Rise after this post when up to discuss this post with him and we both had a very constructive conversation about how this set went and what can be learned from it. Rise also had an official statement that I will post.
  2. I decided to post this thread with the knowledge on hand. It’s knowledge that most people are able to access, yet not everyone knows all of yet. If you have more information you’d like to share to make sure we are all better informed, I think everyone here would love to hear so we can learn more about the GB process.
  3. I don’t think defending or contending my points really counts as abrasive or rejective since I am acknowledging them One of the points of having constructive thoughts is allowing a critical, yet positive, back and forth of ideas.

I am happy you are supplying more information. I do want to say I was wrong about the MOQ. I originally thought it to be 150 for the base since you used all stock GMK colors. This was my fault. While it is still my contention that the marketing was not the best, I have a deeper understand to why you all decided to pull the set when you did.

Official Statement from Rise:
“This set, being created near my entrance to this hobby, was a good reflection of my flawed mindset of trying to be too different which ended up cheapening the whole experience that the community is shifting towards. I’m happy with the overall set idea but I need to tweak things about it to make it fall more in line with community standards. I created this set the month I discovered Geehack and high end mechs, and it failing was almost an expectation for me the longer it went on”.

At the end of the day my contention still stands that the marketing did not live up to the set.

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Okay, this is getting out of hand. I get the impression that some viewpoints were expressed in a tone that implied negative intentions towards @onefiftynine. I include myself in this.
I think no person here is trying to shame you or expose your failures with malicious intent. In the end we are trying to help you @onefiftynine and others who want to design a keyset like you. So lets all calm down a bit and start with a productive discussion not a blame fest :raised_hands:

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I mean, doesn’t this IG say it all?

Project Keyboard is launching two keyboard GBs soon, fulfilling two keyboard group buys, and running another keyset group buy (Hangul). Their IG reflects that.

Dixie Mech is not a helpful marketing comparison. They’re running one keyset and one keyboard which raffled off in about 12 seconds and has been marketed for months.

Like I said before: it’s an operational decision. You seem to be committed to this marketing line, when Rise and others have offered deeper thoughts about the design GMK Rocket and roadmap at PK.

If you instead offered something like “PK May want to narrow their operations a bit” then I’d agree! That’s exactly what they did by canceling GMK Rocket. But comparing to Dixie Mech - primarily a keycap vendor with lower product counts - doesn’t help much here.

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I have followed this discussion, but have nothing to add other than I don’t care about anything that’s GMK, it’s not my bag. There are a lot of GMK sets up at any given time. Different color ways don’t change the fact that it’s the same old same old. Bright ABS double shots in Cherry profile. How many do I need?

I think this market is very close to saturated. And if we’re selling to the tenth percentile, which I suspect we are, vendors are going to have to come up with profiles and color ways that have novelty, that haven’t been done to death. Otherwise, it’s a race to the bottom. Innovate or die.

My eyes glaze over upon new GMK ICs. It wasn’t always so, as others have remarked, but that’s the way it’s turned.

Still, it’s better to have too much than not enough and lots of new folks with Ducky Minis clutched in their hot little hands are entering the hobby. Good luck capturing interest.

Cherry is way better than OEM, IMO, but getting folks to part with about the same amount of dough as they spent on their spiffy Taiwan keyboard is gonna take some work.

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I personally agree and wonder if cheaper keycaps will be the answer. We on Keebtalk might fit this profile, but not everyone wants to drop $400 on a custom and $200 on a GMK kit with base + two additional kits. I certainly won’t do so monthly, despite being fortunate enough to have that ability.

To your point there’s probably something here about saturation of the high end of the market. People are making tons of GMK caps but there certainly aren’t enough high-end boards or buyers to support these high-end caps. And let’s be clear: GMK caps are a high end product. Most people don’t require doubleshot or ABS.

The middle of the market might be underserved here. It might be worth exploring this (either in design or business).

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I think that pushing stuff like JTK and Tai-Hao as cool-colorway makers is an important thing.

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In my opinion, I feel that this thread/post is making the cancellation of GMK Rocket a bigger deal than it really is. We tallied up the sets sold through the first week and came to the conclusion to pull the GB. Acting early saved us time and energy for other projects we are currently working on. That’s it.

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Oh I agree! I hope you don’t think my comment or anyone else’s comments are a personal attack on you or anyone involved. Business is business. No harm, no foul.

I agree with your decisions, they really make sense, and as someone who might look at your future endeavors, it gives me confidence that you have a level head.

The question is: is there a trend here, or is this a bump in a five-lane highway?

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