One of Kickstarter’s famous proclamations is that it isn’t a store, despite how many hardware startups use it pretty much as a pre-order platform, but now there is a store for gadgets made by early-stage companies, both shipping and pre-production. ShopLocket and parent company PCH International are launching Blueprint today, a store for early stage companies to shop their wares, featuring gadgets you might recognize from Kickstarter and other crowdfunding campaigns, as well as some pre-production products that might be new to you.
“At one point and time, we had a featured section with about six or seven products [on ShopLocket,] but it’s never been that you could have a marketplace,” explained ShopLocket founder Katherine Hague in an interview. “Now we’re curating those from people who use ShopLocket, from across the PCH network and even from people who aren’t connected to the PCH network, using our bird’s-eye view [...] to pick the best in class from the industry.”
The new store is called Blueprint, but that might sound familiar because ShopLocket and PCH previously launched a hardware startup resource and industry trade publication at TheBlueprint.com. Those resources still exist, but they now live behind a link called “Startup resources” on the shop itself. Hague says the change represents a shift to a more consumer-focused approach to the business of curating hardware startups on the web.
“The idea really is to make ‘TheBlueprint.com’ a consumer destination, to discover some of these amazing new products that are coming out,” she said. “And then if you happen to be an entrepreneur that’s visiting the site, you can go to the startup resources section to find all the tools and things that we were collecting before.”
Hague says the consumer destination was always part of the plan, but that the decision to make it the focus of TheBlueprint.com rather than a separate, standalone destination had to do with response to the launch of the original site, and the traction they were getting from consumers that showed it had a lot of potential to be a destination for people looking to shop, rather than just learn about hardware startups and the business.
The store should have a regular influx of new content, Hague says, and the reason it can confidently call itself a store is that it either buys inventory wholesale from companies that have already got production going, or in the case of its pre-production storefronts, works directly with the startups involved through PCH and has an extremely high level of confidence that it can fulfill its orders. For PCH’s broader strategy, this serves the purpose of providing a functional landing retail outlet for companies that it’s helping come to market, but the broader mission of just giving hardware startups in general another place to gain visibility and customers is borne out by the fact that non-PCH companies are included, too.
The bottom line is that the next time you want to order a slightly off-the-beaten path doodad, you’re probably better served visiting TheBlueprint instead of Kickstarter, unless part of what you want out of your purchase is the thrilling uncertainty of whether it’ll ever actually ship