With five other students, I was involved in creating a travel mug by UW students for UW students. The DubsCup completed a sold-out run of 200 mugs, with 80 going to Bartell Drugs and the balance going to online and retail sales. We made approximately $1270 in profit.
Most customers were attracted to the design, which was finalized through rigorous user testing against a number of contenders. To cap it all off, we created a unique packaging that highlighted the artwork on the product.
On paper, our team responsibilities were divided as follows:
Arunabh - Marketing
Aaron - Project Manager
Brice - Design
Minghui - Manufacturing
Ipolitas - Sales
Kyle - Operations
In actual terms, I was heavily involved in user testing, product design, market research, and marketing.
User Testing and Market Research
With the team, conducted market research with over 150 individuals using online and in-person paper surveys to narrow our options to four designs.
Then, did Task Analysis and Individual Contextual Interviews with 10 users to determine which design they preferred. Tabulated the results on Excel.
Finalized Mug Design
The design we finalized (seen here as a mockup) through user testing and market research was made mostly of bamboo and metal, both of which are modern and sustainable, and often seen in new buildings across the University of Washington campus.
The measurements here were mainly to ensure that the packaging created by our designer (which I iterated upon) would fit on the mug and not obscure the artwork.
Designing, Iterating and Manufacturing the Packaging
Upon looking at different manufacturers both in the US and abroad, we decided that it would be better to design and manufacture the packaging ourselves.
Though I didn't know many software tools back then, I still worked closely with our designer to manufacture and iterate on the packaging design, as seen above. Our equipment consisted of designing on Rhino 3D, and using a Universal VLS 6.60 laser cutter to cut the C-flute cardboard we had chosen.
Though the iteration took some time (and I caused a minor fire in the laser cutter!), we finalized a piece that we could be proud of at a much lower cost than external manufacturing.
One particular point of pride for me was coming up with an idea for the blanks left behind from cutting the hole at the bottom of the packaging.
An Elegant Design Solution
As seen in the thumbnail above, my idea was to cut each circular blank into two and inscribe a personal quotes from each team member, which we could drop into each mug, giving them a collectible aspect. This meant the "wasted" cardboard blanks could be used in an elegant design solution valuable to users.
Though we iterated to a trapezoidal rather than semicircular shape, the essential idea remained unchanged, and made it to the final product.
My quote was:
"Happiness is cappuccino and a warm scone."
- Arunabh from DubsCup
The Final Product
Click on the video above! This is how we finished with sold-out run of 200, 80 units wholesale at Bartell Drugs, had $3670 in sales revenue, and $1270 in profit.