It was crunch time. Lucas had just returned from the crate-manufacturer with over two dozen crates fresh from our local manufacturer—so fresh, in fact, that the glue was still drying on some of them. Jon and Sam had spent the morning prepping the contents for each crate and doing logistics for the big show. It was less than four hours until showtime, and the pressure was on.
We’ll get back to the story in a bit, but first, a little background: Man Crates was founded last year. Though we’ve been in business since then, we decided to challenge ourselves (as if running a startup wasn’t a challenge in and of itself). So our team joined the Launchpad program at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University, colloquially known as the “d.school.” Launchpad is led by eBay alum and angel investor Michael Dearing and former Patagonia COO and Timbuk2 CEO Perry Klebahn, and each year they accept about a dozen startups made up of some of the best and brightest from Stanford University and Silicon Valley into the program, which serves as a startup accelerator of sorts, helping push teams to market faster than they otherwise might.
Man Crates was in a bit of a unique situation at the start of Launchpad since we were the only team of the dozen that had already launched. But we put in the same effort as the other teams to learn about our business and the market
space, study pricing and marketing strategies, drive down our production costs, and structure our company.
Tuesday was a big day for the teams: the “Beta Launch Trade Show.” The event was open to all, and hundreds of people were projected to show up. A panel of diverse judges—from middle schoolers to area VCs to designers at local companies like IDEO—would be in attendance, rating our companies. While the Trade Show truly marked the launch of all of the other companies, we still treated it as if it were ours, too.
And that meant going all out.
We built crates by the dozens. We pulled late nights getting our branding materials together. We made shirts, engraved pint glasses, and built two prize boards with dozens of tiny fist and crowbar brands on them.
The morning of the show was busy, to say the least. Jon and Sam binned crate contents all morning. Lucas arrived by noon with the remaining crates and Team Man Crates got to work prepping, packing, and sealing crates. Within an
hour, the floor of Man Crates HQ was covered in Crates, Beef Jerky Ammo Cans, and plates with half-eaten pieces of pizza.
It was down to the wire. Jon was still sealing the final crates while Lucas and Sam started setting up the booth. The last batch of crates arrived just twenty minutes before the show started. The booth was ready to go—Man Crates branding everywhere. The t-shirt cannon was armed and ready. Oh, yeah, we had a t-shirt cannon. Did we forget to mention that? It was awesome. We christened her the Shirtzooka and all fell in love with her. We loved her so much, in fact, that we’re working on a prototype Giftzooka for gift delivery. Stay tuned on that one.
Finally, it was go-time. The Oaxacan Kitchen Mobile (purveyors of some of the finest mobile Mexican food in the South Bay) was outside, filling the atrium of the d.school building with the smell of carnitas. The teams were standing at
their booths, ready to deliver their pitches to judges and curious show attendees alike. At four o’clock, the doors opened, the crowd flooded in, and the show began.
Stay tuned for Part II of the Man Crates Launch Party story!