Meet the Designer: Inside the K9 Rucksack Kickstarter Project

Meet the Designer: Inside the K9 Rucksack Kickstarter Project

Posted by Brooke Spater on 27th Feb 2019

Put what you’re doing on hold because we’re pretty sure you’re going to be giddy with excitement when you hear what our top design dogs are up to. After more than 15 years in business as the pet travel, pet safety, and adventure experts, we have decided to launch our first product on Kickstarter. Our new K9 Rucksack is a modern backpack for the commuter and the adventurous types and is the perfect solution for carrying your pet.

We sat down with our co-founder and head of design, Kitter Spater, to learn more about this exciting new project as well as to hear more about what inspires he and his team when designing products. To-date, Kitter and team have developed upwards of 250 commercially-sold products.

Kurgo: Tell us about your inspiration behind designing this bag.

Kitter Spater: Recently there has been a growth in “heritage” styled product that infuse a generational past aesthetic with modern outdoor DWR (Durable Water Resistant) fabrics and trims. Gen Z and millennials are looking for strong connections to the past and authentic looking products. Brands like Blundstone, Lowe Alpine, Burton, Herschel and even Canadian Goose are leading the outdoor industry in high quality, well built, lasting styles. With the growth in small dog ownership, I feel there is a demand for a better-looking dog carrier that meets the needs of today’s customer. More people are bringing their dogs with them to work, hiking, or to the store, and we felt that it was time for a carrier that reflected the true daily needs of our consumers.

Kurgo: What are some of the features and benefits you are most excited about with the new Rucksack?

KS: I love the general aesthetic of the carrier and the durability of the materials. It is really designed to blend into whatever environment you are using it in. If you are in the city, on a bus or train and want to go true ninja stealth, you can zip the dog in, drop the flap, and no one will even know you have a dog with you. For more freedom and a better view, just roll the top up, unzip the air vent, and your dog will have an unobstructed view of the world. It’s about creating a product that meets the needs of the dog and human and creates the opportunity and experience of going together easier, safer, and more enjoyable.

Other features and benefits that you may enjoy:

  • DWR fabric (Durable, water resistant)
  • Armor-sole waterproof bottom
  • Secure tether on the inside
  • Laptop sleeve
  • Tablet pocket
  • Removable, washable bottom pad
  • Ergonomic, comfort control shoulder straps and back pad
  • Sternum strap
  • Tons of utility hooks
  • Bottle opener
  • Holds pets up to 25 lbs.

Above: This is a typical sketch created in the design phase of product design.

Kurgo: Why is Kurgo using Kickstarter to launch a new product?

KS: For a long time, we have been looking for ways to get direct design feedback from our amazing supporters in the early stages of product development. We are always looking to improve our products and designs using real people and real dogs to help with that process. A Kickstarter campaign is the perfect way to execute that.

Kurgo: Why should people consider jumping in on this unique opportunity?

The Kickstarter campaign allows people to be the first purchasers of the product before it will be available anywhere else, and the price is ~30% below where the regular MSRP will be. More importantly, the early supporters of the Kickstarter campaign get a chance to be instrumental in the design and development of the product. It allows us to solicit opinions and ideas early in the product launch process, thus allowing the consumer to take an active role in the creation of the product.

Kurgo: What was the most fun part of designing this product?

KS: I love all steps in the design, manufacturing and consumer testing process, however my favorite part of creating a new product is the very beginning. This is the conceptual stage, where you are looking to solve a problem, but the solutions are nearly endless. Some will obviously work much better than others, but I love the exploration of concept, style, function and utility.

Kurgo: What parts of designing the K9 Rucksack proved to be the most challenging?

KS: The greatest challenge was making a pack that is aesthetically pleasing while still making the utility suitable for pets. For instance, creating enough ventilation while still making the pack look solid and not like a standard pet carrier. My goal with this project is to change people’s perception of what a pet carrier looks like. When designing any new product, you try to think of all of the issues with design, construction, sizing, manufacturing and aesthetics but we need feedback from our customers to make a product perfect. We call this the evolutionary process of design. We never feel a product is final, and we review comments and feedback before placing every new order to ensure that we are constantly creating the best product possible. We have never had any major issues with a new product, but it is also why we offer a lifetime warranty, which allows us to fix an issue if we don’t nail it the first time. We aren’t perfect but we strive to make perfect products and create a stellar customer experience.

Kurgo: Any ideas for future Kickstarter projects?

KS: Currently we are only running the Kurgo K9 Rucksack Kickstarter campaign. However, if all goes well, we would look to use Kickstarter as a platform to launch more innovative products in a skunkworks fashion. The consumer feedback loop and ability to rapidly modify products prior to production makes Kickstarter a perfect platform to accelerate our innovative work based on human and dog needs. 

Our funding deadline for this project is March 20, 2019. Learn more here. 

What products would you like to see us develop next? Share your ideas in the comments below!

Brooke Spater oversees social media marketing at Kurgo. Among other things, she manages the Kurgo blog and enjoys spending time with her husband, 3 kids, and their 90 lb. Goldendoodle named Baxter.