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From left, Josh Stewart, Bryan Simpson and Dane Watts demonstrate Big Blanket Co.’s flagship product.
Photo provided by Big Blanket Co.
From left, Josh Stewart, Bryan Simpson and Dane Watts demonstrate Big Blanket Co.’s flagship product.

Big Blanket Co. nets $94K on Kickstarter

First production run of 10-foot square blankets should land from China by February

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A local startup selling “the biggest, best blanket ever” conquered its Kickstarter goal by a large margin.

With $94,286 raised in nearly two months, Big Blanket Co.’s crowdfunding campaign came in 943 percent above its goal of $10,000. The campaign launched Nov. 14 and ended Jan. 7.

Co-owners Bryan Simpson, Josh Stewart, Dane Watts and Anthony Tolliver sought the funding to bring to life 10-foot-tall by 10-foot-wide polyester and spandex blankets designed to cover customers from head to toe. In the campaign, 591 backers contributed.

Simpson said he isn’t entirely certain why the campaign resonated with almost 600 people.

“A lot of people have that frustration that their blanket is too small,” he said. “Pointing that out to them was enough to make them realize it. It reaffirms our belief that the idea has legs. It’s a pretty solid proof of concept.”

The blankets sold for as low as $129 through the Kickstarter, and Big Blanket Co. is taking pre-orders through Jan. 31 on its newly launched website, BigBlanket.com, for $149. Its regular retail price will be $199, said Simpson, who has retail experience as founder and former owner of Five Pound Apparel LLC.

The retail price was set at $209, but he said the Kickstarter success gave the company some leverage to negotiate a lower price with the blanket’s manufacturer. Simpson declined to name the China-based manufacturer. He’s also not talking about the partners’ startup investment, other than the $10,000 spent on the website.

The first shipment of blankets – a production run of 1,500 – is scheduled for Feb. 1, Simpson said.

Big Blanket initially tried to manufacture product domestically, but Simpson said it had no takers from the dozens of companies contacted.

“I think some of them thought we were crazy,” he said. “It was definitely a letdown.”

The entrepreneurs will continue to push the product through social media pages established on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

No contracts with retailers have been signed, but he said the company is open to that possibility.

“We wanted to make sure the concept was proven, and once we have inventory, we want to fulfill the orders we’ve gotten first,” he said.

The blanket release wasn’t really timed for winter, but Simpson said that’s how the process panned out.

“In a perfect world, we would have had it done before Christmas,” he said, noting the blanket is for all seasons as it regulates one’s temperature. “Our goal when we set out to make this thing was to make everybody’s favorite blanket, one they will use year-round.”

While Simpson said the partners are “laser focused” on the Big Blanket, they’re open to developing other products. There likely would be a roll out of pattern blankets and other designs later this year, he added.

Simpson also is chief operations officer for Springfield marketing firm Hook Creative LLC, where Stewart is CEO and founder. Simpson knew Minnesota Timberwolves player and Springfield native Tolliver from high school.

Watts is a former teammate of Tolliver’s at Creighton University who played professionally overseas. Watts was hired to run the blanket business full-time.

Simpson said he’d be involved in the day-to-day operations.

The Kickstarter also featured a promotional video starring Springfield comedian and “The Mystery Hour” host Jeff Houghton.

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