How to Create a Product in China (And Make $100k in a Week on Kickstarter)

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 02/13/19 •  13 min read

Updated February 2019 to ensure all advice in this story is up to date.

Here at Location Rebel, it’s pretty obvious that we’re a big fan of creating lifestyle businesses. That can mean a lot of different things to do different people, but usually this comes in the form of freelancing or niche sites.

But that’s not always the case.

Sometimes you have an idea so good, and with so much potential, that it’s impossible not to capitalize on it. How to Create a Product in China (And Make $100k in a Week on Kickstarter)

And on a trip to China a few years back it wasn’t me who capitalized on an idea, but my friend Ryan Beltran – who took it, and through a launch on kickstarter that made over $500,000, he introduced Original Grain to the world.

What is Original Grain?

It’s a company that makes wooden watches.

You see, my wife Tate used to have this wooden watch, back before they were a thing.

I’ve never seen anyone get so many compliments on an accessory in my life – and considering hardly anyone was making them, there was a big opportunity to create a new business around them.

I traveled to China to meetup with some friends and to find factory that made them to consider starting a business around it myself.

While I decided the timing wasn’t right for me, Ryan ran with the idea, and well, the rest is history.

In this post, Ryan goes over what it took to go from idea to physical product, to launch.  If you’ve ever thought of making a product of your own, then this is a must read.

Want more in depth hand holding on how to get started?

Check out: How to Build a Physical Product in China

This video provides a good overview of it as well.

Original Grain Watches: A Case Study for Making a Product in China and Successful Launching on Kickstarter

I emailed Ryan some questions I was curious about as it relates to how he built the watches and the company, here were his responses.

Where do you even begin looking for people who can actually make a product for you?

Once you’ve determined the product you’d like sell, knowing where to look for suppliers can easily seem like one of the most overwhelming tasks on your list. Thankfully for me, the largest trade show in China (The Canton Fair) was just a quick train ride away. Spanning over three weeks with three different phases, you can literally find any and all products there.

If you do decide to invest in a trip to attend the fair, the key is to have a well established game plan prior to going. I can still vividly remember the first time I walked into that massive complex and having no idea where to begin. However, if you come prepared with specific products in mind you can get started from day one meeting with suppliers and setting up visits later that week. I’d highly recommend attending The Canton Fair or similar trade shows to find manufacturers and inspire your product ideas even further.

If I can’t make it over to a sourcing fair, where should I go? Can I still do this?


For those without the start-up budget to travel and attend a sourcing fair, other alternatives do exist. I’m sure most people are aware of websites like Ali Baba, where you can virtually search for any product and find more suppliers than you’d ever need. This is great place to start. But you’ve gotta be really careful, quality control is really difficult when you’re not on the ground, and you never quite know what you’re going to get.

This is why going to someplace like the Canton Fair is so nice, because you can feel samples of other products and get an idea of the quality.  Sean and I went through literally dozens of watch manufacturers and only found a handful that were up to my standards for Original Grain.

If you’re really serious about doing this without going to China, your best bet is to get in touch with someone on the ground there who knows what they’re doing.

I have a couple American friends who do nothing but sourcing for a living, getting in touch with someone like that will ensure that you enter the process with your eyes wide open.

Check out: How to Find a High Quality Supplier on AliBaba

So, the initial idea was for a wood watch. You took it even farther than I could have envisioned, how did you evolve it into something so unique?

This initial idea goes way back to my original research into the watch market and stemmed from the fact that there was minimal competition. Once we left the fair and I’d determined there truly was a need in this niche, I knew there was one more thing to do…niche down even further and come up with something that hadn’t been done before.

How to Find a Niche:

After talking with consumers, we learned some of the big problems with other products out there were a lack of durability, little reliability in the cheap Chinese movements, and a lack of “day-to-day” wearability.

So I went to work, and the result was a hybrid design that features 100% all-natural wood and stainless steel. The evolution was definitely a little more complicated than that, but at the end of the day my goal was to offer an innovative and simply better alternative to the current wood watches available, that you could wear day in and day out in any situation.

How did you design it? Can factories in China pretty much do anything you want?

The design process was easily one of the most exciting parts about taking the watch from concept to physical prototype. If you want to create it, you can find a factory to make it. I’m by no means a professional designer, but my previous background in product development definitely made things easier.

Factories are generally very helpful when it comes to developing your product. In my experience with these watches specifically, they had an in-house team of designers that were able to help refine things prior to making a prototype. As a side note, having someone who can speak the native language is essential if you need a lot of help with this.

This is also another benefit of being close to the manufacturer, I could hop on a train and meet in person with the team that was actually creating my watch.  We made a lot of changes in the early going that I simply don’t think would be possible if I wasn’t there in person.
What sets you watch apart from other similar watches? (Inspiration, high quality materials etc)

The number one thing that sets my watch apart from others is the design. It truly is unique. Second, these watches offer a much higher quality feel than their competitors. By incorporating wood and stainless steel into the design, I was able to give it that natural wood look, with a more classic and “real watch” feel.

We source the majority of our materials and parts from around the world, and the factories were a huge help in facilitating that process. For instance, we didn’t want a cheap movement. We wanted the watch to be reliable, and still affordable. So we went with one of the most well-regarded Japanese movements out there. In terms of perceived quality, it’s second only to Swiss movements, which cost many multiples more.

We also sourced our own wood from various countries. We don’t alter the wood’s natural color, but simply give it a protective polish that will maintain its original look.

How much time did it take from idea to having a working prototype? What big changes took place?

I had the initial idea back in May of 2012 when Sean was in China, sat on it for awhile, and then decided to really make it happen in July of that year.

Once you fin a reliable, quality supplier to manufacture your product the timeline really isn’t that long to have a working prototype. You have to understand the fact these factories are extremely goof at what they do and can pump things out in a hurry. Once I had the initial designs ready, it took about a month to receive a prototype.

The majority of your time will be spent tweaking designs and finalizing everything. For example, I had to purchase new molds for the case and band, I shaved off fractions of a millimeter from the wood bezel, and slightly altered my face designs. All of which takes time.

Are there minimum order quantities you have to have to even get a factory to work with you?

The minimum order quantity (MOQ) levels will vary depending on your product.

Of course the cheaper your per unit cost is, the higher the MOQ and vice-versa. When I first started to manufacture products in China, I thought there was little wiggle room to negotiate the minimum order with factories, but what I’ve found is they’re actually pretty flexible. This is yet another reason why it’s beneficial to visit the factory in person, as they will be more likely to work with you on this if you do so.

Very rarely is the initially quoted MOQ going to be a deal breaker if you can’t meet their requirement.

What are all of the costs associated with the manufacturing process? (Design, Proto development, QC,)

This will vary by the product you’re dealing with and from person to person depending on skill set, where you live, and personal preference. If you have the ability to do the design yourself then you can factor out that cost. Prototypes can add up quickly if you need to make a lot of adjustments. For example, I had to purchase molds for my watch case and band in order to get the exact specifications I wanted. Then purchase samples to test color combinations and different face designs.

Quality control comes down to your preference, time, and location. For me, I was able to be on the ground from start to finish.

But for most I assume this is not the case. I would suggest for those who are not able to either go visit the factory at all or do quality control, hire out someone to do this for them. Absolutely do not try and do this from your home country and outsource with no help from someone on the ground. And I strongly advise you make a visit to see your factory at some point.

If I were to put a rough estimate on the amount of money one should expect to spend starting a similar type of project, I’d say $5,000…on the high end.

That would easily get you through the design stage, into factory samples and prototypes with more precise specifications, and a final product with packaging. I’d even go so far to say this much initial capital could get you to China for a factory visit. At that point, you’re going to be a little strapped for cash to market your product/business or get a super baller website, but that’s why platforms like Kickstarter are so great!

Here’s a more thorough walkthrough of how to work with factories in China.

Original Grain

Now let’s jump into the fun stuff. Kickstarter. $25k in 24 hours, going on closer to $100k now after almost a week.  What do you think led to so much fast success?

As I’m sure most of you know, the key for success with any online business is generating traffic.

So, prior to launch that was my number one priority. I reached out to everyone I knew. I told them all about my project and launch date, and really tried to get as many people to contribute in the first few hours of going live as I could.

No one wants to be the first person to join something, so if I could get the people that had already committed to donating to do so early, I knew that could be a big factor in building momentum.

One of the biggest unexpected factors was receiving enough momentum to land on the front page of Kickstarter in their “popular” category – which generated even more traffic.

I had my goal of $10,000 reached in less than 5 hours and I truly believe it was huge for creating a buzz around the project. Who doesn’t want to hop on a fast moving train?

How Do you Make a Kickstarter Video for a New Product? Your’s looked great!

First and foremost, let me come right out and say that I literally had zero hours, minutes, or seconds in video editing experience prior to making our Kickstarter video. That being said, I too was please with the finished version

Like all things when you’re starting your own business, it was yet again another great learning experience…frustrating at times, but invaluable in the long run.

One piece of advice I can give when it comes to making a video for Kickstarter, is do your research. Watch countless videos, especially projects similar to yours (that were successful), and see what they did. Take bits and pieces from their videos and craft a unique story. People want to connect with you on another level beyond your awesome product.

With the money you’re raising, what’s next for the brand?

I’ll be honest and say prior to the campaign my answer to the “next steps” question was a little different…for obvious reasons! With the success I’m having and the money I’m raising, knowing where to allocate funds is crucial as I work to manage the growth.

Continuing to build my online presence will remain a priority, however I now have a lot more leverage in finding retailers to carry my brand. Being able to fall back on the fact I’ve received so much demand in only a few days since I launched, immediately establishes a new level of confidence, and more importantly, credibility with my product. With that said, I’m crafting an in-depth sales and marketing strategy to sell my watches beyond an e-commerce platform and extend my reach into as many physical retail outlets as possible.

Exciting times for us at Original Grain and we can’t say thank you enough for all of the support. I welcome an questions people have about the manufacturing process or strategies surrounding the Kickstarter campaign, and will get back to everyone as quickly as possible.

You Ready to Get Original?

I’m stoked to see how the rest of this year plays out for Ryan and Original Grain. We spent a lot of hours on Tuk Tuks and in the back of buses talking about how he was going to approach this launch, and obviously he did a lot of things right.

Ryan was also cool enough to give me a prototype of the maple design, and I get compliments on it every time I wear it.  The owner of the highest end watch shop in Portland even said “oh wow, this is a really cool piece” when I took it in to get the links resized.

Interested in watches or any other aspects of making products in China? Just drop a comment!

Want to learn how to do the same thing Ryan did? Check out: How to Manufacture a Physical Product in China

Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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93 comments on "How to Create a Product in China (And Make $100k in a Week on Kickstarter)"

  1. Awesome story. Ryan, do you know Chinese, or did you work with an interpreter to help navigate the Chinese factories and the Canton Fair?

    1. Sean says:

      Most of the representatives for the factories at the Canton Fair speak English. I never had any issues communicating when I was there. I’m sure Ryan can go into more detail, but I’d imagine the people you’re working with at the factories are also pretty fluent as well.

  2. Payman says:

    Hey Ryan,
    I’m extremely happy for you brother! I know you worked your butt off and you more than deserve this. Now go out and make this into a worldwide brand success. To your massive success!

    Let’s chat soon!

    Thanks for posting this Sean!


  3. Allen says:

    Great article Sean. Got some ideas going in my head from it.

  4. Tristan King says:

    Woohoo, go Ryan! Great article and massive congrats on the success of the campaign.

  5. Awesome article. You are right that there are not many sites written about this. Many of the friends I know who live in Guangzhou or Hong Kong tend to export existing items already. As for importing items, I hear that foreign wine is increasing in demand. I know someone who is starting to do that if you want a new contact in Guangzhou.

    1. Sean says:

      What’s their name Sarah?

  6. His name’s Eric Arroyo and I think he’s now working with a company called Torres China Wine Company. I can shoot him a message on facebook and your email address if you want.

  7. Harrison says:

    Wow Ryan! Congrats on the quick success. Such a great story.

  8. Trav says:

    Sean, thanks for sharing this and congratulations Ryan. You’ve really killed it with Kickstarter. I really appreciate you sharing actual numbers (ie. You’d expect it to cost $5,000 max to do the same thing) since most of the time these types of articles obscure those facts.

    As someone who is looking to try to break in to this arena, this post is an invaluable blueprint. Thanks for the inspiration and expertise!

  9. Alan says:

    Incredible story – thanks for sharing!

  10. Toyiah says:

    Inspiring. I’d followed Ryan via Tim and Nick for some time as well. You guys are truly doing your thing. We just left China in October and to say the least it was absolutely AMAZING!!! We’re going back soon.


  11. Benny says:

    A great article! Always wondered what the process was like so it’s awesome to get a behind the scenes look.

  12. Jose says:

    This was a really eye opening article. Is there an American equivalent to the Canton Fair?

  13. Orysia Buchan says:

    Great story! I have been wanting to have a product manufactured in China – basically, Ukrainian magnetic alphabet letters you can put on your refrigerator. Do you, or do you know of anyone who can work as a “fixer” who can assist in finding the right company in China to manufacturer? I don’t own my own company or anything now… I’m just a mom who wants my children to have such a product.


    1. Bill Pasel says:

      I was wondering the same question as Orysia i.e. can you recommend a “fixer” someone who can negotiate on your behalf to get your idea off of the ground and manufactured while maintaining high quality and cost effectiveness?



  14. rafael says:

    Thanks for sharing!
    My question is what about the copy or imitation. Once you launch your product what would happen with other people or suppliers that can replicate your idea. What did you think about that?

    1. Lori Montgomery says:

      I have some great ideas for new bamboo products but have not had much success finding suppliers and feel I lack so much in business knowledge and trying to do this alone. I do feel it would be smart to go in person and I really would like to partner with a few others that have basic experience and knowledge and connections but this is risky too! I have provisional patent and maybe kickstart would give me more opportunities. I never want to borrow money from friends as this seems to be an easy way to loose friends if all does not pan out.

  15. chauey says:

    nice article.. I just came back from Thailand. Vacation and showing around a cousin and visiting my uncle doing charity work. All the while, I was dreaming about how to launch my KickStarter project.. I’m going through and learning a lot of the same things.. and it’s a marathon with so many hurdles!

  16. AMAZING article! I have a product I’ve gotten super excited about but not quite sure how to start.. I have a solid sellable product but wasn’t sure who or where to contact for manufacturing it. Inspiring to hear your story and see how you accomplished it step by step! Thanks so much for sharing your story!! 🙂

  17. Ryan says:

    Great article! Truly inspiring to see your hard work paying off and I wish you all continued success. I will be attending the next Canton fair and looking for manufacturers for a product I’m developing. Where would you recommend living for 2-3 months to work directly with the factories? Are most of them located in the city of Guangzhou?

  18. emmanuel says:

    great job sean, please do you no any electrical company that can produce a socket out-let that funtion automatically.

  19. Michael says:

    Great article. Just found it, as you can see I am about 10 months late. Have a similar dream. Can’t seem to find a good person to help me with the manufacturing that is “on the ground” in China. Could you give me a name of someone you know?

  20. Roberto says:

    I yave a great idea about portable speakers and was wondering if you knew any reliable factory that could make my idea into product? Thanks!

  21. Tina says:

    Great read,,,,just starting out with my invention waiting for patent,,,then hopefully full take off….thanks and great job

  22. Ologbenla Adedeji says:

    Thanks for the educative piece, please, does anybody know about strategic partnership, a way one can get a top quality product from china at the cheapest price available.

  23. David says:

    This is one of the best articles I have read about finding the right contract manufacturer in China.

    As a North American contract manufacturer based in China, I can offer some perspective from the ‘other side’ of the process: connecting with the marketplace of clients, qualifying their needs match our capacity to perform, collaborating from concept through design-prototype-production-QA / QC, protecting intellectual property in China, logistics and shipping, and scaling production up or down as necessary.

    There are challenges to overcome on both ends of the relationship.

    Buyers, Business-Owners and Inventors: Production & Shipping Costs, Intellectual Property, Design & Prototyping, Quality Assurance / Quality Control (QA / QC), Delivery Schedule, Seasonal Market Demand, Customs.

    Manufacturers / Suppliers in China: Capabilities and Limitations of Technologies and Materials, Production Capacity of Facilities and Equipment, Seasonal Factors such as Holidays and Client Demand (Chinese New Year has a major influence on production and shipping activity – before, during and after).

    And both parties must manage communications over significant time-zone differences. This simple difference not only makes real-time phone calls difficult, it causes lag in email response times, and creates opportunity for confusion when scheduling calls. For example: Eastern Standard Time in the U.S. is 12 hours behind China. 8 am EST = 8 pm in China. Another example: 8 pm EST on Monday = 8 am Tuesday in China. Scheduling events proves difficult, and several fail, due to this one factor.

    Now, what about the unique challenges faced by the buyer?

    Production & Shipping Costs: Funding is always tricky, especially when introducing a new product where demand has not been validated. The initial processes to develop a prototype a product can be costly – professional designs and production-quality injection molds are expensive. Then there are Minimum Order Quantities (MOQ), which can be dictated by the manufacturer or other realities. Besides the manufacturer, MOQs may be dictated by downstream wholesale or distributors required / desired stock quantities, color-feature-size varieties for merchandising, production thresholds for volume cost / discounts as they relate to desired / required retail pricing.

    Intellectual Property: This is one of the greatest concerns we address with our clients, especially those developing new products. Because we are owned and managed by North Americans living in China, this is also one of our greatest advantages in securing ‘Western’ clients. Just like the U.S., there is a system for filing patents and protecting Intellectual Property in China. It is not an easy or straight-forward process, which is why we began selectively offering the service a considerable time after we opened.

    Design & Prototyping: Designs can be easy or hard. They can be complex or simple. Where the rubber meets the road is taking 1. Concept to Design, 2. Design to Prototype, 3. Prototype to Production. We have worked with inventors and creative minds who are incredibly brilliant and articulate. We have also worked with absolute geniuses who cannot easily articulate their concept for others – drawings, words, CAD or digital design, etc. The farther along design can be meaningfully moved forward without outside help, the lower your costs. However, taking a design too far forward without outside perspective can prove wasted effort – impossible dimensions, materials, movements, cost-to-price, etc.

    Quality Assurance / Quality Control (QA / QC): Oh boy…where to start? This is another major concern of those sourcing from China. I am past the point of being disappointed or surprised by the number of contacts and clients who have been burned. As a buyer on the wholesale / distribution side, I have worked with sourcing companies who are also ‘Western’ owned and managed, but do not manage their business in-country. There is no replacement for ‘boots on the ground’. I count myself lucky to have not witnessed them myself, but there are bizarre and terrifying stories of factory visits from colleagues that exemplify ‘truth is stranger than fiction’.

    Cautionary Tale From A Colleague
    Buyer X worked for a ‘Big Box’ U.S. retailer. They visit a vendor factory being considered to produce a line of brass door knobs. The facility looks great – immaculately clean, meticulous organization. The machinery and staff is moving, producing, packing and storing similar product. Buyer X thought it was “too good to be to true”, and made a surprise follow-up visit 2 days later. The same facility had been reconfigured to look as if it was producing sterile plastic products for medical / clinical application. In 2 days, a factory working with metal stamping, turning, extrusion and assembly had transformed into one producing ‘sterile’ injection molded plastics. Where would the door knobs have actually been manufactured? Under what conditions and by whom? What would the first shipment have looked like, and when would it have shipped? Why did they show them a fake factory? What would the ‘real costs’ have been if they had gone with this manufacturer?

    There are so many things to consider. Whether a first-time inventor or long-time Purchasing Manager, there are things to protect beyond the bottom-line and quality. But the cultural and legal issues around producing in another country can be difficult or impossible to plan for, and thus avoid. However, the advantages of outsourcing can still be had when done correctly.

    1. Ericka Jones says:

      What is your contact information?

    2. Josh Austin says:

      Cheers mate, I have a watch design that I am wanting to make, I have just finished highschool and have very little contacts in regards to people of use with advice. BUT THIS HELPED ALOT.

      Much appreciated!

  24. bankaly says:

    Excellent post! Thanks for sharing the knowledge and experience Sean.
    I found your article while I was looking how to manufacture a watch.
    Planning to visit the next Canton fair.
    Can I have a quick chat via email or over the phone?


  25. Shedrick says:

    i invented the Patented Tennis Watch it keeps scores and stats and im trying to find a manufacture in China. Can you help? thanks Shedrick

    1. Chris says:

      Shedrick, I’m on the ground hear in Shanghai, China and I’d like to help you out. Send me an email [email protected] and we can start a conversation.

      1. Josh Austin says:

        Hi Chris, I am wanting to manufacture a watch design of my own. I am new to all of this, can you be of any help?


        Josh Austin

  26. Shedrick says:

    This has been very informative thanks.

  27. aaron garcia says:

    I’m starting a project on kickstarter but just started contacting manufacturers on alibaba. I haven’t made the prototype yet.. just some drawings and hoping to put a digital prototype so they can see it better. Should I wait to launch my kickstarter project until I have a real prototype? Also what were your sales funnels? Amazon FBA, ebay, ecommerce? Also how did you build hype? FB, twitter, youtube? Thanks a lot for your help in advance

  28. Jean-Philippe says:

    Hi, First of all sorry about my english, it´s not my first language,
    I want to know if someone have some goods manufacturers to propose. I have many prototypes of a new watch collection and i’m supose to go in china during november, i found 3 manufacturers who looks good and i wanna know if someone have a good recommendation for me thanks you for your help !

  29. Ebuka Gabriel says:

    That’s a cool one. I love the article, it’s really motivating. I also have an idea but don’t really know how to contact manufacturers but with this, I can be able to try my best.
    I am into electronics (home appliance) and I hope China can really be of a very good help.

  30. donni says:

    I was an employee who had been bored with all the routines, I want to start my own business, but still confused start, this article was very inspiring, giving motivation.
    thank you for this inspiring story

  31. Blue says:

    This is great but what about patent protection? I keep hearing how drawn out and expensive this product is, I’d be interested to see how that worked out…. If in fact it is patented although I realize not all products need the patent if you don’t mind others taking your idea/inventions. Could you touch on that subject? Really loved the article!

  32. JOACHIN says:

    Buyers, Business-Owners and Inventors: Production & Shipping Costs, Intellectual Property, Design & Prototyping, Quality Assurance / Quality Control (QA / QC), Delivery Schedule, Seasonal Market Demand, Customs. – CAN YOU DO MORE EXPLANATION ON THESE ESPECIALLY PROTOTYPING AND DESIGN

  33. Arleymarie Ngahuka says:

    Thanks so much Ryan ,I have had a product in mind for sum time now ,I let it sit until I came across this video ,You have put the buzz back in my bones .I have had no idea where to start or what right questions to ask and what to watch out for ,thank you so much greatfull .

  34. Juan perez says:

    I think story will help out a lot of people to kick start a idea Ryan I do have have a question do u know any were in China that does baby products

    1. Sean says:

      Head to the Canton Fair. You’ll find all the baby products you could ever want 🙂

  35. Susan says:

    Hi, great article! I have a unique dog mat design and I have been connected to a factory in China that a friend uses for a different dog product. My concern is protecting copy right, I have my prototype made and ready to send, any advice? Or am I being paranoid?
    Thanks Susan

  36. Will says:

    Cool story but Ryan owes you money bro.

    You should be getting a cut from all this. He ran with your idea and now he’s answering the questions like it was all him and you’re cool with it?

    Cheeky cunt if you ask me.

  37. Cristofer says:

    Hi Sean, I am looking for a manufacturer of my watch designs, do you have the company name, email contact or website?


  38. Caroline says:

    Great article.
    I’ve got an idea id like to move forward with (manufacturing in China) and given I don’t live in or near China its been recommended to get an agent who can act on my behalf, ensuring quality control/time, dealing with factories etc. do you agree with this?
    I’ve spoken to someone who does this and they charge 20% of my cost. Does that seem reasonable? They have assured that they take all responsibility for product and therefore the worry/stress of receiving quality product is eliminated. Your thoughts appreciated!

  39. Ben says:

    Hi Sean,

    Great article and I am really impressed as to how you guys managed to do this! Am seriously looking for a watch manufacturer and would love to know which one you used if you are open to share.

    Take care and hear from you soon!

  40. hey sean

    i need you wisdom so i have an idea of the product that i want to customize but i have no clue whom to approach on the product to be customized so it isn’t a watch but muchly a medical product any help would be grateful to the person in that area manufacture medical products.

    1. Sean says:

      I’d start with going to, great service that helps with all of that kind of stuff.

  41. Malu says:

    Hi Sean,
    My 17 year old daughter has been working on a watch design and is ready to make it a reality. Any suggestions of a good manufacturer whom I may contact through E-mail? (don’t have the funds just now to travel to China)
    Thanks in advance.

  42. Robin says:


    Great story and advices. Guys like you are priceless to start-ups with no earlier experience.

    Me and three friends from Sweden are working on a new watch brand, not wooden ones. We have gotten far with design and strategic plan, but still haven’t found a representative on ground in China to help us find the right manufacturer for us. Could you possibly give any recommendations on that?



  43. Nik says:


    Thank you for the insight! I wanted to ask your advice on reaching out and finding manufacturers. We are working on an ultrasonic product and need help with engineering/development and mass production from a Chinese source. We just missed the Autumn Canton Fair and waiting for the next one is not really an option. I’ve tried using alibaba to find manufacturers but out of 15 companies that I reached out to only 2 have come back to me. Any advice on finding reliable partners? we want to fly out there and meet them but want to have a few lined up prior to actually going there.

  44. Ann says:

    Sean , can you help me find someone who can make my design.

  45. Waqas says:

    If I want to design my own watch , which software should I use? Its always been my passion but whenever I try to find some info about watch designing software over the internet , it gets too complicated. Can you suggest a good software to begin with as I have no experience in designing watches.

  46. Michael says:

    It amazing ..good work

  47. Phil Taylor says:

    Nice work – I feel inspired to do this now.

  48. J Singh says:

    Hi I have an idea which I want to get made and get on the market who knows a Contact to get in touch who can make a machine?

  49. Shanequa Smith says:

    Great article. I have my own business and I’m looking for a legit good quality company in China to make my beauty mirrors(vanity) and jewelry. Possibly my own polish and make up line as well. Can someone help me?

    1. Bill says:

      Hi, Shanequa, Shenzhen, the place near HK, is one of the famous places making and exporting jewelries. There are hundred of factories at Longgang district. I may share with you more info if you are still holding the ideas.

      1. Bukky Alabi says:

        Hi Bill,
        I saw your response to Shanequa and wondered if you could point me in the right direction. I am starting a make up and jewellery business. I have spent a lot of time on alibaba, but not really 100% convinced with results i am getting.
        Can i get some more info on how to go about this?


  50. Srk says:

    How did you deal with the problem of everyone in China trying to counterfeit you product? I hear it’s a major issue.

    1. Alisa says:

      It’s something that’s bothering me, too… I’d really like to know the best practices in this regard.
      Although I’m a lawyer and I think I can find speakers of Chinese to help me read through the documents, I still feel insecure about it.

  51. Danial says:

    First of all, this is a great article. I’ve learned so much in just a single page and I might be going to the Canton Fair this coming April. But what I’d like to know is that say I’m coming up with my own watch design and I want to turn my sketches into a prototype so that I could list it on crowdfunding sites, will it still need a MOQ even when building a prototype? Hope to hear from you soon!

  52. mykola says:

    how can i get in touch with an agent on the ground who can find a supplier? I am having trouble with alibaba since the exact material I need is nowhere to be found. Or perhaps I don’t know the correct name.

    1. Bill says:

      You may let me know, Mykola. I and my friend may help you to find it. There’s another site name Taobao, affiliate of alibaba, however, it’s a national e-market at present.

    2. Vicky Liu says:

      Hi Mykola, If not in large quantity but with many selections, or would be a good choice for you.

      I know you must say it is in Chinese. Yes, it is in Chinese, but I can help you if you need.

      My email is: [email protected] I’m Vicky of Respon Plastic Industrial Co., Ltd. We do custom plastic injection molding. I can help you after work.

  53. Pinar says:

    Quick question!

    When it came to design, what kind of designs did you provide? Was it just hand-sketches or CAD drawings? Or can the factory design it in CAD/Blender based on your hand drawings?

    1. Bill says:

      Hi, Pinar, if you consider the Chinese factories, as I know, they are happy to design it in any formats based on your hand drawings. The most important is to start with a right person, otherwise you may find the communicate is quite inefficient.

  54. Josh Austin says:

    Very helpful & cool article. I have just finished highschool (so have very little contacts in regards to people who are of use in helping with advice), and am looking at manufacturing my own watch (so I want a factory/factories to make my product), but I am unsure where to find help on this. I have searched on Ali Baba and all I can find is people trying to sell me pre made watches. To cut things short, I was curious as to whether anyone can help me out with: 1) A good website where I can find a list of reliable watch manufacturers in China preferably.
    2) Is it likely the watch I want to produce will be able to be manufactured at one factory alone (example: I decide on a factory and I give them my designs and what components I would like used, will they manufacture it themselves and directly deliver to me? or will I have to work with multiple manufacturers in order to receive the product I am after?
    3) If one factory alone can not make my product, do I then have to get multiple factories to manufacture different things and send it to me then assemble it myself? or is there a way I can somehow get all the components sent to a factory where they can assemble for me? (if possible)
    4) What do I need in order for someone to manufacture my product? (designs… etc?)
    5) Do I send my design to a factory and they make it? or do they just send me the parts and I have to assemble it myself?
    6) Do manufacturers allow for you to get a finalised custom product without having to go through the whole minimum units order process (Elaboration: I would like to eventually order from the correct manufacturer in bulk, but not until I’ve finalised the product in physical form. I have seen online that many require a minimum unit order or else you can not purchase from them?

    Any help would mean the world,

    Kind regards,

    Josh Austin

  55. Vicky Liu says:

    Good information and helpful. We do custom plastic injection molding as per samples or 3D drawings or prototypes, no MOQ for the mass production. I have been in this industry for more than 6 years. I also help my customers find some other products when they need. For free. If you also need, you can let me know, and I will try my best to help you.

    1. Josh Austin says:

      Hi there,

      Can I please have your email so we can speak about this in detail?


      1. Vicky Liu says:

        Hi Josh,

        Sorry, I just saw your reply.
        My email is: sales01(a t) rpimoulding (d ot)com
        Thank you

        Best regards,

  56. Tom says:

    Hello, I am looking for some guidance on a similar adventure. Would you care to email me and I could pick your brain on where to start? Any advice would be splendid. Thank you

    1. Vicky Liu says:

      Hi Tom,

      Do you mean you need my help? Pls let me know what you want.

      Best regards,

  57. Curtis jones says:

    I am a product developer and I have an idea that I would like to market and I would like to know where to start on getting this product developed.

    1. Vicky Liu says:

      Hi Curtis,

      What it is made of? If plastic or rubber, maybe it is within our capabilities. We do custom plastic injection molding.

      Best regards,

  58. John says:

    Great article and interview. I have been trying to find a source for my product through Alibaba but I can’t seem to find a supplier to work with. My project is simple and it will not be hard to mass produce…just need a good supplier. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks so much.

    1. Vicky Liu says:

      Hi John,

      Maybe you can find them through or Especially when small quantity but more selections. Do you need my help? sales01(at) rpimoulding (d ot)com Vicky

  59. Frank Cohen says:

    I’m taking the plunge… depart for Shanghai on Tuesday! Then Guangzhou and Hong Kong. All to establish long term relationships for my watch company. Thanks for the great article! Frank

  60. Lawrence Michell says:

    Hi Guys,

    So I have a product already manufactured, but my question is the best way to take to market in China (from Australia).
    It would be great to get a store front on Taobao or Tmall, does anyone have any experiences in this process or an idea of costs involved…?

  61. Chris says:

    Hey, great stuff. Glad to hear the success story.
    So quick question. I’m currently in Beijing teaching, and have an idea for something that I’ve made a rough prototype on my own but want to get a better looking version of made.

    My chinese is not good at all and I’m a bit far from Guangzhou, anyways, what steps do you recommend to get what I want made? DO i need blueprints or something.

    Thanks, best of luck with the watches!

  62. Sean says:

    Great article! I have a toy train design(Thomas the train compatible design) and am strongly considering making a trip to China. Did you have a contact/contacts prior to going? You had said you needed around $5k, were you able to access credit while in china or have to wire cash one a deal was struck?

  63. Laura says:

    So Ryan says,

    ‘If you’re really serious about doing this without going to China, you’re best bet is to get in touch with someone on the ground there who knows what they’re doing.

    I have a couple American friends who do nothing but sourcing for a living, getting in touch with someone like that will ensure that you enter the process with your eyes wide open.’

    I’m one of these people (not the friend part, the sourcing part…) Check out our blog & feel free to shoot me an email if you’re looking to start/develop your product business.

    – Laura

    1. Itumeleng says:

      Hi Laura

      If I cant go to China now, how can I find a reliable China based person to do sourcing and be my representative. If you know anyone you can recommend, please forward their email address.



      1. Laura says:

        Hey Itumelung,

        Shoot me an email: laura at wesource dot com and we can go from there. There are lots of options available to you at this point.

        – Laura

    2. Julie Guarino says:

      Hi Laura, I could go to China, I work with people that go all the time. Do you have any specific contact there I can have someone in our China office meet with? If I could find someone to attend the Canton Fair, should they take one of my prototypes with them and show it around?


  64. Jamie Hord says:

    Ryan, What is your though on using to find a local for quality control and for finding a manufacturer then using to sell the product in bulk quanty to retailers that buy in bulk from there.

  65. Mohammad says:

    Hey ,

    I just lost all the lines I have written,this is the second time I typed my comment! Now’s it’s the third 😫

    I have landed on this “awesome” blog and specifically this really valuable post while searchings for possible ways to turn my ideas into product.
    I feel that’s the best thing I can do in live I want “before leaving this life” to make my ideas into inventions that bring happiness to human lives’.

    The topic of this post is really very informative and I bookmarked it right away I wanna learn more about the process of turning one’s ideas into products.

    I heard from a guy who’s been to China that over there they got something “a body/authority” that listen to your ideas and they assign you experts who work with you along the way tuning and making your idea into more meaningful product.
    They make you a prototype of your product”this is awesome” and on top of that you got a patent registered under your name for your product “patent wasn’t mentioned in this post I’d like to know if Ryan have registered for one and how”.
    The charge is silly compare to the service you got.

    I’m still in the process of reaching that authority but no luck yet ” but glad I found this blog”

    I’d love it if Sean can share with us anything useful in this regard ,you don’t know how much I’d appreciate it buddy!

    Good luck for us enjoying our lives while making it meaningful.

  66. SourceFaster says:

    SourceFaster is an Efficient Solutions for Your Products Sourcing in Asia!

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