Boldport Club changes 2017
Hello Boldport Club members,
It's been over a year since I've announced Boldport Club. With more than 400 members and ten projects shipped I've learned a lot about a lot. I've had a clear vision for what I wanted to achieve and that remains as strong as ever; it's definitely working. How to achieve this vision changes with the parameters and time: the financial climate, number of members, availability of staff, availability of materials, my own availability, and many other factors.
During the two-month shipping pause I've decided to make some changes to how the Club operates. These are operational changes not changes in substance. Those changes are based on what I've learned through doing and also from what you've told me. The changes also reflect the maturity of the Club and it advancing from an experimental phase to something that will be running for a long time. That requires adjustments.
The monthly cost of a subscription is rising to £19 per month, still billed in three-month cycles at £57. This still includes taxes and shipping to where ever you are. The cost of projects at the shop will also increase.
A plummeting Pound and a near universal increase in prices by my suppliers pretty much forces me to take this administratively burdensome and possibly unpopular move. But I'd like to point out two things while I'm on the topic. Firstly, the original price was on the low side while still giving great value. I'm convinced of this because nearly all who responded the questionnaire — about 100 members — expressed that the Club provides good value for money. Also, remarkably, the churn rate has consistently remained under 4%. Secondly, the price that you pay is not only for the projects; it funds the concept that drives the Club and gives me resources and breadth to experiment, expand, and make exciting things happen.
The new membership price will be applied on the next renewal of your membership. This is done automatically; you don't need to do anything. Billing happens on the 28th of each month, so the month that this happens depends on when you last paid. To see when your next renewal is, log on to you account and check. If you don't want to be billed at the new cost, simply cancel the subscription before the billing date, and you'll only receive the projects that you paid for.
New subscription structure
There will now be only one membership option — a single project a month. To receive multiple instances of the project each month, you can purchase the subscription multiple times. (That is, we'll no longer have three-a-month or ten-a-month subscription options.) This subscription can be purchased on a three-month basis, as before, or a new yearly billing basis at a reduced price. These billing terms correspond to three and twelve different projects, respectively, not necessarily to a specific period.
If you're currently on a three- or ten-a-month subscription you'll be automatically moved to a single subscription from the next renewal. You'll then be able to add additional subscriptions as above. An alternative would be to buy additional kits at the shop each month while only having a single subscription.
If you want to move to a yearly billing cycle subscription, change your subscription at your admin console; this change will take effect on your next renewal.
No more 'deals'
I never felt comfortable with 'sign-up' discounts. They inadvertently mean that one values new customers over existing ones, which is exactly the opposite of what I want. Existing members are what makes the Club special and their satisfaction is my focus. My view is that a strong existing community will attract new members organically without gimmicks and monetary incentives. I will therefore not offer any future sign-up discounts and everyone will pay the same for their membership. I will instead invest in increasing the value of the Club to members.
Deals for students and academics
That lasted long! :)
This 'deal' is the exception. I'm convinced that an option that's more affordable to students makes a lot of sense. I've long struggled with how to make this viable while keeping admin costs low. (Verifying that someone is a student over a long period of time is not a trivial task.)
For a discounted membership a student will need to ask a faculty member to contact us for a unique discount code that can be used multiple times. The faculty will then distribute this code to students or use it themselves for teaching, or getting students excited about electronics. The delivery address for each unique code must be the same university address so that all projects can be shipped together.
The codes will be for a 20% discount and apply for a total of twelve projects. After that the process will need to repeat, or the subscription will go to the normal price. There will be a more detailed set of instructions for this programme in the coming weeks.
Assumed equipment and materials
Many subscription boxes assume that you have basic materials. Our HelloFresh food boxes, for example, assume that we have salt, pepper, oil, and basic cooking equipment. For the Club we'll also assume that people have the basics: a soldering iron, solder wire, small wire-cutter, wire, fine tweezers, a microcontroller-based board for driving some projects, and a USB-to-serial cable for serial programming microcontrollers.
Not all of the above will be necessary for all projects, but these are the essentials for hardware work. We'll have a more complete list ready soon.
These changes will roll out in the next couple of weeks together with a refreshed website. I'm excited about the coming year and about the things that I'm planning on sending your way and I hope that you are too!
All the best,