How Peak Design Went From Zero to $23 Million


What's the secret to Peak Designs unprecedented success? Peak Design founder Peter Dering disregarded every single rule that your professor taught you and that you have read in old school business books. 

You need to raise a few million dollars to start a fast-growing hardware company.

Peak Design raised $0 and the team retains 100% equity. They averaged 18 people during most of 2017 and ended with $23M in sales. That's $1.28M in sales per employee. For a quick reference, Google does $1.20M per employee.

Only serial entrepreneurs, product designers and MBA-types can start product design companies.

Peak Design's founder Dering is a civil engineer and Peak Design is his first startup. He's never started a company before this and he had no background in product design. None. 

Outsource everything you can except for your core competency.

Peter Dering launched Peak Design on Kickstarter and edited his first  video on Microsoft Movie Maker. He also designed his first products using Google Sketchup. He might as well have used finger puppets and Microsoft Paint. While they have started some outsourcing as their company hits scale, DIY is in the team's DNA.

Once you find product-market fit, raise money and scale fast.

No thanks. Growth is not the goal. The magic is in the camaraderie. Too many new faces too quickly puts that in peril. With an A-Team you can keep a barebones headcount and conserve precious cash needed to hold inventory.

You need hundreds of customer reviews and consumer product testing.

For his first product, the Capture Camera Clip, Dering romped across America's national parks and asked a coupla photographers, "doesn't wearing your SLR around your neck suck? Yeah? Cool!"

Focus on a niche segment. Don't boil the ocean.

After Peak Design launched a multi-million dollar camera accessory product for pro/prosumer photographers, conventional business wisdom would've stuck to that audience and product line. Instead, Peak Design launched the Everyday Messenger and Backpack for a mainstream audience. "We made sure the bags clearly spoke to our core camera-owning audience but also said 'these bags are fantastic even if you don't own a camera.'"

It sounds like one of those Instagram stories, "we worked real hard, built this thing, and then POOF: 1 billion dollars." Now we kinda want to hate the guy and say, "That Dering, he's so smug." Except he's not smug, he's Minnesota-made humble pie who quit his job, worked as a bar-back, and slept in a bunk bed in order to follow his dream.