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Keycap Group Buy Guide

Keycap Group Buy Guide

What is a Group Buy?

A Group Buy is a form of crowdfunding, like Kickstarter. When you join a Group Buy, you pre-order the product you want to be made, usually at a much lower cost than retail.

At first glance, a Group Buy page looks like a regular product page, but there are major differences:

  1. The product doesn’t actually exist yet—only the designs do.
  2. You pay for the product up front—before manufacturing begins. 
  3. The product only gets made if enough people join the Group Buy. 
  4. If too few people join the Group Buy, the product will not get made, everyone’s money will be refunded, and we’ll all go listen to Elliott Smith for a little while.

Why Group Buying is Awesome

The traditional manufacturing model puts the cart before the horse. It manufactures a product that it hopes people will pay for. This can be super risky, because if no one buys the product, the manufacturer and designer lose money. This results in a risk-averse marketplace that only makes safe bets (i.e. boring keyboards).

The Group Buy model reverses the process, putting the horse before the cart. It allows customers to choose what they want to purchase before manufacturing has begun, resulting in way less risk to the manufacturer and way more niche designs. Everyone wins. 

The Benefits of Group Buying at a Glance

  • More affordable
  • Fewer risks for the manufacturer and designer
  • More niche and unique designs for the customer
  • More opportunities for designers to bring their designs to life

Group Buy Phases

Group Buys work in predictable phases. 

  • Interest Check (or IC): A designer presents their design on r/mk,, or another keyboard enthusiast forum, to gauge community interest. If enough people show interest in the design, the designer teams up with us at Kono to move the project to phase two. 
  • Group Buy (or GB): We launch the Group Buy on our website, hype it on our socials, and cross our fingers that enough people join. Customers have around 30 days to join.
  • Production: We create samples, do quality assurance, and color-match the samples to the designs. Once we and the designer are happy with the samples, we place the order with the manufacturer. 
  • Additional Pre-orders: Customers who did not join the Group Buy have a chance to pre-order the product. 
  • Fulfillment: Generally six months after the Group Buy concludes, the product is shipped to customers, and the forums are suddenly awash in unboxing videos and humblebrags. 
  • Reruns: If the unboxing videos and humblebragging results in renewed demand for the product, we’ll run an additional Group Buy—wash, rinse, repeat.


    How long do I have to join a Group Buy? 

    You typically have around thirty days to join a Group Buy. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, or Discord for the most up-to-date news on new, upcoming, and soon-to-conclude Group Buys.

    Why did the base kit get made but not the novelty kit? 

    Designers will often design ancillary kits like spacebars, novelties, and alternate alphas to flesh out their design and fulfill customers’ needs. While we’d love to see all of these ancillary kits brought to life, we often don’t. Why? Each of these kits has to receive enough pre-orders to fulfill the manufacturer’s Minimum Order Quantity (or MOQ)--the fewest number of units required to be purchased. While basically everyone who joins a Group Buy orders the base kit, fewer order the ancillary kits, and so it’s commonplace that many of those kits don’t reach the production phase. 

    What happens if a Group Buy fails?

    Geekhack and Reddit are full of horror stories of Group Buys gone wrong: organizers running off with the money, manufacturers shuttering before production is complete, lost orders never to be returned. You don’t have to worry about any of that with our Group Buys. If a Kono Group Buy fails, we simply refund you your money, plain and simple. 

    Can I cancel or change my order?

    We allow cancellations and changes during the Group Buy phase; however, once the production phase is underway and we’ve placed the final order with the manufacturer, the choices you made during the Group Buy are finalized. It’s very difficult at that point for us to change your order, and canceling your order might not be possible.

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