Being able to mention the Norwegian word "Fjell" in a niche hobby community for them to recognize the exact product, is staggering. The mechanical keyboard case has become recognizable and loved by the community, and even outside the community. The Fjell case is a keyboard idea occurred after trying the Hammer 60% keyboard case, with it's heavy weight. I wanted to try to create something more extreme. The design had to a be a mountain, with sharp beveled edges and heavy weight. The Fjell was first shown in 2016, and there were nothing like it on the market.
Fjell / Mountain
The first prototype was ok, it had no angle, it was just for testing the machining capability of the sharp beveled edges(something that has been central and super important for the Fjell design). The case had screw in risers, and a super small weight that was made in aluminium to reduce the prototype cost. Somehow, the mounting was done correctly the first time, and everything actually worked. This is mostly thanks to my friend sitting with a Poker case and calipers. The case was still too light, the finish was not good enough and the gaps around the keycaps was way too noticeable. In addition the case walls was not high enough to not show the gap between the keycaps and the case itself.
The first production sample
The first production sample was developed shortly after this. I managed to get everything working with an 8 degree angle and doubled the weight of the case by adding on more material. In addition, I added the "viewfinder" weight that together with the beveled edges, heavy weight and unique design was very unique for it's time.
The idea behind the design is the case was supposed to be a good photo object because of the sloped edges. The sloped edges show off great on the camera and therefore it was a good idea to have a viewfinder weight on the bottom of the case. This was a weight never seen before and got people excited. You can find this viewfinder design on all Fjell Classic cases to this day. The sample itself had some fitment issues, because of the wall adjustments, so there was a third sample required.
The required third sample
These cases where ordered in blue and orange. These had a great perfect fit, and had the design name under, with the weight. There were some revision updates, like removing the text from the underside, and testing colors, then the group buy was ready to start.
Launch & mistakes
Awful business idea
Profits are important if you are running a business, however it is also important for a group buy runner. The profits can be used to pay when you do mistakes in the group buy. It will cost more than you think, always. It is the best safety net, and it is a stupid idea to run a group buy without one. I will return to this topic in the upcoming sections.
The case cost $250, which is expensive for a 60% mechanical keyboard case, even at the time. People were more than willing to buy it though, and the 50 spots were filled extremely fast. It was mind blowing. It was a raffle, so we had a total of over 300 entries. The case was offered in blue, orange, grey, silver, black and purple. This was too many color for a 50 unit run. In addition there was a weight option(steel/brass) which over complicated everything. In addition to this, it was expensive to manufacture, and had high material cost.
Not only was the freight from the factory expensive. I charged $25 for international tracked shipping from Norway, when the cheapest possible way to ship something tracked from Norway is nearly $50, and for these cases closer to $70. This shipping service was slow as well, and required 2x A5 pages to be hand written for each shipment, with customs info etc. Me being 17, meant also bicycling with 50kg of keyboard cases down to the post office to post these manually. Often occupying the post office for up to 30 minutes.
It actually worked out
Yes, somehow, it actually worked out the first round. It was expensive and inefficient, however I kept updating the thread on Geekhack with each tiny update to be in communication with the participants at all times. Updates are extremely important and makes the group buy so more satisfactory for the participants.
It just couldn't be possible without community support. There are so many to thank, so I won't list individuals, however I hope those of you that helped the project know that I appericate it!
Fjell Classic Revision 2, is the full name for all the Fjell cases that are made after this one. There has been design improvements, packaging improvements, finish improvements, color improvements and business improvements. I learned so much from the first round. And the Fjell case has never been better, it offers a super unique typing experience and sound.
Fjell Pro, Klippe, Fjell Classic.
There are still improvements every round, however I am aiming at offering the best tray mount case on the market, and in the future, the best mechanical keyboard parts on the market. My main source of improvement inspiration is feedback. Stay tuned for future rounds!