Meet Startup @TW

Satchel too heavy? Now carry just one sketch notebook

Taiwanese designer Tim Tu once carried a stack of paper notebooks, each suited for a certain purpose: drawing, coding, script writing or sketching.

There was no single, perfect notebook that could do it all.

So Tu invented one. The founder of Taiwan-based SketchyNotebook two years ago came out with an all-purpose notebook for designers and went on Kickstarter to raise funds.

Tu, who had failed before as an entrepreneur, spent about six months to create the product for professional sketch artists. The 2014 fundraising campaign reached its $15,000 goal in seven days and an eventual total $75,591 in pledges with 1,588 backers.

The notebook -- made from real paper, not a PC -- has plain pages as well as gridline templates.

Designers also can use pre-installed PVC templates under each notebook page. When users put a template under a page, they see the gridlines on the template.

The all-purpose notebook was designed especially for isometric grids, point-perspective drawings and mobile app displays.

SketchyNotebook's pad opens 180 degrees so artists can comfortably draw. Pages are made so they tear out easily without ripping the paper.

Customers can by the basic pads for US$20 on Kickstarter. The price goes up for for orders with additional templates.

Designers can also look online to find niche-specific printable templates, including for web design and fashion design, offered by SketchyNotebook.

The founder went to college overseas. At that time, Tu started a web design firm with his brother and friends. After returning to Taiwan, Tu opened a flash design company.

In 2008, he created a closed social media site billed as the Facebook for families in China. (China blocks the real Facebook.) After three years, the team dissolved for lack of a profitable business.

Tu says previous flops as an entrepreneur are compelling him now to make something with stronger mass market appeal.

Companies such as Sneakpeekit also sell sketch pads with printed web design templates. However, no one else on Kickstarter is designing sketch notebooks that can accommodate different types of designers.

Tu launched a second SketchyNotebook Kickstarter campaign Sept. 6 to sell an updated notebook.

The new version retains its original features such as templates, the 180-degree opening angle and easy tearing of pages. The templates, however, are 30 percent thinner and the newer line of notebooks comes in three sizes.

The September 2016 Kickstarter campaign spells out more clearly than the first which kinds of designers are best suited to use the notebook. The new product also specifically targets fashion designers for the first time.

Amid his own campaigns, Tu created a customized notebook for the design team of Dropbox. An employee of the online file storage service had asked him to do it after backing his first Kickstarter campaign.

Tu would not give details about the differences between his mass-market notebooks and the Dropbox edition.