In this episode of Art of the Kickstart we spoke with Amro Albanna of Kite Products, about his experience running an Indiegogo project. When his team experienced multiple delays over a three-year period, they came back to Indiegogo to make things right with their backers by offering a new product while they continued to develop the original one.

Kite Shield: DEET-free Mosquito Repellent Spray

Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • How Indiegogo can help you launch and develop a new technology
  • How to handle Indiegogo fulfillment delays
  • Why it’s important to be transparent with your backers
  • What risks and challenges to expect when you launch on Indiegogo
  • Why constant communication with backers is important

Links

Connect with Kite

Sponsors

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Transcript

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Roy Morejon:

Welcome to the Art of the Kickstart, your source for crowdfunding campaign success. I’m your host, Roy Morejon, President of Command Partners, the top full-service crowdfunding marketing agency in the world. We have helped raise over $70 million for our clients since 2010. Each week, I’ll interview a crowdfunding success story, an inspirational entrepreneur, or a business expert in order to help take your startup to the next level with crowdfunding. Art of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by The Gadget Flow, a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save, and buy awesome products. The Gadget Flow is the ultimate buyer’s guide for cool luxury gadgets and creative gifts. To learn more, visit thegadgetflow.com. Now let’s get on with the show.

Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today, I am honored to be joined by Amro Albanna. Amro, thank you so much for joining us.

Amro Albanna:

A pleasure Roy. Thanks for the opportunity and for the interview.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. Amro, you’ve been around the crowdfunding scene for quite a while now. You’ve just recently relaunched the Kite Patch. Tell everyone where it all started and what it’s all about.

Amro Albanna:

Sure. Well, maybe I should start by talking about Kite as a technology and to give everybody a little bit of background on the landscape of mosquitoes and mosquito repellents. Obviously, we all dislike getting bitten by mosquitoes, right?

Roy Morejon:

Yep.

Amro Albanna:

For the last 50 years Roy, we’ve been using the same old technology that contain DEET and other chemicals that we all prefer not to use, but most products are effective. They work, and again that’s the technology that all of us have been using for the fast 50 years. Where Kite comes in, Kite is a very, very unique technology where it’s based on blocking mosquitoes’ receptors to detect human beings. In plain English, Kite makes us invisible to mosquitoes, and the way it does that is by blocking the receptors that mosquitoes use to find us, identify us and bite us. Those receptors are Co2 receptors as well as others. That’s really the overall concept of Kite. It uses no DEET to protect us against mosquitoes. We’ve recognized that such technology can fundamentally change the way we manipulate insect behaviors and the way we can protect ourselves from mosquitoes.

The bigger question was how in the world can we bring such powerful technology to the marketplace? Really, the answer came from the crowd. We’re heavily focused and we heavily believe in the power of the crowd and the wisdom of the crowd, so we decided 3 years ago that we wanted to engage the crowd through launching an Indiegogo campaign to share with them the technology, share with them the potential, and really launch or actually further develop the very first product which is Kite Patch. That’s what we’ve been working on for the past 3 years. That’s a little bit of the history and the background of Kite and Kite Patch. Just recently, we launched the very first product based on the Kite technology. We continue to work on Kite Patch, but we decided that we’re going to launch the very first technology based on Kite, which is Kite Shield, the mosquito repellent that’s now on Indiegogo InDemand program.

Roy Morejon:

Yes, so you guys have launched Indiegogo InDemand. You’re working with Command Partners, which we love. What’s led to the history of beginning this technology?

Amro Albanna:

It was developed by a scientist, one of the really world-known scientists in the field of entomology. His work is pretty incredible. His work focused on really manipulating insect behavior by manipulating their sense receptors, the receptory sensors, right? He spent years and years working on such technology, we’ve always believed that we could successfully commercialize such technology and bring out various products based on that. Our search for such technology, again, started many, many years ago, about 5 years ago, and we wanted to go out and see if there’s a different solution and an alternative to insect control and the current methods that we’re using for controlling mosquitoes and other insects. We saw multiple equations out there. Some worked. Some did not work. It’s been a very important learning experience for us. We finally reached the milestone that we reached a few months ago where we now have a technological platform that’s effective and commercializable. That’s really the big milestone that we reached just recently.

Roy Morejon:

I know it took 3 years to get to this point. How did backers initially respond to all the delays from the first project?

Amro Albanna:

Well, we’re certainly delayed. I mean, our backers, 3 years ago, really supported our campaign powerfully and significantly. Really, we owe a lot of our success to our backers. That’s something we always remember and will always remember. The Indiegogo campaign and the success of our original Indiegogo campaign told us really a couple important things. 1, the market is looking for an alternative to the current methods that we’re using. It also told us that an approach such as Kite’s approach would be very welcome in the marketplace. We took that challenge, and we’ve been working on it since, really, for years now, even prior to the Indiegogo campaign, and we were committed Roy. I mean, it’s been very difficult as with our … It’s been very, very difficult journey.

You’re dealing with the mosquitoes and insects and blocking the sensory and receptors. It isn’t anything that you could take for granted. We learned a lot through the years, but I’ll tell you, we’ve been committed and we remain committed to bringing Kite out to the world and to our backers. Frankly, our commitment, and the big part of our commitment, is the fact that we want to deliver to those who supported us early on. We do our best to keep them updated. I know that there was a period that we really have not done a good job updating our backers. Hopefully, they see that we’ve improved, and the team here is pretty excited about the milestone that we reached, and looking forward to getting Kite Patch out. We’re still in development. That’s still a challenge for us, but at least, we continue to work on it, and now we have a solid foundation to work from.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. What advice would you give other project creators that their projects had potentially been delayed that you could parley on to them?

Amro Albanna:

Be transparent with your backers. I think that’s the biggest advice I would give, and stay committed. I share my experience with a lot of entrepreneurs. I love entrepreneurship. I appreciate how much effort it takes to bring a product out. I understand the risk. I understand the challenges. I always tell entrepreneurs, especially those who have or had successful campaigns, the real work begins once you’re done with your campaign successfully. It’s really not before. Now that backers have given you money, now that backers have believed in your project, you got to do everything you can to get the product out. You’re going to always remember your backers, again, that supported you when you needed them the most. That’s my advice. Stick with it. Those projects, again, by definition, they’re difficult. Otherwise, everybody would be doing them, but stick with it and make sure you deliver.

Roy Morejon:

Yeah. No, absolutely. Great advice, constant communication with the community that you built, we see it time and time again where project owners just go off and stay focused on developing the product and not necessarily updating the community that backed them to begin with. Sound advice there. Amro, do you see any more crowdfunding campaigns in your future?

Amro Albanna:

Without giving too much details of the model that brought Kite to what it is today, we believe in the wisdom and the power for the crowd Roy. The crowd has the ability to really do miracles and bring amazing innovations to the marketplace. Obviously, our current campaign, which is for Kite Shield, is the second campaign that we launched in partnership with Command Partners, you and your team, and thanks for that. We do see the crowd, really, a core component of everything we’re doing, so many more projects for Kite products and for future products that we plan on bringing to the marketplace.

Roy Morejon:

Yeah. We’re truly looking forward to it Amro. This gets us into our launch round where I rapid-fire a few questions at you. Are you ready?

Amro Albanna:

Go.

Roy Morejon:

What inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

Amro Albanna:

That’s a great question. I’m not sure if it’s something you plan or something you found yourself doing. Frankly, in my case Roy, I find myself doing it. You realize you’re an entrepreneur after you have already started doing it for some time. At least, that’s in my case.

Roy Morejon:

Yeah, no, fair enough. If you could, let’s say, go for a walk in the forest with your Kite Shield on with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?

Amro Albanna:

Well, frankly, and this is really not to avoid answering your questions, but I really … There are a lot of people I respect, a lot of people I admire, and I’ll take this opportunity to share with you that the definition of entrepreneur that most people see entrepreneurs as running a business, I see entrepreneurs, they’re people that are inside corporations that are trying to launch a new project. I see people inside that … People that are taking their own journey to accomplish something that’s never been done before. I have a lot of great examples around me. I tell you the truth. I would probably start with some of the team members that we have, because they’ve shown me an amazing example about how to stick around and make sure we deliver products like Kite. It would be probably immediately from my team members, because they set a great example for me and everybody else, especially in the last few months.

Roy Morejon:

Yeah, no, I couldn’t agree more. It’s been a pleasure working with your team. Obviously, their expertise is by far quite significant. Let’s see. Let me ask an interesting question. What book is on your nightstand right now?

Amro Albanna:

Collective Disruption.

Roy Morejon:

What would you say your biggest weakness is?

Amro Albanna:

Human nature, Roy. Human nature. People ask me what is some of the biggest challenges you face building companies and bringing products out to the marketplace, and I always answer by human nature starting with my own. It’s just part of who we are and whether it’s impatience, whether it’s even sometimes frustration, but those are things, I get up every morning, and I try to be better at.

Roy Morejon:

Fair enough. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Amro Albanna:

Where do I see myself in 5 years? When it comes to myself, I will really point it to ieCrowd as a company, and ieCrowd for your listeners who don’t have much background on ieCrowd, ieCrowd is the parent company responsible for bringing Kite to the world. Where I see ieCrowd in 5 years, is I see it a much larger community of people that are working together to bring amazing integrations to the world. Now more than ever, we do need to work together to address some of the biggest challenges that we have. I am a strong believer in crowd capitalism, in the crowd working together to come up with amazing solutions to some of our biggest problems.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. What big thing do you want to accomplish in your lifetime Amro?

Amro Albanna:

ieCrowd is a big part of me, Roy. I believe in the model. It’s not just a job. It’s not just a business. I really do believe that ieCrowd’s time is now, especially with Kite Shield as an example, being produced by a model like ieCrowd is something that’s very meaningful to me, personally, and I want to see it grow and I want to see it solve a lot more problems. You guys are a great example. I’m not sure if you realize this or not, but you’re part of the crowd. I mean, you’re helping us and helping the community that we’ve developed to bring Kite Shield to the world. That’s kind of really how I see it. It’s a big part life. I see it as a purpose, and I get up every day to push ieCrowd and to my part to push it to the next step.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. No, and we’re honored to be part of that vision. Last question on the rapid-fire round, what does the future of crowdfunding look like?

Amro Albanna:

Very bright. Very, very bright. Certainly, it’s experiencing explosive growth right now. I think the industry is going to learn from lessons along the way just like any other young industry that’s growing, but overall, crowdfunding, whether it’s equity, a reward, donation, or lending, crowdfunding as a whole is going to continue to grow. All of us right now that are stakeholders in the crowdfunding ecosystem are going to learn and hopefully improve it. It’s very important, and I see it as a way for democratizing access to capital for those entrepreneurs that want to go out and bring their own innovations out to the world.

Roy Morejon:

Well said Amro. You’ve been a pleasure to be on the show. Please give our listeners your pitch. Tell us what you’re all about, where people should go, and why they should go back the project.

Amro Albanna:

Absolutely. Well, thank you Roy for the opportunity again. It’s a pleasure to be on your show. It’s a pleasure to be working with you guys, and we appreciate the exposure that you’re giving to Kite Shield. Kite Shield is a skin repellent that will protect us from mosquito bites. We all want that. It’s a very special technology that blocks mosquitoes from seeing human beings, and we would appreciate everyone’s support. Go to Indiegogo and search for Kite. Look us up, and we look forward to your support.

Roy Morejon:

Amro, you’ve been a great guest. Thank you everyone again for tuning in. Make sure to visit artkick.wpengine.com for all of the show notes, a full transcript, and links to everything that we’ve talked about today, as well as a coupon code to list your project on The Gadget Flow. Amro, thank you again for being with us.

Amro Albanna:

Thank you Roy.

Roy Morejon:

Thanks for tuning into another episode of Art of the Kickstart, the show about building a better business, world, and life with crowdfunding. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, be sure to visit artkick.wpengine.com and tell us about it. There you’ll find additional information about past episodes and our Kickstarter guide to crushing it. If you loved this episode, leave us a review at artkick.wpengine.com/itunes. It helps more inventors and entrepreneurs find the show and helps us get better guests on here to help build your business. If you need a more hands-on crowdfunding strategy, please feel free to request a quote on commandpartners.com. Thanks again for tuning in, we’ll see you soon.