For this episode of Art of the Kickstart, we spoke with Nils Lehnert, creator of Kiën Licht 1, an intelligent light. Tune in to learn more about how to create a new product using an existing brand community, and how to build up a new audience for a Kickstarter project.

Kiën Light: Intelligent daylight at your fingertips

Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • How to use Kickstarter to launch new products from existing brands
  • How to engage your community
  • How to become a Kickstarter Project We Love
  • How to build a community around your product through in-person events
  • How to use feedback from your Kickstarter backers

Links

Connect with Kien

Sponsors

FIN 2000X2000Art 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. Click here to learn more and list your product – use coupon code ATOKK16 for 25% off!

backerkitArt of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by BackerKit. BackerKit makes software that crowdfunding project creators use to survey backers, organize data, raise additional funds with add-ons and manage orders for fulfillment, saving creators hundreds of hours. To learn more and get started, click here.

Transcript

View this episode's transcript

 

Roy Morejon:

Welcome to 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 $70,000,000 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 start up 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 joined by Nils Lehnert with Kien Licht. Nils, thank you so much for joining us.

Nils Lehnert:

Thank you for inviting me. How are you guys?

Roy Morejon:

So Nils, you have created this intelligent daylight system. Please tell our audience all about this product.

Nils Lehnert:

Sure. So Kien Licht is a pendant lamp which emulates the natural daylight in your home and office. We only work with locally sourced ingredients such as concrete, yeah really concrete, and oak, cherry, and powder coated aluminum. It’s quite special in the sense that it produces a really, really good light so not just a nice atmosphere. It’s actually so good that you can be productive under it and have a really, really high energy and work throughout the day. It’s intended in such a way that the light follows a curve throughout the day so it’s quite warm in the morning and gets very blue midday and then warm again in the evening to facilitate your sleeping. You can control this all by our mobile application.

Roy Morejon:

Impressive. So this isn’t your grandfather’s lamp, right?

Nils Lehnert:

No it’s not. Definitely not. It’s not [inaudible 00:02:10]. From a design, we’re going back to the very retro neon cube, so as reduced as possible, but putting a lot of technology in to make it last better basically.

Roy Morejon:

Impressive. What’s the backstory here Nils? Where did this all start? Where did you get the inspiration for an idea like this?

Nils Lehnert:

I think we’re quite a peculiar accel project because we have an existing brand already called “Signs,” which we’ve been in the market for 2 years and we work with a neon glass blowers to produce custom neon light installations. We learned a lot about being closer to our supply chain and getting to know all the nitty grit-ties of manufacturing processes, as well as the consumer side in getting to know the effect light has in the room and on furniture, on color, on our well being. Then, our customer base can approach us and said, “guys you’re doing a terrific job in the decorative market, why don’t you produce functional lights?” That’s kind of where we kicked off 1 year ago trying to extend our brand reach.

Roy Morejon:

So that’s awesome. We always love and our community always loves when they get engaged. That’s great that you listen, take their feedback, and launch a product like this. That’s great. How long have you spent preparing for this project and tell our audience some of the preparations in terms of what those look like leading up to your campaign launch.

Nils Lehnert:

Sure. In the condensed way, we spent 6 months preparing for the campaign. Which looking back, probably might not have been long enough, but yes 6 months from design to idea to execution. The last 3 months of the campaign were very, very critical in producing different ways of content that would last not just for the launch of campaign, but also to post to Facebook and Instagram and to other outlets and throughout the campaign to create news for the perks basically. Initially, we looked at different strategies so we consumed blogs and they were hinting to 4 different ways to push the campaign. Basically doing grass root community building. Doing events, talking to [inaudible 00:04:37] personally. That’s something we did as well as contacting a lot of press outlets mainly in Europe because we’re based in Berlin. As well as to get a pay strategy working and to approach Kickstarter directly because they can be very, very helpful in getting feedback and pushing you through that challenge.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. You guys are the lovely campaign that got to be a project we love and got all the adornment from Kickstarter themselves. You guys funded very quickly on the first day. What do you think out of those 4 pieces of pre campaign marketing that you did led to be most successful? Obviously, you guys got a ton of press from Wired, Digital Trends, and Gadget, among others. What do you think has led to having some of those very successful first few days?

Nils Lehnert:

Yes, the first few days were really based on the community that we built, really in person. We have a lot of architects and interior designers who knew us from before and they were quite anxiously awaiting for the campaign to go live. We’re creating quite a buzz for this so we had launch events in our office in Berlin, for example. Invited 300 people to interact with the lamp and we had quite an emotional speech, showed the video and before it was actually pushed to Kickstarter. So we’re trying to build a high level of emotional commitment of those visitors and the same in the Danish headquarters. I think for the beginning, the personal interactions were very, very important.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. How have you guys gone about balancing promoting your campaign all while getting ready for manufacturing and shipping the product?

Nils Lehnert:

Yes, so we’re lucky that our team is big enough to have different functions. Our design and manufacturing team was able to work on the molding, all the processes, etc, etc. All during the campaign so it didn’t bother us in terms of the development and it was actually very beneficial because the product team had a platform to interact with the user and to ask questions to get feedback, of course that’s always the classical input, but also to test different use case scenarios. Are you more interested in placing this lamp in your office or your home? That again has a huge impact on the development and path that we would take for the product. I think it was very, very helpful.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. What’s been the biggest surprise so far in your campaign?

Nils Lehnert:

The biggest surprise so far? People love colored cables. It sounds really weird, but we’ve been really into reducing the cables to black and people are like really annoying us to make the cables in every single color. We’re trying to keep that down, the momentum, but maybe we have to [inaudible 00:07:39].

Roy Morejon:

Fair enough. Well that’s obviously an interesting request that people are having, but again that’s what happens when you embrace the crowd and you’re opening yourself up to feedback.

Nils Lehnert:

Yeah, exactly.

Roy Morejon:

What other advice would you give to someone else looking to Kickstart their hardware project or lighting project, whatever it may be? What’s one piece of advice that you would give to someone?

Nils Lehnert:

Probably 3 pieces of advice. I would mention the preparation period. You should plan to have a bit of a buffer towards the end, at least 2 to 3 weeks to reflect on the campaign. We had to set the campaign light basically in an all nighter because we had certain press outlets already committed to our launch date. I wish we would have had a bit of time to check all the content [inaudible 00:08:29]. Also to engage in A/B testings so you can test different copy and images through campaign marketing and have a scientific approach for choosing content and structures. I wish we would have started a bit earlier.

I can advise everybody to reach out to Kickstarter directly. The people that we talked to were super, super, super helpful in giving advice and feedback on the campaign, but if you pitch the project quite nicely they will commit to certain things before the campaign as well.

The third thing is having talked to an ad agency such as Command Partners can be super helpful because you have existing databases and existing knowledges and knowledge about the product and about the consumer that can be leveraged quite easily.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely, no. It’s been exciting working with you guys and honestly we love this project as well. We are backers and believers in this and certainly as well, as you mentioned, we work very closely with the team at Kickstarter with all of our projects and obviously it’s a blessing that they make it a project we love. They don’t do that very often, but certainly you met all of that criteria.

Nils, this gets us into our launch round where I rapid fire a few questions at you. You good to go?

Nils Lehnert:

Yes, I’m good to go.

Roy Morejon:

Excellent. So what inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

Nils Lehnert:

I guess successful people, right? In Germany you don’t have such a big entrepreneurial crowd, but looking to the U. S. and consuming U. S. media really, really makes you believe in the American spirit.

Roy Morejon:

We believe in it too. If you could meet any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?

Nils Lehnert:

I’m a big fan of Andrew Grove. He passed away recently. He was a founder and CEO of Intel. I would have loved to meet him.

Roy Morejon:

What would you have talked about? What would have been your first question?

Nils Lehnert:

I probably would have just listened and I would’ve made sure to bring a pen and lots of paper to write down every single thing he says.

Roy Morejon:

I love the way you answered that. I would’ve listened. It’s unfortunate that a lot of people are talking a little bit too much these days and not listening to what other people have to say. The feedback channel from crowdfunding obviously is unique and that’s a great answer, Nils. I wish more entrepreneurs would listen before speaking.

What book is on your night stand or what’s the last book or book that you would recommend to our audience?

Nils Lehnert:

Actually a book by Andrew Grove. It’s called, “High Output Management.” It’s about leveraging your limited time with the company. It’s a really great book. Also, “Built to Last.” I’m not sure you know that book, but it contains a lot of ethical and moral thinking, which we try to foster in our company as well.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely.

Nils Lehnert:

I’m boring mentioning business books, I’m sorry.

Roy Morejon:

No, “Built to Last” is certainly a solid business book for any entrepreneur out there. I’ve read it a few times myself.

Nils, where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Nils Lehnert:

I see myself running a very happy company. We actually have a happiness index in the company that all our employees have to fulfill or fill out at the end of the week. Employee happiness is super, super important to us, but also across the entire [inaudible 00:12:10]. We want to grow profitable as well and we have high inspirations to become a successful company. In 5 years, we could be that in Germany and in Europe.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely, and I know you’re going to have happy customers too when you guys deliver this summer.

What does the future of crowdfunding look like to you? Last question.

Nils Lehnert:

The future of crowdfunding. What I think is interesting about crowdfunding is the interaction with the consumer to the manufacturer. Speaking about that dimension, I think that should be passed on to many other channels as well. I think the concept of crowdfunding is there to stay and will actually penetrate other sectors of marketing.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. Nils, you’ve been awesome. Please give our audience your pitch, tell us what you’re all about, where people should go, and why they should go buy the product.

Nils Lehnert:

Yes, so delivering a pitch can always sound very cheesy, but Kien is a lamp. In our opinion, it’s better. It has better energy, it makes you sleep better at night, it makes you be more productive, it has a really high level of intelligence inside. It’ll ultimately be the way to consume light throughout the entire day. It’s quite strongly designed. Having a lamp in this minimalist aesthetics available in concrete and wood is entirely new. If you want more information about the product you can go to kien.com which contains product shots and a link to our Kickstarter campaign. So make sure to check it out.

Roy Morejon:

Awesome. Nils, thank you so much for being here. Audience, thank you again for tuning in. Be sure to visit artkick.wpengine.com for all the show notes, the full transcript, and of course links to everything that we talked about today, as well as links to Backer Kid and the coupon code to The Gadget Flow. Nils, thank you so much for joining us.

Nils Lehnert:

Thank you.

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 love 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.