Remember the golden days of water gun hysteria? Back in the 90’s, it was every kid’s goal to wear their parents down until they eventually caved in and bought them the best water gun on the market. From the super soaker craze to water balloon grenades, it seemed like every summer was an escalation of water weaponry. Where did all that fun and excitement go? Why are water guns so lame today? Sebastian Walter joins this episode to showcase his revolutionary water gun, Spyra One. In his conversation with Roy, Sebastian opens up about what led him to create the next generation of water guns, what the design process was like, how he engaged his backers, and much more! Don’t miss a minute of this fascinating episode featuring Sebastian and Spyra One!

Capitalizing on nostalgia.

As millions of kids from the 80’s and 90’s become the dominant purchasing group in America, retailers are scrambling to appeal to their interests. Leveraging nostalgia is one of the largest trends to capitalize on this target demographic. Taking one look at the box office will confirm this trend, the dominance of superhero films is just one example of the power of nostalgia. Sebastian Walter dove deep into the recesses of his childhood and found a key item that taps into the nostalgia trend and is ripe for disruption, water guns. Find out how Sebastian and his team are changing the face of the water gun market with their product, Spyra One!

More than just a toy.

You’d think that a few tweaks here and a few improvements there would be an easy way to make a profit off of a product that hasn’t seen innovation in decades, and you’d be right! But Sebastian Walter and his team took it a step further with the Spyra One. The biggest innovation is the pump integrated into the water gun; their campaign videos show users placing the gun into the water and the pump refills 25 shots worth of water in about 14 seconds. They’ve also included a digital readout that tells users how many shots are left before refilling is required. Sebastian and his team have done more than tweak a product for a profit, they have redesigned a toy with the passion and innovation of people who love what they are doing. Learn more about their story on this fascinating episode!

Spreading the word.

When was the last time that you shared something that you were passionate about on social media? How about with a friend? When you find something that you love, your natural inclination is to share it with people in your social circle! The same is true when it comes to innovative products like Spyra One. Before they even launched on Kickstarter, Sebastian Walter and his team worked hard to spread the word about their new and innovative water gun. Once they got the product in front of people and in their hands, the excitement caught on quick. Leveraging this excitement, Sebastian continued to stoke the flames until the product launched, resulting in a $60,000 funding goal fulfilled in about 25 minutes. What can you learn from Sebastian’s powerful story?

Be real!

Don’t you hate it when you are sold one story but come to find out the real truth? Then why market like that? While every startup entrepreneur works hard to put their best foot forward, there is real value in leading with transparency and authenticity! The days of polished and perfect are quickly fading – it’s time to look for ways to tell your brand’s story in a way that really connects with the public. Sebastian Walter is convinced that his product was able to succeed on Kickstarter because the product was engaging and they told the story in a humble and authentic way. Hear more of Sebastian’s story and why it’s so important to lead with authenticity by listening to this episode!

Key Takeaways

  • [1:05] Sebastian Walter joins the podcast to talk about his product, Spyra One.
  • [3:45] What was the design process like for the Spyra One?
  • [5:10] Spreading the word and ramping up excitement.
  • [8:00] Engaging the press and creating worthwhile stretch goals.
  • [10:00] Crowdfunding tips from Sebastian.
  • [12:00] Utilizing feedback from backers.
  • [14:00] The value of authenticity in marketing and engagement. Future plans?
  • [15:40] Sebastian enters the Launch Round, rapid-fire questions.
  • [17:40] Why you should check out Spyra One.

Links

Connect With Spyra

Sponsors

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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.

 

Connect With the Art Of The Kickstart team

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View this episode’s transcript

Roy:                      Welcome to Art of the Kickstart, your source for crowd funding campaign success. I’m your host, Roy Morejon, President of Enventys Partners the top full service turn key development in crowd funding marketing agency in the world. We have helped startups raise over 100 million dollars 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 you take your startup to the next level with crowdfunding.

Roy:                      Art of the KickStart is honored to be sponsored by BackerKit and the Gadget Flow. BackerKit makes software that crowdfunding project creators use to survey backers, organize data, and manage orders for fulfillment by automating your operations and helping you print and ship faster. The Gadget Flow is a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save, and buy awesome products. It is the ultimate buyers guide for luxury gadgets and creative gifts.

Roy:                      Now let’s get on with the show.

Roy:                      Welcome to another addition of Art of the Kickstart. Today I’m excited because I am joined with Sebastian Walter with the Spyra One, the next generation of water guns. Sebastian, thanks so much for being on Art of the Kickstart today.

Sebastian:           Thanks for having me.

Roy:                      So you have created a totally awesome water gun and we here at Enventys Partners, Art of the Kickstart, love anything having to do with water sports, as a good friend Josh [Manrow 00:01:29] with a bunch of balloons, water balloon campaign kind of revolutionized the water balloon fight industry and now you’ve taken it to the next level with the Spyra One. So you created the most successful Germany product of 2018.

Sebastian:           Well it feels great, obviously Germany is not huge in terms of Kickstarter but it’s still a huge success and we didn’t expect that at all and I mean we believe it would be a good product but you know we didn’t know how the response would be and it was great and it was a great experience all over.

Roy:                      So, let’s talk about where this product innovation came from, what inspired you to create this product.

Sebastian:           You know first thing is, when I was a kid I had lots of water guns and everyone did. I’m a kid of the 90s and back at that time everyone was having water guns and having water fights during the summer time and I think that was the most important memory that I have that brought me to realize there are no cool water guns anymore.

Sebastian:           Actually it’s true you can not really buy good water guns these days. Not on Amazon, not Ebay, nowhere and that was very surprising for us. So, I talked to a couple of friends and I was like hey look, back in the 90s we had these awesome water guns, do you remember and of course they were like, “Yes, sure we do.” And what happened, and it was then we realized it was then time to actually make a great water gun again.

Roy:                      So your Munich based start up, you founded it a few years ago, and you’re actually right next to a fire department. Did they have any help in coordinating how best to spray water the way that you guys have revolutionized it in the Spyra?

Sebastian:           Yes, I think in the beginning we like to think that, but it turns out that firefighting and I don’t know high pressured cleaning and all these different industries that remotely have something to do with water, they are very different. So yeah, in the beginning we tried to ask them what do they think about that, you know the sheer amount of water and the pressure and everything is so, so over the top, you know in their using their equipment that it’s not a [inaudible 00:03:28]. I think it’s very different, different world really.

Sebastian:           But yeah I like to think it helped us a little bit.

Roy:                      So when you were creating this Spyra One, let’s talk about the process there. How did you go about deciding what features to include, how to design it, source the product, you know? Talk about that process.

Sebastian:           I think in the beginning we clearly under estimated how much work it is. I mean I think every one is doing that and maybe that’s a good thing, because you don’t know how much you have to do, but we did that on the large scale really, because we were like okay it’s not going to be so hard, it’s a water gun, how hard can it be?

Sebastian:           It turns out that there’s a lot of science involved, there’s a lot of details that you have to understand and that was a huge learning for us because we were like okay, how does this work, how does water flowing, how do you eject water from you know a nozzle.

Sebastian:           It turns out that it’s a lot of science involved that you have to read through, so in the beginning was to actually learn this stuff, to learn how fluid dynamics work, how pressure builds up and how it develops inside of a container and it turns out that we had a lot to learn and if we had known how much it is, I’m not sure I would have started but you know, after you’ve done it you know it was a good thing.

Roy:                      So let’s talk about the prep work leading up to this Kickstarter campaign. You fully funded your reasonable funding goal of about 60,000 US Dollars in 25 minutes on the first day of your campaign you did over 136,000 Euros in terms of transactions. How did you have such an excited amount of people ready for this product, to pre purchase upon launch?

Sebastian:           I would assume that it was because we took our time, we really… the summer before Kickstarter so last year we were like okay, what are we going to do when we launch on Kickstarter next year? We really took our time to get everyone excited and I think that is something that can not be underestimated. How important it is to, you know get in touch with people and get them excited about what you do, you know.

Sebastian:           Tell them in the beginning they will not care to much, but after sometime they will pick it up and they will be like, “Hey, that’s cool. Oh, okay this is now better than before and you’re making progress here and there.” I think that was the most important factor for this campaign that we got a huge subscriber list, and I know it sounds a bit old school to really collect email addresses and go over it the old way, but for us it was invaluable.

Sebastian:           We had this really tight crowd that was really looking forward to that Kickstarter campaign and we could tell because right from the start they were like, you know cool it’s out now, it’s on Kickstarter, we’re going to back it and that was huge for us.

Roy:                      So how many email addresses did you acquire during your prelaunch efforts?

Sebastian:           Over the year you know, the year during summer when we started until we launched, so that was about exactly 12 months I think. We collected about 10,000 email addresses, and that doesn’t sound much, you know I talk to other campaigns and they were like yeah that’s about the same number we get, but I think we really got them excited.

Sebastian:           So we updated them very often, we were like making sure that they really wanted to hear about our product and I think the quality of those email addresses for us was comparatively high. Also the converted percentage of people that eventually ended up buying or pledging on Kickstarter was high.

Roy:                      Yes I mean for 10,000 email addresses acquired during the pre campaign and then on launch day you had over 1,000 backers. That’s a strong 10% conversion rate if they all came from your email newsletter.

Sebastian:           I think they did, so that was cool.

Roy:                      Where did you acquire most of your customers from, was it targeting through Google or Facebook or other networks out there?

Sebastian:           Yeah we did a little bit, and we did paid ads and a little bit of these things, but I think most of it, and it sounds a bit silly but in retrospective and turned out to be really valuable was like going on fairs and talking to people, you know exhibitions where there’s a lot of people who, from the toy industry or a lot of visitors.

Sebastian:           We did that and again that sounds really old school you know going having like your fliers or whatever ready and your poster and you know talking to people, but these guys turned out to be pretty loyal to your brand and commenting and being interested in what you did, so I think we went about it really old school, but it turned out to be really good.

Roy:                      Yeah, you’ve gotten some great press coverage in outlets like Wired, Gizmodo, Trend Hunter even Uncrate covered you guys. Any tips there for other creators to get and secure great press coverage that way?

Sebastian:           Yes I mean, you should make their jobs as easy as possible obviously, so you should have a good press kit, you should have everything ready so that if they want to write about you, they can easily find all information and imagery and whatever they need. I think mostly, it’s organic so if you have an exciting product and enough people that will back you, everything else just falls into place. I’m not sure if that works for ever campaign or any product, for us it worked just really well.

Sebastian:           So you need to make their jobs easy, having everything in place you know, if they are asking you to react really quickly because they have their own deadlines and everything, but apart from that just have an exciting campaign I would say.

Roy:                      So you guys have really some interesting stretch goals as well that your backers have unlocked so far. Talk a little bit about that process and how you guys went about deciding what to offer as stretch goals. Did you involve the community or the crowd that you’ve built, or was it just something that you guys had already predetermined that you could do and build out on.

Sebastian:           Yes so I mean, we have learned quite a bit during the past months really and the problem for us was that we didn’t really know how to build the next high tech water gun. I mean there is no product similar to this out there and we couldn’t know what people would want and of course we have our own preconception about what will sell and what will not, but it turned out to be the best idea to really ask the people.

Sebastian:           I mean they’re spending money on your water gun, they want that product out there and it turned out to be a good idea to ask them. So we did polls, we asked them what feature would you like and you know, of course we had to make sure that we could implement it and that we could build it and it was at a reasonable cost. Yes, we asked our backers and they decided in which order they wanted to have those stretch goals.

Roy:                      Which is always great. So, you talked about a year of pre campaign work going in, what tips would you have for someone looking to crowdfund their innovation as well? What tips would you give to them?

Sebastian:           I would say that it’s really to take your time. We’ve been approached by a couple of other Kickstarter or soon to be Kickstarter campaigns and they were like trying to speed this up, they were like okay so you got a good crowd and you have been working for a year, can I speed this up and maybe four weeks. Can I spend you know, like 10 times the amount on Facebook and Google and can I just speed this up and build the crowd faster?

Sebastian:           I would say that might be possible, I’m not sure, but the best way to go about it is take your time, you know. Have updates ready, have when they go on your Facebook page, have stuff ready so they see that you did something in the past. You know like 12 months ago we showed them you know, whatever prototype and 10 months ago we showed them first testing and these things and I think people like this.

Sebastian:           They like that you have been working on this for sometime, because after all Kickstarter is a leap of faith, you know, they trust you with their money to develop this and it’s a lot more, you are a lot more trustworthy if you can prove that you have been working on this for sometime.

Sebastian:           I would say, take your time, update regularly, have new stuff ready and don’t try to be too fast. That is very… I mean it’s not like you usually learn, you know it’s like about thinking fast and being fast and you know people trying to rush it and this is contrary to what you hear about this type of work, but I think the reason why we did so well on our Kickstarter campaign.

Roy:                      No I agree. Let’s talk a little bit about your experience with your backers in the community so far, you talked about building up a list of 10,000 folks before the campaign, sounds like you had a really good email drift campaign to continually keep them informed.

Roy:                      While the campaigns been running it looks like you’ve got a pretty good amount of feedback from the product as well as giving you advice on what stretch pulls they want to do. How have you been managing that feedback with your backers as well as promoting and getting ready to manufacture the product?

Sebastian:           Right, so your backers… this is huge, your backers are like really important because they are the source of everything really you know, praise and you know spreading the word, at the same time they can build up a lot of hate if something isn’t right, so your backers and the community around it, is like incredibly important.

Sebastian:           I think the most important thing is to be really fast. If something builds up, if questions are unanswered, if there’s something that isn’t clear, you need to be clear right away, you need to answer right away.

Sebastian:           We had this thing that I think is showing a bit what this problem really needs is that pop up store or this fake store coming up, selling our product you know, it wasn’t us it was like on the internet some con artist had set up the store and you could buy our own product for I don’t know like 15 dollars, something ridiculous priced and obviously it was a scam and you couldn’t really buy it, we hadn’t even produced it yet.

Sebastian:           This thing came up and a lot of people were falling for that, you know it was advertised on Instagram a lot of people bought it and the next day delivery whatever. It was a big problem because they were coming back to us and was like, hey this is strange why can I buy this product for 15 dollars on this store, on this online store?

Sebastian:           So you need to act really fast, you need to contact Facebook and Google, you need to tell them okay this is a scam please take it down, you need to address your backers you need to make sure that not a lot of people fall for that, because they are angry at you.

Sebastian:           It’s not the fact that you have nothing to do with and that’s just one example of how you need to be really fast and it came out on a Friday afternoon in America so we were already asleep, they couldn’t know so they were like feeling like we didn’t care too much about it, because it was our weekend we were eight hours ahead so that’s a huge thing we need to take care of.

Sebastian:           If something happens good or bad, you need to be really fast about it.

Roy:                      Absolutely, and it’s great when the crowd gets behind you and can help and support and find out all these things for you at the same time right?

Sebastian:           Yes, absolutely, they showed us, they told us hey look what is going on there is something not right and we were made aware of this page.

Roy:                      So what’s the biggest thing that you’ve learned throughout the whole process of launching your first Kickstarter campaign?

Sebastian:            I would say that you should be as authentic as you can. We weren’t quite sure how to approach this whole Kickstarter thing, in the beginning we weren’t sure about how to present ourselves, how to present the video that we made and the page and we see a lot of products that are really polished on Kickstarter, you know that are done by big companies, having huge budgets and we were more on the rough side.

Sebastian:           We had a student team of filmmakers, we had… didn’t have any voice telling I was doing the voice over and most of the narrating and I think we learned that, that’s okay, people are like if the product is cool they are perfectly fine with a bit, a rough presentation, not everything is super smooth or super polished and there was a huge learning, because people still care about whether or not the product is cool, whether or not your vision is true and that turned out to be a good learning for us.

Roy:                       Absolutely, so where are you guys headed next after this?

Sebastian:            Now that it’s wintertime. We are going for protection. We are now trying to set everything up, connect to our partners and make sure that the product comes out next summer. Because the probably obviously is that you can not really enjoy it during the winter right, so it can only enjoy it during summer time so we need to make sure that our backers are getting their product in time to enjoy in 2019.

Roy:                       Indeed. Alright Sebastian this gets us into our launch round where I’m going to rapid fire a handful of questions at you. You’re good to go?

Sebastian:            Absolutely.

Roy:                       Pretend like this is a water gun fight, alright.

Sebastian:            I will.

Roy:                       What inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

Sebastian:            The fact that when I looked at water guns, the inventor of water guns, Lonnie Johnson was also an entrepreneur, and started like this, and I was like okay this is a story that can’t be repeated.

Roy:                       So if you can have a water gun fight with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?

Sebastian:            I would say it’s probably Elon Musk, because he’s like… he’s building a flame thrower so he could probably say something about this product.

Roy:                       Nice, what do you think he would say about the product?

Sebastian:            He would probably say that his flame thrower is cooler, but I’m not so sure about that.

Roy:                       What business book or life book would you recommend to our audience?

Sebastian:            I would probably say the 80 20 rule. It’s a huge thing that is under estimated all the time, everything thinks he knows what it’s about but it’s actually you know the [inaudible 00:16:26] principal. It’s a huge thing it helps you a lot, the 80 20 rule.

Roy:                       Absolutely, so where do you see yourself in five years, Sebastian?

Sebastian:            I would hope that Spyra One becomes a large company that is building cool products and has a cool line of products. Ideally I would hope that, you know that Spyra is actually a word that you can use, let’s go Spyra and you know that means that you grab a Spyra one two or three and a couple of your friends and have great fun.

Roy:                       Last question, in the rapid fire round Sebastian. What does the future of crowdfunding look like?

Sebastian:           That depends on how things develop. I would say crowdfunding is always changing and it’s very different from what it was five years ago. I would hope that a lot of young entrepreneurs and soon to be companies are still authentic enough and you know, truly authentic to for them to start on Kickstarter and go far, but I fear that it might turn out to be polished, more established companies trying to use or fund that. I’m not sure where this is leading so that a bit of, I’m not sure of where this is going.

Roy:                       Well Sebastian this is your opportunity to give our audience your pitch. Tell people what you’re all about, where people should go and why they should check you out.

Sebastian:           So, we are eleven hours I think, or ten hours away from final moment of our Kickstart campaign, we are building the greatest water gun in the world. It’s called the Spyra One and you should check it out on Kickstarter. It’s going to be huge, it’s longer range and more pressure, everything you’ve ever wanted from a water gun really. We are called Spyra One and you should definitely grab yourself one and maybe, you know, ask a friend too.

Roy:                       Awesome, well audience thanks again for tuning in. Make sure to visit Art of the Kickstart dot com for all the show notes, the transcript, links to everything we talked about today and of course thank you to our crowdfunding podcast sponsors Gadget Flow and BackerKit. Sebastian thank you so much for joining us today for Art of the Kickstart.

Sebastian:            Cool, thanks for having me.

Roy:                       Thanks for tuning in to another episode of Art of the Kickstart, the show about building a business, world, and life with crowdfunding. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, awesome. Make sure to visit artofthekickstart.com and tells us all about it.

Roy:                       There you will find additional information about past episodes, our Kickstarter guide to crushing it, and of course if you loved this episode a lot, leave us a review at artofthekickstart.com/itunes. It helps more inventors, entrepreneurs, and startups find this show and helps us get better guests to help you build a better business.

Roy:                       If you need more hands on crowdfunding strategy advice, please feel free to request a quote on enventyspartners.com. Thanks again for tuning in and we’ll see you again next week.