Wow – this is the 150th episode of Art of the Kickstart! To celebrate, we’re bringing you a bonus episode this week, featuring a very exciting campaign.

Michael Bettua joined us to discuss his Kickstarter campaign for Gemio, the customizable smart band that lights up your night. Listen in to learn more about the work that led up to this campaign and how Gemio has raised nearly $100,000 so far.

The Customizable Smart Band that Lights Up Your Night

Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • How to validate your concept with your target audience before launching on Kickstarter
  • How to determine what features to offer in a new product while you are prototyping
  • How long it takes to prepare for a Kickstarter campaign
  • How to find partners when launching a new product on Kickstarter
  • Why early bird specials are so important
  • Why you need to spend time building a user base well in advance of your project launch

Links

Connect with Gemio

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 AOTK for 20% off!

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 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 buyers 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’m joined by Michael Bettua with Gemio. Michael, thank you so much for joining us.

Michael Bettua:

Hi Roy, thanks for having me.

Roy Morejon:

This is a special edition for us, it’s our 150th episode and what better a campaign to speak about than yours?

Michael Bettua:

That’s great. Yeah, I’m excited to be talking about it today.

Roy Morejon:

Tell our listeners what the Gemio Smart Band is all about.

Michael Bettua:

Sure. Gemio’s a wearable device so it’s a wristband that uses light to connect with friends, to express your personal style, and really become part of the show like concerts, and parties, and festivals. We call it a social wearable.

Roy Morejon:

This social wearable is awesome Michael. You’ve got an awesome demo of it on the campaign on Kickstarter that’s live right now. We’re headed well into the 6 figures very soon here. Tell us about where this product started and how you begin conceptualizing this idea.

Michael Bettua:

Sure Roy. We started about a year and a half ago with an original idea about using technology to bring people together in real life. We thought there’d be an opportunity to really re-create a friendship bracelet for the internet of things. The original idea started with that concept in using the expression of a friendship bracelet but the connectivity of technology and combining them to do something really new and interesting. It’s evolved from there to really be much more sophisticated than even we originally envisioned. For example, you can completely change the look of your Gemio band using these optical tiles that can be snapped on and off. The band, behind the tiles, there are several LED lights that produce millions of colors and light effects that respond to music, and movement, and even to the people around you. It really has taken on a much bigger experience for the customer than just connecting with friends. You can even to connect to things that you’re interested in online and have the bracelet react to that.

We now have been at it about a year and a half, we’ve launched on Kickstarter Thursday of last week, and we are producing the Gemio bands starting in October for November 2016 delivery.

Roy Morejon:

It’s a killer product. Your 2 and a half years into the development, what was some of the practical work leading up to the Kickstarter campaign?

Michael Bettua:

Sure. We’re actually just under 2 years. The original idea started 2 years ago and then we came to gather as a co-founding team a year and a half ago and then things accelerated quickly at that point. What was the next question, I’m sorry?

Roy Morejon:

You’re just talking about some of the prep work that you guys did as a team leading up to the crowdfunding campaign.

Michael Bettua:

Sure. There was quite a bit of prep work. We did, a couple of months ago we did a little pre-order test on our website to validate some of our assumptions around the business model, what customers are willing to pay for the product, how many tile sets people would buy for every band and that they bought from us. We put up a pre-order test on our site that went really well. We, basically, got a 4X return on our marketing spend into actual revenue so that helped to clarify a lot of things for our go-forward strategy, that was in November of last year.

Then prepping for this month has been a ton of public relations prep, digital marketing prep work, email list building and really building a community on social that would support us when we launched. That so far has paid off really well. As you mentioned, we exceeded our goal in 48 hours. Our goal was 50,000, we had that in 48 hours and now we’re approaching 100,000 about 5 days later.

Roy Morejon:

One of the questions our listeners always want to know is, what makes a company like yours and a product like yours choose to launch a product using Kickstarter as a means to launch your company into the world?

Michael Bettua:

That’s a great question. Especially for a product like ours which has mass appeal. It’s not a niche product, for example, by one specific demographic or a niche technical group but it’s a consumer product so Kickstarter just seemed to us like the perfect platform for a broad appeal product that has a great story behind it. It’s very visual, it demos beautifully when you see it light up in response to music or to friends, it’s quite stunning. We felt because of the experience and the visuals behind it there’s no better way to do it than on Kickstarter, even better than doing it on our own site, because of the reach of Kickstarter and the supportive fan base of Kickstarter.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. No, I couldn’t agree more Michael. How did you decide what features to include? I know you mentioned that you did some pre-campaign testing and lead generation to prove your business model out. Was that where you did some of the feature requests? Talk to the audience about that.

Michael Bettua:

From the beginning, I would say from when we had our first prototype 15 months ago, we started doing user group sessions with young people in our target demographic. Everywhere from 14 to 27 and a mix of young men and young women. A lot of the features that you’re seeing right now, for example the response to music, pairing your bracelets with other friends, changing the tiles to change your design, those were all elevated to the top through user group sessions. Then when we did the pre-order test it validated that people were willing to pay for those. We even did a survey after of everyone who bought from us and asked them which were their favorite features and it was very consistent with what we had seen in our user group sessions. This month’s campaign with Kickstarter is a year and a half in the making frankly.

Roy Morejon:

Some of the best campaigns, like this one, do take that long in terms of pre-campaign preparation. It’s not something that you can just throw out there on Kickstarter, and launch, and hope that the masses come.

Michael Bettua:

Exactly.

Roy Morejon:

Obviously, you guys have built some very noteworthy partnerships. How did you guys go about finding and partnering with some of the organizations you’re working with?

Michael Bettua:

One of them is an organization called Love Is Louder that is run by the actress Brittany Snow in collaboration with a partner of hers, Courtney Knowles, and we struck up a conversation on social about 5 months ago and really found quickly that our missions as a company or as organizations were really aligned. Love Is Louder it’s a charity organization designed to make people feel more connected in the world as a means for feeling confident and happy. Really, as I mentioned, our original mission behind Gemio was to connect people in new ways using technology so it just meshed beautifully and so because of that Brittany Snow agreed to direct and act in our Kickstarter video that you can see on our page and on rollingstone.com and it just came out beautifully. She just told the story of connection between 2 people beautifully in this video that I think represents what we’ve been after as a company and so we’re partnering with them.

In fact, one of our first partners on something called Gemio channels, that we’re announcing, will be featuring Love Is Louder and Brittany Snow.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. No, it’s probably one of the best crowdfunding videos that we’ve had the pleasure of working with because it truly does tell a story.

Michael Bettua:

Yes.

Roy Morejon:

Michael, what’s been one of the biggest surprises so far with campaign?

Michael Bettua:

That’s a good question. Frankly, seeing the super early bird specials get scooped up within the first day did surprise me a bit. I know we were going in with a very supportive base of customers who had said they were interested but they were scooped up pretty quickly. The response to the group packs of 5 also has been a little surprising but it’s great, obviously, because the more people, the more friends who have Gemio the more fun it is. That’s been great to see. I would say the pickup by the press on the campaign has exceeded our expectations. As you probably know, the press has written a lot about Kickstarter campaigns for years and it’s not easy to get coverage but we’ve gotten a lot of press coverage out of it which surprised me a bit.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. We’ve been working hard on our end and, obviously, and you guys on your end and I think we’ve made this campaign a great success. We’ve got a long way to go. What advice would you give to someone hoping to crowd fund their fashionable wearable, for instance?

Michael Bettua:

I would say, number 1 is build a user base well in advance which is one of the number 1 recommendations that your team made, Roy, to us which is to start doing the pre-promotion at least several weeks in advance, and build a user base, build your social following so you’re not launching into crickets but you’re launching into an eager base ready to support you, and I would say the number 1 take away. As you say, we’ve got a long way to go to make it a major success, we’re on the right track but I would say that’s the number 1 thing I’m taking away from this so far.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. Michael, this gets us into our rapid fire round of questions, you ready to go?

Michael Bettua:

Sure.

Roy Morejon:

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?

Michael Bettua:

The excitement of making a difference in the world and with a great product that people love. That drives us every day and makes this very rewarding.

Roy Morejon:

What’s your favorite music festival?

Michael Bettua:

Further Future which just launched, it’s 2 years old. It was a couple months ago, I loved it.

Roy Morejon:

All right. If you could go, again, next year to that what entrepreneur would you go with?

Michael Bettua:

That’s a good question. I would, probably, go with the founder of Fitbit because they paved new ground in wearables. I’d like to learn from his track record and what they’ve been able to achieve in building a great business.

Roy Morejon:

What would be your first question then?

Michael Bettua:

My first question was what are the top 3 mistakes that you made that I can avoid? That’s the biggest thing that mentors can share with new entrepreneurs is all the mistakes that were made. Of course, you’ll make plenty as entrepreneurs and we still do but knowing somebody who’s been through it helps a lot to avoid them.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. What book is on your nightstand?

Michael Bettua:

Right now, it’s actually ‘The Tipping Point’ which I’ve read a couple years ago but it’s very timely in what we’re doing now in really trying to position ourselves to have a tipping point as a company and as a product strategy.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. No, very timely indeed. What would you say are your biggest weakness is?

Michael Bettua:

Personally or as a company?

Roy Morejon:

Personally.

Michael Bettua:

I worry about everything even when things are going well but that goes with the territory of being an entrepreneur. Even if things are going great I still feel nervous about what’s coming next, what we’re not attending to, how do we improve the product, et cetera. It’s a weakness in that it requires some discipline to step back from that and just focus on the top 3 priorities at that time and then worry about the other items later.

Roy Morejon:

Yeah, I think, this is a trait that we all inherited as entrepreneurs Michael.

Michael Bettua:

Sure.

Roy Morejon:

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Michael Bettua:

I’d like to be running a big business at Gemio. Whether we go public or we are independent at that stage we think we’ve got a really big market opportunity. The wearables market’s expected to be $50 billion by 2019 so we’re what? 4 years away from that right now so I’d like to see ourselves as a dominant player in this new category of social wearables.

Roy Morejon:

Awesome. Last question on the rapid fire round, what does the future of crowdfunding look like

Michael Bettua:

It only gets better from here. Obviously, equity based crowdfunding is becoming mainstream and hopefully the procedural requirements will become easier to do that for startups like us. Even just the reward based crowdfunding I think is going to grow infinitely because it’s a great testament to the demand for the product.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. Michael, you’ve been awesome. Please give everyone your pitch. Tell us what you’re all about, where people should go, and why they should go by Gemio.

Michael Bettua:

Okay sure. Gemio, as I mentioned early on, it’s a new kind of wearable that is about expressing your personal style, living in the moment, and connecting with the friends, and events, and artist, and even the causes that you care about. We’ve launched this on Kickstarter, you can find out more at gogemio.com and please check out our Kickstarter campaign that is closing in about 25 days.

Roy Morejon:

Michael, you’ve been awesome. Listeners, thank you again for tuning in. Make sure to visit Art of the Kickstart for all of the show notes, a full transcript, link to the Gemio campaign, and everything we’ve talked about, as well as a coupon code to list your project on Gadget Flow. Michael, thank you so much for joining us and being one of our clients.

Michael Bettua:

Thank you very much 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 in 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.