This week on Art of the Kickstart we spoke to Ron Lynch of Big Baby Agency about his work with BackStrong, a Kickstarter campaign for a desk chair that fixes your posture. Tune in to learn more about how they’ve raised over $200,000 in just over a month, with more than 3 weeks remaining on their campaign! Hint: it involves celebrities from Justin Bieber to Paula Abdul to Chelsea Handler.

The BackStrong Chair Fixes How You Sit. Let it do the work.

Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • Why Kickstarter is a great marketing tool
  • Why it’s important to focus on benefits when marketing a product on Kickstarter
  • How to use celebrity influencers in a Kickstarter campaign
  • Why focus groups and testing are important before launching a product
  • How to set your Kickstarter campaign up for success before it launches

Links

Connect With BackStrong

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.

 

Transcript

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Roy Morejon:

Welcome to Art of the Kickstart, your source for crowdfunding campaign success. I’m your host Roy Morejon, President of Enventys Partners, the top, full-service turnkey product development and crowdfunding marketing agency in the world. We have helped startups raise over a hundred 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.

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 buyer’s guide for luxury gadgets and creative gifts. Now let’s get on with the show.

Welcome to another edition to the Art of the Kickstart. Today, I am joined by Ron Lynch with the BackStrong Campaign. Ron, thanks so much for joining us today.

Ron Lynch:

Thank you. I appreciate being here.

Roy Morejon:

The BackStrong Chair, it’s taking Kickstarter by storm or by back. Let’s talk a little bit about crowdfunding in general. You guys launched this campaign. What do you think has been the biggest benefit of launching this product on Kickstarter?

Ron Lynch:

Well, I’ve done a couple of Kickstarters, this isn’t my first one, and one of the things that became clear to me early on was that Kickstarter was, in my opinion secondarily for fundraising, but primarily for marketing, so I utilize it as a research tool and a development tool while we’re starting and launching a business. It really gives you the opportunity to find your metrics and discover your metrics in a pretty organic way, and it gives you enough long-form opportunity to see what parts of the sales message resonate with which audiences. It’s as much fundraising and it is ethnic marketing.

Roy Morejon:

Let’s talk about the product for a second. I just wanted to jump in and get started, but so BackStrong, this is a truly unique desk chair. It supports your ideal posture. I know all of us sit, and sitting is the new smoking, but this chair looks to increase flexibility, engage your core, increase circulation. Can you talk a little bit about the entire BackStrong team, and then the process of bringing this product to market?

Ron Lynch:

Sure. The chair itself was the brainchild of two guys in Los Angeles that are both extremely successful in the back space and in the chair space. Dennis Colonello is a chiropractor in Beverly Hills, and he has an amazingly successful practice. Sitting on his office on a daily basis for a while, I can honestly say I’ve met more movie stars in his office than you could meet in the lobby of CAA. He …People who have wealth and need their health in Los Angeles pay top dollar for an experience with this guy. He truly is a magician in helping heal and helping treat the spine and the whole body, the head, the neck, in all aspects, whether you’re an athlete or whether you’re just a regular person. Jim Grove is kind of a renowned chair designer. He’s sold hundreds of thousands of chairs, and he’s worked with LA Design and BMW Designworks and long-standing been recognized as a premier chair builder.

I’m sitting in one of these BackStrong chairs now as I’m talking to you, and it’s almost one of those experiences that you have to completely understand it. Your … I’ve sat in regular office chairs and had Herman Miller and extensive desk chairs my whole life. I have a variety. I have three desk chairs in my office because of the nature of my work. People send me things, or I buy things to relieve back pain, and I spend a lot of time siting, but this chair absolutely eliminates the possibility that you can sit in a hunch or poor posture.

It is, I liken it to a child’s swing on the playground, like the little green swings that they put little infants in, little toddlers in because it’s got this cupping shape and a pad that hits the small of your back, so you can’t not have perfect posture because the posture’s formed by the chair and it’s incredibly comfortable, not just to sit in but to be in all day. The chair pivots from the hips from the hinge joint of the chair so you can literally rock back and forward in the saddle without moving the whole back of the chair, but the back does move as well.

It’s a very unique shape, and it provides you with movement in your thighs, in your core, in your stomach, in your abs, in your shoulders throughout the day so you’re, we call it Sit-in-Motion Technology. You can actually move while you’re in the chair, and it puts you in a very athletic stance. It’s almost like if you could, you’re in the position of crouching like when you shoot a basketball when you sit.

Roy Morejon:

Yeah, it kind of looks like it curls right up and just snuggles you right in there.

Ron Lynch:

Yeah, and it’s crazy comfortable. Again, I sit for long, long hours. When you … The magic is partly when you’re in the chair, but I say more so when you get out of it because you don’t have that stiffness and that soreness and that ache and that C-hunch. You haven’t turned into the caveman. I think we’ve all seen that picture of the human evolution where it starts with an ape turning into a caveman and walking upright and eventually getting behind a computer desk and being hunched over like an ape again.

Roy Morejon:

That’s it. That is society’s motion, right?

Ron Lynch:

Right.

Roy Morejon:

Let’s talk about all the prototypes. You guys have gone through multiple prototypes. What were you guys, in terms of the design features, how did you go about finalizing them for the final prototypes that you’re sitting in now?

Ron Lynch:

I think there were something like 17 prototypes in the process, and what you’re looking for, or what they tell me, the designers told me they were looking for in that process was, certainly, there’s materials involved because you’re looking at trying to build a product that you can bring to market that is at a cost of goods, which usually means can actually afford and want to purchase it, but more so, it was ergonomics of the chair of getting everything in a correct position that was generally universal to people.

We all, despite our weight, our height, our hip joints, and our pelvis, there’s just millimeters of difference from one person to another, so finding the ideal place to put the rotating socket, which mimics your hip joint, in the exact right position to make it comfortable and make it universal was a piece of it. Then getting the bucket that you sit in, the saddle to the right shape and to the right length so that when … This chair releases your thighs and your hamstrings quite easily so it doesn’t stick out into the back of your, I’m going to say the cuff of behind your knee, like other chairs do. It only comes about halfway across the thigh. It’s almost like sitting on a bench, but just far enough to make sure you’re not feeling like you’re sitting on a bench, that you still feel like you’re sitting in a chair.

There was just all these ergonomic things that had to happen within the chair. Then some design features like arms that flip up so if you’re a person that needs to be right up next to the desk, the arms can flip up, and just one machination after the other of getting the ideal materials, and then getting to quality. You want wheels that are sturdy, you want the … Do you use four spines or five spines underneath the chair to adhere it to ground, all of that stuff to keep balance to the chair. There was just iteration after iteration, and then ultimately, materials to make sure that it was durable, that it was comfortable, that it felt like an executive office chair and not something weird. There’s a lot of weird chairs out there, and this is, I’m going to say this chair is unique but it’s not weird.

Roy Morejon:

Yeah, I think our office is a hodge-podge of weird chairs collected over the years. Three or four here, five or six there, one or two there. It’s great obviously for offices and businesses alike. Ron, the campaign’s so far, I think you guys are about 30 days in with about 30 to go. It’s raised over $200,000. We’ve got hundreds of backers. What do you think has been the biggest factor responsible for raising so much money so far?

Ron Lynch:

I think it is partially the, an obvious point, back to what I said at the beginning, that I look at these as market share research tools. There’s a great need for this. It’s a very easy thing for people to intuitively get and go, “Oh, I want to try that.” It is unique so you know you haven’t seen this solution before, but within the context of both the Kickstarter page and the video, we do a very good explanation of what it is and why you need it, and it’s less content about the chair per se and more content about the user and the benefits, and that’s part of my belief in marketing anything is that I tended to focus on benefits because people buy benefits and secondarily take a look at features that support those benefits and validate them.7

I think that we’re just very honest and upfront with who it is, and it’s the … One of the odd things is, our conversion rate, and I can’t go into too much detail there because I don’t have permission to, but I’ll tell you this, that our conversion rate is almost identical to video use, that people who watch the video get it and participate in the Kickstarter.

Roy Morejon:

Wow, that’s great. Talk to me a little bit about your experience with the crowdfunding backers so far. Have you gotten much feedback? How have you guys been managing it and communicating with the community that’s backing this exciting project?

Ron Lynch:

Well, one of the things that Kickstarter allows you to do after you reach your threshold is gain access to your audience. Up until the point that you reach your funding goal, you don’t have access, so you have to find tertiary ways of communicating. We, in the first couple weeks before we hit our goal, I think hit our goal, I don’t know, 14 days in or something like that, but in those first two weeks, we had access to a lot of the celebrities, so we put more content on Facebook and re-targeted people that showed interest with valid testimonials of real people that were sitting in the chair like Paula Abdul and Jeremy Piven and Chelsea Handler people that were … They’re in the chair trying it, Danny Glover, and that helps give some validity not only to the people that are behind the chair, and you go, “Oh, okay. These guys really are who they say they are,” but you’re hearing experientially from people who are sitting in the chair using it what their experience is.

None of those people think, amazing in this day in age, none of them were paid, and that’s probably one of the things that people think is, “Oh, they went and hired a bunch of stars.” We absolutely didn’t pay anybody a penny. These people felt so strongly about Dennis and so strongly about the chair that they participated gratis in support of the campaign.

Once we got to the funding goal, now we have an opportunity to communicate with the audience and email them. One of the first things we’re doing is there’s a brand new book that was coauthored between Dennis and his prodigy in his office, and that book is going out as an ebook to everybody who participated in the fundraising. That book is also a great communication tool about how to sit and why you’ve made a good decision, and it really goes into depth of explaining more about the chair.

Roy Morejon:

Nice. What’s the been the biggest surprise you’ve encountered so far with the campaign?

Ron Lynch:

Well, there was a day when I got a text from Justin Bieber rolling around in the chair, which was kind of cool, but I think that the biggest surprise to me was how rapidly people did adapt and go, “Hey, I want to participate in this.” I might add that one of the things that’s very unique about this particular Kickstarter Campaign is when we go out historically, we go to look for people who have an audience and people who have a list. Dennis and Jim had neither. They had no email list, they had no way to contact an audience. There was no opportunity to do a really strong audience build before this, and our attraction to the audience has been solely on the merits of the product and what consumers have seen in the products, which is very, very good indicator for where this business is going to go long term. It was surprising that so many people jumped on board and said, “Yeah, we think this is a good idea too,” so that’s been very gratifying.

Roy Morejon:

Nice. What should a company consider before launching a crowdfunding project?

Ron Lynch:

I think validating at some level with a user group or a testimonial group, that’s the one piece that we did. A lot of these celebrities we gave our prototype chairs to, and we only had, I think 17 chairs, and we allowed people to have them for two or three weeks and rotated through probably 30 or 40 people, and getting it in the hands of people that can offer a testimonial because third-party corroboration for your product is essential, and those people do turn into early influencers and backers, so getting it in the hands of people and collecting that testimonial dialogue and references. Then make a sharp video, and it doesn’t have to be visually the most stimulating or excellent thing. It’s gotta be authentic and real, and you have to go to the marketplace talking to the consumer about the consumer first and talk about the product second because the consumer has problems, and you need to identify those problems, and then show how your product benefits them and then provide the features that benefit them.

Roy Morejon:

Benefits them, features, I love it. Ron, what, if anything, would you do differently if you’re starting this whole project over again?

Ron Lynch:

We had a short runway. We became involved in the marketing aspect of the product, I’m going to say, four, five months ago, and say if I knew that I was involved in the design process earlier, say a year ago, because this has been going on for several years, I probably would’ve done some more list-building activities just to increase the momentum of this earlier, but you play the hand that you’re dealt, and fortunately we have a strong enough product that it’s solving that particular issue for us at the moment.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely, and we’ve been honored to be working with you guys the whole time or at least since the beginning. Ron this is going to get us into our launch round where I going to rapid-fire a few questions at you. You good to go?

Ron Lynch:

Sure, let’s do it.

Roy Morejon:

What inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

Ron Lynch:

I hated working for someone else, and I just … When you are in a lower level of an organization or even in the top of a big organization, and I’ve been both, it becomes difficult to have freedom of activity, thought, and direction and guide yourself to success because you have parameters around you, and sometimes they’re blocking that success for that company, and you can’t work around them. Being able to go out and pursue my own ideas, my own products and kind of kill what you eat is in my nature. I keep score like an entrepreneur does. By success is by audience size, at the bank, all of those things that dictate financial success, but beyond that having spiritual success in that I get to choose what I work on. I don’t have to take junk products or I have no upline, so to speak, that forces things upon me. I get to pick what I bet on, and I’ve proven to myself that I’m good at picking at what I bet on, and I love that freedom, and I love the risk.

Roy Morejon:

Nice. If you could have a beer with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?

Ron Lynch:

I’m not sure that you’d call this person an entrepreneur, but they were. They sold things to governments and churches, and that would be Leonardo da Vinci.

Roy Morejon:

Interesting. He’s a first. What would’ve been your first question for da Vinci?

Ron Lynch:

What were the things that you thought were too big to write down, because he wrote down so many brilliant things that were so much, so far ahead of his time that all of us as inventors or creatives think of things, and we go, “Nah, that’s just too far off the edge of the map,” and I’d be curious as what was really too far off the edge of his map in his mind.

Roy Morejon:

What book would you recommend to our listeners?

Ron Lynch:

Let’s see. A few. Buyology, B-U-Y, Buyology, Blue Ocean Strategy, Four Agreements, anything by Zig Ziglar, and a children’s book called Hope for the Flowers.

Roy Morejon:

Nice selections. Last question, Ron. What does the future of crowdfunding look like?

Ron Lynch:

Boy, what does the future of anything look like? It looks like it’s malleable and changing. I think that we’ll find more people doing crowdfunding in, I think it’ll probably subjugate by category that we’ll see people become specialists in, and sites like Kickstarter become specialist in specific types of crowdfunding, and then obviously, since the laws are starting to change around this, the laws of investment in companies around crowdfunding where companies may start issuing penny stocks associated with crowdfunding so people can contribute and can participate in the upside of success as a funder.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. Ron, this has been awesome. Please give our audience your pitch. Tell them what you’re all about, where they should go, and why they should go support the BackStrong Campaign.

Ron Lynch:

Hey, you can see me at, LinkedIn is actually a really good place to go, and I’ve written a couple of articles there that’ll give you some insights into the way that I think. My company is called Big Baby Agency. I have a secondary company called Bonfire Enterprises, but to see our work, bigbabyagency.com is the best place to go and see where we’ve launched things for a variety of corporations and individual entrepreneurs and grown people to, I don’t know, I think we’re somewhere in the neighborhood of three of four billion dollars in sales for our clients at this point, so bigbabyagency.com. That’s kind of the best place to see what we do.

Roy Morejon:

Awesome. Audience, thanks again for tuning in. Make sure to visit artofthekickstart.com for all the show notes, a full transcript, links to everything we talked about today, and of course, thank you to our crowdfunding podcast sponsors the Gadget Flow and BackerKit. Ron, thanks so much for being on the show today.

Ron Lynch:

Thanks for having me. Have a great day.

Roy Morejon:

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 tell us all about it. There, you’ll 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.

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.