We’re back with another exciting episode this week! We spoke with Andrew Capener and Drew Hollenback about their Kickstarter project for the Seasons blanket. Tune in to hear more about what they’ve learned from running multiple campaigns, where to put in the most effort to make sure your project is successful and much more!

Seasons Blanket. Waterproof. Comfortable. Built to Last.

Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • Why it’s important to partner with the right people for your Kickstarter campaign
  • How cross promotions can help you raise more money
  • How to become an influencer in your Kickstarter category
  • Why “putting in the work” is key to a successful campaign
  • How to build a community around your product
  • Where to focus your pre-campaign efforts

Links

Sponsors

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. Click here to learn more and list your product – use coupon code ATOK20 for 20% 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 Enventys Partners, the top full service, turnkey product development and crowdfunding marketing agency in the world. We have helped startups raise over $100 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 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 buyers guide for luxury gadgets and creative gifts. Now, let’s get on with the show.

Welcome to another edition of Art of The Kickstart. Today I am joined by two participants, Andrew Capener and Drew Hollenback with the Seasons Blanket campaign. Andrew, Drew, thank you so much for joining us today.

Andrew Capener:

Thanks for having us.

Drew Hollenback:

Yeah, thanks a lot.

Roy Morejon:

All right. So you guys have created this killer durable blanket for everyday use, you know. Not your momma’s quilt. Right? Or not your grandma’s quilt. However, you want to call ma. Love the product. Let’s talk to our audience about the backstory. How did you two guys get together here?

Andrew Capener:

Yeah. Let’s see. So Drew and I have just been good friends and business partners for a long time now. The cool thing about our relationship is Drew’s in Idaho, kind of up in the mountains, and I’m down here at the beach in southern California. So we have these two different backgrounds. We’ve talked a lot about doing some sort of an adventure blanket of sorts for a while. So as we were talking about what that might entail, I think, we’ve brought pretty interesting background stories to the table where I had certain requirements for the blanket that I want, and he had a certain set of requirements as well on his end. So yeah. Something that we had envisioned just a one stop blanket that could handle almost any situation. That’s really the idea and backstory behind the Seasons Blanket.

What was really cool and interesting for us was when we actually started manufacturing or working on getting the sample of the Seasons Blanket, that was about last spring, and once we had that sample Drew and I both on our own ends were testing it. What was so cool that we found after using was that it made sense for everyday use. We were constantly using it. Even to this day, I find myself using it all the time. I have a dog and kids. We’re always out down at the beach or at the park, and literally for any of those scenarios, the Seasons Blanket holds us. That’s been the cool thing. Something that’s opened our eyes with this Seasons Blanket was that we really felt like if we were using it on a daily basis that other people would as well.

Roy Morejon:

Awesome. So you guys have run a ton of crowdfunding campaigns. So this is your fourth project. Right? How has that process been different every campaign in? What have you guys been learning along the way?

Andrew Capener:

Yeah. I think we’ve definitely done more than four collectively. We’ve been a part of a lot of Kickstarter campaigns in the past. I think you’re constantly learning. I don’t think it ever ends. The other thing about Kickstarter, it’s ever changing. So I think when we first launched our first campaigns, the landscape was just a lot different. Kickstarter, they say, was a lot “easier.” We’ve definitely noticed that it’s constantly changing, but the foundation is the same. We just find ourselves working a lot harder and smarter to try and achieve our goals. Part of that is really partnering with the right people. So that’s why we’ve been so stoked to work with you guys at Enventys. Then we also just within our own circles have a lot of other great creators that we’re connected to. We’ve built off of that, and that has been really, really helpful just some of the cross promotions and being able to leverage some of the other projects and backers and kind of our small circle of friends that we have.

Roy Morejon:

Nice. So what’s been the biggest challenge that you guys have encountered so far when you were designing the Seasons Blanket?

Drew Hollenback:

I think just trying to create something new and different. I mean, like we’ve touched on a little bit, Kickstarter is changing so much all the time. There’s always different products on there. So we just wanted to make something that was useful for us and that we could really show multi-uses for other people.

Roy Morejon:

Nice. So how long did you guys start preparing for this crowdfunding campaign?

Andrew Capener:

Yeah. I think our first samples must have been like I said last spring I want to say. We were conceptualizing and just talking about the idea overall almost probably a year ago. So just bouncing ideas of what the dream blanket might look like. So yeah. We finally had those samples over here last spring. We really put them to the test this summer. In fact, I have beat mine up beyond. What is so cool is it still goes. It still holds up. It’s still durable. Man, like I said, we use it every day. So it’s been cool.

Roy Morejon:

That’s great to have, obviously. Just throw it in the back of the car and use it when you need to get out in nature, and especially with the dogs and kids and what have you. It’s nice to have a little cushion under your butt when you’re sitting out there enjoying nature. Right?

Andrew Capener:

Yeah, totally. Totally is.

Roy Morejon:

So let’s talk about your marketing efforts so far. Obviously, we’re working together, which is awesome. We’re seeing a good return there. But what other marketing efforts so far have given you guys a great return?

Drew Hollenback:

I mean, we’re trying to basically do everything we can just like any Kickstarter creator will tell you. But one thing that we’ve noticed that’s worked really well is the cross promotions with other brands. Me and Andrew have both done a number of Kickstarter projects. I have a company called Tenkara Rod Co. It’s a fishing rod company. I’ve done a couple projects on Kickstarter. But that has kind of placed me in the outdoor industry. So I’ve made some connections with a lot of brands in the outdoor industry that have been on Kickstarter. So kind of picking their brain and figuring out best practices. Then also queuing up some cross promotions where they’ll send out an update promoting our project, and we’ll do the same for them. Those seem to bring a huge return and are just really helpful, because we have the same audiences. So yeah. Lots of things.

Roy Morejon:

Yeah. No. I bet. I mean, so somebody who’s new in this industry or running a campaign or maybe they’re new to a category, what advice would you give to them to start promoting their name, their brand, or what have you to become let’s say an influencer in that space? Any tips there?

Drew Hollenback:

Oh, man. I just say do everything you can. Kickstarter is not just a place where you can just throw up a project and sit back and watch the backers come in. I remember the first project I ever launched was in 2012. It was the worst. I mean, everything about it was terrible. We just put it on there and didn’t get very many backers. Fast forward to now and I realize oh wow. You got to really just network with people, reach out to people, offer some kind of value for them. Then just be a good person, and, I think, you’ll make those connections with like minded individuals within the community.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, going down that same vein of thought, is there anything that you guys have learned from your other campaigns over the last five years that you’re able to specifically implement into this one that you’ve seen good success with?

Andrew Capener:

Yeah. I think one of the things that’s super important in growing a brand is, and especially on Kickstarter is, I feel like it’s less about how you do something, more about actually doing it. So you hear about all these different things like you need to cross promote. You got to be running ads. You need to run pre-campaign stuff. There’s just a million things. I know that it’s super important to nail all of those things, but it’s also important to do those things.

So I think people get caught up a lot of times in the details of just optimizing everything. That’s amazing. If you can do that and you have a team and you can optimize every single little piece, great. But if you can’t, just make sure that you’re doing it. Make sure you’re actually putting in the work. That’s where, I think, I see a lot of creators fall short when they do is that they just didn’t do the things that we hear talked about all the time with Kickstarter campaigns, which is just cross promoting, running ads, making sure your content’s amazing, and first and foremost having an amazing product. But more than anything, I really think and feel that you actually have to put in that work.

Roy Morejon:

Yeah. I mean, it’s amazing to us. I remember back in the day, the 2012 days, people used to just throw projects up and think that Kickstarter was just going to give them the money that they asked for. Right? And now it’s totally changed where there’s so many different tactics and things that you need to do as a project creator and business owner that are just necessary to make sure that your project gets the attention it deserves and finds the backers and engages them.

Andrew Capener:

Yeah. Definitely. There’s an endless amount of work to be done. But I think as Drew touched on, too, being genuine and really believing in your product. Those two things go along way. The Kickstarter community really recognized when you’re trying to do something that’s worthwhile versus trying to make a buck. So I think you have a lot more success with that genuine useful category of product.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. I mean, you guys obviously love Kickstarter as we do. You’ve run several campaigns on it. But, I mean, what’s that one thing that you guys love about Kickstarter? What keeps bringing you guys back to launch new product here?

Drew Hollenback:

Oh, man.

Andrew Capener:

Go ahead, Drew.

Drew Hollenback:

For me, I don’t know. It’s just creating something and then almost getting that instant gratification or instant people recognize that it’s a cool product. Like the first successful campaign I did with Tenkara Rod Co., it was just like I saw something that I liked. We made it. We put a lot of work into the design of the actual product. But at the same time, it was almost like I didn’t really expect a lot of people to back it. I was just kind of hoping friends and family would get on board or whatever. Then when you see those backers come in from all over the world, and you’re like whoa. Dude, this is a product that people are actually liking. It’s something that we created. That’s, for me, the number one pleasure of Kickstarter.

Roy Morejon:

Nice. So what advice would you give to someone else looking to kickstart their outdoor product?

Drew Hollenback:

Man, I think the outdoor industry is pretty gnarly. I mean, there’s so many brands. There’s so many products. There’s so many materials and different yeah. For us, I mean, we’re just trying to make something that is really useful. Then kind of build a community around it. So moving forward, we’re probably going to do lots of videos, lots of photos. Keep really engaged with the community who backs the Seasons Blanket. Just so moving forward, we can get new ideas based around Seasons and drive that forward.

Roy Morejon:

Nice. Well, I know you guys have another campaign that’s going to be launching soon. What are you going to be doing differently on this campaign, outside of using our agency for the whole thing, that you guys wish you had done on your last one or previous ones?

Andrew Capener:

Yeah. One of the interesting things is we heard a lot of talk about pre-campaigning. So on one of our previous campaigns we took advantage of that, and we really put a lot of time and effort and money into the pre-campaigning. It was cool at the time. We were getting a ton of leads, and it was working really well. But, I think, we overdid it. So when we went to launch the campaign, that pre-campaign list did well, but it didn’t do as well as we had banked on or had expected. That was a big letdown. We put a lot of weight into that where, I think, we could have put a lot more energy into other pre-campaigning outlets. We were specifically running ads to generate those leads. The leads just ended up not being as great as we had hoped.

So moving forward, I think, we’re taking a different approach on the pre-campaign specifically. Really focusing on the organic region. Friends and family and our internal circle of other brands that we’ve worked with or know. That combined with our email lists and trying to engage our current customers as well and get them excited about upcoming products. That’s really the pre-campaign focus.

Then, yeah, as far as campaigning, it’s more of the same. Just getting out there and really working as hard as possible. I think when we say that, we never stop reaching out to people throughout the campaign. We’re constantly reaching out to press. We’re constantly trying to cross promote. Just stay engaged with our backers and fans and subscribers and just try and move it forward and trying to reach as many people as possible.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. Solid advice. All right, gentlemen, this gets us into our launch round where I’m going to rapid fire questions at you. I think, Drew, you drew the short end of the straw. So are you ready to go

Drew Hollenback:

I think so.

Roy Morejon:

All right. So what inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

Drew Hollenback:

Yeah. I mean, for me, it was just something where I was never really into school. I was never really thinking about what I was going to be when I grew up. So it just kind of fell into my lap. No real inspiration. Just kind of necessity. That’s kind of who I am.

Roy Morejon:

Nice. So if you could share a beautiful view of the valley on a Seasons Blanket with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?

Drew Hollenback:

I’d probably have to say Yvon Chouinard, the found of Patagonia.

Roy Morejon:

Yeah. I love his story. So what would be your first question for him?

Drew Hollenback:

Oh, I’d probably just ask him if he wanted to go fishing after we’re done looking at the valley.

Roy Morejon:

There you go. Catching dinner.

Drew Hollenback:

Yeah.

Roy Morejon:

So who did you look up to when you were growing up?

Drew Hollenback:

Yeah. Yvon Chouinard. Then there’s so many good entrepreneurs out there and people who have written good books. Tim Ferriss, Kevin Rose, Michael Jordan, just a lot of good people.

Roy Morejon:

So what business book or life book, outside of Let My People Go Surfing, would you recommend to our listeners?

Drew Hollenback:

That’s a really good book. Also, I like the 4-Hour Workweek. I thought that was a really good one. As far as when I first read it, it was insightful.

Roy Morejon:

Nice. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Drew Hollenback:

Oh, five years. I think, hopefully, we can crank away on some more of these projects and really watch the evolution of Kickstarter and have a big network of brands and people that we can reach out to and just keep launching successful products.

Roy Morejon:

Nice. Last question. That leads into it. What does the future of crowdfunding look like?

Drew Hollenback:

I think a lot of people have been talking about the trust with Kickstarter. I personally don’t see that as a huge issue. I feel like it’s going to be an evolution of products to where it’s going to become so saturated that in order to stand out, you’re going to have to create something that is unbelievable. I think that’s great for the world. I think it’s great for people who are coming to Kickstarter as a platform to see amazing products that would only exist within Kickstarter. For me, I feel like that’s where the future’s going. You just have to make something amazing.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. Well, Andrew and Drew, you guys have been awesome. Please give our audience your pitch. Tell them what you’re all about, and where people should go, and why they should go buy a Seasons Blanket.

Andrew Capener:

Yeah, definitely check us out on Kickstarter.

Drew Hollenback:

Oh, yeah. So we’re on Kickstarter right now. You can just search Seasons Blanket. Basically, what it is it’s a durable DWR coated blanket that’s now your grandma’s quilt. So one side is completely waterproof, extremely durable. Then the other side of it remains soft so you can sit on it. It’s comfortable. It’s not like a small little pack, you know, pack away into something really small. It’s a thick, heavy. I mean, I think it weighs four pounds. So it’s a heavy durable blanket that we created to last forever that you can take with you in your car everywhere you go. Then based on that idea of taking something with you and keeping it forever, we’re going to continue to development more products within that realm. Hopefully, people like it as much as we do.

Roy Morejon:

Awesome. Well, thank you guys for being on the show. 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 including the campaign. And, of course, thank you to our crowdfunding podcast sponsors, The Gadget Flow and BackerKit.

Andrew and Drew, thank you so much for being on the show today.

Andrew Capener:

All right. Thank you.

Drew Hollenback:

Thank you, Roy.

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 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. We’ll see you again next week.