In this episode of Art of the Kickstart, we interviewed Al Pierce, CEO and Founder of Infiniti Clean, makers of the patented cleaning cartridge system. The Infiniti Cleaner eliminates the need to replace dirty, single-use wet floor pads by using a continuous roll of cleaning fabric. Listen in and learn about Al’s product development journey and his road to Kickstarter.

Topics Discussed and Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

    • Al Pierce’s entrepreneurial background and the inspiration behind the Infiniti Cleaner
    • The challenges that came with the extensive design and prototyping process
    • Why they decided to crowdfund the Infiniti Cleaner
    • The product and marketing prep work they did before launching the Kickstarter campaign
    • Their considerations when looking for a crowdfunding agency to work with

    Links

    Sponsors

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    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 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 Gadget Flow. 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 cool luxury gadgets and creative gifts. Now let’s get on with the show.
    Roy Morejon:
    Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today, I am talking with Al Pierce, CEO and founder of Infiniti Clean. Al, thank you so much for joining us today on Art of the Kickstart.
    Al Pierce:
    Pleasure to be here, Roy. Thank you so much.
    Roy Morejon:
    So you have a new revolutionary breakthrough in floor cleaning, which I know people are going to be super excited for just given the world in the state that we’re in right now. So the Infiniti Cleaner is set to launch here on Kickstarter very quickly. It will replace the need to handle all those dirty Swiffer cleaning pads and everything else that needs to be cleaned with all the dirt that’s out there these days. So really excited to hear a little bit about your background and what inspired you to create the Infiniti Cleaner.
    Al Pierce:
    Oh wow. If I was still 22, my background explanation would be much shorter, but I originally was an entrepreneur from a very early age and I started traveling actually to China in the mid eighties. I originally involved in sporting goods and designed a number of patents and protective equipment and did that for a couple of decades and had a blast doing that, just got under my skin to be an entrepreneur and loved that and traveled throughout the United States and selling products to NFL teams, colleges, and retail stores.
    Al Pierce:
    Then later, much later in life while cleaning my own house, I had a couple of dogs that were always shedding too much as anybody with a dog might understand, and was using a product, a Swiffer product to clean the floor. And I just, I don’t know, I was always one of those people that if you drank water from my glass, I’d go off and get a new glass until I had a bunch of kids later in life and changed that theory.
    Al Pierce:
    But I didn’t, I really didn’t like touching those dirty slimy pads and using it to clean a floor and have to stop in the middle of the floor and tiptoe around the wet spot on the floor and go back, have to reload another one. And I was just thinking, man, there had to be a better way. And one day while using it, it popped in, I think I grabbed the paper towel to wipe something off the floor and I was like, “Hm, paper towel, doesn’t come with one sheet, it comes in a long role. There’s got to be a way to put that concept on a quick cleaning mop.” And that’s really where the idea for the Infiniti Cleaner.
    Roy Morejon:
    So when you were creating the Infiniti Cleaner, what was that process like? How did you go about deciding what features to include, what to patent, how to design it, et cetera?
    Al Pierce:
    Yeah. Great question. Thank you. The process was a lot of doodling, a lot of drawing. Fortunately, my son is an architect by trade and a designer as well, and he was great to bounce ideas off of and how it might work. And because of my prior business experience, being able to now work in the modern day with AutoCAD and 3D modeling, we worked out with some people that I knew from overseas and said, “Look, I’ve got this quirky idea. We just think it’s going to be so much easier to use. Where do we start? Where do we go? Who were the best people to manufacture this type of thing?” And actually it took us almost two years to do the design drawings, do the 3D modeling, test it out and go, geez that wasn’t working, that’s too difficult to use.
    Al Pierce:
    Or this is a problem or it was too big and too bulky and too heavy. Or it was like the first couple of ones where like a tissue box that were with a mop stick on the top of it. And it kept toppling over. And I was like, “Oh my gosh, is this ever going to work?” And through a lot of trial and tribulation and 3D modeling to use the engineers and the staff and our knowledge and consumer feedback about what would work and what wouldn’t work. It was a very extensive process and took us a long time to work out the bugs. And eventually we finished up the prototype. And at the point of launching this thing is where we’re at today.
    Roy Morejon:
    So what were some of those challenges that you’ve encountered along the way when designing and getting the product manufactured?
    Al Pierce:
    It was much longer than I had ever experienced before, sporting goods worker, even if you had to make a mold, if the people are familiar with that. When you make up a plastic product, you start out with a steel mold that has a plastic pellet that becomes a liquid form and you pour it into the mold and then you have a 3D model or an actual finished higher quality mold that produces many thousands of product. So initially, when you do 3D modeling, again, making those different parts and having them work, this is much more complicated than the Swiffer and some other products because of the internal gearing system with the cleaning cartridge system. And the process made up 32 molds to make this one product, the Infiniti Cleaner. When the average mop might have 10 to 15 molds involved with the different, smaller component parts to the handle and so forth, with just the plastic molds on this stuff came to 32 molds.
    Al Pierce:
    So paid for those dearly through time and remaking them and having ideas that worked and ideas that didn’t work and working out the bugs. There was a lot of trial and error.
    Roy Morejon:
    So what made you decide that Kickstarter and crowdfunding was the right means to launch this product out into the world?
    Al Pierce:
    We did a small test market survey independent in malls, and we were able to do that in Philadelphia and Dallas and Los Angeles. And it was amazing the feedback. We were not involved, but when we got the feedback and the reports and the testimony from people, that was really encouraging and enlightening that the end users, the best person for this thing to say how it works, whether it winds up selling at Walmart or Kroger or different retail outlets, the end consumers is the best feedback to get. And I think Kickstarter’s a great way of getting that feedback and that response from people about something new.
    Roy Morejon:
    So we always talk a lot about on the show how important a month or two leading up to the launch is. What have you been doing on the background to get the campaign ready in a position to overfund once it launches?
    Al Pierce:
    One of the neat things we were able to do in today’s environment and world was to work on the COVID-19 product floor cleaner. We developed a new floor cleaner called the Ultimate Floor Cleaner, and this actually will help eliminate COVID-19 if it happens to be on your floor. Right? One of the things we learned, one of the dirtiest spots in the entire house is around your bathroom and around the toilet, obviously in the bathroom and all the germs that come off the bottom of our shoes and so forth.
    Al Pierce:
    So the inspiration and trying to tackle this problem that we’re all facing right now, we thought, “Wow, what a better way of introducing a new product line than this new Infiniti Cleaner.” Where you don’t have to touch those single use pads. You don’t have to deal with that frustration. You never have to touch it again. You can just turn a dial, easy to operate and use this new Ultimate Floor Cleaner with the assurance that you wind up eliminating any kind of bacterial and germs that are on your floor. And now we also make regular floor cleaners that are scented lavender and lemon, and an unscented version as well for people that want to use that. But that’s I think one of the things that we’ve done in the last couple of months, two, three months prior to really launching here. And then the other thing was advertising and getting the feedback initially to ramp up for our launch with consumers and our Facebook page, and reaching out to people, telling them this is coming. That’s some of the things we’ve been doing.
    Roy Morejon:
    So Al, you’ve been working with us here at Enventys Partners for a while now, what were some of the considerations you looked into when choosing an agency to partner with on this launch?
    Al Pierce:
    We looked at the Kickstarter advertising companies, a number of them that had worked and been around for a while. And I’d always believe in going to see people face to face. And so I quickly jumped on a plane and ground down to your main offices there and was just thoroughly impressed with your team. The staff, the layout was just the right creative environment. And then seeing all the successful campaigns you had prior to this, that was just a no brainer to go with you guys. And like I say, we really have been impressed with your work and your team and the resources that you have. One of my right arms, Robin Heinzer, has worked with me for years and she noticed the first time that we reviewed one of the scripts and writing in these early stages when we were working with Memphis.
    Al Pierce:
    And I think it was five or seven pages long, just going through all the data that we had given you and your team regurgitated it in a nice flow and organized it. And I think I made like four or five corrections out of the five or seven pages that were there. And when we get off the phone, Robin couldn’t believe that I had only had that few many corrections. We’re typically famous for having 10 on a single page at least, or let alone an email to correct five or 10 places. So as critical as I am and pay attention to the fine details, which I think helps me be able to do these different kinds of creations like the Infiniti Cleaner, having only to do that few adjustments was speaking volumes to your team’s experience on knowing what to do and how to handle different products and the wealth of information that you guys have at your fingertips, from these experiences and a variety of different products that really closed the deal.
    Roy Morejon:
    Oh, that’s great to hear. Given this would be your first campaign, what are some of the takeaways that you’ve learned so far in terms of process of launching on Kickstarter, even though the campaign hasn’t launched yet? What are some of the surprises that have jumped out on you in terms of the amount of work that goes into these campaigns, getting launched successfully?
    Al Pierce:
    One of the first things that really jumped out to me was your skillsets with advertising, particularly online. Critical in today’s world. What’s happened in the last couple of months from talking with friends that are selling and distributing and just some statistics. It’s unprecedented, the things that have sold online these last two, three months. And everybody’s on lockdown. Obviously you can’t go out to a retail store, but the amount of volume that’s sold online, it’s just been mind boggling. And some of that, even the factories overseas, the amount that they have sold online, you told me three and four times higher than what they’ve done typically before that. I’m going to pause here for a second and ask you to repeat that again, because I lost my train of thought with the second part that I was going to bring up when I started thinking about the amount of volume that they’re people sold.
    Roy Morejon:
    Yeah, it was just diving in, in terms of what’s been something that you’ve learned throughout the whole process, before you actually launched the campaign?
    Al Pierce:
    Right. Get back to the advertising point. So, one of the main things was your advertising expertise online, and we had done some preliminary advertising online. And when we looked at the cost per click, it was coming in at about $1.50 to $2 for some of the things that we had placed. And when we came to your team and said, “Okay, take over the advertising online and Facebook and Google.” What have you, the cost per click for those leads came down to something like 35 cents, I think was the average, some were a little higher, with more complicated information that people had to fill out and some came into the twenties.
    Al Pierce:
    I think the average is about 30 some odd cents, 40 cents in that range. And that just flabbergasts me about the complexities that are out there with knowing where and how to circumvent those fields to draw out the best information. That was one of the biggest things I learned about your expertise, people that do that kind of work and the importance of that was critical to making and breaking something. At least it would appear that way to me at the present time that those costs, reducing those costs and reaching the greatest amount of people that you could do, certainly a science to reach online.
    Roy Morejon:
    Absolutely. Well, Al this is going to get us into our launch round where I’m going to rapid fire a handful of questions at you. Are you good to go?
    Al Pierce:
    Yes, sir.
    Roy Morejon:
    So what inspired you to be an entrepreneur?
    Al Pierce:
    Wow. First thing that comes to mind, I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I can remember in college saying I’m going to do my own business one day. And I just, it was always inbred in me. It was just a drive. It’s a drive. I don’t remember not thinking like that. I always knew.
    Roy Morejon:
    So if you could meet any entrepreneur throughout history, who would you want to have coffee with?
    Al Pierce:
    Oh my God. Albert Einstein would have been the first guy I would, if I could understand a half of 1% of what he understood, love to have.
    Roy Morejon:
    What would be your first question for Einstein?
    Al Pierce:
    Explained to me your theory of relativity, and how do we consider time-travel that he covered and the essence of where are we today? Where’s the past and where’s the future? Is it all the same? Or the differences that we see in front of us, like we see our hand. I’m sure he had some great insights into those, basic questions.
    Roy Morejon:
    Absolutely. Any business book or life book that you’d recommend to our listeners?
    Al Pierce:
    I’ve got a couple. Some friends, I’m not an avid reader. I work so many hours, but I tell you if you’re an entrepreneur, it feels like you’re always selling something. I remember reading some great books and a number of great sellers through time, the Art of Selling Anything. I think it was Tom Hopkins. I don’t know if he’s still do it today, but just sales books were fantastic for me because no matter if you’re an accountant or a lawyer or in a relationship, it seems like you’re always selling something. You’re selling yourself, selling a product and understanding how the communication works best between people. Other great books, I’ve always read a lot of Tony Robbins workbook, I believe in all these self analysis, how to work. Some people have inspired me and suggested Blink is one of the books to read. It’s the power of thinking without having to think. For business, that’s also a great author that has a whole series of books that I understand are inspirational to some of my friends.
    Roy Morejon:
    Absolutely. Where do you see yourself in five years?
    Al Pierce:
    Wow. I believe this is a catalyst for me at this stage in my life with a couple of other projects that I’m launching and most important to me is term limits for these United States. I believe that I will, before I leave and check out, definitely be working on bringing term limits to this country for Congress and senators. That’s where I see myself in five years.
    Roy Morejon:
    Interesting. Last question in the launch round, and I know you haven’t launched the campaign yet, but interested to get your insights, nonetheless, of what does the future of crowdfunding look like to you?
    Al Pierce:
    It’ll be more and more online crowdfunding, business participation, stock ownership through crowdfunding, selling much more online than … have we reached that balance yet between online crowdfunding and brick and mortar businesses? I don’t think so. We’ll always need both. And certainly we all know that online keeps continuing to grow.
    Roy Morejon:
    Absolutely. Wow. This has been awesome. This is your opportunity to give our audience your pitch, tell people what you’re all about, where they should go and why they should check you out.
    Al Pierce:
    Thank you very much, Roy. I really appreciate the opportunity to discuss these things with you and thanks for your time.
    Roy Morejon:
    Certainly. Well, the Infiniti Cleaner is going to be launching soon likely when this podcast goes live. So make sure to check that out. Audience, thanks again for tuning in. Make sure to visit Artofthekickstart.com for the notes, the transcript links to the campaign and everything we talked about today. And of course, thank you to our crowdfunding podcast sponsors, the Gadget Flow and product hype. Al Pierce, thank you so much for joining us today on Art of the Kickstart.
    Al Pierce:
    You’re welcome. Thank you again, Roy.
    Roy Morejon:
    Thanks for tuning into 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.