What does it take to disrupt the performance sunglasses market? Is there an innovative and revolutionary way to present performance sunglasses to consumers? What if there was a pair of sunglasses designed for lifelong use? On this episode, you’ll hear from founder and CEO of Revant Optics, Jason Bolt. In his conversation with Roy, Jason explains how Revant got started selling replacement sunglasses lenses, why they chose to base their business on the direct to consumer model, what they’ve learned from their successful crowdfunding campaign, and much more! You don’t want to miss a minute of this engaging episode featuring Jason and Revant Optics!

Discovering the need for a sustainable solution.

Have you ever destroyed a pair of sunglasses? Whether it’s from scratching them on a tree branch, dropping them from a rock climb, or just accidentally sitting on them, we’ve all been there. Chances are, your next step was to toss the ruined pair and go shopping for new sunglasses. What if there was a way to repair and reuse that same damaged pair of performance sunglasses over and over again, eliminating waste? That’s where Jason Bolt and his team at Revant Optics come in. They’ve committed themselves to disrupting the performance sunglasses market with their new product, Revant Sunglasses. These sunglasses may be the last pair you ever buy. Purpose-built right here in the USA out of the best materials available, Revant Eyewear is made for the long run and backed for a lifetime. To hear more about Revant Sunglasses, make sure to listen to this informative episode!

Learning from successful Kickstarter campaigns.

You’ve heard it said that the best predictor of future events is past behavior, right? So wouldn’t it make sense for business leaders to study and learn from past results that they want to replicate? Surprisingly, many leaders and innovators fail to adhere to this simple truth! On this episode, you’ll hear from Jason Bolt as he explains how Revant Optics took the opportunity to learn from successful Kickstarter campaigns and understand their process in the hopes of duplicating or exceeding their results! While it wasn’t always easy, Jason looks back at this decision to study, interview, and learn from innovators and entrepreneurs who went before him as one of the key aspects that led to Revant Optics’ positive and fruitful Kickstarter campaign. Learn more from Jason’s story by listening to this episode, you don’t want to miss it!

Finding the right marketing partner to help you tell your product’s story.

What is it that causes some crowdfunded campaigns to succeed when others fail? While there are a lot of takes on this important question, a huge part of crowdfunding success comes down to telling your story the right way. On this episode, Jason Bolt shares why he and his team decided to connect with Enventys Partners to help with marketing their product. For Jason, it all came down to the strategy that the Enventys team rolled out and the great connection they were able to develop from day one. To hear Jason expand on his crowdfunding campaign and how they were able to tell the story of their unique performance sunglasses, make sure to listen to this episode!

Tips for future crowdfunded campaigns.  

It’s been said that preparation is half the battle and for the most part, this truth has resonated with many in the crowdfunding community. On this episode, Jason Bold reveals his tips for leaders and brands who hope to feature their product on Kickstarter. The biggest tip that Jason has for future crowdfunded campaigns is to focus on prep work as much as possible. This also includes honing in on specific messaging that communicates your products unique advantage. Jason is convinced that without thorough prep work and an articulated message, most crowdfunded campaigns are doomed to failure. Learn more from Jason’s seasoned insights and lessons by listening to this fascinating episode!

Key Takeaways

  • [1:05] Jason Bolt joins the podcast to talk about Revant Sunglasses.
  • [3:00] Selling directly to consumers online.
  • [5:30] Why did Jason and his team decide to bring their sunglasses to Kickstarter?
  • [7:00] Learning from successful crowdfunding campaigns and crafting a story.
  • [9:00] Deciding on stretch goals that connect with backers.
  • [10:30] Embracing customer and backer feedback.
  • [11:30] Why did Jason and his team decide to connect with Enventys Partners?
  • [13:00] Tips for future crowdfunded campaigns. 
  • [13:45] Jason enters the Launch Round.
  • [16:20] Why you should connect with Jason and Revant Optics.

Links

Connect With Revant Optics

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 ATOKK16 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.

Connect With the Art Of The Kickstart team

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.

Roy Morejon:                  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.

Roy Morejon:                  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.

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

Roy Morejon:                  Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today I am joined with Jason Bolt, the founder and CEO of Revant Optics. Jason, thanks so much for being on the show today.

Jason Bolt:                       Roy, thanks for having me on the podcast. Happy to be here.

Roy Morejon:                   This is a really awesome product. We love working with products that we can use in our everyday life. You’ve built a really cool business. Now that you’re running a crowdfunding campaign for Performance Sunglasses Built to Last and Backed for Life. Let’s take a few leaps back and talk about where does this all start. What was the inspiration of creating these sunglasses?

Jason Bolt:                        Way back in the early days when I founded Revant, I just honestly was frustrated that I couldn’t find replacement lenses for my expensive sunglasses. So I just started doing some research on where lenses were made. Ended up finding some manufacturers overseas and sourced some lenses for them and loved them. That was about eight years ago. Then I put them up online and in a matter of about two days, I ended up selling 200 pairs. It was quickly apparent that there was a need for replacement lenses for eyewear, because the OEM manufacturers weren’t providing them.

Jason Bolt:                         Fast-forward, we have over 500,000 lens customers all around the world that we were interacting with on a daily basis, and they own every brands of frame in the world, and about two or three years ago, we started floating the idea internally and developing our own line of eyewear. But we didn’t want to just release another eyewear brand. There’re thousands of them out there. We wanted to approach the market differently. So that’s what we did with the Revant eyewear line.

Roy Morejon:                    Gosh! Give me an idea. You guys have been making lenses for all the other manufactured companies out there in the world. How does that start? How do you begin that process or had you been the exclusive lens maker for a lot of these companies?

Jason Bolt:                         No. We’re actually all aftermarket lenses. We don’t supply any of the OEM brands. We actually sell direct to consumer online. I went that route because we can provide a much better product at a better price point selling direct, and it was really organic at the beginning. It’s a problem that I solved for myself. I mountain bike a lot, so I was constantly scratching lenses in my $200 frames. I wanted an affordable alternative and I wanted a wider selection of lenses. Then when I put it out online, I found that thousands, hundreds of thousands of other people were interested in that solution as well.

Jason Bolt:                         I think the really interesting and cool part was that we would have customers that would find us mainly through eBay and then Google and they would love the lenses they purchased from Revant. They’d write in and ask if we can make lenses for other frames. They’d tell their friends. It was a very organic beginning. In that way, we were always in constant contact with customers and learning from them.

Jason Bolt:                         Very rapidly adding new frames, producing a wide variety of lenses for every frame. Then about a year and a half ago, we started edging lenses on demand here in Portland. So that allowed us to add about 60,000 new products to our website.

Roy Morejon:                    That’s incredible. What’s been the biggest challenge so far that you’ve encountered when designing eyewear?

Jason Bolt:                         Yeah. It’s obviously a related category to lenses. We always say like eyewear should be built from the lenses out. Optically speaking, the lenses are really what mattered. But then how they sit on your face, how they sit in the frame is right there as the next most important thing.

Jason Bolt:                         I would say the most challenging thing was finding and recruiting the right team to work with us to develop eyewear. Like I said earlier, we didn’t want to just go into the market with another pair of sunglasses. We wanted to develop something unique, differentiated, and we wanted to develop something that was of the highest quality.

Jason Bolt:                         It took about a year to find that team, a mix of both internal team members that we’ve hired and external partners to help us develop this first line of three frames.

Roy Morejon:                    So you guys have been designing replacement lenses for years and years and then you’re like, “All right, let’s make our own.”

Jason Bolt:                         Yeah.

Roy Morejon:                    What triggered the decision to think about crowdfunding as your path to launching this new product line?

Jason Bolt:                         Yeah, it’s a good question, and it was hotly debated internally, if I’m honest. But ultimately we landed on launching a kick-starter and building something for that community because it’s a community of innovators. That’s what we are. We’re very DIY tinkers and we love to build innovative solutions to problems that are out there. When we looked at the demographics of our customer base and some of the psychographics, we found there’s a lot of overlap with the kick-starter community.

Jason Bolt:                         What was really compelling to me was that there are crowd that’s known for embracing disruptive companies, companies that are scrappy, but are building better product or services.

Jason Bolt:                         One of our goals was to expose Revant to a broader audience. We’ve been solely a replacement lens brand and that’s been growing, but we wanted to really fuel that fire by appealing to a new audience that we knew has the same mentality as our current customer base. That was kick-starter.

Roy Morejon:                    Interesting. We always talk a lot about how the preparation of a crowdfunding campaign precedes the success of it. Let’s talk a little bit about what work you guys did as a team of preparing for the launch of the campaign, which ultimately let you hit your funding goal within three hours. What were some of the tactics or tips that you would provide to our audience that led to the success overall of he campaign as a whole?

Jason Bolt:                         Yeah. It’s a very good question. We started out by learning from those that had gone down the path before us. Reaching out to other companies and leaders within those companies that had run successful campaigns. Companies like Moment Lenses, or Rumpel. Those two we worked with very closely to download what they had learned running multiple campaigns, some that have been incredibly successful, and applied those learnings to how we rolled out our campaign, and then bringing the right partners into the fold as well. Partners that can help you reach that broader audience, it’s really important.

Jason Bolt:                         Ultimately, crafting the story. We spent a lot of time refining down to what we thought the most important selling points are for our product and then telling that story effectively through a video, through our copy. Basically making sure that everything was consistent so that when that customer came to our side or potential customer, they were receiving the same message over and over again. Consistency was key, and then obviously driving exposure both through PR efforts, paid marketing.

Jason Bolt:                         I did a sprint in New York for two days where I met with 16 different editors from different publications, and I think a lot of our success is due to the articles we’ve received as a result of that effort.

Roy Morejon:                    Got it. Yeah. I mean, you guys probably have one of the best videos that we’ve seen this year, and it really does tell the whole story, and you touch on all the different use cases of the product and how you guys have been innovative. It’s really well-laid out. You’re right, in terms of the story, you have to get that right to hit that customer and tell them and why they need this pair of sunglasses, right? Does that mean most people are buying what? One or two pair of sunglasses a year? Potentially it’s a matter of, “Okay. Why this pair or how is this different?”

Jason Bolt:                         Right. Exactly. It’s a very crowded market. So we had to tell that differentiated story very effectively, and I have to give credit to my team internally here. We have a marketing brand team that majority of them have only been at Revant for six months or less, and so they quickly ramped up and learned the story we needed to tell and then worked with a brand partner of ours, called The Program, to develop that incredible video. I just had to show up and talk. They did all the rest.

Roy Morejon:                    Yeah, you did well. I mean, you guys have also had some really good stretch goals to your backers that they’ve unlocked. Can you talk a little bit about that process and how you guys decided what to offer for stretch goals?

Jason Bolt:                         Yeah. We talked about that internally before we launched the campaign, and I think that’s another key to success, is just feeding the energy and the momentum behind the campaign. We had no idea how it would do, but we wanted to be prepared if it ended up exploding like it did and have really compelling offerings for that audience to keep the momentum going.

Jason Bolt:                         So we talked through what would be some unique interesting perks, and the case was an obvious one. We had designed some cases and we wanted to bring those to market, but felt like as a good sort of karat or stretch goal incentive that we would roll that into the package. So I’m really excited we hit that, because the case is phenomenal.

Jason Bolt:                           Then obviously our specialty being different lenses for different activities. So unlocking those additional lens colors we thought would be very much in line with what we do as a brand and what we want to offer to our community.

Roy Morejon:                    I know you guys have always been like a customer-centric focused company. Let’s talk a little bit about your experience with your backers so far. Have you gotten much feedback? How have you been managing that feedback with promotion or new features in glasses or future products to come out?

Jason Bolt:                           Yeah, we’re very active in there. Before we even launched, we put together a plan to make sure our customer experience team could pretty much real-time respond to comments, and that’s been a part of … As you mentioned, a part of Revant from the start, is being very responsive and in touch with our customers, our community there.

Jason Bolt:                         I think that’s a key driver of the success we’ve had too, stoking that energy that they bring and those ideas and answering any of the questions they have. We’ll continue to do that. In fact, some of the questions that have come in have sparked ideas for future products. So we view our customers as not only like the support, the economic support, but also sort of the ideation and innovation goldmine that we used to develop these products and services.

Roy Morejon:                    You’ve been working with our team here at Enventys Partners for a while now. What were some of the considerations when you were choosing an agency to partner with for your kick-starter campaign?

Jason Bolt:                         Yeah. We vetted a lot of agencies, and Enventys bubbled up as the top one to work with. It really stoked the campaign. I mean, our interactions with the team were really positive and we felt like we could work together well. We aligned on the energy we brought to the table and then just the strategy that they brought in terms of how we should roll it out, story we should tell and channels or marketing we should use. That’s ultimately why we landed on choosing that partnership.

Roy Morejon:                    What’s been the biggest thing that you’ve learned throughout the whole process of launching this kick-starter campaign?

Jason Bolt:                         That’s a really good question. The biggest thing I’ve learned is preparation is key, I’ll say. I’ve seen … We studied a lot of campaigns before we launched, and some of the most successful ones we saw, unfortunately they were unable to deliver on a product or the promise that they put into the campaign. We wanted to make sure that wasn’t the case with us regardless of the outcome of the campaign. So making sure that everything that we could deliver even if demand far exceeded what our forecaster expectations were, and we could deliver a high-quality product.

Jason Bolt:                         I think just the pre-work is really paying off for us for some other companies I’ve talked to that have launched kick-starter campaigns, when they exceed their goal by the amount we have, the real struggle to deliver the product, the pre-work is going to allow us to do that and do it in a really effective way.

Roy Morejon:                    Absolutely. What tips would you have for someone else looking to crowdfund their product?

Jason Bolt:                         I would say I’d go back to the earlier mention of just consistency. Make sure you know exactly what your unique differentiated storytelling component is of whatever you’re offering. You have to be able to essentially sum it up in a sentence or two, and it has to be compelling. If you don’t have that, continue to work on it before you invest the time and energy into launching a kick-starter campaign, because there’s a lot of competition now, a lot more than there ever has been. So narrowing down and figuring out what’s going to resonate with your core market and how you tell that story are very key to having a successful campaign.

Roy Morejon:                    All right, Jason, this is going to get us into the launch round, or I’m going to rapid-fire questions at you like a lighting bolt. Are you ready to go?

Jason Bolt:                         It’s in my name, of course.

Roy Morejon:                    That’s it. What inspired you to become an entrepreneur.

Jason Bolt:                         I always loved working with groups. So the idea of building a company and working with people to create and create new and valuable services, products, has always been really inspiring to me working with a team.

Jason Bolt:                         For me, it was more the team aspect and then just the creative exercise of bringing something to life that never existed before or bringing a new take on something that has existed is really compelling and inspiring to me. It’s been a great ride so far.

Roy Morejon:                    Speaking of rides, if you could go mountain biking with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?

Jason Bolt:                         Oh! That’s a really good question. Man! Right now, I’d say Gary V., just because the energy he brings to the community. I feel like he would really send it. We go down some steep inclines and off some big jumps together.

Roy Morejon:                    He’s got the hustle. What would be your first question for him?

Jason Bolt:                         Where does all that energy come from?

Roy Morejon:                    All that wine he’s drinking.

Jason Bolt:                         Right. Well, it does the opposite to me. Yeah, he’s got such an energy and a passion for what he does. It seems to be unlimited. Just the discipline. I think one thing I’ve learned as I continue to grow the business is the discipline of time management is incredibly important and he seems to have that down to a science. I’d ask him a little bit more about that.

Roy Morejon:                    What book would you recommend to our audience?

Jason Bolt:                         Well, I … Traction. I read the book Traction by Gino Wickman last year, or about a year and a half go and we started implementing the entrepreneurial operating system into our company, and that’s been a game changer for us. Very easy read. An incredibly powerful framework for running even the earliest stage business that I would highly recommend to anyone that has started a company or is thinking about starting one.

Roy Morejon:                    Awesome. Last question, Jason. What does the future of crowdfunding look like?

Jason Bolt:                         I think it’s going to continue to evolve into more of an experiential world. Less, “Here’s a video.” Support us to almost like getting the crowd, I think, involved in the design, the prototyping, the design process and the engineering process. Going further upstream in the product creation process. I think creating those experiences and bringing consumers into that is going to be really valuable and compelling in the future. That could mean in-person exercises, or utilizing technology to create something that is incredibly compelling and personalized.

Roy Morejon:                    Absolutely. Jason, this has been awesome. This is your chance to give our audience your pitch. Tell them what you’re all about, where people should go and why they should check you out.

Jason Bolt:                         All right. Revant is the future of eyewear. We’ve developed an eyewear system where every single component is replaceable, upgradeable and we’re using the best materials on earth. Frames are made right here in California, and we’re just pushing to evolve the eyewear industry. Less waste, better product at a better price point. So we really appreciate any support we can get and hope to see you on our kick-starter page.

Roy Morejon:                    Absolutely. Audience, thanks again for tuning in. Make sure to visit artofthekickstart.com for all the notes, transcript, links to everything we talked about today. Of course, thank you to our crowdfunding podcast sponsors; The Gadget Flow and BackerKit. If you love this episode as much as I do, please leave us a review on iTunes.

Roy Morejon:                    Jason, thanks so much for joining us today on Art of the Kickstart.

Jason Bolt:                         Awesome podcast. Thanks, 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 kick-starter guide to crushing it. Of course, if you love 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 Morejon:                    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.