We joined up with Adrian Solgaard for a second time to talk about his latest Kickstarter campaign! Tune in to learn more about running multiple campaigns, how to build trust with your backers and how to make sure your project is newsworthy.

Lifepack Hustle: Solar + Anti-theft backpack & shoulder bag

Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • How second or third Kickstarter campaigns are different than the first
  • How many repeat backers to expect if you run a second or third crowdfunding campaign
  • How to decide if the market is too saturated for your product
  • How to determine the market size of those who will buy your product
  • How to build trust among your backers
  • How to ensure that your Kickstarter project is newsworthy
  • How to manage feedback and stay engaged with your backers
  • Why it’s important that your Kickstarter project has a story
  • Why you should only launch one product per Kickstarter campaign

Links

Connect with Lifepack

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 the ‘Art of the Kickstart’ your source for crowdfunding campaign success. I’m your host, Roy Morejon, President of Enventys Partners, the top full service turn-key product development and crowdfunding marketing agency in the world. We’ve helped start ups raise over a $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 start up 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, 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 cool 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 the one and only Adrian Solgaard. Adrian, thank you again for being on our show.

Adrian Solgaard:

Thanks for having me, it’s great to be back.

Roy Morejon:

All right, so we first recorded our only live episode at CES back in January of this year, episode 173 for all of our listeners. You have now launched your third successful Kickstarter campaign, we’ve worked with you on all three of these. Right now you’ve launched the Lifepack Hustle. So let’s talk about how you’ve gone about running a company now in terms of launching your third campaign and managing all of these things together because now you’ve truly built a brand around all these products.

Adrian Solgaard:

Well it’s the … the first campaign that I launched I put my other business on hold which was a marketing agency, I put all my duties on that on hold while I focused a 100% on running the campaign for InterLock and then I did the same thing with launching the last Lifepack and now I’m actually running an active business of Lifepack which launching the campaign, which … and the math should be easy to do, okay if I normally work 12 hours a day and then I add a Kickstarter campaign which is another 12 hours of work a day, where do I sleep? And it’s been a bit of a challenge but it’s still off to a good start, we’re about half way through, we’re about $220,000 now and yeah I’m pleased with the results. It’s been a different campaign than the last one was, we’ve launched this Hustle collection, it’s actually an innovation, it’s an evolution of a product rather than a straight up invention which has been different from a PR perspective than what I expected.

With the last bag, we launched Lifepack which was a solar powered, anti-theft bag, it had a built in lock, it had a built-in solar panel, power bank and now what we’ve done is launched a simpler version of that product effectively at a more affordable price point, which is actually been … and don’t get me wrong, after raising 220k in a couple of week is great but it’s a different level of excitement and passion than what we saw in the first one because it’s not everything brand new, it’s an evolutionary step from the other product so the energy level, the excitement level around the campaign has been a little bit different, it’s been a little more transactional from the people rather than this super early bird on boarding phase which Kickstarter campaigns have been like for me in the past.

Roy Morejon:

Right, so how else has managing this project been different from the other two projects? So are the last backpack in particular.

Adrian Solgaard:

This one it’s just been again another evolution of running a company now and having a bigger team rather than doing everything myself, it’s been delegating tasks and figuring things out there which is always a different experience, and depending on where you fall on the spectrum of CEO or COO or wild crazy inventor which I fall further in that category, it’s delegating tasks is always an interesting thing to learn.

Roy Morejon:

Indeed, something I always struggle with, with my team. So let’s talk about the process now, I mean now that you have a lot of these foundationary elements in place what’s the process for creating these new innovations or evolutions of the company or the bag, how has it been different from the first one to now?

Adrian Solgaard:

What’s different from the first one to now is that this product is completely production-ready, we have the supply chain setup, we have everything ready to go, I have complete confidence in everything in terms of the delivery time and where all that is, whereas the last one was a bit more of a crossing your fingers and hoping for the timescale that we had planned and adding in a lot of time for buffer just because I knew that we would beat it, whereas this one everything is …I’ve gotten the team around now and as we’ve been developing new products and the company it’s like, okay it’s a new product that we have ready to go, we just haven’t placed the order yet. So that’s been different on that side, rather than oh I hope we get enough money that we can actually make this product, we knew that we would hit the numbers and we knew that we would go so it’s just an entirely different experience and I guess … I’m actually curious to ask you, you’re the one always asking the questions. I think you’ve seen so many Kickstarter campaigns going from across the spectrum on this side, what has it been like for you when you see repeat campaigns compared to straight up fresh campaigns, and how do you see that as something different or something new to learn for the listeners of the show?

Roy Morejon:

Yeah I mean it’s always something interesting, I think you know once you get the community’s trust and you deliver the first product, the second product, on time, as advertised or better you continue to win their trust over, so I’d be really interested to hear back from you in terms of what percentage do you feel have the numbers in front of you repeat backers from your previous campaigns into this one, any ideas there?

Adrian Solgaard:

I don’t have hard numbers on there but I know that there’s a significant amount, because I know that there’s a lot, we’re sitting at, 1,600 backers now and we’ve got some time left to go in the campaign still, the last campaign closed at 3,700 backers on Kickstarter alone. I think we’re getting a lot of people that have come back within the same time, it’s another backpack, it’s another bag product, I just got a bag from you last year, so I’m kinda good … I already got the last one eight months ago, I kinda don’t need another bag now it’s great. So I think that the learning for me in that, that I would like to distill a little bit towards anybody else who’s considering launching a second campaign is that as you do these evolutionary steps in your business I think the Kickstarter is a great place to launch completely new, completely new fresh things and we actually had planned to launch something totally different this year and I decided to take the mature, and rational business decision of building the brand, building what we already have, rather than focusing on being this complete squirrel chasing, ADD kind of going after whatever’s new, whatever’s next and I think that it’s just been a …

I think I had really high expectations on this product, maybe too high of expectations given that we’ve already sold back packs to a lot of these people, probably a lot of them aren’t gonna buy backpacks again from us right now because they just kinda got one, they don’t need another one. So I think that would be the key takeaway for me is, look at the Kickstarter marketplace, look at the Kickstarter landscape as what’s been out recently, and use that as your guideline of if there has been some heavy hitters in that same category recently, the market might be a bit saturated so you might see higher success with something different outside of those.

Roy Morejon:

Solid advice, Adrian. We see that a lot with back packs, wallets, fidget spinners these days … anything that’s saturated out there in the category. Sometimes it’s difficult to convert those folks to say oh I need another one, or I trust that company more than the other one that I just backed and I’m willing to wait the eight months or a year or whatever for that product to finally come to fruition.

Adrian Solgaard:

Yeah specifically for us, just before we already committed to doing this campaign and unfortunately it’s actually one of the factories that we work with in the past, launched a bag product that infringes on our patented locking system, that went on to raise a substantial amount of money and that bag, the amount of backers they had, somewhere close to 10,000 backers those would have been customers of ours, but now they’ve just bought a locking bag so they kinda don’t need another one. So there is this … and they’re waiting for delivery, so their deliveries are gonna happen some months from now. So I think that … I learned that the Kickstarter community, the people that are willing to back projects on Kickstarter equates to something like 0.25% of the population. So if you take the market size of whatever your product is, slim that down to 0.25% and that’s the potential market size who’s gonna buy this product and so there is a finite number of people that are willing to buy a certain product on the market so yeah.

Roy Morejon:

Interesting, how did you come about getting to that stat?

Adrian Solgaard:

So the overall Kickstarter numbers of backers and I’m trying to remember what it was, I think that it was this four million people that have backed a Kickstarter project ever, and approximately one million of those are in the States. You take the United States population of 300 to 320 million, extrapolate that by one million people you’re looking at a 0.25% of the population is willing to back a project on Kickstarter.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. Yeah it’s amazing to think of how young crowdfunding is and we’re dealing with such a small finite universe of people that have not only an understanding of crowdfunding and I know we talked about this the last time but also have an appreciation for the founders, the story and the product and will invest into it, give them their hard earned money and not receive the product from six months to a year. So there’s only [crosstalk 00:10:50]

Adrian Solgaard:

If at all, I think the landscape has changed drastically now based on the fact that there have been so many big Kickstarter campaigns that have failed, that I think that, that makes things tricky for people to trust and to back projects and that’s why for me, I’m doing this ridiculous promise where from the moment we hit our Kickstarter goal of $100,000 until everyone gets their product, I’m wearing leopard print jeans.

Roy Morejon:

I saw that photo of you trending on my Facebook feed, that was some snazzy stuff right there buddy.

Adrian Solgaard:

That was, so that’s not what I am wearing everyday, that’s a suit that I wore to a party that we were sponsoring, but every … my normal everyday outfit, I’m wearing leopard print jeans. And it’s bit of a promise and I think that’s again … since this campaign is not … I think you need to look at when you launch a Kickstarter project, look at something that’s news worthy, and this product, the news value of a solar powered backpack has kind of been used up already from our last campaign, and so now it’s like … we’re doing an evolutionary product like I was saying and so I’ve used this as a bit of a news element and actually got me on TV in Canada on a nationally aired morning show, and because it’s … it’s so in fashion, it’s so in vogue to be an entrepreneur these days you can … everyone’s claiming to be an entrepreneur when I’m not really sure what they’re actually doing but their posting pictures of someone else’s Lamborghini on Instagram.

But really what being an entrepreneur is, it’s being committed to your customers and to your product and to your brand, more than your own personal life. So that’s why I’m doing this, it’s bit of a personal exercise and it’s also just a bit of a reality check on how important an entrepreneur’s business is to them and how committed they are to it. You need to live, breathe, bleed, sweat this thing and so I think it’s just really fascinating to kind of showcase that in a physical way.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely, so talk to us a little bit more about your experience with your backers so far, I know you’re posting daily videos and content for these folks. How has your engagement gone, project after project and now to this one, in terms of managing the feedback while also you know doing manufacturing and truly running a company now?

Adrian Solgaard:

So it’s been trickier for me to stay as engaged with the backers on this one as it was for the last one. I’ve kind of adamantly told the team I want to manage the public comments section on the Kickstarter page because I just love seeing that stuff and it all helps feedback into what are the frequently asked questions, what can we use to morph into the rest of the business and how can we do all that. But I’ve had to leave the direct messages to somebody else, I’ve had to leave all the Facebook comments and all that stuff to somebody else, because I just can’t manage, I can’t be the only funnel, the only connections between backers and the business. So I’ve got that one element where I maintain a close connection to it and it’s … sorry what was the question again?

Roy Morejon:

Learning how to delegate.

Adrian Solgaard:

Exactly, struggling with it that’s the biggest struggle for me, is that and I think that’s a struggle for almost everyone running a business is, you can run a business to a certain point doing almost everything yourself, and then if you wanna scale up, you need to start to pass things off to other people and then there’s that line where if you do it badly, you end up in more trouble than if you just did it yourself. And if you do it well, then you can really go and grow in the right way, but there’s that awkward pain point in the middle of learning the limits of what that is.

Roy Morejon:

Always, yeah it’s the entrepreneurial issue, growing and can you do it better but if you teach them how to fish they can potentially fish better than you given … honing their practice and skill sets. So let’s talk about lessons learned now that you’re three Kickstarter campaigns in, I doubt there’s more than one percent of you out there in terms of the entrepreneurs that have run multiple crowdfunding campaigns so I’d be interested to learn what your biggest lesson that you’ve learned thus far is.

Adrian Solgaard:

Don’t underestimate the value of a story. People backing projects on Kickstarter are not just in it for the product, they are in it for the story, they are in it for being up to date with what’s going on and I think that is the number one most important thing to be engaging with your backer community and I made the first … this campaign we killed ourselves on it, myself and the designer Chris, he’s actually been the designer on all three campaigns. We … I made one version of the video that was completely star based and barely touched on any of the product features, I sent it to the rest of the team and they’re like, “Dude you’re not really talking much about the product, you’re just kind of telling the story” I was like okay okay and I took their feedback and went purely product focused. And then, the video that we launched the campaign with was really kind of details and product focused, and then the result was really low completion rate on the actual campaign views, the video views, we slipped down to like 16% completion rate on people watching the video.

I then modified the story line since to tell a bit more about the story, why we are who we are, why we’re doing what we’re doing, and now the product views have crept back up to 22% because we have 40,000 views on the old one, so we’re competing with the other analytics but that hard data just shows how much more people engage with, connect with, you as a founder, you as a founding, you as the brand rather than just the product. And I think that’s something that I knew but then I kind of forgot it or underestimated it and then came back to it. So think that’s one really big learning. Another one is launch one SKU, one product on a Kickstarter campaign. That’s what I did in the last one, that’s what I did in the first one and on this one we thought let’s do the same because when we released new colors on Lifepack original, our sales just increased like crazy. We went from just a gray bag only to gray and a black bag option and the sales flew through the roof so that seems like, okay people love options, people love choice. So we launched this campaign with a back pack and a shoulder bag, the shoulder bag available in two colors, the backpack available in four colors.

So we’re dealing with six products plus we’ve got this solar panel power bank thing, so we’ve got seven products that we’re showing. That made building up the campaign, building up the video in a simple way, so so … made it seven times the work. So the time that we had allotted for everything just completely went out the window and it became such an unnecessary challenge. So I would urge anyone who’s ever planning on launching a campaign, launch one product and then if you stretch goals, unleash extra color versions, stuff like that great that’s awesome but don’t kill yourself on doing too many options. I knew this before and I thought that doing this would be easy, and it just about killed us. It made it really hard, makes it really hard to show case so many different options in a product.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely and it’s just confusing, you have opportunities to customers to select and it’s analysis paralysis and you know, who knows what could actually happen there.

Adrian Solgaard:

I mean Jeff Bezos I think was quoted once saying the ideal website would be one big button that says buy now, and work backwards from that. One of my favorite quotes and I might have even said this on the last show, perfection is not achieved when there is nothing left to add but when there is nothing left to remove. And I think that that’s a really basic, really core thing about a Kickstarter campaign is make it as simple as possible, just make it so all people need to do is say yes.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely, make it very easy for them right? So when you launch your fourth Kickstarter campaign what are you gonna do differently?

Adrian Solgaard:

Well the fourth Kickstarter campaign, we’re planning to launch in January or February and I had this conversation earlier today, I’m right over there on the couch with my colleague that I’m looking at and what we decided to do was instead of having three different color waves, we’re doing one color wave with this new product and it’s not gonna be a bag, it’s gonna be something else but it does tie into what we’ve already done a little bit ish. No, I can’t say … no, no I gotta end it at that, I can’t say anymore.

Roy Morejon:

No secret.

Adrian Solgaard:

But what am I gonna do differently, yeah single product, single SKU, and tell the story and give ourselves a lot more breathing room in the lead up, have more clearly established roles and defined roles with the team of who’s gonna be doing what, have samples ready, how to press before the campaign launches so we can have a stronger start. We had a bit of an issue with our start but the campaign where … we had one major mistake on the campaign start which really slowed down, it didn’t allow the avalanche feeling at the start that I was hoping for and so making sure that doesn’t happen, what I wanna do for the next one is have the entire campaign, completed, locked 14 days before everything launches and then everyone takes a week off, 7 days off no break, come back with fresh eyes, do some final tweaks, and then have things ready to launch rested.

Instead what we did on this last one was Chris and I, the designer, we killed ourselves in the five days before the campaign working till 3 in the morning every night and then at launch, we launched it at 6:00 am West Coast time, at 9:00 am East Coast Time, because that’s what we had committed to and promised to, we worked through the night and so by the time we hit launch, our tanks were empty, we were done, we tried to be there in … be part of the excitement of the first four or five hours but we just couldn’t stay awake any more so we went got some sleep for a few hours and then later in the day came back and it was just really hard to bounce back from. So making sure that the tanks, everyone’s tank is full and energized, ready for the start because this thing is a marathon, then make sure that you are rested before you start.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely, I like it, it sounds good, I think if you are able to do that then my hat is off to you, because I know how difficult it is to not only get these things prepared but also mentally to be ready for the onslaught of everything that comes into it once launched.

Adrian Solgaard:

Yeah. I think that’s the key, it’s just setting these goals and timelines for yourself and if you know you’re a natural procrastinator, which let’s be honest, we all are, then I think the key is set these deadlines, then make those deadlines hard deadlines for yourself, like okay the hard deadline is two weeks before, all 100% locked, that’s it, no option, no back up plan, that’s what it needs to be, then you can hit it. But if you let yourself slide on these things then it’s really easy to just continue to I think slide.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely, all right Adrian, this is going to get us into our launch round. You are familiar with the process, I changed up the questions a little bit for you. But just you’re ready to go?

Adrian Solgaard:

Yeah ready to go.

Roy Morejon:

All right, so what is your favorite country because I know you’re an avid traveler?

Adrian Solgaard:

I would have to say Spain.

Roy Morejon:

If you could have a meal in Spain, what would it be?

Adrian Solgaard:

Does gin and tonic count as a meal?

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely, limes count as food right?

Adrian Solgaard:

Yep, oh but I would have a Monkey 47 seasoned with raspberries and a slice of ginger.

Roy Morejon:

Bartender please, make two. What would you say your biggest weakness is Adrian?

Adrian Solgaard:

Time management.

Roy Morejon:

Yeah it’s always a good one. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Adrian Solgaard:

Racing around and flying motorcycles and having a really amazing team around me, making hugely innovative products that continue to make the future happen sooner.

Roy Morejon:

What’s the big thing you want to accomplish in your life?

Adrian Solgaard:

Flying motorcycles.

Roy Morejon:

Last question and I know I asked you this in January so I wanna know if your view has changed in terms of what does the future of crowdfunding look like to you?

Adrian Solgaard:

I think the future of crowdfunding looks like it could continue to look like it does, but I think that their needs to become a deeper layer of trust embedded in it and a deeper layer of responsibility on the creators, where creators can just take people’s money and run off with it. I think that it looks like something that we can have a greater level of trust and greater level of purpose for being behind the scenes of these projects.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely solid advice there. Adrian, you’ve been awesome as usual, give our audience the pitch, tell them what you’re all about, where people should go and why they need to go buy a Lifepack Hustle.

Adrian Solgaard:

Hey I’m Adrian, the Canadian and we’re doing Lifepack, Lifepack is a line of bags designed to benefit your life. Right now we’ve just launched Lifepack Hustle collection which is a backpack and a shoulder bag available exclusively on Kickstarter for the time being. These bags are designed with integrated piece of solar technology, it’s a solar-powered bag that has USB-C, standard USB and micro USB, that you’re able to charge it or discharge it or power your own devices, the solar panel would charge an iPhone in four hours of sunlight. This allows you to be a part of igniting a solar revolution allowing you to have your own piece of solar tech that you can take with you everywhere you go. We all know that solar is the future, we can’t manage to have solar panels in all of our roofs because we can’t afford to buy a house, half of us are millennials. So for that reason, we wanted to power people to bring their own solar technology with them everywhere they go.

Roy Morejon:

Awesome I know I’ve ordered mine already. Adrian thank you for being on this show, audience thank you again for tuning in, make sure to visit artofthekickstart.com for show 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 BackerKit. Adrian thank you again for being on the show.

Adrian Solgaard:

Thanks so much 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 course if you love this episode a lot, leave us a review at artofthekickstart.com/itunes. It helps more inventors, entrepreneurs and start-ups, find this show and helps us get better guests to help you build a better business. If you need a more hands on crowdfunding strategy advice, please feel free to request a quote on enventyspartners.com