For this episode of Art of the Kickstart, we spoke with Stefan Clauss, creator of the Heimplanet Motion Series Active Backpacks. Tune in to learn more about how they decided to launch on Kickstarter, how they used user feedback to create their packs and how to they found people to back their campaign.

The HEIMPLANET MOTION Series Active Backpacks

Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • How to launch a Kickstarter project on a short timeline
  • How to know if Kickstarter is the right platform for you
  • How to effectively use feedback to design a product
  • How to reach your audience to fund your Kickstarter project
  • What kind of interactions you can expect to have with your backers on Kickstarter

Links

Connect with Heimplanet

Sponsors

FIN 2000X2000Art 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 25% 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:

This episode of Art of the Kickstart is sponsored by BackerKit. 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. Plus, if you want to create and send surveys, offer add-ons and pledge upgrades, or begin accepting pre-orders, BackerKit makes it simple. Over 2,000 projects an 4 million backers have used BackerKit, including many of the projects featured on Art of the Kickstart. Ready to try BackerKit? Visit backerkit.com and sign up today.

Roy Morejon:

Welcome to Art of the Kickstart, your source for crowdfunding campaign success. I’m your host, Roy Morejon, president of Command Partners, the top full service crowdfunding marketing agency in the world. We have helped raise over $70 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 take your startup to the next level with crowdfunding.

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. To learn more, visit thegadgetflow.com. Now let’s get on with the show.

Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today I am joined by Stefan Clauss with the Heimplanet Motion Series Active Backpacks. Stefan, thank you so much for joining us.

Stefan Clauss:

Thanks a lot for having me.

Roy Morejon:

You recently finished up a Kickstarter campaign raising over $100,000 with hundreds of backers. Talk to us about the product and where it all started.

Stefan Clauss:

Basically the Motion Series is a series that we worked on for quite some time. We are working on this for about two years. Initially we started with inflatable tents, and the Motion Series is our second bag line. The idea was to do something that’s light, flexible in usage and something you basically want to bring everywhere you go.

Roy Morejon:

This is probably one of the nicest designed backpacks that we’ve seen out there in the industry. Talk to us about the overall design process that went into building this product.

Stefan Clauss:

Thanks. I first thank you for the compliment. When we started our company in general, we wanted to establish a new form of aesthetics to the outdoor industry. Our personal background is more a lifestyle orientated background. I grew up skateboarding and surfing, so I grew up with a different approach towards aesthetics. It was always a very important factor when it comes to products. When we started our company, we wanted to bring an equal influence of aesthetics and functionality. We wanted to merge them and bring both parts together. The aesthetic side of things was very important for us without making any compromises on the functional side of things.

Roy Morejon:

It absolutely looks like you guys have put a long, long time of dedication into every single piece and aspect of what went into these backpacks. How long did you guys overall spend preparing for this project, and what did that look like?

Stefan Clauss:

Initially actually the idea to transform it into a Kickstarter campaign, that was actually a spontaneous decision we just took basically a month before launching the campaign. Traditionally what we do is that we present our products at fairs and trade shows, and then about a year later or half a year later they hit the market. Especially with this series, it was something that meant really a lot to us. For us as a company it means and it represents a lot of progress that we made in terms of, like I mentioned before, bringing together the aesthetical side of design with the functional aspect of design and creating something that we believe is 100% what we want to be all about.

When we did this with this series, we of course like everybody who has his own project is really excited, and wants to share it with people, and wants to get feedback, and just wants to get it out there, we thought how could we do this in a special way. We actually followed a lot of projects on Kickstarter and realized that you find a special crowd of people there. You find people who are more open to new ideas and new developments. We thought these are actually the kind of people we want to reach, and maybe this is the perfect project to finally get to Kickstarter because when we started our company it was just not available to us. It existed, but since we are based out of Germany, there was no way participating in it.

Roy Morejon:

That’s impressive, Stefan. Again, a lot of the companies that we work with and interview on here have thought that crowdfunding was their launch path altogether. It’s interesting that you had an opportunity to utilize it and begin that marketing and engagement opportunity that crowdfunding brings to startups and entrepreneurs everyday. You mentioned bringing the crowd into it and getting that feedback. Did the crowd help decide what features were most important to include in the backpacks or did you guys already have a pretty good idea on what you wanted to build out?

Stefan Clauss:

No, when we developed these products, we believe that first of all as a designer or as developing products, you have to have a really strong idea what you want to achieve. If you can’t convince yourself and a team that we are working with, it’s probably the wrong direction after all. Once you have a really clear understanding, then it really helps to gain some feedback. I personally, I’m not a big fan of putting something out there and then let everybody decide what they want.

I’m not sure if you’re familiar with this episode of The Simpsons where Homer Simpson creates the perfect car. I believe that you end up in a mess because a lot of people have very different ideas of what they want, for example, from the perfect backpack. Something that you would call the perfect backpack might be a disaster for someone else. I believe that you have to develop a very strong idea for yourself and then present it to a crowd. If they love it, you’re on the right track. If not, then you might reconsider and start all over again.

Roy Morejon:

That’s a really good point you bring up, Stefan. Obviously going into these crowdfunding campaigns, you obviously need a solid foundation of what your core values are and design elements and everything that you wanted to produce, and then to some effect introduce, like you guys had done, a couple different stretch goals of introducing new product ideas or innovation into the marketplace. Your campaign fully funded within the first 48 hours. What do you think was the biggest factor that led to your very quick success?

Stefan Clauss:

If there is one thing that I’ve learned from this campaign, it’s that crowdfunding could be translated as a funding model where you have to generate your own crowd. I think that’s one of the most important things that we’ve learned about crowdfunding, that there is no automatic crowd that you will reach. You really have to earn it through your project, through your organization, through reaching out and generating it. I believe what helped for us was actually that we have a fan base, I would say, through social channels, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, the well known channels, and I believe that this helped a lot to really kickstart our campaign.

Roy Morejon:

Awesome. What was the biggest surprise that you encountered during your campaign?

Stefan Clauss:

I think what I just mentioned, the fact that you really have to generate the crowd a lot by yourself was a surprise. We actually expected maybe a bit more traffic, natural traffic that comes through Kickstarter, that comes through the platform itself. We really quickly learned that you really have to earn it and you have to earn it every single day to be seen by people. Also what surprised me was the enthusiasm and excitement that people bring to these projects, and how really people spend time to really look into every detail of your product and your campaign, and how they help you and actually help you to make it better. They help you to find the right way to do it. That was amazing.

Roy Morejon:

It can be quite a process in getting that feedback. Not only are they pre-purchasing your product before being able to touch it and feel it and use it but also giving you advice on potentially how you can improve it further, whether it be this version or the next one. It’s always great to hear those success stories with crowdfunding and really opening up yourself to constructive criticism feedback from the crowd itself.

Given that you guys have just finished up this campaign and are now actively running it on Indiegogo InDemand, what advice would you give to someone else looking to crowdfund their design product, or backpack, or bag project?

Stefan Clauss:

In general, it’s so many things that we’ve actually learned that we are still in the process of digesting all this input that we’ve got. I think it’s the same no matter if you do a Kickstarter campaign or if you’re trying to be successful with any other project. It’s really doing your homework, and doing your research, and trying to identify in advance who is it that you’re looking for and how can I reach them. I think that’s the main thing you have to nail.

Roy Morejon:

Well said, Stefan. This gets us into our launch round where I’m going to rapid fire a few questions at you. Are you good to go?

Stefan Clauss:

Yeah, anytime.

Roy Morejon:

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?

Stefan Clauss:

Independency and being able to do the things the way we believe they are done right.

Roy Morejon:

If you could go backpacking with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?

Stefan Clauss:

Oh my god, that’s a really good question. Who could that be? It’s not really a classical entrepreneur but somebody that influenced us a lot. Bachmann [inaudible 00:13:01], I think he was just a super inspiring person. To spend some time with him on a trail learning about his vision and his perspective must be amazing.

Roy Morejon:

What would be your first question?

Stefan Clauss:

My first question? I’m not sure if I would have a first question. I would just shut up and listen.

Roy Morejon:

Excellent advice for every entrepreneur out there, just shut up and listen. What business book or life book would you recommend to our audience?

Stefan Clauss:

Sorry, once again?

Roy Morejon:

What business book or life book would you recommend to our audience?

Stefan Clauss:

Actually I don’t know. Actually after I had the idea of starting a business with my partner, my parents actually, they gave me a couple of books and it was about how to identify good ideas from ideas. I actually will have to check how it’s actually called. In general, I think what helps a lot is to learn about changing your perspective in general and getting out of your routine. For example, when we started our company, we didn’t know anything about the industry we went into. It grew out of personal interest. Actually what you might call a disadvantage was the biggest advantage that we had, and we had to pay so much attention to every detail because we didn’t know about it that we justified every detail again and over and over again.

If I would have gone into the industry I was working in before, a lot of things I would have taken for granted and this would have been probably a major mistake. Actually it was a book of how to change your perspective, and not knowing can be a really advantage.

Roy Morejon:

Indeed. Last question in the launch round. What does the future of crowdfunding look like?

Stefan Clauss:

I think actually what you’re seeing that there are a lot of projects on crowdfunding platforms that I believe shouldn’t be necessarily there. I believe that’s something that people would maybe say about our project as well because we are a small company. We are a team of now six people, and we are really 100% owned by ourselves. There is no big support behind us. It’s just us, and we’re really doing this from scratch. From my personal point of view, I believe people like us, they belong on crowdfunding platforms.

My impression is that you have a lot of products that usually will end up in tailor shopping that now appear on crowdfunding platforms. I believe that there will be one point where these projects will have to disappear to give more room for real inventors and people who actually start as small entrepreneurs rather than just bringing out a gadget.

Roy Morejon:

Got it.

Stefan Clauss:

If that makes any sense to you.

Roy Morejon:

It does, it does. Great advice, great advice, Stefan. Thank you, Stefan. Please give our audience your pitch. Tell our audience again what you’re all about, where people should go, and why they should go buy your product.

Stefan Clauss:

First of all, all our products are made to go outside. What I would like to advise people is even if you might have had a bad experience in the past, just give it a go. Go outside, enjoy the beauty of nature. If you might need some support to get there or to stay there, have a look at Heimplanet products. They might come in handy.

Roy Morejon:

Awesome. Stefan, you’ve been great. Audience, thank you again for tuning in. Make sure to visit artkick.wpengine.com for all of the show notes, a full transcript, and links to everything we talked about today, including a coupon code to The Gadget Flow and links to BackerKit. Stefan, thank you so much for joining us.

Stefan Clauss:

Thank you for your time.

Roy Morejon:

Thanks for tuning into another episode of Art of the Kickstart, the show about building a better business, world and life with crowdfunding. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, be sure to visit artkick.wpengine.com and tell us about it. There you’ll find additional information about past episodes and our Kickstarter guide to crushing it. If you’ve loved this episode, leave us a review at artkick.wpengine.com/itunes. It helps more inventors and entrepreneurs find the show and helps us get better guests on here to help build your business. If you need a more hands-on crowdfunding strategy, please feel free to request a quote on commandpartners.com. Thanks again for tuning in. We’ll see you soon.