In this episode of Art of the Kickstart, we speak to Jacob Flood of Mindset Headphones. Learn more about his time as part of the HAX accelerator, why he took his project to Kickstarter and what you can learn from his crowdfunding project.

Mindset: smart headphones that improve your concentration

Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • How to decide if a project is a good fit for Kickstarter
  • How to prepare for a crowdfunding campaign
  • What it’s like to be a part of the HAX Accelerator
  • How to build a community around your product
  • What to expect when you launch on Kickstarter

Links

Connect with Mindset

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

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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 and 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.

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. Let’s get on with the show.

Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today I am joined by Jacob Flood, with the Mindset project. Jacob, thank you so much for joining us.

Jacob Flood:

Hey Roy, thanks for having me.

Roy Morejon:

All right, so Mindset. You guys are killing it right now on Kickstarter with your active campaign, the smart headphones that improve your concentration. I know our audience is going to be really excited to hear about this. I know we’re all super distracted every single day in our office environment or work environments. Where does this all begin, what’s the back story?

Jacob Flood:

Thanks for the compliments. Campaign’s going pretty good so far. Back story for myself would be I spent about two years in university and researched, essentially, cognitive habits. Stuff that you could do and change in the way that you work in order to be more productive. That means fitness for improving cognition, nutrition elements, smart drugs you can take, some psychology tricks that you can apply to the way you organize your work in order to be more productive. I ended up actually writing a book on it. It’s called Study Smart, and it targeted mostly at students, how you can orient the work that you’re getting in classrooms to try and be more productive, get more done, better grades, less effort.

In that kind of research process, I found that there were some tricks that were very, very thoroughly proven, and other ones that simply were not. One of the technologies that we found that had the most thorough academic backing, the most thorough legitimate proof, was this idea of EEG neural feedback. You read your brain activity, you determine what your level of, say, concentration or anxiety or sleep or whatever is, and you feed that information back to the user to let them know how they’re going on a scale of, let’s say, one to 100 in terms of concentration.

By consciously engaging with that process, you slowly train your brain to be more productive. In our case, it slowly teaches you to recognize your own distractions and to have deeper, longer concentration over time. There’s tons of thorough academic backing on this stuff, they’ve been using for over 50 years with children with ADHD on one hand of the spectrum, to CEO’s, pro athletes, on the other hand.

I found that the technology had a lot of potential, but it’s locked in a lab right now. If you wanted to go get a neural feedback session, it would cost you, I don’t know, anywhere from $300 to $600 a session. Over the course of a treatment, probably about $30 to $40,000. That’s just not something that’s accessible to you and me. We wanted to really bring that to people in a way where they could benefit from this technology, much more simply than we currently have.

Roy Morejon:

Truly impressive. When you guys were creating Mindset, what was the process like? How did you go about deciding what features to include in the product?

Jacob Flood:

We actually didn’t start out with the idea of a product. We started just playing with the technology. Myself and my co-founder David started to go into these hack nights out of a community called Neurotech X. They’re essentially a group of people who take this neuro technology and try and create consumer applications from it. Whether that be something where you gamify it, you make a little light saber sword fighting game with your brain, or something much more thorough like an application like we’re doing.

Playing with this community, we noticed that there’s a lot of stuff that could be done with this technology that simply hasn’t hit the mainstream yet. We started out noticing what was done in academic, what has a lot of thorough backing, that’s proven to be effective, and then trying to see how we can make something out of that that would be more accessible, like we were saying. In our case, that ended up being that it’s used right now as a very effective treatment for attention deficit disorder, or pro athletes and CEO’s and a lot of other people are starting to go in and use this neural feedback to try and improve their cognition.

The logic became how can you make that accessible to people? You just need to take it, put it in a form factor that makes sense, that people are used to engaging with, and make it an experience where you don’t have to be wasting 10, 30, 60 minutes at a time training yourself. You hide it all behind the scenes, so you’re getting that benefit in the back of your mind, while you’re doing your own work.

Roy Morejon:

Interesting. Obviously, since you guys went into this not having a product in mind, what’s been the biggest challenge thus far you guys have encountered while designing the product out?

Jacob Flood:

There was a certain element of trying to figure out what we wanted to make of this, right? When you have the idea of “distraction is a huge problem that everybody relates to,” I don’t think we’ve ever spoken to a customer yet where we tell them about the product and they’re like, “Oh, yeah, sorry, no, distraction’s just not a problem for me.” It’s something that we all kind of share, right? We’re all way too distracted and we can’t focus on the stuff that we really want to.

Taking that premise and trying to create something that people will want to engage with, given how bizarre the technology is, is something that’s been a challenge for us. We’ve had to kind of work through different ways that we can integrate this tech into something that fits in our day to day lives, in order to make it accessible enough that people are going to want to engage with it.

Roy Morejon:

Let’s talk about the campaign now. When and why did you guys choose to launch this product on Kickstarter?

Jacob Flood:

We always knew that we wanted to make it a consumer oriented device. Something that people were going to use actively during their workday, because really, we are our own target market. We’re making this for ourselves in that I think distraction’s one of the biggest problems that’s been unaddressed in the 21st century. I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better. What we’re trying to do is really give people the tools to improve themselves, to bring that technology to life.

Once we had that idea in mind, and we were starting to create the actual headphones themselves, we kind of started to visualize what our target customer was like and how we can bring this device to them in such a way that they want to engage with it. Kickstarter just made sense. It’s a huge community of early adopters, people who are really excited about new technologies, people who are actively looking to purchase devices that improve their lives. I think it was just a great fit.

Roy Morejon:

I agree, you guys are crushing it right now. How long did you guys spend preparing for the crowdfunding campaign, and what did that look like.

Jacob Flood:

We probably spent about six months. For context, our campaign launched March 1st. We got accepted to the HAX Accelerator in the end of 2016. We spent four months in Shenzhen working on the product development. Parallelizing with that, the development of the Kickstarter. It starts out with trying to figure out really what your target market is, where they’re going to be found, what they’re going to address to, how you can relate to them with the product that you’re offering, and then going more deeply into what you want the campaign’s page to be looking like, what main features of your product do you want to be emphasizing. Then finally, building that community so that when you launch everything goes smoothly.

Roy Morejon:

Let’s talk about HAX for a minute. I know we’ve worked with a bunch of campaigns that have been part of the HAX Accelerator program, as well as interviewed a ton of them as well. Talk about your experience with HAX.

Jacob Flood:

HAX is incredible. What they do is take you from having a proof of concept prototype in hand and a vague idea of what you want to be doing with it, and by the end of the program, you’ve got a full industrial design model that shows you what the device is going to be looking like. You’ve got a functional prototype, where you can take that to consumers, to media, to really anybody and show them the device working in their hands. They give you a lot of insights on how to really address that first customer, that early adopter that’s going to be getting you the first funding and who helps you really create that better device, gives you the feedback you need. They’ve done a fantastic job of really settling the right tools there to give you those skills to take you from having something that’s just rough to really being a full-fledged company that’s going to create this device.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely, those guys are crushing it in terms of helping launch all of these awesome hardware products like yours out into the market. We love working with them as well. Tell me a little bit about your experience that you guys have had with your backers so far. How have you guys gone about managing feedback and promoting the campaign? Then getting ready for manufacturing?

Jacob Flood:

The backers have been awesome. What we found was that it’s really hard to tell, no matter how much testing you do with your target audience and with friends and family and what not, it’s very hard to tell what’s going to relate to the general public and what’s not. What we try to do was really create a message built around the idea that we’re trying to convey, which is that we’re trying to bring this tool out of medical settings and into the hands of the people that really want to be using it to improve their lives. By centering the campaign around that, we’ve had a lot of people relate to that in such a way that they’ll send us messages and comments saying, “Listen, this is the tool I’ve been looking for my whole life. This is really what I’ve been trying to seek, because I’ve noticed this problem in myself and I really think it’s something we need to address.”

Once you have that kind of community, we only have, I think, about 1,500 backers now. They’re really active in sending us comments and feedback and we just had an AMA last night, where we could answer a lot of their questions. What we noticed is that it’s hard for us to tell, like I said, even with all the testing, what they’re going to be wanting. One of the things that we noticed was, for example, we did a lot of testing in Shenzhen, where we were handing people out different types of headphones that are more or less geared towards work environments and they would play with them, they’d see what the features they liked, what ones they don’t like. We’d kind of monitor what they used and what they didn’t.

What we didn’t notice was that the vast majority did not use the microphone on their headset. We basically decided, okay, that’s not a feature that resonates with the audience we’re trying to get, let’s not bother. Then our backers were very vocal, saying, “Hey man, this is something I need. This is something I really want in the product.” Having them give you that feedback means that the device you’re going to be building at the end is going to be so much more targeted, so much more relevant to them. They’ve been really good at getting that voice out there, giving us that information.

Roy Morejon:

That’s obviously the beauty of crowdfunding, is putting it out there and soliciting the feedback and making your product fit your audience. [crosstalk 00:11:31] you guys are obviously taking their feedback and making the product that they’ve been waiting for, or didn’t know that they needed in their lives yet.

Jacob Flood:

That’s it.

Roy Morejon:

What other piece of advice would you give to someone looking to kickstart their headphone or tech product?

Jacob Flood:

I think the biggest piece of advice would just be “be prepared.” For context, when I wrote my book a while ago, I launched a Kickstarter. I think I raised about $1,000 of which I guarantee a quarter of it was friends and family. If you are unprepared and not familiar with the marketing environment that is Kickstarter, it’s very difficult to simply put something up there and hope it’s going to be an overnight success. I think it’s pretty evident from the rest of the people on the air with the Kickstarter podcast and myself, that it requires a lot of active participation between yourself, between your target community, building up the marketing campaign that is going to be the Kickstarter launch. Spending two, four, or six months on it mean that your outcome is going to be tenfold what it would be if you simply make the product and put it out there.

Roy Morejon:

I can’t echo that sentiment enough. It seriously takes a long time to build this up, get it to a spot where you’re comfortable enough to launch it out there, and obviously you guys are reaping the benefits of it right now with an ultra successful campaign. Congratulations on putting all the hard work in to get the campaign to this point, Jacob.

Jacob Flood:

Thanks a lot.

Roy Morejon:

Jacob, this is where we have a little bit of fun. This is the launch round where I rapid fire a few questions at you. You good to go?

Jacob Flood:

All right, let’s do it. Are you looking for short answers, long answers? Let’s get a little context.

Roy Morejon:

Whatever kind of answer you want to give me.

Jacob Flood:

Beauty.

Roy Morejon:

What inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

Jacob Flood:

I don’t think there’s any real answer to that. I started a tutoring company about eight years ago, midway through high school. I ended up working on my book in university. I didn’t really consider them entrepreneurship, but I think I kind of stumbled into this.

Roy Morejon:

If you could give a pair of Mindset to any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?

Jacob Flood:

That’s a good question. I think a common trait between all the entrepreneurs I’ve met, I guess not historically but the ones I’ve met, is that they already know what they want and they go get it. I think entrepreneurs will be particularly attracted to Mindset. I don’t think there’s one answer I could give for that.

Roy Morejon:

Who’s your favorite musician?

Jacob Flood:

Rise Against. They’re a punk rock band I’m a big fan of.

Roy Morejon:

Any business books or life books that you’d recommend to our audience?

Jacob Flood:

Another good question. I would go with Tools of Titans, is the one I’m reading right now. Kind of a cliché answer, but it’s been a really good tome.

Roy Morejon:

That’s quite the novel. What would you [crosstalk 00:14:12].

Jacob Flood:

If you’re looking for more of a novel, I read Fountainhead and was a big fan of it. Once again, heck of a time, but it’s a good read.

Roy Morejon:

What would you say your biggest weakness is?

Jacob Flood:

I think ego is just about everyone’s biggest weakness, right? It’s something that you’ve got to overcome in order to really be successful. It’s easy to think that you’re going to be able to handle everything, but teams are always more effective, hands down.

Roy Morejon:

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

Jacob Flood:

From what I’ve seen, it’s becoming much more of a sales platform than a crowdfunding one, and I think that’s a little sad in a way. I’m hoping that it maintains its roots and really targets itself to early stage companies, the companies that are using the funding to really do the R and D to build up this device and not simply a launch platform.

Roy Morejon:

Jacob, you’ve been great. Please give our audience your pitch. Tell them what you’re all about, where they should go, and why they should go buy a Mindset.

Jacob Flood:

Mindset’s a pair of over-ear headphones that integrate EEG sensors in the top band to read your brain activity in order to measure and improve your concentration. Every time you get distracted, we recognize that and we let you know in order to bring you back to focus and over time, that improves your brain’s ability to recognize its own distractions, improving your concentration just inherently. You can find us on Kickstarter, Mindset Headphones. If you look it up, I’m sure you’ll stumble onto it. We’d love to have your support.

Roy Morejon:

Jacob, thank you so much for being on the show. Audience, again, thank you for tuning in. Make sure to visit artkick.wpengine.com for all of the show notes, a full transcript, links to everything we’ve talked about today and of course, thank you to our crowdfunding podcast sponsors, the Gadget Flow and BackerKit. Jacob, thank you so much for being on the show.

Jacob Flood:

Thank you.

Roy Morejon:

Thanks for tuning in to 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 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.