Recently we spoke with Derek O’Sullivan, creator of the Crua Hybrid, to hear about what he’s learned from running two Kickstarter campaigns. Tune in to learn more about why Kickstarter is the perfect platform for launching new products, how to use feedback to build the perfect product and how to find backers for your Kickstarter project.

Four Outdoor Essentials in One Tent / Hammock – Crua Hybrid

Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • Why Kickstarter is ideal for launching a product
  • What types of market feedback to get before launching on Kickstarter
  • How you can learn from other Kickstarter projects before launching your own
  • How to work with backers of a previous Kickstarter campaign to create a new product
  • The true power of social media for a Kickstarter campaign
  • Why you need to understand the Kickstarter demographic

Links

Connect with Crua

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Transcript

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Roy:

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 buyers’ 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’m joined by Derek O’Sullivan. Derek, thank you for joining us.

Derek:

No problem, Roy, thanks for having me.

Roy:

Derek, you’ve launched your second campaign, the Crua hybrid tent hammock. Talk to us about the product.

Derek:

It’s basically a hybrid as the name suggests. It’s a tent, a hammock, a sleeping bag, and an insulated mattress all-in-one so it’s an all-in-one camping product really and you can also join two together so there’s a connectable element or feature to it so you can use it singularly or you can use it joined together with one or more other tents. It’s pretty novel and pretty unique and it’s been received pretty well so far thankfully.

Roy:

Absolutely, you’re on your way. Well over a quarter of a million. Pretty close, couple weeks left to go. This is your second campaign with Kickstarter. You launched one last year I believe back in March, another tent product. Tell us about the process of launching the first one and what you’ve learned from it for this campaign.

Derek:

I suppose when we launched the first one, it was very much an end to the unknown. It was suggested to us by a colleague or a friend really. It was suggested as being a good way to bring your product to market and to gain the validation from the market for your product and it’s probably one of the few areas where us product people have an advantage over the high tech or software startups at this world where crowdfunding certainly is geared much more towards … It’s product-centric as you know. It was suggested to me and we went about it. We launched the campaign. We did some pre-launch work but certainly not nearly enough as it transpired.

It was still a successful campaign. We raised a bit over 50k over the course of 38 days and we got the validation we wanted and needed for the products but with this time around, we were certainly a lot more prepared.

Roy:

What were some of those preparation steps that you took into launching your second campaign that you can share with our audience?

Derek:

Talking to the market a lot more beforehand so you’re interacting with your audience. Getting lead ads or whatever you want to do that through. Through Facebook or through your own databases but also interacting with the market to see if there is an interest in this particular product and designing the product around the needs or the problem that’s out there. That was the first thing. No matter how good a campaign is. If it’s not an intrinsic interest in the product and if it doesn’t solve the problem I don’t think it’s going to work long term so that was the first thing. We needed to interact with the market.

Then obviously gain some lead ads. We used Facebook to gain some lead ads from our lead emails from interested people. We also had some of our own database and we also lined up some media attention I suppose. We had maybe 5 or 6 articles ready to rock beforehand [inaudible 00:04:15]. We had a lot more done behind the scenes before launched it this time and I think that’s absolutely critical.

Roy:

Absolutely. Certainly critical to launching any campaign whether it’s your first, second or tenth. You talked about communicating with your community-

Derek:

I also, the other thing I suppose. Sorry to cut across you. The other thing I would say is I also talked to a lot of other successful people that have ran good campaigns and have a lot of credibility on Kickstarter and by credibility, I mean people that have not just long ran good campaigns but also fulfilled correctly and followed through on the whole process. They educated me a lot by talking to some of these people. [inaudible 00:05:00] from people, would be one example that they made the mistakes of course and the one thing that jumped out at me is the Kickstarter creator community are really easy to communicate with. They’ll always be there and willing to give you a handout or bit of advice if you just reach out to them so I found that was very helpful as well.

Roy:

I’m glad you bring that up Derek. The crowdfunding community particularly Kickstarter, Indiegogo, etc. a lot of the founders are very open to telling their stories and saying how it worked and what worked and the differences that they would have done differently should they have relaunched it. It’s great that you bring that up. I’m assuming you reached out to many of those project founders, whether it be through their corporate website or just through messaging them on the campaign page on Kickstarter?

Derek:

Yeah. They quite often it would have been through Kickstarter or maybe through LinkedIn or something like that. I found exactly what you said. They’re quite open, quite willing to help out if they can and quite willing to tell about their experiences because I suppose there is an element of then they were doing it, other people helped them along the way I’m sure. A few of them mentioned that to me so they were quite willing to pass it on.

Roy:

Absolutely. Over the past year and a half after you launched your first campaign, you mentioned you were in constant communication with the community that you built on the first project and then you took some of those features or requests and built that into this project and obviously seen great success with it. In terms of how you were communicating with that community was it more through Facebook or getting engagement through surveys or emails? Talk to our community about that process.

Derek:

It was very much more through email and through updates on our previous campaign page as well but it was very much more through email. Some of them were, I suppose, weren’t as quick to come back and we left them alone but some of them were willing to and really wanted to interact and make suggestions etc. We really listened to them and I should point out at this time that our first campaign was at a very high price point for our Kickstarter. They were high end products so it was a good achievement to get that one over the line just because the price point was quite high.

What we did when we got it over the line, the people who committed on that campaign were a little bit more involved in the whole thing because the higher the price point, the more questions they will want to be asking and the more they’re going to be interested and the more the community is going to be involved in the whole process. Even before the campaign ended with some of the people and some of the backers we already had a lot of communication with them so it was just in some cases, it was just a case of continuing that communication saying, “We think Kickstarter is for us and we’re going to go back and what do you think of this idea? What do you think of that idea?”

By and large, most people on Kickstarter are early adopters, they like being involved in the process. They like being involved in the product development process I suppose and they’re quite good for giving their opinions as well on how we can target our next campaign. It was really interactive. It was really a case of your business 101 is don’t tell the market, listen to the market as a general and that’s very important I think.

Roy:

Well said, Derek. It’s great that you built, that you built that community and that they are engaging you and you’re building products that they’re asking for or making updates and taking their feedback and putting it into action. Talk to our community, from what’s been your biggest surprise on your second go around now?

Derek:

The biggest surprise I think in this case is the social media effect. When I say the social media effect, our video or bits of the video have been watched something like 12 million times I think at this stage. I think it’s the first time I’ve been exposed to this viral effect on social media and the power of some of the big social media players for want of a better expression. People that can get it out there and the effect that can have. That was probably the biggest eye opener this time around. I don’t think we got that kind of a viral effect last time but certainly this time there seems to be a lot more of that happening. Once a company of interest to party started spinning it, their audience and the other thing I would say is viral effect is not going to be effective for you unless its the right people talking to the right audience.

There’s no point in something going viral just for an entertainment value. It needs to be going out to the right people as well, that will share and will interact and will convert eventually. That’s a two-edge sword. If you’re going to focus your attention on social media, I think you need to make sure that they’re appealing to the right audience, otherwise it’s just a case of vanity that such and such has been shared so many times, has been watched so many times if there’s no real interaction and no conversion from it.

Roy:

That’s a great point Derek. It’s definitely about hitting the right audience. Not necessarily just about having 12 million views but having 12 million of the right views of people that are willing to purchase the product.

Derek:

Absolutely, yeah.

Roy:

What advice would you give someone else in the product design category, maybe in the outdoor space looking to launch their campaign on Kickstarter?

Derek:

Mostly touching on some of the stuff we’ve already talked about, Roy. I think the pre-launch is critical. First of all I think the product is critical. If you don’t have something, don’t convince yourself that black is white. You have to listen to the market and see is there an interest for what you’re doing and if the price point fits. There’s no point in having an interest in your product if people are only willing to spend half of what it needs to come to market for.

You need to take a whole host of things into consideration at that stage and then if you’re happy to proceed, make sure that you’ve done your research, you’ve talked to previous campaign creators if you’re going to go down the crowdfunding route and you get that engagement pre-launch that can’t be overstated. The other thing is it’s much more than a product centric thing. Kickstarter nowadays has changed to where the marketing element is just as important. You can say that in product development as a whole, it’s not just crowdfunding where the marketing is just as important as the actual product itself so if you can’t market it, it needs to be marketed in a really cool way.

Remember who’s on Kickstarter. The age group, the demographic, where do they come from and then make sure that the whole marketing campaign is targeted correctly. Again, this is where we changed I supposed from our first campaign to our second campaign. The first campaign video was slow music and drawn out. The voiceover wasn’t where it needed to be whereas this time, it was much livelier, much quicker. We tried to make it a little bit cooler for want of a better expression. You need to remember who you’re marketing to and the [inaudible 00:12:47] business is converting people and part of the conversion process is going to making sure you answer questions quickly and promptly and honestly and you’re interacting with your pledgers from day 1. Make sure that nobody’s in the blind.

I heard of 1 or 2 campaigns where they guaranteed to reply to all messages and comments within an hour. They had some people in different countries around the world. They did it. Every message and every comment that came in, they had them answered within an hour, regardless of the time of day or night. That one on one, that’s what the Kickstarter community wants. They want to be one on one with the creators, they want to be able to have the direct line and have a prompt reply as we all do nowadays especially. You need to be reactive during the campaign and make sure you answer questions honestly and you answer the questions promptly.

There’s a whole host of stuff really but just remember that the product is one part. You have to get that right of course but then you also have to make sure that people are aware of it and the conversion is the third part.

Roy:

Excellent advice, Derek. You sound like a crowdfunding vet. Really good advice there. Certainly I know our audience is definitely going to appreciate that. This jumps us into our launch round where I rapid fire questions at you. You good to go Derek?

Derek:

I think so. We’ll see.

Roy:

What inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

Derek:

A bit of madness I think is probably … It helps. I always had in the back of my mind my brother works for himself and so did my parents. My mother ran a bed and breakfast and my father was a farmer so it was in the blood without actually knowing it. It was always the top of my priorities.

Roy:

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

Derek:

Camping with any entrepreneur throughout history? I think Elon Musk. I’m in the middle of his book at the moment and he seems like a very interesting character so I think he would be up there.

Roy:

You and Elon are sitting around the campfire eating s’mores. What would be the first question you’d ask him?

Derek:

Hyperloop, are you serious? I think there would be a lot of stuff. I think that would be an interesting conversation. We’d have to have a few beers to open him up first but he’s, I think if you go back to some of the questions you’ve asked already, it would be what drives him. What’s the insight? What’s the fire? What lights the fire for him? Try and get past the mask.

Roy:

Derek what would you say your biggest weakness is?

Derek:

Getting too involved. My wife would say this as well. We have a two year old insomniac at home so when he wakes up in the middle of the night and I usually go down because we have a younger baby as well so I get assigned to the two year old so I go down to him in the middle of the night, I bring the phone with me and I start answering emails at maybe 3am which is a not a good idea so probably getting too involved.

Roy:

I’m right there with you Derek. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Derek:

I would like to think that the brand, the Crua would be 5 years further down the line in becoming an established brand and a very well-trusted and very well-thought of brand within the outdoor product community. From a business point of view, I think very much that we have established the whole Crua name and Crua brand firmly in the outdoor community that it becomes a trusted name and a name that’s associated with quality and that’s what we’re all about.

Roy:

You’re definitely on your way, Derek. Last question in the rapid fire round. What does the future of crowdfunding look like to you?

Derek:

I think there are more challenges. We also ran an equity crowdfunding campaign in the middle by the way but I think the Kickstarter, from a rewards crowdfunding point of view, Kickstarter and Indiegogo have to answer some challenges. I think that they have to make sure that project creators are held accountable. I think that’s a big challenge and it’s a lot of the feedback I’m getting from within that there needs to be an element. I know they are making end roads. They are trying to be fair. They are trying to make sure that the creators are fulfilling or at least trying their very best to fulfill but I do think that there is a responsibility on the big platforms in particular, Indiegogo and Kickstarter of course to do their very best to make sure that there’s a vetting or due diligence process maybe beforehand to make sure the effort is made that only I suppose the projects will be followed through. That’s the biggest challenge.

I think that crowdfunding is really only in its infancy. If it can take up the … There’s got to be an element when you’re in new products, new businesses, of course there’s always going to be a bit of risk but mitigate that risk I think and make sure that there’s an area of accountability. If we can get past that, I think crowdfunding, the sky is the limit very much so and I think it really is rattling a lot of cages beyond online. A lot of brick and mortar shops are still not adapting to the online. A lot of the traditional brands and the traditional ways of selling and status quo is being rocked very much. I think this Kickstarter not alone, sorry not Kickstarter approach. I think Indiegogo has recognized this by bringing InDemand into play but in regards to sales platform, beyond launch, I think there is legs there as well. I think that crowdfunding, the sky is the limit if it’s managed correctly.

Roy:

Absolutely. I share your sentiments, Derek. This has been an awesome interview. Please give our community your pitch. Tell us what you’re all about. Where people should go and why they should go buy a Crua.

Derek:

Very good. Our website is … we’re obviously on Kickstarter at the moment so if you go to Crua Hybrid on Kickstarter, you’ll find our tent hammock on there at the moment. You can go to our website cruaoutdoors.com. Crua, by the way, in case anybody’s interested, Crua is a Gaelic word, it’s an Irish word for hard or tough. That kind of surmises what we’re about. We have an office in Ireland here at the moment obviously but we also have an office in Upstate New York and another Derek working with us over there believe it or not. We’re both in Europe and in the US and we’re about really, really good innovation. That’s the other thing that needs to be highlighted. Innovative and new products for the outdoor world.

Roy:

Derek, awesome interview. Thank you so much for being on the show. Everyone thank you again for tuning in. Make sure to visit artkick.wpengine.com for all the show notes, a full transcript on all the knowledge Derek dropped on to us, and links to everything that we talked about today. Derek, thank you so much for joining us.

Derek:

No problem, Roy. Thanks for having me.

Roy:

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 love 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 free to request a quote on commandpartners.com. Thanks again for tuning in. We’ll see you soon.