In this episode of Art of the Kickstart, we interviewed the Co-Founders of HellaRoller, Chris Knudsen and Ken Frei. HellaRoller is a multi-functional back and muscle roller with an adjustable, expandable core and interchangeable wheels. HellaRoller adjusts to your desired width and can be used on your body in over 100 ways for immediate relief. Learn how Knudsen and Frei turned a simple idea into a completely customized and improved muscle relief experience.

Topics Discussed and Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • The multiple ways HellaRoller can be used to help relieve pain
  • How Knudsen and Frei’s backgrounds played a part in the design development process
  • How a common ailment, a search for a solution and a pandemic led to innovation
  • How the HellaRoller team found success using direct response video in social platforms

Links

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Sponsors

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Transcript

View this episode's transcript

Roy Morejon:
Welcome, entrepreneurs and startups to Art of the Kickstart, the podcast that every entrepreneur needs to listen to before you launch. I’m your host, Roy Morejon, President and Founder of Enventys Partners, the world’s only turnkey product launch company that has helped over 2,000 innovations successfully raise over $400 million in capital since 2010. Each week, I interview a crowdfunding success story, an inspirational entrepreneur, or a business expert in order to help you take your startup to the next level. This show would not be possible without our main sponsor, Product Hype, a 300,000 member crowdfunding media site and newsletter that’s generated millions of dollars in sales for over a thousand top-tier projects since 2017. Check out producthype.co to subscribe to the weekly newsletter. Now let’s get on with the show.

Roy Morejon:
Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today, I am super excited because I am speaking with the co-founders of HellaRoller, Chris Knudsen and Ken Frei. Chris, Ken, really excited to have you guys on the show and talk all about HellaRoller today.

Ken Frei:
Thanks for having us, man. We’re excited to be here.

Chris Knudsen:
Thanks for having us.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. Let’s tell our audience, give a little bit of background about HellaRoller as if I’ve never heard it or seen it before.

Chris Knudsen:
Cool. Ken, you want to take that away or you want me to?

Ken Frei:
Sure, I’ll give a little background. I would love to hear the story, where the idea came from, but quickly HellaRoller is an adjustable, expandable, interchangeable muscle roller. Muscle and back rollers have been around for a long time. Everybody is super familiar with that product, but the thing that makes HellaRoller unique is the fact that it can adjust to any body type and any muscle need so you can reach those hard-to-get-to places. And so you can customize your roller for you depending on where things are sore or not.

Ken Frei:
We have three different types of rollers that you can attach to the roller. There’s your Standard foam roller. There’s what we call the Rocky roller, which is designed for pressure point massage. And then we have a patented Precision roller, which is a customer favorite and digs in really deep for those extra sore spots. That’s what the HellaRoller is.

Ken Frei:
Chris, if you’d share just how HellaRoller came to be.

Chris Knudsen:
HellaRoller is one of those things where it’s a really demonstrable product. It’s actually hard to talk about. You want to go over to Kickstarter and just search HellaRoller to see some video and other media there that explains or shows how the product works. It can give a great explanation there, but it’s great to see it in action.

Chris Knudsen:
I would say that where HellaRoller got its start was deep in the pandemic in April-May of last year. I was using off-the-shelf yoga roller that another company produces. I won’t say what that roller is, but I was using that roller because I was finding that my back was really seizing up on me during Zooms and those types of video conferences that I had switched over to completely, like most people in the United States at that time, for work.

Chris Knudsen:
My back was hurting, and I found that utilizing a traditional roller or laying on this yoga roller… Yoga rollers are typically about five inches wide, so I was really trying to get in between my shoulder blades and get it up my spine. It wasn’t fixing the stiffness and the soreness in my back.

Chris Knudsen:
I had this idea, as I was looking at this roller, if I could adjust this roller a little bit more, make it a little bit wider or a little bit skinnier, I might actually be getting into the parts of my back that are actually really hurting. I jumped on Amazon because I wanted to see if there was something there that met that need. I found, I think at the time there was like 60 pages of exercise rollers, muscle rollers on Amazon. I was like, “Wow.” I just kept going through the pages and seeing what was there. Before I knew it, I’d gone through all 60 pages of these rollers on Amazon, and I didn’t see any one that really fit the need that I was looking for.

Chris Knudsen:
I reached out to a friend of ours, Peter Lemon. He’s our third partner. He’s not with us right now on this call, but he owns a company called Ascend Global that specializes in manufacturing and product development of these types of products. I reached out to him. I told him the idea I just put it on the whiteboard. I said, Hey”, do you think we could do this?” He was like, “Absolutely. I think it’s a killer idea. There’s probably a lot of stuff here that’s patentable,” which we found out later that there were things that were patentable about the device.

Chris Knudsen:
Quickly thereafter, I invited Ken into this as well. We really look to Ken to be the CEO of this business. I’m not the CEO of the company intentionally, even though I was the inventor and thought of the idea of the product. Really set it up in such a way that Ken would really run HellaRoller.

Chris Knudsen:
I’m sorry. That’s the long explanation of the impetus of where this product came from.

Roy Morejon:
No, it’s beautiful. I think what’s also helpful for context for the audience is to talk a little bit about both of your individual backgrounds and how you guys ended up coming together on this.

Chris Knudsen:
Yeah, for sure. Ken, do you want to start there?

Ken Frei:
I’ve done a lot of entrepreneurial companies and projects over the years. Even starting in college, I started a couple software businesses, and so I’ve done several software ventures, venture-backed companies, and currently I led product in a couple of different companies.

Ken Frei:
Mostly software is my background. HellaRoller is one of my first ventures into the physical product space. It’s been fun to take a lot of the lessons that I’ve learned in prototype and design iteration for the software world and apply that to HellaRoller and to a physical product.

Ken Frei:
I first met Chris actually when I was in college. I was an intern for Chris. This was many years ago. Over the years, he and I have stayed in touch. He’s been a good mentor to me. I’ve sought his advice on a lot of things, and we’ve done some projects together. HellaRoller was a cool opportunity for us to come together and partner on something. That’s how we met and my background in software product leading up to this.

Chris Knudsen:
For me, the most interesting thing on my background that might be pertaining a lot to what we’re talking about here is, I was the first chief marketing officer at Purple Mattress. Before Purple Mattress existed, I was hired by Purple to come in and help them work on the launch strategy of the business and figure out how to take that product to market. It was a really interesting experience because Purple is a case study at this point now. As a matter of fact, there’s an actual case study that Google has done on Purple and the effectiveness of video in marketing.

Chris Knudsen:
I was the chief marketing officer at Purple. The key to our success was utilization of direct response video in social platforms. At the time, it was really strong in Facebook, but now that’s really expanded into a lot of other areas. I got to the point where I had so many people that were coming to me and saying, “How did you do it at Purple? What happened there to cause the success that came about there?” that my partner and I who’s also from Purple, his name is Dan Bischoff, we decided to start our own agency where we worked with companies, specifically commerce businesses that were really trying to figure out how to crack the code to utilizing video in direct response advertising on social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, now TikTok is extremely large, but even in nontraditional platforms like television.

Chris Knudsen:
Connected TV is really interesting because there’s a big rise that’s occurring there right now as well. But we focus specifically on direct response video, really short form, 30 seconds or less. We have a very stringent methodology we follow that produces a lot of success. We work with some fairly sizable companies. We have Harley-Davidson’s e-bike division. We work with companies like Casper in the mattress space, Tempur Sealy, and then a lot of really cool product companies that are smaller than those big Fortune 500 companies.

Chris Knudsen:
We started that business that’s called StoicYeti, which is a lot of fun. That’s kind of my day job, StoicYeti, working with a lot of those clients. Stoic has also done a lot of video work on this Kickstarter campaign with HellaRoller. I leaned on my team there really heavy also in the marketing, product development side to help us to be able to take this thing out to market. Probably we’ll be leaning a lot heavier in the world of StoicYeti as we come out of the Kickstarter and start to go into the world of how do we go and market this thing in platforms like TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, all these other platforms. That’s my background as well.

Roy Morejon:
Incredible backgrounds. Obviously, you guys are set up to deliver very successfully in terms of bringing this product to market. I remember interviewing someone on the Purple team. I think it was Savannah back then. This was like five years ago now on. I’m talking about Turning Kickstarter Purple. For all those listeners, go back and listen to podcast episode 167 to get the whole back story on the Purple campaign because it was truly amazing in terms of raising over $2 million on Kickstarter at the time for a product.

Chris Knudsen:
That was the pillow campaign. I did the original Kickstarter at Purple, which was the mattress itself. We had this mandate from the founders. They were like, “If you can sell a hundred mattresses on Kickstarter, then we’ll invest the rest of the money that you want for the marketing campaign.” The success of Purple really came from that initial Kickstarter, which was if we hadn’t sold a hundred mattresses, we might not have actually gotten Purple because that was the mandate to get the budget, to really go do the work that we wanted to do on the marketing side.

Chris Knudsen:
And so the Kickstarter worked. I think we actually sold 200 mattresses on that first one. Of course, Purple built a pretty massive list. Going out to Kickstarter again later on the pillow campaign and having a really big Kickstarter, with all of the marketing backing up that Kickstarter, I think, that Purple already had in place, it just was a formula for success.

Roy Morejon:
I think what’s really unique to Chris is we usually don’t dive in much on the show in terms of the creative aspects of Kickstarter in terms of the photography, the asset creations, as well as the video. Since you’re an expert in these direct response videos, I think you guys did an absolutely amazing job with the video itself. Is there some formulaic breakdown of things that you guys are seeing success in when putting together creatives to directly sell consumable products, whether they be Kickstarter or not?

Chris Knudsen:
That’s an awesome question. I think one of the learnings that we’re getting from the Kickstarter campaign is that, I think… I’m going to say one of the big values, I think, that we’ve gained from the campaign is that we’re learning that we could be positioning this a lot better than we positioned it. The video quality is really good. A Lot of things we did in the video are great. We worked with another team on the video, the team at [Creatively 00:11:56], which is awesome. They’re great guys, good friends of ours that specialized in video production work. As Ken and I have looked at the video and we’re like, “It’s really good, but there’s some things we could have done here a little bit differently on positioning that we will do ultimately, as we to go into the more direct response type of campaign.”

Chris Knudsen:
But that formula, in video creative… Video creative is really where it begins and ends in terms of your advertising is going to live or die, which is what we learned by iterating hundreds and hundreds of videos at Purple. We would take a video, we would spend a lot of money on it, plug it into a platform. If it didn’t work, we would throw it away. There was a point where we were like, “Is that really a smart idea, or should we just be sitting down and examining why the video didn’t work?” And then maybe re-editing that video, different value propositions, different problem statements, different calls to action, different benefit statements, and then testing different versions of that video and platform to see if we can actually get it to work.

Chris Knudsen:
That was really what StoicYeti was born out of was that testing methodology and really sitting down and working on getting video to produce for you because video production is so expensive and companies don’t want to spend money on video production, which I don’t blame them. It’s just extremely expensive. If you can make your existing assets work by recutting it, reediting it, and you have a really good media team that understands how to buy in platforms like Facebook and Instagram, there’s almost nothing that you can do with existing content. The possibilities are endless to really go out and get some stuff to work. As a matter of fact, we’ve taken a lot of existing content that didn’t work for a client, and we’ve turned it around and turned it into high-producing, high return [on asset 00:13:38] type of content.

Chris Knudsen:
That’s actually the magic formula, and I think we’ll end up doing a lot on HellaRoller as well with this regard. As a matter of fact, all weekend long, I was sitting down and thinking. We have a big meeting as a team on Wednesday to talk about our next phase of video that we’re going to do here. I was laying out, for that meeting, all of the video that I think we need to go cut, that we didn’t cut on this first round that could actually be helping us in this Kickstarter right now that we don’t have. That video and really nailing in that video messaging, but also having a plan in place above and beyond the initial video, especially if it doesn’t work, having a plan in place to get it to go to work is extremely important. That’s really where we focus.

Roy Morejon:
I think another really key nugget that you dropped, Chris, earlier was the fact that you’re taking all of these learnings from launching this campaign, getting audience feedback, and seeing why or why not are they backing or supporting, or when are they dropping off the video? Why are we losing them? And then you’re able to then pivot and make adjustments, whether that be during the active campaign, but also this product is going to live long after the crowdfunding project ends. That gives you the opportunity to take those learnings and insights and act upon them and produce new creative around those insights.

Chris Knudsen:
Yeah. I have a client that… I won’t say who they are just so I can protect them from a data standpoint, but their Kickstarter did maybe $40,000, which isn’t a huge Kickstarter. I mean, everybody has these dreams of doing these Kickstarters that are millions of dollars. They told us, “Look, the thing on the Kickstarter that was most valuable to us is we learned a lot about how we were positioning our product, and that it wasn’t really resonating with consumer, so we changed that up to go and test it.”

Chris Knudsen:
It’s funny now we’re working with these guys. I looked at their Shopify yesterday. They’re $46,000 yesterday on that one day. It was like, “The Kickstarter generated $40,000 over a 30-day period. We had really good learning. We pivoted on the messaging. We started testing, and we started getting some things to work.” And then they brought us in and we started working with them on that as well.

Chris Knudsen:
That Kickstarter dollar amount really wasn’t indicative if the product was going to be a success or not. It was a good place to start to understand if that messaging is working, but right now it’s killing it. I think that product, especially over the Black Friday holiday will do $100,000 a day, no problem, in Shopify. It really is coming back to that learning that came of the Kickstarter, the pivoting in messaging and then the testing methodology being implemented there. It’s just working really well right now.

Roy Morejon:
That’s beautiful. In terms of reflection, I know we’ve got the active Kickstarter campaign running right now. What might you have done differently in terms of maybe some of the preparation work in terms of leading up to the campaign and getting it launched out there that you’ll do the next time around?

Chris Knudsen:
I’ve got a lot of thoughts on that. Ken, did you want to go on that? I was talking a lot.

Ken Frei:
No, that’s great. It’s funny because I think we’re actually in the process of self-reflecting on that now. The campaign is still active. Again, we hope folks out there will go and visit it and support us.

Ken Frei:
In preparation for it though, we are really pushing to get the Kickstarter campaign launched and completed before Black Friday just because as Black Friday approaches, there tends to be a lot of noise out there with other products, just everyone’s normal holiday season. We were against timeline trying to do a lot of things.

Ken Frei:
Some of the testing that Chris has talked about, we might have had a little bit more time to do some of that ahead of the campaign because there’s a lot of times we think we know what’s going to resonate with people, but one thing I’ve learned in my career is that whenever you actually launch something, you find out that you almost never know what’s going to resonate. So really the only way to find out is to produce that stuff, get it in front of customers, and see how they respond. And so, going back and doing it again, in a perfect world, we’d probably do even more of that testing prior to a Kickstarter launch.

Chris Knudsen:
I think we would also just create a lot more use case type video. We had the idea to go and do that beforehand, but we thought maybe what we had in the video that we produced for the Kickstarter video itself might be enough. But as I look back on that, I don’t think it is. I think we probably should have done an in gym, using the roller, which we have access to. We have access to a lot of people who tested the roller for us, to go get those people, put them in a gym that we have access to film it on.

Chris Knudsen:
Even iPhones, user-generated content filmed on like an iPhone performs extremely well in ads. At least we see that all day long at StoicYeti. We’ll produce content that’s extremely expensive, oftentimes it’s outperformed user generated content that’s genuine, that’s interesting to watch and tells your story better than you can tell it. I think if we would’ve done a little bit more of that on the outset, we would be seeing some different results here as well. Even so, I think the learnings that we’re getting from this are extremely valuable and we’ll carry us into the next phase.

Roy Morejon:
Just out of my own curiosity, I have my own thoughts around this, but why do you think the low produced volume from an iPhone or an Android works better than the high-quality produced content that you guys put together for the crowdfunding video?

Chris Knudsen:
That’s easy. A general overall philosophy on that is that a consumer doesn’t believe a brand when the brand tells its own story, but they believe people utilizing their own way of making that content, which is usually on something like an iPhone. They’ll believe that person as a user of the product and their testimonial over a brand any day of the week. A brand is obviously, if I tell you how great I am, are you going to believe me that I’m that great? No, of course not.

Chris Knudsen:
But if other people are telling you, “Hey, that guy is actually really good at this thing or that thing,” you’re probably going to have a lot more of third party validation that comes with it that just brings a lot more validity. That’s what I think works about that type of content.

Roy Morejon:
I think also it just looks more natural in their field, right?

Chris Knudsen:
Yeah, 100%.

Ken Frei:
Totally.

Chris Knudsen:
It just matches up with the type of content that people are already producing anyway inside of those social platforms, especially. TikTok is super interesting. We’re doing a lot of work now in TikTok that a year ago we weren’t doing. That platform is starting to mature in terms of the user base. The advertising application there that you can use is starting to really mature, and I have a feeling that a lot of marketing dollars are going to be going to user generated content into platforms like TikTok, even over Instagram, which is a really mature platform at this point. So you’re right, it just looks a lot more authentic and a lot more genuine.

Roy Morejon:
I’ve recently saw snap earnings get crushed recently because the iOS update has failed to basically them to attribute ad sales dollars from a marketer standpoint. Are you not seeing that on TikTok?

Chris Knudsen:
TikTok is so new from the ad perspective side, like the ad platform side, that we don’t know frankly like, like what effect that’s really having just in the TikTok platform. It’s really different. We’re trying to figure our way out through that right now, the answer to that question, Roy.

Chris Knudsen:
What we do see is we have some clients where that hasn’t been an issue at all. That iOS 14.5 update hasn’t been an issue at all, and others when we look at them, we’re like, “Holy cow. We’ve got to go back and look at other metrics where we got to try and align with Google Analytics and what that’s saying to see if we can get some alignment here in data.” I’m sure you guys are seeing this as well in your world. There’s times where you look at data right now for Facebook and Instagram and you’re like, “What’s going on here?”

Chris Knudsen:
But fortunately, I think what the iOS 14.5 update means is that content is now even more important than it was before. If you’re producing really good content, you’re going to get good results. If you’re testing that content, and you’re not just hanging your hat on one thing and throwing it out there and just spraying and praying, then you’re probably going to be in a pretty good position to win.

Chris Knudsen:
I do think there’s a point in the future where we’re going to upload content to platforms like Facebook and Instagram. We’re going to upload content there, and the AI is going to do the rest of the work. We have media buyers now who do that work, and I don’t know how far out this is, but it will be at some point, maybe even in the near future where you’re just like, “Hey, upload your content. What is it? Who are you trying to talk to? Okay, great. We’ll take it from here,” and the AI will basically do the work for you.

Roy Morejon:
Is that scary to you?

Chris Knudsen:
Yeah, a little bit, but at the same time it’s awesome because humans sometimes, we’re guessing. iOS 14.5 has blinded us a little bit on the reporting side to really understanding what’s going on. Even if the AI wasn’t telling me, “This is what we’re seeing that’s producing the result,” I might be inclined to believe it if I’m seeing on the output on the other side, like Shopify or Google Analytics was verifying it, I might be very inclined to say, “That’s probably okay then.”

Roy Morejon:
That’s really interesting, obviously the dynamics of how the advertising world is evolving and the future of robots and all of this.

Chris Knudsen:
Oh, yeah.

Roy Morejon:
Incredible. Well, listen guys, this has been awesome. This is going to get us into our launch around what I’m going to rapid fire questions at the both you. Are you both ready to go?

Chris Knudsen:
We’re ready. Ken’s going first because he’s more ready than me.

Roy Morejon:
There we go. All right, let’s do this. What inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

Ken Frei:
For me, it’s always been about controlling my own destiny. If there’s something I want to see happen or there’s a life that I want to have for myself, being an entrepreneur allows me to pursue that and to make it happen. If you’re not an entrepreneur, that can be a great life too, but you’re less in control that way. Maybe it’s that I’m a control freak, I don’t know, but I love being in control of my own destiny.

Chris Knudsen:
I think for me, 12 years ago, I quit my last full-time job. I was the chief marketing officer at SEO.com. That’s actually where my partner Dan on the StoicYeti side and I met. When I quit that job to go start consulting and marketing and being outsourced CMO, which is where this started, and then it rolled up into these other things that I do now, I told myself, “I’m never going to have a real job ever again.” I just don’t want to have a real job ever again.

Chris Knudsen:
I set some parameters in place for myself. I had to make a certain amount of money and do certain things, and my wife was very supportive of that. I can look back and say it’s worked really well for the last 12 years. Now I’m trying to make it work even better for the next 12 years, which is why we need a lot of support on our Kickstarter or one of them. That’s where I come from.

Roy Morejon:
Nice. If you guys could meet any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?

Ken Frei:
For me that’s an easy one. I would love to meet the Wright Brothers. My favorite book is the Wright Brothers’ biography by David McCullough. It’s so fascinating to me because I feel like that is the best book ever written on entrepreneurship and actually creating product. As you read that, they were bicycle makers and there were other people that were a lot more well funded than they were trying to create an airplane. They just had an incredible passion for it.

Ken Frei:
And the process that they went through to actually create flight was incredible. They started by observing birds in the sky and then they were flying kites, and then they built a glider and then they built the first plane, and then they built a plane with an engine. Just the iterative process that they went through was super inspiring to me. And then also just seeing how quickly their invention, the airplane, went from them out in a field to planes were being used in war, just 20-30 years later or whatever. Incredible book about entrepreneurship that I love. I would want to meet the Wright Brothers.

Chris Knudsen:
Mine is really similar actually, someone who benefited from the Wright Brothers’ endeavors, which is Howard Hughes. I really be interested in meeting Howard Hughes. I think he encompasses all of that crazy, extraordinary risk taking that goes into entrepreneurship. I have a couple of others that I would name too, but I think I’ll just stick with him.

Roy Morejon:
Nice. Ken, what would’ve been your first question for the Wright Brothers?

Ken Frei:
It might be an obvious one, but I would love to ask them like what it was like the first time they took flight. I can’t imagine that feeling where humans have never flown before, and they’ve been working on this thing, and all of a sudden they take off. When you actually read their story, there was no seats in their airplane. They were actually holding on with their hands to this airplane. What was that feeling of getting in the air and what was going through their mind? That’s what I would ask them. What was it like on that first flight?

Chris Knudsen:
I’d say for Howard Hughes the question would be, where do the ideas come from? How do you generate those ideas? That’s actually something I thought a lot for myself too, how to get to that place mentally where you’re just generating these constant flow of ideas that you can go and invent. That’s the thing that’s fun about product development is you get this idea you put on a whiteboard. I’m looking at the prototype of HellaRoller right now on my desk, and I’m like, “That thing came out my head, and we took materials from the earth and we printed it and we turned it into a product.” That realization of taking something out of your brain and actually making it something tangible and real is really interesting.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. What book, business book, life book, any book would you recommend to our listeners?

Ken Frei:
I already mentioned the Wright Brothers by David McCullough, but I’ll say one more. Another book that I learned a lot from is the book Titan by Ron Chernow, and it’s the biography of John Rockefeller. Again, another fascinating entrepreneurial story of this guy who founded Standard Oil and created empire that even today, in terms of relative size, we haven’t really seen companies at that scale.

Ken Frei:
A fascinating book. I tend to learn a lot more lessons from like biographies like that than I do from self-help or advice books. I find those self-help books to be all the same. After you’ve read a few, it feels like the exact same advice, but I love reading these real life biographies of people who have built incredible things in the past. I’d recommend Titan by Ron Chernow.

Chris Knudsen:
I’d recommend anything by Ryan Holiday. He’s an author that I really like. As matter of fact, he has a new book out, and I’ve got the audio book. I haven’t listened to it yet because I’ve been so busy, but I really enjoyed that book.

Chris Knudsen:
A book that really stuck with me too is a book that… I’m trying to look over at it right now in my bookshelf, so I apologize, but it’s by Jocko Willink who’s a former Navy seal. He wrote a book called Discipline Equals Freedom. That left a really deep impression on me, and I think it’s really important for entrepreneurs. As entrepreneurs, we can be a little bit all over the place, and we need to be more disciplined as entrepreneurs. We’ll have a lot more success as entrepreneurs if we are discipline, and that was a big takeaway I took from that book because I needed up my game on discipline in order to be more successful.

Roy Morejon:
Jocko is definitely the man for that, right?

Chris Knudsen:
Oh, yeah.

Roy Morejon:
Nice. What advice would you guys give to a new inventor or entrepreneur that’s looking to launch their innovation?

Ken Frei:
We touched on this a little bit earlier. I would say to get it in front of people. I think we’re programmed as humans to be afraid of failure. It’s just a total natural thing to feel, and afraid of getting difficult feedback. And so, whether it’s a new invention or a business, almost anything new we try in life, I feel like we gingerly step out there. I try to remind myself to get this in front of people and learn, and when I fail, because that’s certainly going to happen, to not take it so personally or feel like that’s the end, but it’s just a learning lesson that I can take and improve things. I would say get it in front of people as soon as possible, so you can learn and improve things.

Chris Knudsen:
I would say… I just got a text from one of my renters who just distracted me there, so I apologize. I echo what Ken just said. It’s validation. At one point we took a 3D- printed prototype of the HellaRoller, and we took it into a gym. I knew the gym owner. I’m like, “Hey, I just want to sit here and have people roll on this thing.” I want to have them use it, and I want to have them talk to me about it, what they hate about it, and what they like about it. I recorded all of those interactions. There was some stuff from that day of just sitting there and letting 30, 40, 50 people roll on the thing. There was a lot of stuff that we learned from that. There’s ways that the wheels connected to the central hub that didn’t people didn’t like it, and there was a piece that broke that we didn’t think was going to be a problem.

Chris Knudsen:
We learned a ton from that day of validation. I’ll call it the day of validation. And we’ve had other days too, that we’ve gone with further iterations of the product, and we’ve had gone and tested it. That’s extremely important. What Ken said, I think I’ll echo that as well, which he said is don’t be afraid that someone’s not going to like it, or is going to give you negative feedback. That’s extremely important to get that type of feedback.

Chris Knudsen:
The other quick thing I’ll say on that too is there’s no such thing as a product launch without a marketing plan. You have to have a marketing plan to take products to market. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen this a lot. Purple was this way. There’s a lot of billion-dollar ideas that are collecting dust on a shelf. Purple was, to some degree, collecting dust on a shelf. That company’s market cap right now is like $1.5 billion. It’s a publicly-traded company. That company didn’t exist in 2015, and it was essentially just sitting there collecting dust on the shelf.

Chris Knudsen:
You got to have a marketing plan that comes along with these inventions, and it’s got to be a really well thought out marketing plan, how you’re going to take it out and how you’re going to get people to actually buy because really nobody does anything until somebody buys something.

Roy Morejon:
Exactly. What’s one invention that’s made your life easier during the pandemic?

Ken Frei:
Sweatpants for me, and I say that jokingly, but also seriously. I always joke with my wife every morning that I got to get my work pants on, and then I’ll put on my most comfortable sweatpants and go down to the computer. But my serious answer, along the lines of the HellaRoller, like we invented the HellaRoller to give relief to people who suffer with muscle soreness and any back pain or something. I do a lot of competitive triathlon and Iron Man racing. I use things like a Theragun. I even have these compression booties you put your legs in to help relieve muscle soreness. Any products like that, like the HellaRoller, that can relieve pain and tension really has made a big impact on my life.

Chris Knudsen:
I’d say the same thing. HellaRoller products like HellaRoller helping relieve pain, but any invention that I’ve worked with that just makes my life easy. It sounds really cliche, but I would say my iPhone. It has completely changed my world like it has most people too, just in terms of work. I can almost work off of my iPhone anywhere. You have all these applications that you can use there, Zoom, and just the amount of work I get done just through a text message where maybe 10 or 15 years ago, we would’ve said, “Well, we got to set up a meeting to discuss that.” We don’t do that anymore. We still do that, but not to the extent that maybe we did before. We were just like, “Hey, I can simply just answer this question over a text.”

Chris Knudsen:
That type of technology has been really beneficial to me. But at the same time, I need a good roller like a HellaRoller to really help with my back. I got a standing desk. A standing desk is probably another one. It makes me get out of my seat. I stand up that helps my back a lot. but at the end of the day, I still need a HellaRoller to really help roll out my back, especially my lower back. It’s great for hamstrings and calves, shoulders. I really need that product, and it’s been a relief.

Roy Morejon:
I think a lot of people need that product, so I’m really excited getting an opportunity here. Last question in the launch round, and I know the campaign just launched this past week, but really interested to hear both of your takes in terms of what does the future of crowdfunding look like?

Ken Frei:
One of the things I hear all the time about crowdfunding is that people feel like they’ve been burned in the past where there’s been a lot of campaigns that have launched and either have been like long delays in delivering or haven’t delivered at all. And so, when we launched HellaRoller, this is a something that we plan to bring to the market and to make into a business regardless of the crowdfunding campaign. I think that’s given us an advantage because we’re in this thing to deliver and in it for the long game.

Ken Frei:
I think as more and more people get into crowdfunding, it’s helpful to think, beyond your campaign, what happens if the campaign goes well, what if it doesn’t go well? Is this something you’re committed to because people want to feel like they can trust you? If they invest in your product, is this something that you’re going to deliver on when you say you will deliver? We’ve really tried to plan ahead, and regardless of what happens with our campaign, we’re moving ahead, and we’re going to deliver for our customers next year. I think that’s something people want to see.

Chris Knudsen:
I don’t know what the future is of crowdfunding honestly. Crowdfunding is a dark spot on my map. It’s not something that I’ve generally done. I’ve done campaigns like the one we’re doing now, the Purple campaign, for example, but it’s not my forte. It’s not the thing that I sit there and go, “I know exactly how to explain to you how to have the perfect crowdfunding campaign.” I don’t know what the future holds for this means of raising money, but it’s obviously here to stay as it should be. It’s a great mechanism and a great channel. We’ve learned a lot from the process, but what the future holds, I’m not sure.

Roy Morejon:
Indeed. Gentlemen, this has been amazing. I think our audience is truly going to take away a lot from this episode. I would love for you to give your pitch. Tell people what you’re all about, where they should go, and why they should check out HellaRoller.

Ken Frei:
You can Google HellaRoller, H-E-L-L-A-R-O-L-L-E-R. I’m glad I didn’t mess that up. Spelling on air is always hard. Check out HellaRoller. We’d love for you to come visit our Kickstarter page. As Chris said, this is a product that’s super demonstrable. Come check it out and see what it is and what makes it unique.

Ken Frei:
We’re really confident that if you give it a chance, if you back our campaign and purchase the HellaRoller, you’ll be happy with it. We’ve tested this out on old people, young people, active people, people that are less active. Consistently we’re finding that this gives people the most personalized, customized roller that they’ve ever had. Pain relief is something that we can all benefit from today. We’re really confident that you’ll find that with HellaRoller, so please come check us out.

Roy Morejon:
Amazing. Well, audience, thanks again for tuning in. Make sure to visit artofthekickstart.com for the notes, the transcript, links to the campaign over on Kickstarter and everything else we talked about today. Of course, I got to thank our crowdfunding podcast sponsors, the Gadget flow and Product Hype. Chris, Ken, thank you so much for joining us today on Art of the Kickstart.

Chris Knudsen:
Thanks, Roy. Appreciate it.

Ken Frei:
Thanks.

Roy Morejon:
Thanks for tuning into another amazing 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, show us some love by giving us a great rating on your favorite listening station. And, of course, make sure to visit artofthekickstart.com for all the previous episodes. And if you need some help, that’s what we’re here for. Make sure to send me an email to info@artofthekickstart.com. Thanks for tuning in, and I’ll see you on the next episode.