We recently spoke with Labinot Bytyqi of Solaborate about their new video conferencing device, HELLO, currently on Kickstarter. Tune in to learn more about the inspiration behind the product, why they chose Kickstarter and how they’ve already raised more than $225,000.

HELLO: The Most Advanced Video Communication Device

Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • What the prototyping process looks like
  • Why Kickstarter may be preferable rather than just taking a product to market
  • Why you may want to set a lower funding goal for your Kickstarter project
  • How to use community feedback to set stretch goals
  • Why you need a team to support and manage your Kickstarter campaign

Links

Connect with HELLO

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!

Transcript

View this episode's transcript

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 crowd funding marketing agency in the whole world. We have helped raise over $70 million for our clients since 2010. Each week I’ll interview a crowd funding 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 the gadgetflow.com, and let’s get on with the show.

Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today I’m joined by Labinot Bytyqi. Labinot, thank you so much for joining us.

Labinot:

Thank you for having us.

Roy:

You’ve created a product called HELLO, the most advanced video communication device out there. You guys are actively crowdfunding on Kickstarter. Raised over a couple hundred thousand dollars. Give our audience an idea of the product that you’ve created.

Labinot:

What HELLO is, is basically all in one basically video and conferencing system that goes on top of your TV and transforms any TV into multiple function, but some of the few things that I want to note is it enables you to turn into any TV, either at the office or home into a video conferencing system. It also has a capability to do wireless sharing. In other words it combines Airplay, Miracast, and Chromecast into one. Literally you can share or stream from any device, let it be your iPhone, Android device, or your PC. You can stream any content to your TV. The other function is ability to do live broadcasting. You can share any important moments from your any device; let it be again IOS or Android to your TV. The last one is ability, really what we call the peace of mind. It allows you to turn HELLO into a security camera with motion detection.

If you are away and you want to look at what’s going on in your office or if you are away and you want to go and look at what your kids are up to, or your pets or dog or cat, it allows you to do that as well.

Roy:

Awesome. You guys have really made a product that certainly does bring productivity to the modern age as you mentioned, and bridge some of that cross-platform connectivity issues. I know a lot of these solutions are looking for, and obviously there is a lot of multi-use cases obviously for the product. You guys have made it so affordable. Let’s back up a little bit I guess, and tell our audience where this all began. Where did this product start?

Labinot:

That’s a really good question, because HELLO really came down later on in our development, of our platform called Solaborate. When I left corporate world, I went to design a platform to really, and our mission from the beginning was to connect professionals and really provide them all the productive tools and services to be more successful and have fun. Another mission was really how do we balance work life as much as possible and connectivity was a big piece to it. For the past 4 years we’ve been developing a platform called Solaborate. Really Solaborate focus in 4 main areas. There is professional networking side which allows you to basically connect with professionals.

It’s a missing gap or missing bridge between Facebook and LinkedIn, but it lets you manage your professional life. We have collaboration which is basically messaging voice and video. We have our own, if you want to call it Skype, but what’s unique about Solaborate platform is that it’s plugless. In order for you to have communication it should not ever slow you down a bit, so you can install this plugin or that plugin. It’s really plugless. Then the other part of Solaborate where we call it as opportunity and resource management. We allow both individuals and companies to post jobs and opportunities, and really look for the talent or other people to really work and find the right talent around those opportunity. Then the last pieces, what we call application lifecycle management.

HELLO really came about 2 years ago when we’re sitting in an office, and we really, as a small organization couldn’t afford going and buying a very expensive telepresence or video conferencing system that could cost $5000 and $10,000 or more. The problem with those systems were that they are not only expensive, but you need an IT guy always with you in order to make them work. Then the other ends a lot of times had to have a similar setup in order to receive. The idea really started in the office where Intel announced their PC on an HDMI stick. Then we said, “Okay, you know what? We have the software and platform. Why can’t we just develop it?” That really started the whole idea of HELLO, and then for the past 2 years we’ve been basically working on the design ensuring that we put critical things in HELLO that really does just as better job if not better job than the super expensive video conferencing systems.

Roy:

It’s truly been impressive, and obviously you’ve built the platform as Solaborate. Has more of the community asked for this type of product on the platform that you’ve built or did it come just truly out of your individual needs at your office?

Labinot:

When we built the Solaborate, actually it came by discussing with colleagues and community. I was with a company called SAP. They are a pretty big software company. While I was there I was really spending majority of my time trying to connect with people, and trying to use the emails to get content or customers and information. That’s really where HELLO was born as an idea as that it allows both individuals and companies to create an ecosystem around the product and services they offer. We basically provide the tools and services to facilitate that support that any company or individual needs around their professional life.

Roy:

Got it. Being the software guy, tell me about the prototyping process that you went through.

Labinot:

Yes. It’s interesting. For HELLO like I said when we started prototyping this was an interesting of a start. We saw that, so we basically took a USB stick that ran on Android. Then basically we went and got a camera out of the stock, one of these full HD cameras. Then we basically opened it up, pieced it together and put our software in, like our platform, the Solaborate platform app on to it and said, “Hey, let’s try it. If this going to even work?” That’s really our first prototyping process started. Then I got involved in engineering and we said, “Okay, this works. What do we really want to put? What are the couple most critical things that a video conferencing system have?”

Well, we started looking and camera obviously was the most important, because if you want to have a video conferencing you want to make sure that you have the best camera. We put one of the best right now camera. It’s a 4K camera in HELLO. The second most important thing when we wanted to look was microphones, and voice. We looked at what are some of the best way for us to make sure that we have the best quality of the voice? We designed in HELLO a 4 ray, what we call a special focusing and noise cancelling microphones. They worked together. The reason why we did is to really give you an ability no matter where you are in the room when you are having the conference call, you want to ensure the voice is heard very clearly, and you can see anybody super good.

That was a prototyping, and we started prototyping and designed everything here in the LA area. Then we started partnering with some people in China to basically do the sampling and what not for us.

Roy:

Excellent. Let’s move on to the marketing side of the campaign. What were some of the preparations leading up to the campaign to see your early success upon launch?

Labinot:

Very good question. I think we knew that, we didn’t know that we wanted to put this in a Kickstarter, but as we started developing and we had a full working prototype we said, “Hey, do we just take this to the market or do we put in a Kickstarter?” The idea really came to the point where we thought that Kickstarter is all about creative projects. We have a creative project. Let’s put it there, and it really would have helped us with different traction from first of all making away of our platform and the product. That’s really winning. From a preparation perspective we really tried to do as much as research as possible on our own. We had a team I’d say about 3 months or so before the launch and kickstarted with the preparation. A lot of effort went into our video as you probably saw it, and that was a very time consuming, but it went well.

The other one was trying to understand our target audience. Who do we want to reach out, and that was a big part of our research as far as the marketing goes.

Roy:

You guys set a fairly low funding goal of $30,000. What thought went into that, because I know much of our community is always concerned with setting a low funding goal and hopefully getting funded quickly, but obviously want to set the expectations to the back that you do truly need the money to finish prototyping, development, packaging, shipping, what have you with a $30,000 funding goal and you guys well over exceeding that goal currently, what lead, if you would tell our audience, what lead to that process of setting a lower funding goal for your development cost?

Labinot:

Yes. As I mentioned earlier, we really had the fully working prototype. For us it was just a matter of, hey let’s take it in the Kickstarter. Let’s set a low goal. We were not expecting, I would say, the success that we’ve seen so far. We thought we are going to get a smaller number of orders, because it’s a little bit more complex, I would say, product and thing, but our success early got started and $30,000 were actually guaranteed us that we would actually ship them, because like I said we are really ready to produce them. That really was the thought process behind it. We felt that we didn’t need more than $30,000 to get going. Now that we are just over 200K we actually announced a stretch goal which we’ll talk about that in a second as well.

Roy:

Got it. Yeah, you guys are introducing some interesting features into there. I know the universal appeal of many of those other platforms or apps, if you will, certainly will help bring in some of the people that potentially aren’t using your platform. In terms of the people that were interested in the targeting, how did you build up that list or how did you go about targeting those individuals that you think would be supporters of the campaign upon launch?

Labinot:

I think it was primarily looking at the people who have interest in this area. I think, must say that social media played a big role for us. We tried to target that through Facebook and stuff. Then the word of mouth was another key thing. If we look at the success of campaign, a lot of people came also directly through the Kickstarter. You got a lot of people really who were looking under the technology, and new gadgets and what’s coming up. They saw that we built something very interesting, and nothing that exists today in the market with this price point. Usually those units out there like let’s say Cisco or Polycom that they provide such solution. They are like I said in a very high end. They only focus on the video conferencing.

They don’t allow you to do viral or sharing and those other capabilities that we provide. Really our goal was that we wanted to make sure that we appealed not only to people to use this only at work, but really bridge that at home as well, because it’s just as an important way of communicating and giving people freedom for the people who are working from home, or you just want to stay in touch with your loved ones through HELLO. We want to make it affordable and transform every TV into basically that. That the audience or target audience will actually just start expanding for us very quickly, because we appeal to every professional.

Roy:

Absolutely. What’s been your biggest surprise so far?

Labinot:

Biggest surprise I must say it’s like the feedback that we are getting from community, and community involvement and the ideas and use cases that they’ve been coming to us. It’s been incredible. That’s what really lead us to introduce the stretch goal world for HELLO to allow not only leveraging our platform, but introducing HELLO support for some of the major existing video communication platforms such as Skype and Facebook, and Google Hangouts. They really don’t have any capabilities what HELLO, but important feedback we listen to our backers was that, “Hey, we love HELLO, but we are already using this. This will give us a great opportunity to do a slow transition fully to Solaborate platform and HELLO. At the same time we want to leverage other capabilities HELLO like wireless sharing, live-streaming, the security camera while we can continue potentially using Skype or Google Hangouts and so on and so forth.

Roy:

If you were going to start this process all over again what one thing would you do differently?

Labinot:

Good question. I would say you will never be able to prepare as good as you want, because you are just learning every time more and more from it, but I would say you really need to be available and have a team that really support the campaign around 24/7 round the clock. Especially having a product like us that we’re going at the global scale you really want to make sure that you are engaged out there with backers and community while they are asking questions. I think I would actually create a bigger team, and also ensuring that I would say that you want to handle most of your marketing and anything else you can internally if possible.

Roy:

Certainly. Labinot, this gets us into our launch round where I rapid fire questions at you. Are you ready?

Labinot:

Sure.

Roy:

What inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

Labinot:

I think I just love problem solving, and I like to solve problems and make things simpler, easier and affordable to everybody who cannot have access to some of these capabilities.

Roy:

If you could have a HELLO conversation with any entrepreneur throughout history who would you want to do that with?

Labinot:

That’s a good question. Bill Gates.

Roy:

All right. What would be your first question then for Bill?

Labinot:

I would have a lot of questions for Bill, but first question would be how he gets started. Really understanding what drove him to start the whole Microsoft.

Roy:

Who did you look up to growing up?

Labinot:

I would say my dad primarily.

Roy:

What book is on your night stand right now?

Labinot:

Right now actually it’s World Is Flat.

Roy:

That’s a good read. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Labinot:

5 years I really want to build a company where I really want to help the community and companies and stuff to really, and every professional to be more production. Hopefully allow them to by leveraging our technology and our tools and service to really balance their work life better.

Roy:

Awesome. Last question. What does the future of crowdfunding look like for you?

Labinot:

I really think like I said earlier, I think it’s the future. I encourage a lot of entrepreneurs and startups who are making new products that I think they should definitely consider. This has definitely opened a horizon for me; what’s possible through crowdfunding.

Roy:

Awesome. Labinot, you’ve been great. Please give or audience your pitch. Tell us what you are all about. Where people should go, and why they should go buy HELLO.

Labinot:

Yeah, no problem. If you are interested to learn more about HELLO you can go to Kickstarter, search for HELLO or go under technology. It’s the most advanced video conferencing system. The other way you can go is you can go to solaborate.com/hello where you can find a lot more information, technical details and videos of HELLO. That’s 2 ways you can reach out to us. We’d love you to have an opportunity to see what HELLO can provide to you.

Roy:

Awesome. Labinot, you’ve been great. Everyone thank you again for tuning in. Make sure to visit ArtoftheKickstart.com for all the show notes and full transcripts on everything we’ve talked about as well as links to the campaign. Labinot, thank you so much for joining us.

Labinot:

Thank you for having us.

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 ArtoftheKickstart.com and tell us about it. There you’ll find additional information about past episodes in our Kickstarter guide to crushing in. If you’ve loved this episode leave us a review at ArtoftheKickstart.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.