One of the most important aspects of a crowdfunding campaign is product marketing. What steps can you take to ensure that your product is in the best position for success? How can you play to your strengths and shore up your weaknesses? Kent Blazek joins the podcast to share about his crowdfunding campaign with Halospheres. In our conversation, Kent opens up about product development, product validation, his decision to partner with Enventys Partners for product marketing, the biggest surprises he’s encountered so far, and much more. You don’t want to miss a minute of this engaging episode featuring Kent!

The process of developing a desktop toy.

How do you develop a product that can provide endless entertainment for hardworking men and women in workplaces all over the world? That was the question that Kent Blazek set out to answer. Through sampling multiple versions, Kent landed on the current design for his desktop toy, Halospheres. While the process wasn’t easy, Kent says that all the challenges involved with finding the right materials were worth it to end up with a great product. What can you learn from Kent’s experience? Make sure to listen to this episode as he elaborates on his experience and lessons he’s learned along the way. Don’t miss it!

Using a crowdfunding campaign for product validation.

Crowdfunding can help you validate a product idea that you want to bring to the marketplace. What is the best way to embark on a crowdfunding campaign to validate your product idea? On this episode, Kent Blazek shares his perspective and experience with taking his idea for a fun tabletop toy to the masses. Kent points to the potential for helpful customer feedback and testing a product without putting too much money at risk as the reason why he chose to go the crowdfunding route. Get more helpful insights from Kent on this important topic by listening to this informative episode!

How product marketing can make or break your chances for success.

If you want to succeed in business, you’ve got to play to your strengths and shore up your weaknesses. How does this maxim apply to getting a product off of the ground in a crowdfunding campaign? On this episode, Kent Blazek explains why he partnered with Enventys Partners to take over the product marketing aspect of his campaign on Kickstarter. The reason why Kent went with Enventys Partners over other marketing solutions is due to the breadth and depth of experience the Enventys Partners team has with both product development and product marketing. Learn more about Kent’s experience on this episode!

Key advice for startup entrepreneurs.

As a business leader, you want to take every opportunity you can to learn from leaders who have been down the same road. On this episode, Kent Blazek goes over some helpful insights from his experience launching his first crowdfunding campaign. Kent touches on the importance of launching your product in the appropriate season and utilizing an email list to drive traffic and interest. To hear more helpful tips and insights from Kent, make sure to listen to this episode, you don’t want to miss it!

Key Takeaways

  • [1:05] Kent Blazek joins the podcast to share about his product, Halospheres.
  • [2:30] What was the process of producing a desktop toy? What challenges came up?
  • [4:30] Kent talks about pre-campaign and product validation.
  • [5:30] How did Kent decide to partner with Enventys Partners?
  • [6:30] The biggest surprise so far for Kent.
  • [7:30] Kent describes Halospheres and talks about future projects.
  • [9:00] Advice for entrepreneurs looking to crowdfund their product.
  • [10:00] Kent enters the Launch Round.
  • [12:30] How to connect with Kent and Halospheres.

Links

Connect With Halospheres

Sponsors

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. Click here to learn more and list your product – use coupon code ATOKK16 for 20% 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.

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Transcript

View this episode's transcript

Roy Morejon: Welcome to Art of the Kickstart, your source for crowdfunding campaign success. I’m your host, Roy Morejon, President of Enventys Partners, the top full service turnkey product development and crowdfunding marketing agency in the world. We have helped startups raise over $100,000,000 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 you take your startup to the next level with crowdfunding.
Art of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by BackerKit and the Gadget Flow. 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. The Gadget Flow is a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save, and buy awesome products. It is the ultimate buyer’s guide for luxury gadgets and creative gifts.
Now let’s get on with the show.
Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today I am joined with Kent Blazek with Halospheres. Kent, thank you so much for being on the show today.

Kent Blazek: It’s my pleasure.

Roy Morejon: So we love desk toys over here at Enventys Partners and Art of the Kickstart. We love this product. So please tell us, where does the idea of Halospheres come from? What inspired you to create this innovative product?

Kent Blazek: Okay, so my background is in industrial design, or product development. I’ve always worked as a freelance, or working for agencies for other clients. So I have a few big ideas that I’m trying to take forward to market myself, and I always envisaged that I would launch with Kickstarter or with some sort of crowdfunding platform. So I thought, I’ve read a lot of articles about the crowdfunding process and a lot of it confused me. There seemed to be a lot of nuance, a lot of detail. So I wanted to take a product forward first to basically test the waters, and that’s what this is.
So I went onto places like Kickstarter, Indiegogo to see what sort of products resonated best with that audience, and I decided on the idea of doing some sort of desk toy. So in my mind, I remember a few years ago, I saw some physics discussion about these two welded together ball bearings and the physics at play. And I thought, “That’s quite interesting.” So I decided to take that and turn it into a desk toy and that’s where the idea came from.

Roy Morejon: Impressive. So when you were creating Halospheres, you mentioned that you have an industrial design background, what did that process look like?

Kent Blazek: Okay, so once I identified that I was doing the desk toy, basically it was a lot, a lot of sampling. I needed to understand what material is going to work best in terms of the physics. I needed to understand what weights, what sizes. So it was a lot of sampling, a lot of testing different materials. I have quite a background, obviously through my work experience with different manufacturers, so it was easy for me to get a lot of samples made. But that’s all it was. It was a lot of trial and error essentially.

Roy Morejon: That’s usually when the best products and innovations come to life, right?

Kent Blazek: Yes, absolutely.

Roy Morejon: What’s been the biggest challenge that you had encountered when designing the product?

Kent Blazek: So I’d assumed this would be a very, very straight forward product. I mean, from the outside it definitely looks that way. There are a few things I hadn’t done myself before, namely electroplating, and ideally we wanted to do this in a copper or a rose gold finish to give a very fiery effect, but we had so many problems with the plating, because obviously copper oxidizes, copper makes up rose gold, it also oxidizes. So it turns dark quickly and then it loses its light effects. So we had a lot of iterations of electroplating, adding protective layers, and nothing really held up. So, that was one of the biggest challenges.
And secondly, with our spinning plate, our spinning base, as much as we can, we want to avoid any higher startup costs, which meant things like injection molding, we wanted to take off the table. So how could we make the base out of the material we wanted, but also cheaply and do it more of like a machined, from a machine point of view. So they were the biggest hurdles. Things always look good on paper, even prototyping. So when we took it through to production sampling, that’s when you fully understand the limitations of materials and the processes that get used.

Roy Morejon: So you had mentioned early on in terms of using Kickstarter as a means of product validation, and we always talk on the show and interview founders and ask about what they did the month or two leading up to launch, given important it is. So was there anything unique or different that you did for the pre-campaign to launch it with such great success thus far?

Kent Blazek: Well, product validation, that’s definitely the number one reason why you consider Kickstarter, why you consider crowdfunding. I mean, you get to test the market without having dropped a humongous amount of money necessarily up front, you get to get people’s feedback and they can help improve the product, so that’s definitely the driving reason why I did that. So I understand my biggest weakness, which is marketing. I don’t know the first thing about marketing. I’m confident in everything else in terms of industrial design process, the product development process, but marketing really eludes me. So as much as I could jump on Facebook, put on an ad, I don’t know if it’s going to do anything. I don’t know if I’m doing it correctly.
I did look into tons of different companies that offer marketing services. They’re all making promises of different degrees, so it’s quite difficult to weed out what ones you think are actually going to give you proper service, a proper return for your money. So that was the most important thing I decided to do, was to once identified that it is my weakness, find someone else to help out with that.

Roy Morejon: Yeah, so you’ve been working with our agency Enventys Partners for a few weeks now. What’s been the biggest consideration that you were looking at with all the other agencies out there?

Kent Blazek: Well, especially now that our campaign has started, you get inundated with people promising you this and that. Some of them you can weed out pretty quickly. It would just be a really basic email, very little references. So obviously looking into past performance, past projects was a big consideration. Did they have similar products already within their portfolio that was successful, because that would suggest to me that they would have a market, they would have an audience, which is already receptive to my type of product.
So that was the key. And also just trying to get an idea, get a sense of the credibility of the company. And with Enventys Partners, obviously they’re not just a marketing side of things, they actually do product development as well, so I felt it was grounded, a little bit more established, and not so fly by as a company.

Roy Morejon: Absolutely. So given that this is your first campaign, what’s been the biggest surprise so far?

Kent Blazek: The biggest surprises would be understanding your real cost, in terms of … You might see a flicker up there, people raising money, and you think, “Oh, well, they’re raising this much money,” but when you break it down, what’s the actual return you’re getting? What’s the actual … Are you allocating enough costs to cover your basis, to cover shipping, to cover fulfillment, and there’s percentages. The platform takes payment processing fees. So the biggest surprise … I did it to my base before launching. I think I’ve hit it. Yeah, I nailed it. But you really are left with a sliver of that total goal raised. So that was some of the biggest surprises, understanding.
In previous years, watching other campaigns, was thinking how well these campaigns are doing. Look at this money they’re raising, but the reality of what they’re margin might actually be and to cover their initial set up costs is much more of a fraction of that. So it’s definitely biggest surprise.

Roy Morejon: So let’s talk about how awesome Halospheres is. Can you go into the product itself?

Kent Blazek: Okay, so Halospheres, as I said before is a desktop toy. It’s what I call an extreme velocity desktop toy or colloquially a spinning top of steroids. It’s essentially two metal spheres that are forged together, cast together, about three quarters of an inch, diameter inch, plated in gold. You spin this on a specially designed concave, a riven concave spinning platform, and then through the aid of a gold plated steel pipe, you blow through it and you can accelerate the spheres up to speeds in excess of 3,500 RPM. The spheres themselves are polished to a mirror finish and their reflective properties lend itself to this spectacular kinetic lighting effect.

Roy Morejon: So after this campaign, I believe you probably have more inventions coming out. Are you going to crowdfund those?

Kent Blazek: Well, yeah. So I mentioned before, I’ve got a few in the pipeline. One is old that started five years ago. It’s R&D heavy, which is why I wanted to do something, what I would consider fairly manageable to do, to sort out all the kinks of the crowdfunding process first. So I do have a couple in consideration, but I think it’s definitely a great market validation process and I would definitely do it again. Absolutely.

Roy Morejon: Awesome. So Kent, what advice would you give to someone else looking to crowdfund their product?

Kent Blazek: Okay, so my best advice would be, building on what I said earlier was, know your weakness. As entrepreneurs, we want to do everything ourselves. We want to keep costs down and obviously that’s a great approach, but know what your true weaknesses are, what you can’t do yourself, and bring someone on board to help you out with that. And again, for me, that was definitely marketing.
Also, consider your timing. If your products is a seasonal product, with something that appeals to people in the summer, don’t launch in winter because it’s not going to become press worthy. You want to get the biggest coverage you can, most people hearing about it, and that’s not going to happen if you time it incorrectly.
And also, do your homework. As I mentioned, there are a lot of companies that are making all sorts of promises, especially when you start the process, offering you different services. Don’t just accept the first one. Do your homework.
And I think one thing that I didn’t do, which I think would have helped even more, is to build a custom email list. An email list of people who you know are already keen on the product, perhaps have already provided you feedback, maybe they’ll try prototypes earlier. So you know you’ve got this database of people who are ready to support from day one to help really build enthusiasm.

Roy Morejon: Solid advice there, Kent. This is going to get us into our launch round. I’m going to rapid fire a handful of questions at you. You good to go?

Kent Blazek: Yep, absolutely.

Roy Morejon: So what inspired you to become an entrepreneur?

Kent Blazek: I like to be in charge of my own work, choose my own path. I’ve only worked for an agency briefly, other than that I’ve done a lot of freelance, but why would I want to put in a 9:00 to 5:00 day to make other people money, when I feel like I could be doing the exact same work that I’m doing for them, but under my own umbrella. So absolutely, put in the same effort, but receive all [inaudible 00:10:34] myself.

Roy Morejon: So if you could share a pint with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?

Kent Blazek: I’m drawn to big picture people, those who take the bigger risk, follow their passion. I guess people like Musk. He’s, especially recently sending a car into space, he’s doing things that are just blue sky projects that may not see a return anytime soon, or are just the type of feats to accomplish are through the roof. I’m inspired by those sort of people who take those biggest risks.

Roy Morejon: So if you could have a chance to share a pint with Elon, what would have been your first question for him?

Kent Blazek: My question would be how do you set aside the fear of failure? How do you just go into it headfirst, and you’re not worried about if you fail? You just go into something head first. How do you do that so confidently? Because I think that is definitely key to any success, especially if you’re following a passion.

Roy Morejon: Absolutely. What book would you recommend to our audience?

Kent Blazek: Okay. Well one of my favorites growing up, especially now I suppose it’s even more relevant, Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. And the reason I suggest that, it helps put your worries and risk aversion into perspective. I mean, you’re just a blop on time, and it’s certainly not going to be the end of the world even if you make a mistake or fail. So helps put life and your projects into perspective.

Roy Morejon: Great read. Last question, Kent. What does the future of crowdfunding look like?

Kent Blazek: Okay. Well I feel like, I remember when crowdfunding, when Kickstarter first started, and there were very few projects. They all got a lot of attention. But now it’s something that’s very ubiquitous, because it is such a great tool to launch, to validate your project. So I think projects have to become more imaginative, more innovative, to really stand out and capture the market interest. Yeah, I mean there’s going to be a lot more obviously technology as things develop, but it’s going to be hard to differentiate yourself from other projects, apart from other projects going forth.

Roy Morejon: Absolutely. Well, Kent, this gets us to the end of the interview. Please give our audience your pitch. Tell them what you’re all about, where people should go, and why they should check you out.

Kent Blazek: Okay. So Halospheres is an extreme velocity desktop toy. It reaches speeds over 3,500 RPM, and brings mesmerizing halos to your fingertips. So it’s forged from steel, plated in real gold. It’s a real showpiece, generating a vortex of kinetic light effects, driven by just the power of your lungs. So you can check out our campaign now, which is live on Kickstarter, using the keyword Halospheres as one word.

Roy Morejon: Kent, thank you so much for being on the show. Audience, thank you again for tuning in. Make sure to visit artthekickstart.com for all the show notes, the transcript, links to the campaign and everything we talked about today, and of course thank you to our crowdfunding podcast sponsors, the Gadget Flow and BackerKit. And if you like this episode, make sure to leave us a review on iTunes.
Kent, thank you so much for joining us today.

Kent Blazek: Thank you for having me.

Roy Morejon: Thanks for tuning in to another episode of Art of the Kickstart, the show about building a business, world, and life with crowdfunding. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, awesome. Make sure to visit artofthekickstart.com and tell us all about it. There you’ll find additional information about past episodes, our Kickstarter guide to crushing it, and of course if you loved this episode a lot, leave us a review at artofthekickstart.com/iTunes. It helps more inventors, entrepreneurs, and startups find this show and helps us get better guests, to help you build a better business. If you need more hands on crowdfunding strategy advice, please feel free to request a quote on Enventyspartners.com. Thanks again for tuning in and we’ll see you again next week.