This week on the Art of the Kickstart podcast, tune in to hear from Lior Ohayon and Aaron Spivak from the Hush Iced Kickstarter campaign. You’ll learn more about developing a textile product, what goes into a great pre-launch campaign, how to use email marketing for your Kickstarter project and much more!

Topics Discussed and Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • Solving pain points with a new product using crowdfunding
  • How to approach product development using textiles
  • Why you may want to use crowdfunding to launch new editions of existing products
  • Why using Kickstarter may be a better option than a traditional pre-order approach
  • How to begin preparing for a crowdfunding campaign
  • How to build up an audience ready to back your Kickstarter project the day you launch
  • Why having someone dedicated to public relations for your project can pay off
  • How to handle Kickstarter stretch goals
  • Why email marketing is an important part of a Kickstarter campaign

Links

Sponsors

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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 million dollars 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.

Roy Morejon:
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 project 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.

Roy Morejon:
Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today, I am talking with Lior Ohayon and Aaron Spivak, founders of Hush. Gentlemen, thank you so much for being on the show today.

Lior Ohayon:
Thank you for having us.

Aaron Spivak:
Thanks.

Roy Morejon:
All right, so this Hush Iced blanket, this awesome cooling sleep-induced blanket is active right now on Kickstarter, raised over 275,000 U.S. dollars so far with over 1800 backers. Let’s talk about Hush blanket and what inspired you both to create this awesome product.

Lior Ohayon:
Sure. We’ve already been selling our weighted blankets for about a year now, and we noticed in the summer months, there was a slump of sales, and it was definitely due to the fact that people assume and know that it’s a very hot or heat-producing blanket when you’re under our regular cover, so people have been asking for a cooling blanket for a while, and that’s how we decided to combat two things at once. Don’t let people overheat in the summer, and also protect our sales in the summer.

Roy Morejon:
Nice. You guys have been selling the Hush blanket. Now, we’ve got the Hush Iced blanket. What was the process like of determining how to blend bamboo, cotton, et cetera into the blanket itself and then deciding what other features to include when designing this product out?

Aaron Spivak:
I mean, we did a little bit of research obviously into what types of fabrics are available for people who are looking to cool down and what was used already in the market. Sometimes, there’s some sheets that people are using that help them cool down, some pillowcases, stuff like that, and we didn’t want something that was already available. We wanted something extremely unique, so we basically did a bunch of research, sent out a bunch of sample requests, all different types of fabric manufacturers, and it actually worked out that a composition was made almost by accident by one of our potential manufacturers.

Aaron Spivak:
It turned out to be the coldest, most amazing fabric we’ve ever felt, and the reason why I say accident is because the composition that we originally asked for wasn’t the one that they sent us, so we had to kind of decompose that blanket and see how it was made, but the second we felt this sample, this little product, we were like, “Wow. This is it. This is what we’ve been wanting the whole time,” so it was quite special once we got it.

Roy Morejon:
Interesting. You guys launched your previous product that’s for sale right now, the Hush blanket, as an online store business. What made you guys decide to use crowdfunding to launch the Hush Iced blanket?

Lior Ohayon:
That’s a good question. I think we’ve seen the success of other products on Kickstarter. When we first launched our regular Hush classic blanket, we just went straight to Adwords. We just started with some ads, and we started getting some pre-orders, and we’ve actually been in pre-order since September, meaning we haven’t been able to hold stock for four or five months now, even more, six, seven months, because we keep selling out.

Lior Ohayon:
We thought instead of just selling out all the time and not being able to keep up with these sales, let’s just do a Kickstarter where people are accustomed to waiting quite a long time. It’ll prove the concept, and we’ll be able to get them all out in one order with all the cash that we receive in one shot, which is essentially what Kickstarter was designed to do.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. How long did you guys spend preparing for the crowdfunding campaign? Let’s talk about that a little bit. I know you had mentioned just now that you guys have been using ad words to kind of get [inaudible 00:05:09] into your funnel for the current blanket that’s on back order. What did you guys do in terms of preparation, marketing side for the crowdfunding campaign?

Lior Ohayon:
For sure. We knew that being on Kickstarter itself meant that a lot of traffic would come from Kickstarter, so that’s another reason we wanted to be on the platform, so we needed to sort of deconstruct previous campaigns that have done well, and what it sort of led to was that there are specific agencies that are experts at getting you ranked on Kickstarter and building email lists and running ads and all these things.

Lior Ohayon:
We interviewed a whole bunch of them. That played a big role in the early success we’ve seen, but a big part of it was also our own customers. Not many Kickstarters start with a huge customer base already, which can really help with lookalike audiences and being able to email your own customers for a really healthy start, so I’d say that we started around three months in advance, so we started around November already interviewing agencies and prepping all of the photo shoots and the video shoot, flying out to Hollywood to do that and things like that.

Roy Morejon:
Nice. You’ve been working with our agency for a little bit of time. Talk about some of the prep work in terms of lead generation or marketing things that helped the campaign do about 100,000 dollars in the first 24 hours.

Aaron Spivak:
It was kind of just a build up of a bunch of different things. We really wanted to hit the ground running like most Kickstarters do, so it was stressed with the agency and within us that that first few hours, that first 24 hours, was important, so we spent quite a lot of time building a list of people who were either opted in from interest or trying to win a contest who were willing to share their information with us saying that they wanted to be contacted.

Aaron Spivak:
We were able to prep, like Lior said, our previous clients, who were reaching out to us wanting a summer blanket, so we were able to build that up as well. We also built our personal list of friends and family who we reached out to and said, “Hey, can you support us? Will you support us? If yes, opt in,” and it was really important for us to build that list. I mean, I don’t know what the final numbers were, but I think it was well over 10,000 people who were committed and ready to buy on opening day, so it was definitely a joint effort.

Aaron Spivak:
But we look back at it now, and if it wasn’t for that prep that we spent prior, then it probably wouldn’t have been as good as it was on opening day considering we weren’t on the homepage of Kickstarter or anything like that, so it was completely all traffic from efforts I put in before. I think it’s like 13 percent of our pledges came from friends and family on first day, which is pretty awesome.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. It’s great when people come in when they say they’re going to come in to back and support your idea, right?

Aaron Spivak:
Yeah, the support has been incredible. We saw the traffic come in from all the generated leads with the agency, and then to see our customers wake up and buy a [inaudible 00:08:35] blanket on opening day, and I know we launched at I think 10 AM or 11 AM. For most people, they’re working at that time. For people to stop what they’re doing, check their email, and purchase was pretty special.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. You guys have gotten some great press coverage as well, outlets like Huff Po, NBC, ABC, Fox, et cetera. Any tips that you guys would have for other creators looking to get great press coverage as well?

Lior Ohayon:
For sure. I mean, a lot of that press was for our original blanket. We have a connection with press release service, so that really helps to get picked up from different news sources and things like that. We also, with the agency, Enventys, they have a press release team, so they’re manually reaching out to different outlets and bloggers that they know, and it’s just a matter of sending out samples and things like that.

Lior Ohayon:
It’s really having a good team behind you as well as sort of a dedicated person that’s just constantly reaching out. We did a little bit of a hack I’ll share with your audience. We downloaded all of the links of some of our competitors and saw where they were featured, and then we spent some time finding out the email address of every single journalist of those features, and then we emailed them one by one offering a sample if they write about us, and that’s been a really good thing, [inaudible 00:10:05] really good feedback from that and being able to get some press that way.

Roy Morejon:
Very cool. With all the marketing efforts that you guys have put forth for this project and campaign, where have you guys seen the biggest return?

Aaron Spivak:
It looks like the biggest return has been from that initial list of email leads that Enventys helped us build. We had 13 percent of pledges from that and then 17 percent of pledges just from our own website traffic that we already have, some organic traffic, and telling our friends and family and our own email list, so all together, that’s around 30 percent, well over 100,000 dollars just from the preparation that we did in advance.

Aaron Spivak:
And then it starts to go down from there, so after that, Facebook ads is 10 percent, and Kickstarter sent 30 percent on their own from their different popular pages and things like that.

Roy Morejon:
Nice. Let’s talk a little bit about your backers. I know many of them are friends and family up in Canada. Have you gotten much feedback from them so far, and of the feedback that you guys have received, how have you guys been managing that with also promoting the campaign and then getting ready to go into manufacturing for this new product?

Lior Ohayon:
Sure. I mean, I think some of the challenges has been using Kickstarter as sort of an e-commerce store, which it’s not meant to be, so right away, people want variations. They’re saying, “How do we upgrade to a queen size blanket or a king size blanket?” which you’ve never even considered before, and now the demand is so high that we’ve added it as a stretch goal, so there’s figuring out that, how to add 20 dollars to your pledge to upgrade and all these different things.

Lior Ohayon:
It’s been mainly colors, sizes, and people wanting to sort of feel the fabric. They’re basically trusting the video to show them the quality and the coldness of a fabric that they can’t feel, so that’s been some sort of feedback that we’ve been getting.

Aaron Spivak:
I mean, it’s been pretty cool to see someone look at a photo on Kickstarter and have trust in the platform and have trust in us and believe in us to deliver on the product. We find that sometimes with tech products or gadgets, you can kind of show the way they function and the way they use with a video, but it’s very difficult to look at a picture of a fabric and imagine yourself under it and its benefits and then want to get yourself one of those products, so it’s been kind of cool to see the amount of support and the amount of belief that people have.

Aaron Spivak:
And it’s been quite a ride, and I really like the way that Kickstarter has built that with their audience and that people really trust the people on there.

Roy Morejon:
I mean, just looking at your stats, it’s about a third of your backers are first time backers, which is always really great to see that the product and your presentation and the pre-campaign and all of the marketing has been able to win the trust of so many new community members to Kickstarter for this innovation that you guys are bringing to market.

Roy Morejon:
You also brought up a really cool point in terms of the stretch goals. You guys have some really cool stretch goals that backers have unlocked. Talk a little bit about that process and how you guys went ahead in terms of deciding what to offer as stretch goals.

Lior Ohayon:
I think we only have one stretch goal now, which is the king, so people were asking, “If this is a prototype, and you still have to go to manufacturing to make this, why can’t you just make a king size?” Our typical answer is that the blanket is meant to be a personal blanket. You’re not really sharing it with someone, although you can, and it’s most effective when it’s around you, just your body.

Lior Ohayon:
That’s why our twin size is actually smaller than a regular twin bed, because it’s just enough for your body, but we thought we got to give the people what they want, so at 500,000 Canadian, we’re going to basically upgrade everyone to a king for free if they already pledged for a queen, and we’re thinking of adding some stuff like colors because that’s how we decide on what to do. It’s based on what the people are asking for, and they’ve got some wacky colors in mind.

Roy Morejon:
I’m sure they do. What’s the biggest thing that you guys have learned through the whole process of launching your first Kickstarter campaign?

Aaron Spivak:
I mean, the biggest thing would be tough. We’ve learned so much. I mean, we stressed preparation before Kickstarter just because of our experience in e-comm. Our experience in launching products in general has taught us that if we didn’t prepare extensively prior, we weren’t going to hit anywhere near our internal goals and our funded goals, so we definitely learned how important that is.

Aaron Spivak:
We also learned that although it is 30 days, and we’re only halfway through just about, it is a marathon, and it’s important not to be on it all day and to be stressing about it every hour to see, and it’s important to understand what we wanted to accomplish here and to kind of stay within that groove and to kind of continually hit tasks every day that we create for ourselves, remind ourselves that we need to keep going in hitting certain things, so I would say for anyone who hasn’t start one yet, I mean, we’re no experts, our first one, and we’re halfway through, but if you’re setting up your first one, and you’re looking for a little bit of advice, it would be one, get a good agency that you trust in.

Aaron Spivak:
We use Enventys. We built a really good relationship with them, and like Lior said before, we spent months interviewing agencies from all over the world, and we went with Enventys for many reasons, but get one that you’re comfortable with, that you like the way they run their show, and it fits within yours. And then really stress how you want to be a part of it. Enventys is full circle. They’ll take care of everything for you, which is great, but Lior and I stressed many times, what can we do? And they were great at giving us things that they don’t necessarily take care of or that they do but we can add to.

Aaron Spivak:
And we looked at each other early on and said, “These guys are going to handle all the nitty gritty, but we want to do our part,” and we spent quite a lot of time preparing what we wanted to do and how we were going to kind of scale this project and get it to where we thought it could reach.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. I mean, I know my team has been having a great time working with you guys on that, so what if anything would you guys do differently if you were starting the whole project over again?

Lior Ohayon:
At first, we kept getting mixed answers about how important the pre-launch email leads are, and in my previous business, I relied almost entirely on email marketing to make sales and to do promotions, especially in a similar fashion. You push everyone to a launch within a seven to 15 day window, so I had experience. I knew emails were super important, but we didn’t know how important, so we just sort of set a small budget aside compared to our main budget for the whole campaign.

Lior Ohayon:
I think doing it over, we would definitely double down on that, maybe even triple or quadruple down on that, because it ended up being for our campaign that those emails were so worth it. They were so cheap too, so definitely getting more email addresses and not being afraid to email them. I have a feeling that a lot of companies will collect this whole list of leads, and then they’ll just send one email on launch day being like, “Hey, it’s ready.” We went a bit nuts on that, so it seemed to pay off.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. We can’t be too hesitant to email people. I think we’re all just so distracted this day and age that we’re afraid that we’re going to be blasting them with too much content, but honestly, people’s inboxes I think are a little crazy these days, and you have to message them multiple times, especially for a launch, time zones and where people are in the world and when they’re available to find free time to go and back a project.

Roy Morejon:
All right, well, this has been awesome. Lior, you drew the short straw, so you’re going to answer all of my [launch round 00:18:53], rapid fire questions. Are you ready to go?

Lior Ohayon:
Let’s bring it.

Roy Morejon:
All right. What inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

Lior Ohayon:
Oh, boy. Oh, I don’t think this is going to be rapid fire. What inspired me to be an entrepreneur? I was in university, and I saw on the campus there was these hot dog carts, and I thought, “These guys are living the dream. They’re not in class, and they’re making money,” so I did the math, and I’m like, “Mom, I’m not coming back to school next year. I’m going to open a hot dog cart.”

Lior Ohayon:
It was really just seeing people not being stuck in the same situation I was, and that really drove the fire to be an entrepreneur. Obviously I didn’t start a hot dog cart, selling blankets instead, but that’s-

Roy Morejon:
The blanket mobile.

Lior Ohayon:
Exactly, coming soon.

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

Lior Ohayon:
Throughout history. Probably Elon Musk.

Roy Morejon:
All right. What’s the first question for Elon?

Lior Ohayon:
How do you do so many things at once?

Roy Morejon:
That’s a good one. Who did you look up to growing up as a kid?

Lior Ohayon:
You mean business-wise?

Roy Morejon:
Anyone.

Lior Ohayon:
Probably my brother.

Roy Morejon:
How come?

Lior Ohayon:
Because he seemed to have all the answers. As the first-born child, he went through all the toughest parts, got all of the strictness from my parents and learned a lot in life, so I got the easy way out.

Roy Morejon:
Nice. Any book you would recommend to our listeners?

Lior Ohayon:
Lot of books. For mindset, I would say The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, which will help you sort of stay present, especially in a tough and wild environment like launching a Kickstarter.

Roy Morejon:
Nice. Last question, what does the future of crowdfunding look like?

Lior Ohayon:
I think the future of crowdfunding is going to take a bit more of a investor role. I’ve been looking at some crowdfunding campaigns, and I actually want to invest in them as an investor, so I think people will not only get a piece of the product, but they might get a piece of the company or something like that. That’s just a direction I’d love to see it go in.

Roy Morejon:
Equity crowdfunding is definitely interesting as well. Well, this has been awesome, guys. This is your opportunity to give us your pitch. Tell people what you’re all about, where people should go, and why they should check you out.

Lior Ohayon:
Awesome. We are Hush Blankets. Our newest product is the Hush Iced blanket for the hot summer months and for hot sleepers. If you’re in Canada, you can check us out at Hush Blankets dot C-A. The rest of the world, Hush Blankets dot com.

Aaron Spivak:
And Instagram at Hush Blankets.

Roy Morejon:
Can’t forget that Insta.

Aaron Spivak:
Never.

Roy Morejon:
Well gentlemen, thank you so much for being on the show. Audience, thanks for tuning in. Make sure to visit Art of the Kickstart dot com for the notes, the transcript, links to the campaign, and everything else we talked about today, and of course, thank you to our crowdfunding podcast sponsors, The Gadget Flow and BackerKit.

Roy Morejon:
Lion and Aaron, thank you so much for being on Art of the Kickstart today.

Aaron Spivak:
Thank you so much for having us.

Lior Ohayon:
It’s been a pleasure. Thank you.

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 Art of the Kickstart dot 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 Art of the Kickstart dot com slash iTunes.

Roy Morejon:
It helps more inventors, entrepreneurs, and startups find this show and helps us get better guests and help you build a better business. If you need more hands-on, crowdfunding strategy advice, please feel free to request a quote on Enventys Partners dot com. Thanks again for tuning in, and we’ll see you again next week.