This week on Art of the Kickstart, we interviewed Nick Hamburger, founder of Quevos, the original egg white chip. Tune in and learn more about what the process of developing a food product looks like, how to get your Kickstarter campaign off on the right foot and much more!

Topics Discussed and Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • How long to expect it to take to develop a product before launching on Kickstarter
  • How to test your product with consumers
  • Why taking your time with Kickstarter prep work is beneficial
  • Tips for developing a food product
  • Why having manufacturers in place before launching a crowdfunding campaign is so critical
  • How to build up excitement for Kickstarter launch day
  • Why it’s important to leverage your network during a crowdfunding campaign
  • Why your best approach is likely to target people who already use Kickstarter

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 a hundred 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. 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 buyers 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 joined with Nick Hamburger with the Quevos Campaign. Nick, thank you so much for joining us today.

Nick Hamburger:
Yeah. Pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me, Roy.

Roy Morejon:
Yeah, so the original egg white chip. I’m really excited about this campaign and this project. You guys crushed it on day one. You hit $10,000 goal on the first day, in the first two hours. These high protein, low carb chips made from egg whites, I’m really excited to obviously taste them, once you guys send them out. Four different flavors. The campaign’s done over 50K so far. Over eleven hundred people have backed this campaign.

Roy Morejon:
So I’ve got to start with where the inspiration come from to create Quevos?

Nick Hamburger:
Sure, yeah. So I’ll take you back about two and a half years ago. My co-founder and I had just graduated high school, so we had a lot of time on our hands that summer. He was making eggs which are kind of a stand-by for him, because he’s type 1 diabetic. So eggs are low carb. Great convenient snack for him. We were eating some of those crispy pieces that are left in the pan when you cook an omelet, kind of the refuse. We were eating them and were like, “Hey, these are crunchy. These are salty. They’re kind of like chips.” But it was clear to us that that’d be a much healthier base than potatoes or tortillas for our chips, so we started playing around. And after about, I’d say, six months of development, but it was on and off, we took the idea to the New Venture Challenge at U Chicago, which is like an incubator course that’s also got a pitch competition element to it. So we won funding there and kind of were off to the races after that point. But it started with this little idea we had in the kitchen.

Roy Morejon:
Interesting. So watching the campaign video and everything, you guys dropped out of college, living in the parent’s basement, trying to incubate this idea.

Nick Hamburger:
Yes. Exactly. We’re both living at home. Thankfully we actually do have our own room, so we don’t have to live in the basement. So that was an exaggeration, but we’re living at home, out of school, and doing this full-time. Because we had been working in school for about six months and we’re doing, I’d say, six to eight hours a day of work on top of four classes and it was just killing us. So it was kind of just the logical move. Yeah. Hopefully.

Nick Hamburger:
I have two years where I can take time off from U Chicago and go back without questions asked, so hopefully we’ll know if we want to keep working on this at the two-year mark.

Roy Morejon:
Well, it looks like there’s definitely demand for this product out there with the early adopter Kickstarter community, so I definitely think there’s going to be a continued growth for you and the team.

Nick Hamburger:
Yep. That’s what we’re anticipating and hoping for.

Roy Morejon:
Let’s talk a little bit about the prep work that you’ve done, obviously, leading up to this active Kickstarter campaign. But building a brand from scratch. What prep work have you guys done so far? What lessons have you learned?

Nick Hamburger:
Yeah. So I guess, before the Kickstarter it was all about developing the product. So we spent those six months before the Venture Challenge and then about ten months during the Venture Challenge and afterwards, so about 16 total, just making tweaks to the product. And then going out and sampling with family and friends, but also with our target customers who are ketogenic dieters and people who are into health and fitness. And getting a couple hundred opinions on each iteration. So we went to fitness expos. We went to the cross-fit games. We went to gyms and to nutrition clinics. And so we were able to kind of verify that the changes we were making were making the product better.

Nick Hamburger:
And then even when we were confident in the product, then we launched a controlled-market test around Chicago. And so we got feedback in store. We also sold some product online. And so we sold out of our product online and it was selling real well in stores, and so then we were like, okay, now we can turn on the gas and launch in a more public way and ramp up production, which we’re doing now. So that was the prep work on the product side.

Nick Hamburger:
And then in terms of the Kickstarter, it was about 10 weeks where we just, we had first just talked to a bunch of entrepreneurs in our network. Got a sense of what to do. Planned out the video and all of that. So I think because we were anticipated it with enough time, we were able to do all the ground work in a pretty relaxed pace. It wasn’t too frantic or anything, which is nice.

Roy Morejon:
Nice. So you guys, you had mentioned in terms of going after a few different conventions or places that your potential target market was at, from cross-fit games to a few other potential health focus. How did you go about deciding that that target market audience was the right fit initially?

Nick Hamburger:
Yeah. It was just very clear to us from really early on that we wanted to target the low carb, diabetic and keto community and the high protein community, which is typically people who work out a lot, life a lot of weight. It just was obvious to us. And in the Venture Challenge course we did, they had us do exercises where we kind of ideated around who would the product work for the best. But we just knew that egg whites were high protein and low carb. Zack ate them as a diabetic, because they’re a convenient snack for him. So I guess it was fairly obvious to us early on.

Nick Hamburger:
And when we started sampling with people, it validated our hypothesis that this was the right group of people to sell to.

Roy Morejon:
What tips would you have for someone else looking to develop a food product like this? Any things that, tips that would save them time and money?

Nick Hamburger:
Yeah. I mean, I think starting with a thesis about who the product is for and testing that is very important. I’ve seen a lot of fellow entrepreneurs who have a product that they’ve made that they think is really tasty or their whole family thinks is really tasty, but there’s not a clear reason for being. It’s just another one of the same thing that’s out there. And so making sure that you do have that kind of avid audience to go to right away is very important.

Nick Hamburger:
And yeah, I guess I would say also, getting the manufacturing stat is pretty important. We had kind of a three-month delay when we wanted to scale up and now we’re starting to produce for this Kickstarter, but kind of being four to six months ahead of the game in terms of manufacturing is very important.

Roy Morejon:
So talking about the Kickstarter campaign. You guys crushed it on the first day. Hit your campaign goal within a couple hours. What do you think was responsible for that success? And how did you build that groundswell of excitement for launch day?

Nick Hamburger:
Yeah. So it’s pretty interesting actually. We did a lot of lead collection via Facebook Messenger bot, where we got a couple thousand leads. We anticipated that that would be the groundswell that brought a ton of traction early on to the campaign. And it turned out to be our network that really came through for us. We sent out a email and a blast text to all of our contacts three days before the launch to kind of get everyone prepared. And then the minute we launched. We don’t have perfect tracking on this, but it seems like, I don’t know, probably about 80% of day one came from our network. So the Messenger bot did okay, but didn’t do nearly as much as we expected. And then our network blew us away with support. So I definitely would recommend leveraging everyone you’ve ever met when you’re launching a campaign.

Roy Morejon:
So is that more through like LinkedIn connections, or any email address that you have your closest friends or family or colleagues, and then group them all in together?

Nick Hamburger:
Yeah. It was our friends, family, colleagues, any one I’d ever met while working on Quevos who was in my Gmail. And then, yeah, all my phone contacts and phone numbers too. So just, some people were annoyed, but I think we had about a 1% unsubscribe rate from all that, but it ends up being worth it. Because most people who know you and have heard about your brand want to at least check it out and [inaudible 00:08:55] support.

Roy Morejon:
What’s interesting is your campaign has a pretty high rate of first-time backers, around 35 to 40% of that. Let’s talk a little bit about your experience with your backers so far. Now given that a lot of them are potential friends, families, contacts, have you gotten much feedback outside of your own circle? And how have you been managing that feedback with promoting the campaign and getting ready for manufacturing?

Nick Hamburger:
Yeah. So yeah, I mean, since day three, I’d say, most of the purchases now have been consumers and people interested in the product, not just the network. There’s been a lot of interest around the concept, which is, I guess it is, what we’ve expected because it’s what we’ve seen so far. But people are really intrigued, excited to just see what it means to have a chip made from egg whites. I’m trying to think what else. I mean, it seems like a lot of people have come from keto website or keto Instagram pages and have told us that. But then the other thing is that a lot of our new purchases have been from people finding it on Kickstarter. So yeah, I mean it’s interesting. It hasn’t gone the way we’d expected to get consumers. We thought it would all come from that Messenger bot and from our ads. So it’s been, we’re very happy with how it’s gone, but the traffic has come from different sources than we expected.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. So what’s been the biggest thing that you’ve learned so far in this whole process of launching a Kickstarter campaign.

Nick Hamburger:
I guess two things. One being when you’re advertising, you have to have your PR or your ads going to people who use Kickstarter or Indiegogo. From the ads we ran on our own and from this Messenger bot we saw that if people didn’t know what Kickstarter was, they just would not convert. They were confused about… we got some questions. What is a pledge? Is this an investment? Do I get product? People, if you’re not used to it, you just, it creates too much confusion for you to purchase in most cases.

Nick Hamburger:
And then the other thing, which I guess we knew, but it really, it was brought to bear here is like no one’s going to come to your page unless you bring them there, with the exception of the occasional Kickstarter internal promotion. But the number, the total will go dead for a couple hours if there’s not an article or post that’s bringing people there. So just interesting to see that it really is about kind of all the things you’re doing externally [inaudible 00:11:15] to bring people there.

Roy Morejon:
So what, if anything, would you do differently if you’re starting this whole campaign over again?

Nick Hamburger:
Well, I definitely wouldn’t do that Messenger bot, but that would have been tough to know. I guess, if there’s a way to spread your lead generation across different mediums, I think that would be advisable. Like we could have collected some emails in addition to the Messenger bot and maybe also pushed for a couple articles to get posted like right at launch. So as much as you can spread the different methods of how you’re bringing people, I think that means you’re taking less risk on if any one method of bringing people to the site fails, you’ve got a couple others, because that day one traction is very important.

Nick Hamburger:
And then the other thing, I think, is that we set our lowest reward tier too low. We have an ability for people to buy six bags for 20 bucks, and we thought that’s gonna help bring people into the funnel. It’s a low-cost way to try it. But it seems like most of the people who are backing campaigns are, if they’re going to back, they’re going to back. If they don’t know what Kickstarter is, or they’re confused by it, they’re not going to back. So it’s actually not so price dependent the way it might be on your website. So I would actually now do maybe if you want to contribute, maybe, five bucks, we could send you a shout-out on our website or in our newsletter. And then maybe our first tier would be something like 40 or 45 bucks, because it doesn’t seem like price is as much of a factor as we thought.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. That’s really interesting, Nick. Well, this is going to get us into our launch round where I’m going to rapid fire a handful of questions at you. You good to go?

Nick Hamburger:
Yeah, let’s do it.

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

Nick Hamburger:
I had always wanted to run my own business. Zack and I, who’s my co-founder on this business, were selling sodas in our middle school cafeteria and [inaudible 00:13:04] stocks in high school, so kind of always had that personality.

Roy Morejon:
So if you could meet any entrepreneur throughout history, who would you want to share a bag of Quevos with?

Nick Hamburger:
I really like a guy named Bryan Johnson, who founded Braintree, which ended up acquiring Venmo and selling for a lot of money four years ago, because he kind of started his entrepreneurial life with the goal of having a lot of impact and helping a lot of people. He failed at two businesses and it took him, I think, 15 years to end up having a successful exit. But the whole time was motivated by kind of a service mentality, which I really respect. So I’d like to hear kind of what, how he organizes his time now that he’s made his money but still has, he’s still 35 or something and has a lot of his life left.

Roy Morejon:
Interesting. He’s a first-time mention on this show, so we’ll have to make sure we link out to him. Who’d you look up to, growing up as a kid?

Nick Hamburger:
I looked up to a bunch of different people. Roger Federer. I was a tennis player and I just admired how he always seemed to have the right attitude. Not that, you know he’d get upset occasionally, but he just really kind of just always did keep his head up in matches, was able to shrug off losses and shrug off bad points. I was not able to do that as a tennis player growing up, so looked up to him. And then Nelson Mandela was the other guy who I was just like, the ability to be in prison for three decades and still have that sort of positive outlook was pretty incredible.

Roy Morejon:
Awesome. What book would you recommend to our listeners?

Nick Hamburger:
There’s a lot of good books out there. I guess, I’m a big fan of meditation, so I actually have this book on my desk. But there’s a book called Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn. That’s really helped me a lot to clarify kind of like what you’re trying to do in meditation, because without, if you don’t have a teacher it can be difficult. And meditation’s been very helpful for my entrepreneurial journey as well.

Roy Morejon:
Where do you see yourself in five years, Nick?

Nick Hamburger:
Ideally, exiting Quevos and starting my next company, which I’d hoped to be either a non-profit or a social-impact venture. Not positive on what space I’d like to be in, but hopefully something relating to margin-less.

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

Nick Hamburger:
Interesting. I do think that the equity crowdfunding is going to become more popular. So not the Kickstarter stuff but the stuff where you’re actually investing larger sums and getting a small equity stake. I know it only became legal in 2014 for unaccredited people to do that. It’s something we might do, but it’s, I’ve just seen so many companies raise good amounts of capital, up to like $500,000 and it’s quick. It’s much easier than conventional funding, and you get all those [inaudible 00:15:51] out of it. I think that’s going to grow.

Nick Hamburger:
And in terms of Kickstarter and Indiegogo, I think those things will remain strong. I think a lot of brands are starting to see them as, you know, doesn’t have to be done right as you’re launching your brand. It can be launching a new product or after a market test as in our case. It’s useful in a lot of different stages in your life cycle as a company.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. Nick, this has been awesome. This is your opportunity to give our audience your pitch. Tell people what you’re all about, where people should go, and why they should check out Quevos.

Nick Hamburger:
Sure. So we like to say the tastiest snacks are unhealthy, and healthy snacks typically taste like cardboard. Then that’s where Quevos comes in. We’re a snack without trade-offs or consequences. So we’re high protein, low carb, high fiber chips made of egg whites. The only egg white chip out there. So just a better alternative for that snack fix that we all need.

Roy Morejon:
Indeed [inaudible 00:16:43].

Nick Hamburger:
And in terms of finding us, we’re at live on Kickstarter and then we’re going to be on Quevos.com after that. We’re trying to expand our retail across the country, hopefully to places like Whole Foods.

Roy Morejon:
Excellent. Well, Nick, this has been awesome. Audience, thanks again for tuning in. Make sure to visit ArtoftheKickstart.com for the 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. Nick, thank you so much for being on the show today.

Nick Hamburger:
Thanks for having me, Roy. It was a lot of fun.

Roy Morejon:
Indeed.

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 the 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.