In this episode of Art of the Kickstart, we interviewed the MAÄT 1.0 Legging co-founders, Beth Godfrey and Fiona Devaney. The MAÄT 1.0 Legging is a yoga legging with built-in padding to protect your knees so that every yoga practice can be seamless and distraction-free. Designed with the fit and flexibility of wetsuit padding and the edgy aesthetic of motorcycle gear, the MAÄT 1.0 Legging provides comfort and is made to flatter. Learn how Beth and Fiona raised over $37,000 for their Kickstarter campaign with the support of over 220 backers.

Topics Discussed and Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • How Fiona’s background inspired the design of the MAÄT 1.0 Legging
  • The different ways Beth and Fiona drew inspiration during the design process
  • How the MAÄT 1.0 Legging’s Kickstarter campaign transpired
  • Fiona’s thoughts on pursuing entrepreneurship
  • An inside look into the product design of the MAÄT 1.0 Legging

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.

Roy Morejon:
I’m your host, Roy Morejon, president and founder of Enventys Partners. The world’s only turnkey product launch company that has helped over 2000 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 ProductHype. 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’m super excited because I am talking with co-founders Beth Godfrey and Fiona Devaney. They are the co-founders of MAAT Legging. This campaign actually just launched, so they’re super stressed out, but super excited. So I’m really excited to have you guys on the show and talk about this amazing product. So Beth and Fiona, thank you so much for joining us today on the show.

Fiona:
Thank you for having us.

Beth:
Yeah, thanks for having us.

Roy Morejon:
All right. So like I said, you guys just click the button. So how does it feel?

Fiona:
Relief. I mean, it’s exciting, but I feel relief because I mean, Beth is on the west coast, but she was working later. We both worked till really late, just double checking, triple checking, and then this morning got back at it. So it just feels good. I think I’m speaking for all of us. We feel like we did the best we could. We checked everything. We took our time. We did our research and it feels good for me. And I think it’s the same for you, Beth?

Beth:
Yeah, I learned more than I ever thought I could about dimensional weight and international shipping and how that all works. So that’s been great.

Roy Morejon:
Nice.

Beth:
[inaudible 00:02:13].

Roy Morejon:
Let’s jump in I guess a little bit and give our audience a little bit of background, right? We’re getting ahead of ourselves because we’re so excited about the launch, which is active right now on Kickstarter. But let’s talk about the product. Where did this start and what inspired you to create it?

Fiona:
Well, I’m a yoga teacher. And before I was a yoga teacher, I was a yoga student. And since the first time I took a yoga class, in many poses.. And yoga mats used to be much thinner. They’ve become thicker. And I think that’s because people realize you need padding, but they used to be usually much thinner. And when you put your knee down, it’s just not comfortable. Even, for most people, even if you just have regular knees, if you have injury, it’s way worse. So I’ve always thought that someone should make a pair of yoga leggings with padding in the knee. And it has come back to me and come back to me for a long, long time until finally I decided to do it.

Roy Morejon:
And I think that’s where a lot of the best innovations come out of is solving a problem. I have been trying to perfect my yoga abilities over the last couple of years. And I do find that some of the poses are extremely difficult for injuries such as knees or my bad ankles and those sorts of things. So definitely solving a problem with this product. So, how did it start in terms of you bringing this product to market in terms of, obviously this is an issue, but how did you begin that process of building the product and building these leggings?

Fiona:
Well, I think for a long time, without realizing it, I was doing lots of R&D in my mind. I would just look around at different leggings and just visualize seams or… I remember Nike had this one pair that had kind of a cool geometric shape on the knees. And I would just look at it and think like, I took a picture of it. I asked the person in my class, “oh, can I take a picture of your knee?” She said, “yes”. Just to see, how could I make this happen? And it just looked bulky. It did not look sleek. It did not look good. It wouldn’t look flattering. And it definitely wouldn’t be functional because to have it cover enough space, it would have to be relatively, it would have to take up the width of your knee basically, to some extent, and nobody wants to have big bulky knees.

Fiona:
So, it wasn’t a priority. I just kept thinking about it. I had no real experience in it. And so it was kind of there like, “oh, I can’t wait until someone makes this, someone should make this”. And then at some point I have… I never had any injuries, by the way, when I first thought this, I was actually in my teens, I didn’t have any injuries. I just had, I guess, relatively bony knees. And it was uncomfortable. It wasn’t painful, but it was just annoying. So then fast forward 20 years and I did have a bad knee injury and it would not go away. And I think my acupuncturist told me, “just stop doing everything, no exercise, no biking, limit how much you walk, just you really need to rest it”. Which I did for six weeks. And it didn’t change.

Fiona:
There was a lot of swelling. It didn’t hurt, it was tender, but it would puff up anytime there was any pressure on it. And I was really frustrated. And I think if anybody who has had an injury, you just start to feel vulnerable. If you’ve ever had a long-term injury, I think you can relate to that, that you stopped doing things. You wake up every morning and you check “is it still there? Is it gone?” And it really, really got to me. I love to exercise. I’m a very active person. So it was hard not to, but it was also really frustrating that I did not see any progress from it not working, from me not working out. So it was June, it started to get really beautiful out. And I just, one day said, “screw it. I’m going surfing”.

Fiona:
I was out in Montauk, friends were going surfing. And I said, “I’m just going to go”, and the water still cold at that time. So I put on a long wetsuit, went surfing, thinking, “I am definitely going to regret this”. I was in there for a few hours, came out and I was.. And then that was the only time I thought of my knee. I didn’t think of it while I was in there. That’s what happens with surfing. You stop thinking about everything, you just enjoy it. But once I came out, I thought, “oh my God, I’m sure my knee is puffed up”. And I took off my wetsuit and it was fine. And then when I took my wetsuit off fully, I started to look and I realized there were, quote unquote, knee pads on there, which I kind of knew, but I never really paid attention to.

Fiona:
So the pads on wetsuits aren’t necessarily for support or cushioning, they’re more to prevent the wetsuit from getting ripped due to sharp wax. But there is two layers of neoprene there. So it does offer some cushioning. And that’s when I thought, “oh, this is how I could do it”. The shape looked good. It didn’t look bulky. The silhouette was super sleek. And then from there, that’s how I got my idea. And then it took me a long time. I started researching, asking friends who are in design about factories, pattern makers. And I got a couple of different patterns made. I had stopped start with a lot of people, a lot of different factories, but they couldn’t figure out how to sew the knee pad on. I was using neoprene at the time and their machines couldn’t do it.

Fiona:
And it was frustrating. And then I happened to have the good luck of going to a friend’s wedding in Mexico, where I met a woman who had founded many successful fashion companies. And she mentored people, her name’s Cheyenne Benedict, I’ll give her a shout out. She started a brand called C&C California. And she was like, “I mentor people, I mentor women actually specifically”. She charged a nominal fee, just to kind of gauge your commitment. And we started from there. And a lot of times her advice was just like, “you’re a big girl, go figure it out”. But just to have someone tell you that like, “hey, this is how it is for everyone”. You just have to go and do it. But she also did say, “hey, I know the person who does this brand, I’ll call them and ask them what factory they use”.

Fiona:
She called them. She had an answer right away. And then I started working with that factory. So, I did put in a lot of hard work that got me nowhere, but for me personally, I think sometimes the hard work is actually asking for help. Maybe if I had done that from the beginning more clearly, it wouldn’t have taken me so long.

Beth:
Well, I just wanted to put in a few words as well. So I’ve been friends with Fiona for a long time and we did not just meet in working on this. I used to live in New York and I moved out to Santa Monica, but I’ve been, we’ve been in touch. And I know, it’s just so interesting to see the evolution of this idea because we talked about it. Because I have worked with startups or just in very entrepreneurial situations a lot.

Beth:
So Fiona would call me and we would talk about certain aspects of it. And I just remember her saying, “I know that it’s possible”. And going to the different factories and going to different people and then telling her, well, we can’t do that. And she’s like, “no, I know it is possible”. And just the perseverance to get it done. And I think that that… I mean, when you’re talking about entrepreneurs and what it takes to be an entrepreneur, I think that’s just a big part of it. And so it was so cool this year. And I think part of it might’ve been having the time because of COVID to actually sit and get it ready and get it launched. And I talked to her and she was like, “yeah, no, we’re going, we’re going forward”.

Beth:
We’re going on Kickstarter. And so I was like, “well, yeah, I’d love to help”. So it’s been really cool. And it’s been just amazing just because like I said, I had seen it from the beginning, from when it was kind of just the idea and then just the attempts and the trying and the failing. And now just to be here when we launched this morning is pretty amazing. And it’s not always good to work with friends, but in this case, it’s worked out really well. And I think it’s great. So, it’s been an interesting ride.

Roy Morejon:
Yeah. A ride that is just beginning with the active campaign going on right now on Kickstarter.

Beth:
True.

Roy Morejon:
We definitely make sure we include all the links to the campaign right now. Because it looks like backers are bundling in there, thousands raised already just minutes into the campaign launch. So definitely an exciting time. So let’s talk a little bit about the design itself and how you went about creating the leggings, the process, the materials, the features, those sorts of things with the design, because obviously there’s a lot of challenges that you encountered in terms of, multiple prototypes and different designs and different features. How did you get to the design that you’re at right now?

Fiona:
My first steps on the advice of a friend is I went out and I bought a pair of plain leggings, one that fit me. I bought yards of neoprene because I thought, okay, if we did thick enough neoprene, or at least dense enough, so I didn’t want it thick, but I want it to be cushiony. That could be a good material. So I went and I bought yards of that. And I bought a silver pen and I drew the shape that I put the leggings on, stood in front of my mirror and roughly drew the shape that I thought would be good, which would be wide, really wide at the knee where you need coverage. I mean, I tried a few different things, but eventually I came to, when I did it just wide at the knee, it just made your knee look bulky.

Fiona:
So instead we made wide coverage, right where your knee is. And then we made the pad taper to very narrow going up and down, which visually elongates your legs. So that looks great, but it gives you padding where you need it. And it also is good for sizing, that if your knee is a little bit further up or down, depending on how tall you are, it’ll still work. So I stood in front of the mirror and I drew the shape that I thought would work. I cut out the neoprene and pinned it on there. And at first, right now our knee pad is all one piece. I thought what would look cool would be to have a couple of different pieces, sewn very closely together, that that would give it more stretch and it would look good. And I went to a tailor on Houseton Street and explained it to him.

Fiona:
I mean, there’s pins everywhere. And he turned it inside out and somehow managed to sew it inside out. I don’t even know how he did that. Meaning that was the, for whatever, because okay. If you were sewing from a pattern, the leg would be flat, right? Correct? You would do the inseam or the side seam last, but here the leggings were already closed. The leg is like a tube. So you can’t just put it under a sewing machine because then you’ll so the back of the leg and you can’t put your leg through it. Do you follow what I mean?

Roy Morejon:
As bad as a seamstress I am, I think I am.

Fiona:
Okay. Okay. Great. So I was like, “I don’t even know someone can sew this”, because normally you would sew the knee pad on the flat fabric and then sew the side seemed and the inseam to turn it into a leg, but I already had the leg done. I explained it to him. I thought he could maybe do it by hands, but he like whipped it around and somehow he did it, which is a really good stroke of luck. And then from there that was my prototype. And I went around to various factories, not various. I started with one who said they could do it. And then it would be like, they would not be answering my emails, not answering my phone calls. And they would have all my stuff, like my patterns, my fabrics, everything, and just not get back to me because they didn’t want it.

Fiona:
At first some that I encountered didn’t want to say they couldn’t do it. They didn’t even send me an invoice to get started. When I met them, they’d say, “oh, we have to invoice you before we can start”. I’d be emailing them. “Can you build me please?”. And I would just not hear from them.

Fiona:
But then I actually found this great factory in New York called Factory 8 and they were super helpful. He figured out a way to make it look, help me to figure out a way… I mean, they tried sewing it, and as soon as you would put the knee pads on, because the pad was multiple pieces, they just could not sew them close enough. So there would be big gaps in between them. So he had a couple of suggestions that I worked with and we got a better, much better sample, but it still was not workable. And at a certain point they just said to me, “Hey, we think you’re really close. We love what you’re doing, but we can’t help you anymore”. And that felt like I was getting dumped, but… It’s not me. It’s not you it’s me.

Roy Morejon:
Yeah, I mean, it must be nice to at least get feedback though, right.

Fiona:
Yeah.

Roy Morejon:
A lot of these places don’t pick up the phone or answer [crosstalk 00:15:03]

Fiona:
Yeah, no. And that’s why I called them out, because they were fantastic. They were really, really good. They were very mature. And when I say that, I just mean, because I don’t understand how people stay in business who just don’t call you back. But they were great. They were just like, “good luck. We wish you the best, but we can not bring this any further”. And after that I think was when I met Cheyenne and she told me, all the kind of sports wear, active wear manufacturing is in Los Angeles. So that’s probably where you’ll have to go.

Roy Morejon:
Nice. So let’s talk about the campaign, right. It just launched, but I’m really interested as well as the audience, in terms of talking about some of that prep work, how long it’s been, what some of the marketing work or the pre-campaign work that you guys have been doing behind the scenes to get this campaign in the position to finally launch today.

Beth:
Yeah, well.

Fiona:
[inaudible 00:15:57].

Beth:
Yeah. So I just interject really quickly. I think it’s been just a very interesting process because I’ve worked on product launches, and not, I don’t want to say the real word versus Kickstarter. But non-Kickstarter are just, in general, just with a brand, launching a product, and Kickstarter is a whole different animal. And I think it’s very positive in a lot of ways. And I think, one of the reasons if you had to chose Kickstarter, because it’s a platform for innovators. And I think that we have something very innovative, right? With the built in knee pads that are bulky or restricting and I think it’s something new and something that people haven’t seen. So I think it’s a good compliment there, but certainly Kickstarter risk is completely its own thing. So, it’s been interesting, like I said earlier in the, when we were talking that I don’t think I would ever need to know this much about shipping and international shipping and just all the different aspects of it, but you really need to make sure you have all your ducks in a row before you go live.

Beth:
But just in general. And I’ll let found to speak to a little bit more of some of the technical things. But I think that we’ve just tried to lay a lot of the groundwork with our friends and just reaching out to influencers and other people. I mean, we’re working with Enventys and they’ve been great and they’ve been great in guiding us. And, I don’t think we could have been as successful as we’re we’re hopefully going to be without them. We then also have been reaching out to all of our contacts and it’s interesting, we’ve talked about the fact that we’re all not in our twenties and the fact that that’s a good thing because we know people that can, we’ve had experience and we know people that we can bring in, between some friends that are like award-winning photographers or just different things that can do this thing for us, you know?

Beth:
And you’re kind of not starting from scratch. But I think what I’ve noticed the most is, and been almost a little bit overwhelmed by the fact that people just really do want to help. And, I feel like almost everyone I’ve personally reached out to, even if I didn’t really expect them to say yes, they’ve said yes. And they’ve said, “yes, what can I do? And how can I help?”. And so that for me, I think has just been the coolest part of this launch. And I mean, it is why I’m really feeling positive and hopeful that it will be a big success. So…

Roy Morejon:
Excellent. No, we love that feedback. So I guess, again with the campaign just launching, we’re we’re right in the thick of the launch plans themselves, but maybe talk about some of those learnings from a typical product launch to a crowdfunding Kickstarter launch that’s been different and maybe some of the surprises along the way in terms of your education along the way of how we do launches.

Beth:
Okay. One thing is, so I’m our spreadsheet person for sure. And it’s just been, it’s just such an unknown. I mean, when you are just launching a regular product, you can make projections and just with a different reward levels on Kickstarter, you really don’t know… When you’re launching a product, you’re like, “well, we estimate people are going to buy X number of this”, but when you’re launching Kickstarter and I’m trying to figure out our revenue projections or what we’ll bring in. I mean, people could just donate. People could buy leggings. People could take a class, there’s just so many different variables that I found that that was very challenging. And to try to figure that out and figure out the best way of… Rather than really revenue projection, I tried to just protect against the, on the cost side, to make sure that we’re covering everything.

Beth:
And again, we had done a lot. Fiona did a ton of research. I did a ton of research. Then you can really go down the rabbit hole when it comes to Kickstarter and other crowdfunding campaigns, meaning there’s a lot of information about there. There’s a lot of examples. And thankfully, there’s a lot of people that would talk about their experience. And so one of the things we read, “Not to keep beating a dead horse” is make sure you know, make sure you have your shipping costs down. Because that we found what we were reading was the number one, cause of campaigns later being like, “oh shoot, we kind of miscalculated” or whatever. So we’ve been very precise on the cost side of it. I think because the revenue is just so hard to judge. I don’t want to, we didn’t want to make strong projections because we didn’t want to guess what people were going to go for. Because we do have a couple of different reward levels. Yeah, I don’t know if that is helpful.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely, its certainly helpful.

Beth:
If you have something more specific, I can address that as well. But yeah, it’s a very, very different process in terms of… I think the projections are the hardest part, I thought are the most difficult in trying to figure out what exactly is going to happen. Whereas if you have a straight launch into the market, you really are launching either a collection or one product and you make projections based on that. Whereas this is, I don’t want to say anyone’s guess, but it really, you don’t know what they’re going to, what people are going to, what rewards they’re going to choose, if they’re just going to donate or think like that. So that’s a little bit of a challenge.

Roy Morejon:
Yeah. A challenge, an opportunity.

Beth:
Totally.

Roy Morejon:
That’s the beauty of crowdfunding, right? It’s just that the crowd gets to decide ultimately in terms of what wins, what doesn’t win, what excites them, what they’re willing to pay and price point and colors and features and all of those things. And that’s why we’re seeing thousands of campaigns launch every week on these platforms is just the innovators opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation with their consumers.

Beth:
Well, that’s what I was just going to say. That’s the great part of it though, is the feedback, right? And just, like you said, as… Because we are… It’s not a launch, like we’re a brand where everything’s ready to go. We have different colors that they can choose and we’ll let them kind of guide us as to what they want. So I think that is such a great part of this whole thing and such a great part of launching on Kickstarter.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. Well, I know the campaign just launched and you guys are super stoked as are we. We’ll be excited to follow this campaign along throughout all of its progress, but this is going to get us into our launch round. Fiona, you drew the short straw, so you good to go.

Fiona:
I’m good to go. I do just want to say my internet has been dropping out a little bit. So if I’m dropping out and you want me to call back in from my phone, I can do that.

Roy Morejon:
Let’s play it by ear and try and get through this. How about it?

Fiona:
Okay. That’s fine with me.

Roy Morejon:
Beautiful. So Fiona, what inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

Fiona:
I think it’s something that just happens. I had an idea and… Well, actually that’s not true because I’ve actually never had a nine to five job before this. I wanted to work for myself. This particular project…. So I was always self-employed and this project, it just kept coming back to me. It just kept coming up. It’s a good idea. You should do this. You should do this.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. I agree. So if you could meet with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would you want to have a yoga session with?

Fiona:
I might butcher this name, but Yvon Chouinard from Patagonia.

Roy Morejon:
Yes. He’s been featured many times on the show. So what would be your first question?

Fiona:
I think my first question. What would be my… Well, I guess two, if I could. Well, I think I know the answer to the second one. My first question would be, how do you not get discouraged? If you’re trying to operate a business in this world, that’s environmentally conscious. It’s just sometimes so discouraging. So I’d ask him that. And I would also compliment him on his, the people that work for him or his culture. Because once I started to get closer to production, I had so many people, strangers, that I was cold calling, asking for help, asking for advice. And they all were ex Patagonia people. And they could not have been nicer or happier to help me. And if they couldn’t help me, they would redirect me to someone else who might. There a couple of North Face, but tons of Patagonia people. And that’s just an incredible company culture.

Roy Morejon:
Nice. So besides that book, ‘Let My People Go Surfing’. Any other books you would recommend for our listeners?

Fiona:
Well, I have not read any business books yet, I’m going to. So when you told me at the beginning of this, I thought if I’m honest, I might sound all new agey, but maybe ‘The Power of Now’, because throughout this process, so many times I’ve found myself thinking like, “oh my God, in a month, once we launch, then I could have fun. Then I could relax. Then I’ll get my life back. Oh, in three weeks, then I’ll be happy”. And our life is right now. So I kind of turned it around and just found a way to enjoy the late nights, found a way to enjoy shipping quotes. And, I really have enjoyed it, even though it hasn’t always been fun. There’s something that’s been really enjoyable about it. But I think it’s really important because you will spend so much time doing things that scare you or frustrate you, that you have to find a way to not wish yourself into the future when you’re past this.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. So what advice would you give to a new inventor or entrepreneur? That’s looking to launch their product?

Fiona:
I would tell them to find a really good co-founder or two or three. There’s actually four of us, Aldean and Carrie are two other co-founders, we just drew the short straws to be on here. And Aldean and Beth are alike in a lot of ways. Carrie and I are sisters. So we’re alike in a lot of ways. And we balance each other out. And I keep thinking as we go through this process, “oh my God, imagine I was doing this alone”. I wouldn’t do it. And maybe that’s why it took me so long because everybody came aboard this past year and it’s become so much better, so much easier. I would just say find some good co-founders or at least one.

Roy Morejon:
Nice. So what would you say are the top three skills that you think every entrepreneur needs to be successful?

Fiona:
Definitely, perseverance. You have to keep calling even when they don’t call you back, et cetera. Patience, because everything takes longer than you think it will. And then you just have to be okay with uncertainty because you have to find a way to be okay with not knowing because there is so much unknown. Even when you do all your research, even when you do everything right. There’s just so much unknown.

Roy Morejon:
Patience, persistence, problem solving. I love all of these things. Last question Fiona in the launch round. And I know the campaign just launched, but definitely want to hear insights in terms of what does the future of crowdfunding look like to you?

Fiona:
I think there’s going to be a lot more women. When we were approaching marketing agencies, talking to them, interviewing them for this project. We met a lot who said, “oh, this is great. I was just doing reverse squats in my garage. I could have totally used this product”. But projects that are directed or geared towards women just don’t do as well because there’s less women on Kickstarter. And that surprised us. We didn’t realize it was that much of a difference between men and women. So I think more women are going to get involved and I think that’s going to be really exciting. Women like to support other women. So I think it’s a really great platform for women.

Roy Morejon:
Yeah, no, I definitely think we need more women. Not only just in the crowdfunding and in the making space, but the VC side of things, the investment space, all of that.

Fiona:
Absolutely.

Roy Morejon:
So yeah, I definitely agree. Well, this has been amazing. Fiona and Beth, this is both your opportunities to give our audience your pitch, tell people what you’re all about, where people should go and why they should check you out.

Fiona:
Come on, Beth. You take it.

Beth:
Well, yes. So it’s our MAAT 1.0 legging. It’s our patent pended performance yoga legging with built-in knee padding designed to protect your knee. Every time you put it down, whether you’re working out, around the house, gardening, whatever it is, without being bulky or restricting movement. It’s functional, but it’s also very fashionable and just come out and support some women by women for women made in the USA, all kinds of good things.

Roy Morejon:
Indeed all kinds of good things. Indeed. This was amazing.

Roy Morejon:
Audience, thanks again for tuning in. Make sure to visit artofthekickstart.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 ProductHype. And if you love this episode as much as I did make sure to leave us a review on iTunes.

Roy Morejon:
Fiona and Beth. Thank you again so much for joining us today on art of the kickstart.

Beth:
Thank you for having us.

Roy Morejon:
Thanks [crosstalk 00:28:47].

Beth:
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.