We interviewed Oscar Chang of ALCHEMA, a kitchen device that makes it easy to brew craft cider at home. Tune into this episode to learn more about why you need to pick a manufacturer early, how to line up journalists to cover your Kickstarter project and how crowdfunding can help you get in with big box retailers.

ALCHEMA: Turn Fruit into Personalized Craft Cider

Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • How long product development actually takes
  • How working with an accelerator can help you take your product to market
  • How to build a buzz around your project through events and exhibitions
  • How to get journalists interested in your product when you can’t meet with them in person
  • How to decide between launching on Kickstarter and Indiegogo
  • Why you need to pick a manufacturer and shipping partner early in the product development process

Links

Connect with ALCHEMA

Sponsors

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Transcript

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Roy:

Welcome to Art of the Kickstart, your source for crowdfunding campaign success. I’m your host, Roy Morejon, president of Command Partners, the top full service crowdfunding marketing agency in the world. We have helped raise over seventy million dollars for our clients since 2010. Each week I’ll interview a crowdfunding success story, and inspirational entrepreneur, or a business expert in order to help take your startup to the next level with crowdfunding. Art of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by the Gadget Flow, a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save and buy awesome products. The Gadget Flow is the ultimate buyer’s guide for cool luxury gadgets and creative gifts. To learn more visit thegadgetflow.com. Let’s get on with the show.

Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today I’m joined by Oscar Chang with the Alchema device. Oscar, thank you so much for joining us.

Oscar:

Yeah, thank you. Thank you for inviting me.

Roy:

Alchema, the ability to turn fruit into a personalized craft cider. Tell me, where did this idea come from?

Oscar:

Okay, I always want to start my own company so I want to find a niche market, which is being [inaudible 00:01:19] by a big company. One day one of my friend’s mom want to home brew but always failed. You find out it’s a problem [inaudible 00:01:30] so we’re jumping to this problem and try to solve it.

Roy:

It’s truly impressive, I mean, the ability to … It’s almost as simple as making a pot of coffee except it takes a little bit longer, right?

Oscar:

Yeah.

Roy:

The product also has the ability to make wine. How have you guys, the process to get a working prototype and the development of this product itself? Talk about a little bit of how long it started and what the back story is there.

Oscar:

Okay. The whole process takes about almost two years from an idea to a working sample. At the beginning I learned how to home brew from a professor in the college. He host a class for beginners to learn how to home brew. My background is electronical engineering. I figure out what kind of sensor can detect parameters and I use this data to focus the brewing status. We used this idea to join a competition held by Taiwan government and we won championship. At a point I decide to set up a company to use the idea and launch a Kickstarter campaign. I need an expert who knows about home brew, so I recruit people who is graduated from Sheffield in England and his major is home brewing. He has two years working experience in breweries in UK.

After he joined us, he start to make lots of recipes and we do lots of tests and we build a working sample. We bring this working sample to USA to see how people react. We find out people really love this idea, but the original design doesn’t look good enough, so we kind of redesign it so it is how it looks like right now, to fit your kitchen.

Roy:

No, it’s a beautiful looking device on any kitchen counter. In terms of the preparations leading up to the campaign, I know you guys have been working with HAX, the hardware accelerator. What’s been your experience working with them?

Oscar:

The HAX program has two kinds of program. One is called HAX accelerator. Then it’s for people who only have ideas and don’t have working sample. For us we join HAX Boost, who has already a working sample but need connection to go into US market. We join HAX Boost, he tell us lot of term we need to know about retailers and how to make a good deal with retailers, and give us chance to meet buyers from Amazon, Target, Best Buy, and Brookstone. They love our ideas.

Roy:

No, I’m sure they do. We’ve worked with some major retailers as well in the crowdfunding side and it’s interesting the movement of new crowdfunded products into the market a little bit quicker now, especially once you have those working prototypes and can demo them for some of those larger, big box retailers. They’re always looking for the newest innovation, so it’s great that you’re going to be involved with them post crowdfunding.

Oscar:

Yeah.

Roy:

One of the biggest questions that we always get on our podcast is how do you build the crowd before the campaign? Obviously you guys hit … You fully funded your campaign within the first three days. You’ve done over three hundred thousand dollars with a little bit of time left in your campaign. What has been some of the initial work that you’ve done to build up that crowd, the anticipation of the launch, and having the campaign be overly successful?

Oscar:

Okay, we joined lots of exhibitions. We find people who are very interested about our products. We would ask them to subscribe our newsletter and we will ask them how to show our product to them in person and share how we brew to them to convince them. We actually can do that and how it takes really [inaudible 00:05:56]. We use the app called Meet Up a lot. We join lots of small meet up and show our product in person. That is our secret. That’s how we do it.

Roy:

I’m sure everyone wants a taste of the cider, right?

Oscar:

Yeah, absolutely.

Roy:

When you were on Meetup was that more on the west coast? Where you were going to different small meet ups and different accelerators or groups and showing the product off there? Were you presenting the product as a speaker?

Oscar:

Yeah, most of them is in west coast.

Roy:

Interesting.

Oscar:

We also joined some meet ups in Taiwan too before we go to USA.

Roy:

Excellent. Yeah, there’s a lot of impressive hardware coming out of Taiwan like Alchema. It’s very interesting. In terms of PR, when did you start reaching out to press and publications? Potentially were you showing the product off to them, doing desk side visits or demos? How did your PR work

Oscar:

We connect to press right before three weeks before our Kickstarter campaign. Because sometimes it is really hard to meet press in person, so we record a test demo video for them and we send this to the press. Press really are interested in England. They all reply our email. I would give them high resolution picture and do a video call and that’s it. Yeah.

Roy:

How did you first get introduced to some of the press you were reaching out to? Or were they simply cold emails?

Oscar:

Yeah, just simply cold emails. We tell them Alchema is a smart home brewing device that turns fruit into alcohol and we are come from Taiwan. We are ready to launch our Kickstarter campaign. Just give them a little bit background of us, and yeah. It works pretty well.

Roy:

New technology plus alcohol equals press hits. Is that the formula?

Oscar:

Yeah, I can say that.

Roy:

Excellent, excellent. How have you guys gone from balancing promoting your campaign with getting the product ready for manufacturing and shipping?

Oscar:

Yeah, we already have a partner who helped us to do the mass production and the shipping. It takes almost about six months to deal with that before our Kickstarter campaign, so we feel really confident. That’s why we launched a Kickstarter campaign.

Roy:

What made you choose a crowdfunding site to launch your project? Then the second question is what made you choose Kickstarter over Indiegogo?

Oscar:

We just do crowdfunding campaigns because we want to create awareness. If we don’t, people don’t know about us, it is really hard to convince them to buy it from online store or even [inaudible 00:09:06] retailers. We choose to do a crowdfunding campaign. We choose Kickstarter because lots of home brew related products raise more money in Kickstarter rather than Indiegogo.

Roy:

Interesting. What’s been the biggest surprise so far with the campaign?

Oscar:

Yeah, we reach our pledge goal within three days. That is really surprise me.

Roy:

I bet you that was pretty exciting watching that ticker go up with your team.

Oscar:

Yeah, I almost refresh the page every second.

Roy:

Yeah, it’s pretty fun. We’ve seen a lot of campaigns do that. What would you do differently if you were going to start this process over again?

Oscar:

I may launch our Kickstarter campaign later because right now some backers think the timeline takes too long for them. They need to wait almost a year to get a product. Yeah, so we need to convince them we are okay with that. There’s no trouble [inaudible 00:10:13] doing the waiting.

Roy:

Got it. What would be your biggest piece of advice for someone working on launching something on kickstarter?

Oscar:

Yeah, you definitely need to find manufacture partner and shipping partner before your Kickstarter campaign. Otherwise it will go wrong. If you raise money and tell them when you’re going to ship but you haven’t have a partner work with you, because if people don’t have experience with that, it will be easy to forecast the timeline incorrectly.

Roy:

Great advice, Oscar. That pre-campaign whether it be marketing or setting up partnerships is a critical misstep many clients miss out on and, of course, deliver late on their promises to their backers.

Oscar:

Yeah.

Roy:

Oscar, this gets us into our launch round where I rapid fire a few questions at you. Are you ready to go?

Oscar:

Yeah.

Roy:

You always said that you wanted to be an entrepreneur. What inspired you to do that?

Oscar:

Okay. Because I think if … I don’t just want to go to the big company. I want to create something different. Something that I built, not just an employee. Because I think I’m young I still have lots of opportunity, so if you want to build something for your own or change the world, you just be an entrepreneur and just do it.

Roy:

Good advice. If you could have a glass of your cider with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?

Oscar:

Okay. It would be pomegranate cider. I really love it and it tastes … I think it is my favorite. It would be awesome because it is super hard to buy this kind of flavor in local stores. You must create it by yourself.

Roy:

Who would you want to share it with?

Oscar:

I think it’s the CEO of Pebble.

Roy:

What would be your first question for your CEO?

Oscar:

First question to be the CEO. Are you willing to sacrifice your time to work rather than accompany your friends or lovers?

Roy:

Interesting. What business book or life book would you recommend to our listeners?

Oscar:

How to Start a Startup.

Roy:

Good read. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Oscar:

Five years. Alchema will be the largest home brewing platform and there is over two million home brewers on our website to discuss about recipes and I think we already [inaudible 00:13:24] and we start to build something … I start to take money to do something good to the society.

Roy:

Impressive goals. I like it. Last question. What do you think the future of crowdfunding looks like

Oscar:

The future of crowdfunding, I think it would be more … It would be less commercialized. Lots of people can, if they have an idea they can share their idea on the crowdfunding campaign site and raise some money to do it rather than you need to reach out lots of press and do lots of ads to raise money.

Roy:

That would be the hope, right Oscar? Listen, you’ve been awesome on the show. Please give our listeners your pitch. Tell us what you’re all about and where people should go and why they should go buy an Alchema.

Oscar:

Okay. Alchema is a smart home brewing device that turns fruit into alcohol and we are live on Kickstarter. We still have less than a week to go, so just go to there and bring one Alchema home so you can brew whatever you want with zero home brewing experience.

Roy:

Awesome. We’re definitely going to have one here at the office. Everyone, thank you again for tuning in. Again, make sure to visit ArtoftheKickstart.com for all of the show notes, the full transcript, links to the campaign, and everything that we talked about today. Oscar, thank you so much for joining us.

Oscar:

Yeah, thank you.

Roy:

Thanks for tuning in to another episode of Art of the Kickstart, the show about building a better business, world, and life with crowdfunding. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, be sure to visit ArtoftheKickstart.com and tell us about it. There you’ll find additional information about past episode and our Kickstarter guide to crushing it. If you’ve loved this episode, leave us a review at ArtoftheKickstart.com/itunes. It helps more inventors and entrepreneurs find the show and helps us get better guests on here to help build your business. If you need a more hands on crowdfunding strategy, please feel free to request a quote on commandpartners.com. Thanks again for tuning in. We’ll see you soon.