In this episode of Art of the Kickstart, we interviewed David Mills, CEO and Inventor of the Monkee Mount. Monkee Mount is an innovative hands-free massage gun holder compatible with all massage guns except the PureWave by PADO and the Theragun Mini. ​It’s easy to use and can be used anywhere, making it perfect for travelers. The Monkee Mount attaches to just about anything 4 inches wide. Learn how the Monkee Mount team has fully funded their Kickstarter campaign and started their Indiegogo InDemand campaign with the support of over 1,600 backers.

Topics Discussed and Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • How Mills’ background and previous company influenced the Monkee Mount
  • Monkee Mount’s team dynamic and various roles others hold
  • Post-Kickstarter Success and how it led to Indiegogo InDemand
  • Branding insight and how “Monkee Mount” got its name
  • Pre-campaign prep work that led to the launch of their Kickstarter campaign

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. 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 Product Hype, 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, Art of the Kickstart. Today, I’m super stoked because I am speaking with the CEO in the inventor of the Monkee Mount Mr. David Mills. And if you haven’t already, jump on the web google Monkee Mount check out his product, because likely when you guys are hearing this episode, the campaign likely will be finished on Kickstarter, but we’re going to be heading over to Indiegogo InDemand. And if you haven’t seen it already, Monkee Mount is the truly innovative hands, free massage gun holder. And I know everybody listening likely has one of these amazing percussive massage devices, but cannot reach those tough spots. And David has created a solution to this with over 1,500 backers, over $90,000 in funding with just a week left on Kickstarter. Mr. David Mills, thank you so much for gracing us on Art of the Kickstart today.

David Mills :
Thanks Roy, thanks for having us. And I just want to caveat Monkee is spelt with two Es and not a Y when you do that search.

Roy Morejon:
The Monkee Mount. So David let’s jump in and talk to our audience a little bit about your background and what’s led you to becoming an entrepreneur.

David Mills :
Yes, please go ahead. Or you want me to just go straight into [crosstalk 00:02:14] the background?

Roy Morejon:
… Buddy, this is about you.

David Mills :
Yeah. I mean, my background is I used to be in the military, that was the start of my career in the United Kingdom. I transitioned from that into personal training when I left, ended up moving from the UK to Aspen, Colorado of all places. So just happened to be where my wife lived and I got to move out there. Started working as a personal trainer, came across some really awesome guys, who were doing some really great things, a couple of other inventors in the space. My partner in the business actually invented the TRX Rip Trainer, which wasn’t the TRX Rip Trainer at the time, but they were then acquired by TRX. So as I was working as a personal trainer, I was constantly kind of looking at the space and trying to figure out what products and what needs there might be? And I didn’t want to work as a personal trainer for the rest of my life, as much as I love helping people, I wanted to be able to kind of reach a large audience and do something that challenged me a little further.

David Mills :
And I actually launched a previous company and a previous product called the Vibe Hex Pro Roller, we still sell that, it’s still on the market. And during that process of developing that product and that business, I came up with the idea for the Monkee Mount. I saw clients, and saw people, and experienced it myself was like, “I love these massage guns, but I really can’t get that spot in the middle of my back that hurts the most right now. And I don’t want to get on the floor and use my roller.” So I was going and asking my wife to do it for me and she was pretty much like, it’s kind of funny she’s doing it for me, but then she’s either pressing it too hard or not hard enough or not getting that right spot.

David Mills :
As I thought more and more about the idea of creating something that allowed you to attach a massage gun onto some kind of mount, it made a lot of sense to me. And this journey started probably two and a half years ago now, where we first… My initial designs were very different to what we ended up developing. We must have done 20 iterations of this product, every time something came back to me from working with my designer, it was like, “Okay, let’s make this better.” Which seems like a lot for what seems like a simple product, but we really wanted to make that user experience as seamless as possible. So once we finally got this thing completed, that it’s going to be the best product that it can be, and that’s where it’s at right now. So we’re moving forwards with the manufacturing and really excited to hopefully get this thing on the market come February.

Roy Morejon:
Well, it’s an amazing product. I’m a big fan of the percussion devices themselves, but not a big fan of all those hard to reach spots on the back, at lower back, upper back, all those spots that you just can’t can’t get. And I think this problem obviously solves all of that. So first off I got to ask, what led you to coming up with the name Monkee Mount for this product?

David Mills :
Branding is a tough game, and I think I learned from experience, my first product I started with the pulse peanut. And very quickly I learned that that was a little bit sexual, so very quickly got rid of that name. So I went through quite a lot of experience of trying to name products, so I wanted to find something that was a little bit edgy, that kind of represented something that was a little bit fun, which I want my brand to be. But essentially it’s kind of like a monkey holding onto a tree, there’s an element of that in it too, that’s then holding your massage gun. So that was kind of part of the inspiration for Monkee Mount as the name, and then Mount just to keep it nice and simple. So yeah, that’s kind of how that came to be.

Roy Morejon:
I’m always a big fan of alliteration as my team knows. So let’s talk about your team, what’s your current setup there? How do you guys all work together or is it just one man band?

David Mills :
A lot of it is myself in terms of the founding elements, I do have a partner Bill Fabrocini, but his main role is connecting me with certain individuals and provide educational content. So as we push out educational content in the future, he’s the guy that knows everything about the body. And he’s a personal trainer as well as a physical therapist and he works with some of the greatest. He works with athletes and some really great guys here in Aspen. In terms of the rest to the team, I have my designer, his name is Garrett Williams, really great guy. He has really guided me through this process in terms of taking care of a lot of the technical details, all of the technical drawings and elements that are needed in order to actually create a product from scratch. So he is a very important member of my team.

David Mills :
And outside of that, we’re actually working with the Enventys team. They’re a Kickstarter crowdfunding agency, and they’re actually handling a lot of the other elements. I’ve worked by hiring individual people for each of the different roles in the past, but by far working with the Enventys, guys has been amazing. They have everybody that you need to take care of all the marketing, all the design work, and it’s a lot easier to just work with them than trying to do it all yourself.

Roy Morejon:
I totally get that and obviously big kudos to my team working on the project. I mean, you’ve been working with us for a while now. What were some of those considerations when you were looking to choose an agency to partner with on this innovation?

David Mills :
It was really like looking for companies that had a good track record. I looked through some of the Kickstarters that I liked, that resonated with me and basically looked at who did those. And I liked the professionalism in they way they came across and redo handles sales, did a really good job, and was a really nice and approachable guy. So yeah, this wasn’t the only company that I had had talked with, I talked through multiple companies and Enventys was the one that stood out.

Roy Morejon:
Amazing. So let’s talk a little bit of about the prep work leading up to the crowdfunding campaign. But before I even ask that question, what was your first experience with crowdfunding? And what made you choose crowdfunding as a means to launch this innovation with?

David Mills :
Yeah, there’s a couple of companies that really caught my attention in this space, in the recovery space and I’d seen their success that they’d had. I’m not going to mention them because I don’t want to give them some free advertising. But they’d hit over a million dollars on their Kickstarter campaigns and it was just like fascinated that’s as crazy as it can go just based on a pre-sales campaign. So I really liked the idea and the main thing for me is it was really a great opportunity to get product validation. I could have put this product into production and start it from scratch, straight onto sales from my website, but to get that validation in such a way that we have with 1,500 plus backers on a pre-sale is really good. And it shows me that this product is worth pursuing, especially before you go spend in a $100,000 on inventory and you don’t have a customer. That’s the way I did it in the past, and so this made a lot more sense in a way to do it moving forwards.

Roy Morejon:
Nice. So now let’s dive into a little bit of the prep work leading up to the crowdfunding campaign. What did that look like to basically get your campaign launched in such a successful position and continue to bring in backers today?

David Mills :
The most important thing for me and the things that stood out on campaigns that I saw that were successful was the media, was the video and imagery, and making it a little bit more fun. The ones that for me, I was seeing that seemed to earn the most money, get the most backers. They were really kind of fun and innovative and they didn’t take it too seriously in the videos. And I worked with a really great crew out of California who came and shot my video, we actually cut a lot of scenes out. It was like six minutes long at one point, so there’s a ton of outtakes that we can put on our YouTube channel in the future.

David Mills :
But that was the kind of big part on my end, was getting all that right, getting it all looking as good as it can be, and then allowing the agency Enventys to then put those puzzle pieces all into place. And there was a lot of work that went into the pre-campaign too, so we did about an 8 to 10 week pre-campaign, and that process was a lot of email collection, a lot of early advertising getting our ads dialed in so that once we hit the Kickstarter, we were ready to go. And I think we really achieved that, we hit a real good first two, three days, and a lot of that pre-work had been very effective.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. Yeah, hitting the funding goal on day one is always exciting and hopefully let you sleep a little bit easier after all that prep work, right?

David Mills :
Oh, for sure. It’s a good validation.

Roy Morejon:
So likely when our listeners are listening to this, as I mentioned, the campaign will be over on Indiegogo InDemand. What kind of led you to go that route in terms of post Kickstarter success?

David Mills :
I just wanted to keep the momentum going. We’ve got another two to three months until inventory’s ready to ship and we can start selling through our website. So an opportunity to continue putting this in front of an audience and getting the pre-sales, and keeping the buzz going and keeping the men momentum going was what I was looking for. So transitioning over and continuing to work with the team on trying to get those pre-sales was kind of key, so we don’t see that low.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. So what’s been the biggest surprise of the Kickstarter campaign so far for you?

David Mills :
Maybe the kind of initial hit of sales, I really didn’t think that it would hit so big so quickly, that surprised me. And also, we kept a really good pace on our sales throughout the campaign, up until this point. So just really also really exceeding our fundraising goals too. There was definitely an internal number that I had in my head that would’ve been a great success and I far exceeded that, so I was very surprised to see it working so well.

Roy Morejon:
Amazing. Well, David, this has been awesome. But now we’re going to get into the launch round where I’m going to rapid fire a handful of questions at you. You good to go?

David Mills :
Sure. Yeah.

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

David Mills :
I mean, working as a personal trainer and living in Aspen, there’s not a lot of work opportunities outside of the tourism and hospitality space. So essentially I just wanted to get out and draw upon my experience from the military and use that to create and run my own business.

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

David Mills :
It would have to be Richard Branson.

Roy Morejon:
Branson. All right. So what would be your first question for Sir. Branson?

David Mills :
Well, one of my favorite sayings from him is, “Find people better than you and get out of their way.” I always struggle to find those really good people, not saying that there’s hard to find people better than me, but it’s really tough finding the best people in their space. So I’d love to ask him, how he does that? How can I better find those people?

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

David Mills :
Yeah, I love the E Myth. If you’re going to start a business, the lesson that it teaches is the mistake that everyone makes when they first try setting up a business, which is essentially trying to do everything themselves. And then it kind of talks you through how to actually set it up and what your goal should be. And it’s just a really good book, it’s a little older, but it’s a good one.

Roy Morejon:
Definitely. Yeah, one of those solid ones that keeps giving. What advice would you give to a new inventor or entrepreneur that’s looking to launch their product?

David Mills :
Everything’s going to cost three times as much as you think it’s going to, and take three times as long.

Roy Morejon:
Pretty sound advice there. What about one invention that’s made your life easier during the pandemic?

David Mills :
Actually has to be the Monkee Mount. It’s just game-changing for getting all that tension out, and being able to do that hands free. And not being able to get out and see a masseuse during the crazy parts of the pandemic. So, yeah.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. All right. Last question, David, and I know this is your first campaign, but still interested to hear your take on what does the future of crowdfunding look like?

David Mills :
Yeah, I mean, I just think it’s a great way to validate products. And I think for anyone looking to get a product into the space, it’s so smart to get that feedback and have customers before you do anything else. So it’s just such an amazing tool for that. If you’ve got something that you thinks a good idea, get it on there and see how customers respond.

Roy Morejon:
That’s right. Go launch it. Well, David, this has been amazing. 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 you out.

David Mills :
Yeah. I mean, you guys have got to get over to Indiegogo, check out the Monkee Mount. Every single person that I walk up to in the street like, “Hey, what do you do?” I was like, “I created this really cool product.” They’re like, “Oh my God, I have a massage gun, I 100% need that. My wife never does it for me.” Or some of the other guys are like, “Hey, I’m single. That’s perfect for me, I don’t even have a wife or a girlfriend.”

David Mills :
And from experience of getting on the product, it just feels so much better than trying to massage yourself. I love to surf, I love to ski, I’m super active, and it really makes me actually use a massage gun way more than I would typically. So I know most inventors are going to be like, “Hey, my product is awesome, but I really feel this actually serves a genuine need and enhances the user experience for anyone with a massage gun.” So don’t take my word on it, get yourself one and test it out for yourself, and if you don’t like it, feel free to send it back.

Roy Morejon:
That’s right, I’ll take it. But no, you definitely created an amazing product, David. Thank you so much for joining us on the show, audience thanks for tuning in. Make sure to visit ArtoftheKickstart.com for the notes, transcript, links to the campaign, wherever it ends up. And of course, I got to thank our crowdfunding podcast sponsors at the Gadget Flow and Product Hype. David, thank you so much for joining us today on Art of the Kickstart.

David Mills :
Thank you, Roy for having me.

Roy Morejon:
Thanks for tuning into another amazing episode of Art of Kickstart, the show about building a better business world in 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.