How important is consumer trust when you are launching a new product? While some organizations may overlook this factor, the ones that find early success often work hard at securing consumer trust. My guest today is business leader and serial entrepreneur, Nishant Kapoor. With over a decade of experience in ecommerce and startups in the UK, India and Hong Kong, Nishant thrives in helping entrepreneurs and businesses build long-term, direct-to-consumer relationships using ecommerce and digital marketing. In our conversation, we discuss his recent success in helping to roll out the Quilo Fan, why consumer trust is so important, how Quilo was able to get fully funded on Kickstarter, lessons learned along the way, and much more! You don’t want to miss a minute of this engaging episode!  

What it takes to secure consumer trust.

One of the most important aspects of securing consumer trust is to deliver your product in the right timing. As many businesses have found out, this truth is often easier said than done. For Nishant Kapoor and his team at Quilo, delay wasn’t an option. They worked hard to get the Quilo Fan shipped and in the hands of their buyers as quickly as possible because their success depended on it. They knew that if the fan arrived in the winter or cooler months, their customers wouldn’t have the chance to use it and enjoy its amazing benefits. As difficult as the effort may have been to get the product into the hands of buyers so quickly, the result ended up paying huge dividends in consumer trust and positive word of mouth. To hear more about the role of consumer trust in Quilo’s story, make sure to listen to this episode!

How to get fully funded on Kickstarter.

What does it take to get a campaign fully funded on Kickstarter? Is it just dumb luck or are there strategic steps innovators and businesses can take to get their product in the best position to succeed? According to Nishant Kapoor, one of the most important things they did at Quilo was to reach out to influencers and bloggers asking them to promote their campaign, no matter the audience size. This strategy seemed to work out for Nishant and his team, they were able to get massive exposure and put out a quality product at just the right time to earn consumer trust. Make sure to listen to this episode as Nishant expands on this topic and more!

The value of focusing on branding and audience early on.

What are some of the common mistakes made by many innovators who are looking to bring a new tech product to the marketplace? While there may be many common mistakes with creating the product and testing it, Nishant Kapoor says that most mistakes are made when it comes to branding and considering who the target audience will be. In our conversation, Nishant was kind enough to open up about how Quilo was able to hone in on their target audience and execute a streamlined and focused branding approach. The idea of identifying and marketing to a target audience seems so simple but Nishant is convinced that too many innovators miss this critical step. Learn more from Nishant’s expert perspective on this informative episode!

How scouring Amazon reviews can help you create an innovative product.

Did you know that one of the best ways to research and identify a great product that will succeed in the marketplace is by scouring Amazon reviews? It’s true! The best part about this practice is that it doesn’t cost you a dime, you just have to be willing to put in the time and effort to conduct the research. Where else can innovators and entrepreneurs go to get honest and critical feedback on a wide range of products and categories? On this episode, you’ll hear from Nishant Kapoor as he shares how the team at Quilo was able to mine Amazon reviews on similar fans and use that info to create a product that has wide appeal. You don’t want to miss this inspiring and engaging episode!

Key Takeaways

  • [1:10] Nishant Kapoor tells the story of Quilo Fan and how it started.
  • [4:00] Challenges encountered when developing the Quilo Fan.
  • [6:00] What enabled Quilo to get their campaign fully funded on Kickstarter?
  • [7:30] The benefit of earning consumer trust early on.
  • [10:00] Shipping tips from Nishant.
  • [11:30] Lessons learned from launching a successful crowdfunding campaign.
  • [14:00] Why it’s important to think about your audience and branding early on.
  • [16:30] Nishant enters the Launch Round.
  • [19:00] How to connect with Quilo.

Links

Connect With Quilo

Sponsors

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Connect With the Art Of The Kickstart team

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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. 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.

Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today I am joined by Nishant Kapoor, the business director at Quilo. Nishant, thank you so much for joining us today.

Nishant Kapoor:
Thank you, Roy. Great to be here.

Roy Morejon:
So, you guys ran a campaign for the Quilo fan, which is a really cool air cooler, humidifier, really interesting technology. Sold it, shipped it, now you guys are selling on Amazon. Let’s back up and kind of tell our audience, where did this all start? What was the inspiration for Quilo?

Nishant Kapoor:
We actually, in our company, are a team of product designers and engineers, working for other consumer product companies, building products for the consumer product companies. And this was sort of our first own brand, and we had certain technology insights, especially around airflow and the type of motor. And we had some consumer insight around kind of evaporative cooling technology, that review. So we actually wanted to put that into a product, and that’s, and have our own product, and our own brand out there. So that’s how this journey started, I would say, about a couple of years ago.

Roy Morejon:
Interesting. So you guys had hundreds of backers, tens of thousands of pledges. But when you guys were creating Quilo, what was that process like? I mean, how did you go about deciding what features to include in the designs, and what consumers were looking for?

Nishant Kapoor:
So I think consumer insider, consumer researchers actually, thanks to the internet and especially thanks to Amazon, become fairly easy. You don’t have to invest in focus groups and consumer insight organizations. You can actually just read through Amazon reviews, and especially the middle reviews, the two star, three star, four star reviews, to get a lot of meat, a lot of insight into your product category. And that’s the insight that we used as part of our product development process, as well as for how we positioned our benefits in the Kickstarter campaign.

Roy Morejon:
Interesting. So you went and looked at it, other humidifiers or air, or wind blowers, and basically saw some of the positive, and it looks like focusing more on the negative feedback, of what consumers were wanting. And then took that, and built a product around it.

Nishant Kapoor:
Exactly. And this product specifically, which is evaporative cooling, is also known as swamp coolers, right? So one of the parts of the technology in this product. And swamp coolers have a few big pain point, especially around their noise levels, and also around because there’s water, and then that creates a smell. So there’d be a odor problem. And our product actually solved those problems, and that’s why actually we decided, we haven’t called it a swamp cooler, we’ve called it a fan with an evaporative cooler and humidifier. So again, these were the insights we had.

So the technology is not something that’s brand new, but there’s improvements in the technology and the application of it that’s fairly new.

Roy Morejon:
Were there any challenges that you guys encountered when designing this product?

Nishant Kapoor:
So there were a few challenges. We wanted to create, actually we wanted to create a smaller product, but we found that we couldn’t get effective air flow or effective cooling, so this product is as small as we think it can get, still while delivering cooling, air flow and cooling, humidification, and back for a small to mid-sized room. And to be able to get that sort of air flow out of that, to be a lot of iterations in the engineering, and the fan blow technology, to be able to get that kind of air flow we have from this size of product. So one of the feedback we received, is that we actually do have pretty good air flow, it doesn’t look like this kind of, this size product will give that kind of air flow.

So I think the major design challenge was around how do you put all that power in a fairly small unit, without creating noise?

Roy Morejon:
Right. So before you guys ever launched your crowdfunding campaign, and the research that you did on Amazon, were there any additional research tips you would give in deciding and finding your target market or audience?

Nishant Kapoor:
So one thing that I would do differently for our next campaign, would be to actually reach out to maybe 20 or 30 beta testers, and say, “You know what? Use our product, and give us feedback,” and then do one round of sort of iteration on the product, before we actually put the product in the market. So one of the benefits of putting it out in Kickstarter was we got a lot of early feedback, because we delivered within three, three and a half months. We got a lot of early feedback, which we’ve now put in the second version of the product that’s going out on Amazon. But we could have avoided that if we’d actually put 20 units in the hand of some beta testers.

And that would have given us some early traction on Kickstarter as well.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. Now we always talk to founders who launch campaigns, about how important the month or two leading up to their launch is. What did you do that you can point out to our audience that you did prior to launching, to put yourself in a good position to get the campaign fully funded?

Nishant Kapoor:
So, I think we reached out to a lot of publications that were featuring products in our category, and making a pitch to them with our tentative launch date to say, “We’d love to work with you, would you be able to publish something within the first 24 hours of our launch?” And I think that process, reaching out to people engaging via email, with bloggers, influencers, no matter the size of the audience. Right? I mean, as long as they have some, I think the size doesn’t matter, but the quality of the audience or the quality of the engagement. So as long as it seemed to us from their website, or from their social media presence, that they have an engaged audience, we just reached out.

And that was pretty much the only thing, yeah. Well, because we didn’t have a mailing list, right? And I tried to build a mailing list with Facebook ads onto a landing page, and the cost of those leads was quite high, and I wasn’t sure, and we didn’t have much time leading up to the campaign. So I think for us this process of reaching out to influencers, was probably the one that was effective.

Roy Morejon:
Certainly. Yeah, and I know we certainly helped, jumped in into the campaign, and helped boost and promote where we could. Outside of all of that, it was very interesting, because you’re one of the few campaigns, one, that I have the product sitting in my office, and I use it almost every day. And two, that you guys were able to ship so fast, and earn the consumers’ trust so early. Do you think that was one of your competitive advantages to the campaign being so successful?

Nishant Kapoor:
Actually, yeah. And I think we consciously sort of wanted to launch the campaign in a way that we would be able to deliver a product that’s primarily for summer use, before the end of summer. And that’s why we sort of tried to crunch the timelines, because it’s a seasonal product. If we’d missed another month, then you’d go into winter, and then the earliest time our backers would be able to use the product would be the next summer. So that was sort of an artificial constraint that before it gets really cold, we have to get the product in our backers’ hands. Otherwise it’s a year later. Then that’s too long.

And because we couldn’t do too long, we had to do too short. And then, so we had to work backwards with the factory, and actually make up an earlier production run commitment, even before we started the Kickstarter campaign.

Roy Morejon:
Interesting. Yeah, I know that was one of the Coolest Cooler’s biggest downfalls, was when he ran his original campaign and failed, he ran it in the winter, thinking consumers would have the foresight that the product would be delivered during the summer months. But relaunch it during the pain point months of when people wanted to go out and use their cooler, and blender, and what have you. And then sought greater success. So certainly timing with a seasonal product, if you will, like this, certainly helped, when it was top of mind and tip of tongue, for some of the consumers.

Nishant Kapoor:
So if you look at Noria, which is another very successful campaign in terms of at least the campaign pledges, I don’t think they’ve been able to ship yet. But they did a seven digit campaign across Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and it was a cooling or air conditioning product that they launched in peak summer. So I think you should, you could even reverse that. You could deliver in the winter, as long as you run the campaign in the summer, when people are feeling the pain.

Roy Morejon:
Exactly. Yeah, and we definitely worked on that campaign as well and saw, again, similar sentiments from the consumers, where when they’re having that pain point, it’s critical to have that product out there. Shipping and delivery, that’s something I think a lot of repeat Kickstarter backers or veteran backers, if you will, understand how long it can take to get a product to market. But once they know that they’ve ordered it during that time of year, can be certainly satisfactory once it finally does come, and they may be able to use it in that next hot season.

Nishant Kapoor:
Exactly.

Roy Morejon:
So do you have any shipping tips that you would give to our other crowdfunding campaigns or entrepreneurs, looking to launch products, and ship and deliver quickly?

Nishant Kapoor:
Yes. One of the tips that I mentioned, was trying to get your product in the hands of 15 or 20 earlier beta test is, of course it depends on whether you have the working capital to be able to do that. But I think that’s a phenomenal investment of your limited capital, is to get 20 units out there in the hands of potential backers. And not only get feedback from them, but also get a sense. Because what you want to do, one of the things you want to do to deliver quickly, because production lead times are what they are, is to order a batch even before you start the campaign. Because your campaign’s gonna run for 30-45 days, at best 60 days.

So if you want to deliver quickly, you want to be able to actually not wait until the end. Or maybe even in the beginning of the campaign, based on the kind of traction you’re getting, place that order with the factory. I think that’s the only way you can actually get the product out there. The problem is that when a lot of backers start working with the factories, once they receive the campaign funds, one of the big challenges that comes up then is what works for prototype, may not work for a mass production run. There’s different challenges to a mass production run.

So even trying to do 20 units, or 50 units in a factory, will give you a lot of, will throw up a lot of issues up front, that you could avoid later, that would avoid those delays. So just trying to get into the production cycle earlier if possible.

Roy Morejon:
Certainly.

Nishant Kapoor:
That’s the only thing, I mean, you can do.

Roy Morejon:
So what’s the biggest thing that you’ve learned through the whole process of launching your first Kickstarter campaign?

Nishant Kapoor:
A couple of things. One, a lot of people trip themselves up when they think about Kickstarter saying, “Our product is not that ground-breaking,” or, “It’s not that innovative,” or, “It’s not that differentiated.” It doesn’t have to be. It has to be, if you think about crowdfunding, you have to be passionate about your project. Even if it’s, there’s something there that’s unique. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering new rocket ship, etc. So even if it’s not a very differentiated product, consider crowdfunding because it gives you a lot of attention, and a lot of PR.

So let’s say you wanted to just get into product development and eCommerce, and launch a brand. And you never thought of crowdfunding. That crowdfunding gives you such a boost in terms of ground launch. It gives you publicity, it gives you PR. That’s, I’m now thinking that every time I launch a product, or every time I launch a new, you have to go down the crowd, the Kickstarter or Indiegogo route. Build an audience, get that early feedback, get that early traction, get the PR. So I think it’s incredibly important to not discount that.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. So what was the biggest surprise during the Kickstarter campaign for you?

Nishant Kapoor:
Actually, so funnily enough, and we went in thinking, having read all the Kickstarter articles and books, where they say you can’t rely on the Kickstarter audience. And therefore you have to do everything to drive backers and traffic to your page, from outside the Kickstarter ecosystem. And then of course, I’m sure bringing inventors on had something to do with this, but we actually did end up getting a lot of backers from within the Kickstarter ecosystem, which was a pleasant surprise, which was we were sort of not planning for that. We were thinking of how, we were getting …

And because of those, we actually hit our minimum fairly quickly. So that was a pleasant surprise. But there are still backers and passionate backers within the Kickstarter ecosystem that will find your project. Especially if it’s a well-presented project.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. Yeah, I think you guys had more than two-thirds of the backers actually be returning backers from the campaign, which is always good. And then it’s always really interesting to bring in the new backers, right? Like, the first timers who get to pledge on something, and then hopefully stay in the ecosystem, and continue to support other entrepreneurs launching products that are out there.

Nishant Kapoor:
Absolutely.

Roy Morejon:
So what advice, Nishant, would you give to someone else looking to crowdfund their tech product?

Nishant Kapoor:
Start early. Start thinking of your audience, and your positioning, and your branding, early on. A lot of people when they think about a tech product, they are so in much in love with the product, that they’re not thinking about their audience, and they’re not thinking about their brand. So, and brand and audience go hand in hand, because your product is something that you want to have some sort of mind share in a specific audience. So thinking early on about who your audience is, how you’re gonna serve them with your product, and what your brand is, and what your positioning statement is, early on, will help you.

And then use that to start building an audience, I think that would be something I would definitely do, spend more time on going forward.

Roy Morejon:
So you had mentioned that you guys may be doing another crowdfunding campaign. What’s the next product roll-out for you guys?

Nishant Kapoor:
It’s something fairly interesting. This kind of product’s actually not out there, unlike our earlier version, which is a new take on an existing technology. This is actually a completely new application, so. This is an outdoor air conditioner, and the challenge is, how do you, because when you look at an air conditioner, they have to be indoor because you have a compressor in them that creates cold air on one side, and lets hot air out the other side. So you need a vent for the hot air to go, so you need them to be in a window, or have some sort of piping, or have a unit that’s outside, that’s throwing the heat outside, and bringing you the cold air inside.

Now when you take an air conditioning unit and you put it in the outdoor, and you have a compressor that creates cooling, and then there’s hot air going out the other end, how do you manage that in a situation and still do effective cooling? Now, there are a couple of similar Kickstarter campaigns. One of them is Zero Breeze, which is this portal air conditioner. Which is still sort of a horizontal unit, where you have cold air on one side and hot air out the other side. But those are portable ones used specifically for battery power, which you use for camping, etc.

So these ones that we’re sort of building, our product, working on the first first version of the prototype, are for your sort of, to sit by your barbecue for your patio or your outdoor use. That, but provide much better cooling than a fan or an evaporative cooler. And we’re hoping to have the first prototypes by next month, so we can start planning our next summer, our Kickstarter campaign. But these are not gonna be delivered within three months, these are possibly gonna be like a six to eight month delivery timeline, because it’s completely new.

Roy Morejon:
Impressive. All right, Nishant. This gets us into our launch round, where I’m gonna rapid fire a handful of questions at you. You good to go?

Nishant Kapoor:
Ready.

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

Nishant Kapoor:
Funnily enough I wanted to be an entrepreneur to be able to build the kind of organization that I would love to work in. So my inspiration was not to build a product, or sell a product, or build a business, it was more to build the kind of organization that I think should exist, and that I’d want to work in. So that inspiration.

Roy Morejon:
So if you could grab a beer with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?

Nishant Kapoor:
I would love to sit down with the founders of 37signals or Basecamp. There’s another entrepreneur called Derek Sivers, who started a business called C.D. Baby, and sold it a few years later, and donated all the proceeds to charity. And he’s written a book called, “Anything You Want.” So these would be the entrepreneurs I’d love to catch a drink with.

Roy Morejon:
So if you met the founder, Jason at Basecamp, what would be your first question for him?

Nishant Kapoor:
Oh. How do they find so much time, and so much passion, to educate the community about product development, software development, running an organization? I mean, that’s what I find incredible about that company, is that they are just so engaged in giving back their time to the community in terms of just educating them. And so transparently about how they develop products, and how they build organizations. So do they, I don’t, how do they find the time and the passion to do that, and run such a successful profitable business at the same time?

Roy Morejon:
What’s your favorite book?

Nishant Kapoor:
Okay, favorite business book? I think, these days, I’m reading an old classic. “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding.” And it’s such an eye-opener, and I wish I’d read it earlier in my entrepreneurial career.

Roy Morejon:
Interesting, haven’t seen that one. Last question, Nishant. What does the future of crowdfunding look like?

Nishant Kapoor:
I think it’s gonna get more and more democratized. And when I mean more democratized, I mean, you have platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, but then I would see things like the Blockchain and tokens, enabling entrepreneurs to go directly to their audiences. And therefore not have to depend on the big platforms. So I just think it’s gonna get more fragmented and more democratized, and easier.

Roy Morejon:
Well, Nishant. This has been awesome. Please give our audience your pitch, tell everybody what you’re all about, where people should go, and why they should check you out.

Nishant Kapoor:
Thank you, Roy. Fantastic talking to you as always. I think our audience should go and check out quilohome.com, where we’re trying to build our products that improve the quality of the air in your home, as well as create a website that educates people about our product development process, and our thought process behind our organization culture, and our customer service culture.

Roy Morejon:
Excellent. Audience, thanks again for tuning in. Make sure to visit artofthekickstart.com for all the show notes, the full transcript, links to everything we talked about today. And of course thank you to our crowdfunding podcast sponsors, the Gadget Flow and BackerKit. And of course, if you loved this episode, please leave us a review on iTunes. Nishant, thank you so much for joining us today on Art of the Kickstart.

Nishant Kapoor:
Thank you, Roy.

Roy Morejon:
Thanks for tuning in to another episode of Art of the Kickstart, a 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 a 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.