In this episode of Art of the Kickstart, we interviewed David Amaral and Dave Blaylock, the founders of NextScent. They introduced the idea of scent marketing to global brands in 2005 and have since developed patented scent systems and signature fragrances used by many of the most iconic brands, properties and small businesses worldwide.  NextScent now works to transform homes, businesses and brands with advanced air care and scent solutions that are safer, smarter, eco-friendly and more affordable for everyone. Learn how Amaral and Blaylock have differentiated NextScent from other similar products on the market.

Topics Discussed and Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • Amaral and Blaylock leverage their professional backgrounds in the creation of NextScent
  • How NextScent’s mission statement supports the company’s goals
  • What it’s like bringing an innovative air purification and fragrance system to market
  • Challenges the NextScent team faced while designing their innovation

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 Inventus Partners the world’s only turnkey product launch company that has helped over 2000 innovations successfully raise over 400 million dollars 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 of Art of the Kickstart. Today I am super excited because I am speaking with the founders of NextScent, Mr. David Amaral and Mr. Dave Blaylock. Gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us today on Art of the Kickstart.

David Amaral:
That’s a pleasure to join you, Roy. Thank you.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. So, I’m super excited about this product because this is a truly eco-friendly way to not only monitor, but also purify the air. And I think a lot of us that have been home during this pandemic have noticed that living home might not always be the nicest thing and we need to get out and get some fresh air. And the product that you guys have created, it just launched it’s already hit 50% of its funding goal, which is amazing. You guys have a very storied background in our industry vets that have introduced the idea of scent marketing to global brands for over a decade. So, if you would, give our audience a little bit of background about what led you to this point in creating this product.

David Amaral:
Well, this is David. I’ll start. Actually, I joined Dave Blaylock back in 2005 with a startup, another startup in Charlotte, ScentAir. At the time I think there was nine of us working on folding tables. And the idea really was to take a concept of diffusing fragrance into a large space and commercializing it to help companies use fragrance to increase their customer experience. Some of us were recruited from another Charlotte-area company called Musack which does the same thing for music. So, for the last 15 years or so, Dave and I have been helping develop fragrances and systems to deploy into commercial spaces like hotels and casinos and retail stores to diffuse fragrance to enhance their customer experience.

Roy Morejon:
So, I think I’ll never forget the moment I walked into a hotel in Vegas, probably close to a decade ago and was hit by this most amazing aromatic scent. It actually made me feel like I wanted to go gamble. And I think that was you guys doing that, right?

David Amaral:
Not only that Dave Blaylock probably did the installation on that property.

David Blaylock:
You remember what hotel that was?

Roy Morejon:
I want to say that was at the Aria.

David Blaylock:
Yep. We did the Aria. We actually created a fragrance specifically for that property.

Roy Morejon:
And it was an absolutely amazing experience. I went up to the front desk, I was like, “How do I buy this set?” And they sent me to this website and I looked through it all. I was like, it was like … Oh gosh, I forget what it was. It was like this bamboo Jasmine blend or something like that, that they had. And it was absolutely the most beautiful fragrance just for walking around and smelling it. It actually, it smelled like it really smelled like forcing me to go and gamble and feel excited and energized. And I think that’s obviously the technology that you guys come from in the background. So what’s led you now to creating your own product?

David Amaral:
Well, I think it was a couple things for Dave and I. So, we enjoyed the time at ScentAir. ScentAir was owned by several venture capital funds that kept getting flipped over every couple of years toward the end. And there were some things that we wanted to do that we couldn’t do. And as you know, when you’re kind of at a company from the startup you’re a little emotionally invested beyond just being financially and you’re not there just for the paycheck. We were excited about what we were doing, but there were some things that we thought we could do better and we never really had that chance.

David Amaral:
So, after the third buyout, we took our stock options and started looking for some other opportunities. We got back together a few years ago and said, “Hey, let’s do the things we didn’t get to do back then.” They were primarily three areas, for me anyway. Was one is I wanted to do it and incorporate air purification. As I mentioned in our Kickstarter video I really got introduced to poor air quality when I lived in Hong Kong, I moved out there for three years to help the company build their Asia Pacific office. It was really the first time I encountered it and became much more aware of it. I saw how it impacted my family. So, that was one thing I want to incorporate air purification.

David Amaral:
We also wanted to be much more environmentally friendly. It’s one of the things that Dave and I did not like about some of the technologies that we were deploying with ScentAir was that they were not the most, they weren’t landfill friendly. And why we try to do recycling programs throughout is that people just don’t do that. They’re going to throw it away or in that habit, particularly here in the United States.

David Amaral:
The third area was can we do it safer, both in terms of the technology, and more importantly with the fragrance itself. Fragrances are regulated a lot like water is. Tap water is fine to drink. It meets all the industry standards and it’s not going to harm you. But you can do a lot better than tap water. And we knew we could do a lot better with fragrances as well.

Roy Morejon:
So, in terms of bringing this innovation to market, obviously you guys have a wealth of knowledge in this space. Solving the problems that you guys are solving now, how has that potentially changed or guided you in terms of your north star and mission that you guys are working towards?

David Amaral:
Well, it’s been really the driving force. In fact, our mission statement, which is right on the wall right next to our front door in our lobby, really focuses on the fact that we want to do it safer, be environmentally responsible. And we also really wanted to develop a company that we’re not only loved by our customers, but we’re also inspiring for our staff as well. So we try to teach more of a holistic approach. And as we develop the product, that really was kind of the driving thing. We even have this conversation today is, is this as safe as we can make it?

David Amaral:
I was just having a long conversation earlier today with the fragrance house, which fragrances we can make that are a hundred percent biodegradable. That’s a big task because it does eliminate a lot of components that are typically used in certain fragrances. So, why the fragrance pallet might be a little bit less than we’d like, we’re really pushing the envelope there that really hasn’t been done before. So, those primary principles really been driving it. It’s been a challenge, but it’s also, it’s one that we kind of like overcoming that we can figure out, “Hey, we can make this safer. Or we can make this better.” This one will be biodegradable, or how do we do it, or what plastics do we have to use.

Roy Morejon:
If you would talk to our audience a little bit about this technology. We’ve seen air systems, or purifying systems, in people’s homes or on Kickstarter. We’ve seen a few of those. What makes your product different then the rest?

David Amaral:
I think, probably there two things. So, one is we’re incorporating air purification and scent at the same time. That’s not easy to do because typically air purifiers are taking things out of the air. So, that’s kind of a technical challenge that we’ve worked to overcome. The other one is we’re … One of the primary technologies that we’re launching on Kickstarter is dry evaporation, which actually Dave has an early patent going back to, I think, ’04, ’05, where you evaporate fragrance out of a substrate. And that’s a challenge, and it’s a challenge because when you infuse fragrance well into a substrate it’s really strong at the beginning. And over time it’s going to get weaker and weaker. So, we’ve developed some technologies to overcome that and make sure that that fragrance diffuses at a consistent output over the life of the cartridge. A lot of that work Dave has helped developed. And I’ll let him talk a little bit more about the first product, which was called a ScentWave, I think is what 80,000 of those deployed around the world now?

David Blaylock:
More like 90, 95,000.

David Amaral:
Yeah. So it’s probably the most successful commercial scent system in the world. Dave and I have deployed a lot of those. But, he’s worked really hard. Dave’s responsible for the overall shape of the current device too, which I’ll let him tell you how he got there, but a lot of that was out of necessity, right.

David Blaylock:
It took a lot of time and a lot of repetition that’s for sure. Well, it really stems from trying to create a device that is aesthetically pleasing and can use a cartridge that is nestable when you’re shipping it so you can get rid of the big boxes and potentially even use some USPS shipping efforts. Really I think it was just a matter of trying to find, I don’t know. I’m going tongue tied blank here.

David Amaral:
I think [crosstalk 00:09:33].

Roy Morejon:
What I’m really interested in is actually, yeah some of those design features and functionality pieces that you guys have built into this technology, and maybe some of those challenges that you’ve had along the way.

David Amaral:
Right. So, as Dave mentioned one of them was even can we make this cartridge where we can ship it using less packaging as well. So, it all came down to performance as well as being as environmental responsible as we could. So, that goes down even to the material. So the cartridge itself integrates an H13 true HEPA filter. So the air is being filtered before it’s being scented. The cartridge is as about as flat and small as we can make it and still hold 120 to 150 grams of fragrance oil, which is quite a bit. And the shape of it, it lends itself to all of those features. So we can maximize the output, we can ship it inexpensively and use less packaging to ship it. And then the cartridge, since it’s a dry there’s no oil or heat or any … It’s not messy as traditional scent products are. So, it’s just much easier for people and even businesses to deal with than traditional scent products.

Roy Morejon:
Were there any issues in terms of trying to find a manufacturer to be able to put this together? Because many of our guests and many of the founders that are out there typically struggle trying to find someone that’s making something completely custom and something that’s not necessarily like an OEM part, for instance.

David Amaral:
Oh, no that’s been really easy. Dave had that settled within five minutes, right?

David Blaylock:
Yeah. Sure.

David Amaral:
It’s been a nightmare.

Roy Morejon:
What’s the secret?

David Blaylock:
We actually have a lot of the contacts that I’ve used over the years, even previous to the last company we were with. So, I think we’re going to be okay. It’s just a matter of figuring out which direction we want to go and the cost that we’ll endure to get there.

David Amaral:
It’s been our objective to produce as much as possible here in the United States. So some of the components we typically do have to import, but we’ve worked to try to design it, and Dave’s done a great job on the design, where it’s easy to assemble. So, we’re not having to go offshore to make a product that is, can be cost effective. So our intent, and actually we’re looking at using a Carolina based injection molding company that we’ve worked with previously. And our intent is really to have it assembled here locally. So, by designing it where we’re eliminating some of the labor as not as being labor as intensive, we can afford to do that.

Roy Morejon:
Amazing. So let’s jump into the Kickstarter campaign side of things. Now I know the campaign just launched, like I said, it’s already 50% funded. What led you guys to making the decision to use Kickstarter and crowdfunding as a means to launching this amazing innovation with?

David Amaral:
Well, I think it was twofold. One is we weren’t looking at as a sole means of funding the company, obviously. But we really wanted an opportunity to get more feedback because this really is a new innovative concept for consumers. Our background is completely has been business to business. Neither Dave or I have any background in consumer products. Our background really, again, was how to help companies use fragrance to enhance your guest experience. And we knew the technology and the fragrance side of it and the whole marketing piece. So we want to use Kickstarter as a way to get a lot of great feedback in terms of what features they like, what features they’re willing to pay for. The preferred color, the device, and try to get a little bit of a sense of is this really something people want in the marketplace?

David Amaral:
The second one was we thought it would be a great way to at least raise some funding early on and give us an ability to justify, I guess, to other perspective investors and fragrance houses and other interested parties of what the appetite is for this type of product. It’s been a pleasant surprise of the interest that’s happened, but it also has been challenging because unlike a regular product on Kickstarter, you’re not having to think about what fragrance you want and whether you’re like it given the fact that you have no way of smelling that before you back a project. So, we knew that was going to be a challenge. It was going to be a difficult one to overcome.

Roy Morejon:
Interesting.

David Amaral:
But we’ve been really happy with the response so far.

Roy Morejon:
Yeah, no, it’s great. It’s interesting to see also the variety of countries where backers have been coming in from. From Portugal to India, all around the world where this innovation is definitely striking a chord with lots of folks around the world. So that’s obviously great to see as well. In terms of the campaign, and I know it’s just launched, what’s been the biggest surprise so far?

David Amaral:
I think if we look at the spread between the base model and the deluxe version, it’s skewed almost two to one toward the deluxe version. So that kind of gives the idea that they like those additional features and that the value proposition is there. We do think that the average Kickstarter backer is probably going to be a little above the general retail consumer, but we weren’t expect … I wasn’t expecting a two to one spread. I was expecting almost a 50-50, but we are happy to see that it’s not as price sensitive as we thought. And the additional features of an air quality sensor and the high output negative ionizer, which is in the deluxe version. People certainly think that that additional premium they’re paying for is a good value proposition for them.

Roy Morejon:
Yeah. And I couldn’t agree more. I think it’s an amazing innovation. And I think the technology stack that you guys have built this on both Google and Android as well. It’s going to be amazing when you guys finally put this into people’s homes.

David Amaral:
Yeah. We’re really excited about that. We’ve had a couple of beta testers and the feedback so far has been great. So, it’s just working through any startup, particularly when you’re dealing with an IOT device there’s a lot of moving components there. You’ve got the device, the app, your backend cloud system. So, we’re working through those but we seem to be right on pace with our target launch.

Roy Morejon:
Amazing. Well, gentlemen, this is going to get us to our launch round and David, you drew the short straw. So you, you ready for all these rapid fire questions?

David Amaral:
I hope so.

Roy Morejon:
Let’s do this. So what inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

David Amaral:
Actually, I’ve kind of been one my whole life trying to come up with new and innovative ideas. So I think it’s always been inherently there. Never really had kind of the financial wherewithal early on to kind of do my own thing from the start.

Roy Morejon:
Nice. I think that resonates with a lot of entrepreneurs out there. So, if you could have coffee with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?

David Amaral:
Well, I think there’s two. I’d probably have to go with Edison first and then Elon Musk second. So, if Edison wasn’t available or booked it’d have to be with Musk. But for Edison, I think the sheer work volume that he put out over his lifetime was just incredible.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. So what would’ve been your first question for him?

David Amaral:
How did he get others on board on a concept that I think most people couldn’t even fathom back then. That would be the one that … I don’t know how he convinced people, because certainly had people to support him. Or work, or help him. But, he was talking about something that most of them couldn’t even fathom.

Roy Morejon:
Yeah. This is true. How do you get everybody to row in the same direction, right.

David Amaral:
Exactly.

Roy Morejon:
Any books that you would recommend to our entrepreneurial listeners?

David Amaral:
Well, there’s one I just started reading. It’s been out a little while, it was Lift Off about Elon Musk getting into SpaceX. The challenge that he had overcome, and again, I think he had the same challenge, right? How to get people to come on board with that, given the technological challenges and the sheer investment that had to be made to do that.

Roy Morejon:
Yeah, absolutely. So, David, what advice would you give to a new inventor or entrepreneur that’s looking to launch their idea?

David Amaral:
I think the big thing for me is you’ve got to think long term. It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s not going to happen in a year or two. You’ve got to be in it for the long haul. So, I think you’ve got to believe it and love what you’re doing.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. So what’s one invention that’s made your life a little bit easier during the pandemic?

David Amaral:
Well, it’s one I wish we could take credit for, but actually it’s one that we perfected. It’s a portable version of the unit that we’re actually putting on the market now. It’s called Adventist Go. Since we’ve been kind of cooped up at home or having to work in offices and being concerned about the virus, it’s a device that purifies the air, right within your general space. So for a while I was had it in my car, on my desk at home, at work. I kind of live with it for about the last year.

Roy Morejon:
Amazing. Last question, you’re doing great. What does the future of Crowdfunding look like?

David Amaral:
I think it’s going to get more personal and more global.

Roy Morejon:
Yeah, no, I hope so as well. I think there’s definitely the need for this product and lots of other ideas and innovations out there. And I hope that Crowdfunding continues to level the playing field for all those folks.

David Amaral:
No, I agree. I think that’s exactly what’s beginning to happen is you’re … I think 15 or 20 years ago that you wouldn’t have the ability to launch companies like you can today because you just needed the financial backing. It was primarily from institutional investors and or wealthy individuals. And since if you’re not connected that wasn’t really an option for you. But today I think that whole opportunity has been expanded for everyone.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. Well, gentlemen, this has been amazing. This is your opportunity to give us your pitch, tell people what you’re all about, where they should go and why they should check you out.

David Amaral:
Well, I think if you’re tired of traditional scent products that have been basically the same for the last several centuries, everyone knows the damages or potential damage from candles, how harmful they can be. Most people don’t know that candles and just about every other scent product put impurities into the air, make your indoor air pollution even worse. But before you really didn’t have a solution and I think today you do. So, now you can experience pure air and enjoy pure scent at home for probably less than you’re paying for a candle.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. Well, David and Dave, thank you so much for sharing with us about Ventus Home and Ion. Check it out on Kickstarter. Audience, thanks again for visiting and listening to Art of the Kickstart. Make sure to check out artofthekickstart.com for the notes, the transcript, links to the campaign over on Kickstarter, and of course thank you to our Crowdfunding podcast sponsors at the Gadget Flow and Product Hype.

Roy Morejon:
Dave, David, thank you so much for joining us today on Art of the Kickstart.

David Blaylock:
Thank you Roy.

David Amaral:
Thanks Roy. We appreciate it.

Roy Morejon:
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 inf0@artofthekickstart.com. Thanks for tuning in and I’ll see you on the next episode.