In this episode of Art of the Kickstart, we spoke with Matthew Deasy, founder of Oomph™, makers of the 2-in-1 piston brew coffee maker and insulated travel cup. With two successful Kickstarter campaigns under their belt, Oomph has perfected the science behind the all-in-one, on-the-go coffee brewing and drinking experience. Listen in and learn about Oomph’s inspiration, product development journey and crowdfunding marketing strategies.

Topics Discussed and Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

    • Why Matthew Deasy started the brand, Oomph
    • Their experiences prototyping both the debut product and their recent 2.0 version
    • How the company used email marketing and Facebook to be successful in two campaigns
    • The future of Oomph, amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Links

Sponsors

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Transcript

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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 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 Gadget Flow. The Gadget Flow is a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save, and buy awesome products. It is the ultimate buyer’s guide for luxury gadgets and creative gifts. Now let’s get on with the show.
Roy Morejon:
Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today, I am talking with Matthew Deasy, founder of Oomph. Matthew, thank you so much for joining us today on Art of the Kickstart.
Matthew Deasy:
Thank you for having me, Roy. Pleasure.
Roy Morejon:
You guys have created some amazing coffee geekery products, as you put them. You’re a two time Kickstarter creator. You launched your first version of Oomph coffee maker back in 2016, over a thousand backers raised over 60,000 pounds for the original version. You’ve got version two going on right now on Kickstarter. I always like to ask my guests, “Where was the inspiration to create Oomph, where does this product start?”
Matthew Deasy:
Okay. It actually starts from another business that I was involved in where we essentially provide coffee, coffee machines, and servicing to hotels, restaurants, bars and offices. The product idea, essentially, came from when I was driving around, visiting customers and so on, and sometimes demonstrating the automatic machines. It struck me that, why is no one, at that point Arrow Press wasn’t about, at that point, why isn’t anyone for doing this piston delivered coffee because the taste is much better, I perceive, than a coffeetier. I basically started to sketch out ideas and so on and so forth. At that point in time, because it was a fledgling business that I was involved in any way, I didn’t have the money to be doing two things at the same time. It stayed as a dream on paper. I did get it to the point where a fellow had enough down there to then put it onto a patent application. We did that and got the blueprint down if you like, but it was a few years later before we could actually attempt it.
Roy Morejon:
Beautiful. When you were creating this product, at least initially, what did the design process look like? How did you go about deciding what features to put into this? There’s some unique engineering built into this.
Matthew Deasy:
Yeah. Essentially, at first, I was just trying to replicate the brewing mechanism inside an automatic machine, which is essentially a piston. I’m sure you’re aware, pistons have been around for years and often were being used in coffee machines for about 30 years, long before any sort of hand devices came along. However, as you’d imagine, there’s a lot of patents in the industry. It’s an industry in which there’s a lot of love in that in the sort of coffee creation industry. People spend a lot of time trying to figure out new ways of making coffee and hence the patent landscape’s quite a minefield. The first few ideas you came up with, but they were basically similar to machines that were already out there, so they have to be adjusted slightly.
Matthew Deasy:
We actually worked closely with a patent company, which actually helped us to make sure that we weren’t heading down any rabbit holes in terms of the way it looked, which was an interesting thing for me. It wasn’t just a case of, “Oh, this is a good idea, let’s get it down.” It was, “Well that’s a good idea, but this is how I need to adjust it and make sure I’m not infringing on anything that’s already out there.” There’s a lot of machine manufacturers out there and a lot of pistons inside machines. It was quite difficult to do that. The coffee piston itself, once that was developed, it was then a case of, I incorrectly, now I know, assumed that people wouldn’t ever push down on a piston without having some sort of protection of the seal failing.
Matthew Deasy:
Now, obviously, there’s a lot of products on the market that do have that, but for me, that was, “How am I going to do that? How am I going to get something over the side that shields the user of these huge pressures with hot water and coffee?” I had visions of people squirting themselves in the eye with boiling hot water and suing me before it even got out of the starting blocks. It was that sort of creation of [inaudible 00:05:07] around it. The real eureka moment, which allows you to go for a patent, which is basically defined as a creative step they will call it. It means you have to have a creative step that is not in existence in the moment. Mine was, how do I get the brewing that’s happening at the bottom? I’m getting brewed coffee in a piston that goes into the bottom, which is readily available in lots of different ways.
Matthew Deasy:
How do I get that back inside into the top of the product so I’m not taking up any space? Obviously, if I pushed it down, I would have ended up with an item that was incredibly long where it was brewing in the top and then transferring into the bottom, which would have left a huge product for people to carry around, which wouldn’t have been tenable. The real eureka moment was how do I get the brewed coffee into the device without wasting space? It was taking the coffee that was brewed and circulating it back round and hollowing out the piston. In fact, as the piston came down, the coffee filled into the piston behind it. It’s that circulation and free chambers that allowed us to go per patent because no one had a done that before, either in a machine or in a handheld device.
Matthew Deasy:
A lot of it, to be honest with you, Roy, I wish I had a better explanation of it, a lot of is then solving problems. You solve that problem, the next problem that faced us was when I did the first version of it, it worked. It made a great cup of coffee. Myself and a friend, who was on my engineering course and was helping me that day, basically we said, “Right, now let’s separate it.” We couldn’t separate it, it took one of us at each. My friend nearly hit his head against the kitchen top when we actually managed to separate the two sections. Then it was, “Well, how do we some sort of mechanism in which allows us to separate these two pistons without it needing so much force?”
Matthew Deasy:
That came with the fin design, which was basically as you twist it, it pulls itself away, almost a gearing mechanism as it twists, it pulls itself out at the same time so the user can effortlessly overcome that initial inertia. The last bit is beautifying it, which we used someone to help us to make it look a bit prettier, because the one that I finished wasn’t the best looking. We used a company to help us to make it look a bit better.
Roy Morejon:
Once you had that initial prototype done, going back to the first campaign back in 2016, what did the preparation look like in terms of launching the crowdfunding campaign and what made you choose crowdfunding to launch this innovation with?
Matthew Deasy:
I wish I had a better explanation for this, but it was probably a bit of desperation. We ran out of money, to be honest with you. I put as much as I could into it. I’ve gone through the typical friends, fools, and family that would lend your money. As a startup business, a bank’s not interested unless you’ve got money coming in, really, so there’s no point in even going to a bank. As we had this other business, we were able to put a bit more money into it, but we could see that we wouldn’t have enough money to get it launched unless we could really use something like Kickstarter as a crowdfunder and get it off the ground. That, essentially, is the main reason for looking at crowdfunding, it was genuinely that we needed to launch the product.
Roy Morejon:
What was some of the prep work leading up to the campaign?
Matthew Deasy:
In the first one, you’re finding your feet as you’re doing it. I’d obviously realized where I was strong. The current company, we were very good at Google, very good at display advertising, and so on. I knew Facebook was big with crowdfunding and I basically looked at a few people online who were into coffee, people who were running WordPress sites and blogs and things like that, that maybe were into the marketing side a bit more. I found this gentleman who was really into coffee, who did a blog and was also running a digital marketing consultancy, basically approached him directly and said, “Would you help me with this project and come on board throughout the campaign and we’ll pay you for doing so.”
Matthew Deasy:
It had the benefit. Obviously, it was a product he was into because he was spending his personal time blogging about it. Also, he had the necessary credentials to help us to do the campaign. We really took his lead on it. In the first campaign, you’re finding your feet as you’re going through it, really. We discovered you’re cross-updating with companies because as we launched, while we got approached by companies saying, “Will you cross-update with us? We’ll promote your product, you promote ours.” We realized about that. We had a pretty good launch. We did the launch party, but then it dried up and we had a really big lull in the middle of the campaign and we both really didn’t know what to do with it.
Matthew Deasy:
Strangely enough, we actually didn’t start advertising on Facebook on our first campaign until about the 16th day. We’re already halfway through our project by the time we rarely started to do any sort of advertising on Facebook and then we were doing it manually. We were literally looking at where the sales were coming from, matching that up with our adverts, because we couldn’t track it, and we worked together on that. It was a basically a mixture between, him being good at marketing but not necessarily good at tabulating the figures and making sure that it was accurate what he was doing. Obviously, I was good at the accuracy side and putting spreadsheets together because from that background, in terms of engineering and design, but not a marketeer really. It was the yen and the yang sort of thing that helped us to then start to get it motoring again. It finished quite well towards the end of the campaign.
Roy Morejon:
Now that you guys are on your second campaign, what marketing techniques have you changed or improved upon? Again, this campaign launched and you did 25,000 pounds I think on the first day. What have you guys changed in seeing the greatest ROI on thus far?
Matthew Deasy:
Okay. Well, I mean the big one is, obviously, you learn from your mistakes, like everything in life. When you do it the second time, you should be doing it better. CIVOD-19 aside, we would’ve probably done two and a half times. I think we’ll still hopefully, fingers cross, get close to two times what we did on the first one. I would say that the main thing is our customer base because we created a product and brought it to market. We went in with a really strong subscriber list. You can have a subscriber list, and we had one last time about 2000 subscribers. This time we went in, we’re not far off 30, but we have a real strong 15 to 20 that have bought the product. To give you an idea, we sent out, before we came on to Kickstarter, we involved our crowd, if you like, from our first campaign.
Matthew Deasy:
We’ve kept them, we basically sent this email out to all of these people who own an Oomph and said, “What would you change about Oomph? These are our ideas about what we’d like to change. What do you think we should change?” Even to the point of view where we sent them six versions of Oomph, visually and asked them to pick which version they would like. It was that real engagement with them. If I told you we sent out a survey to 1500 people and one of the questions about how we develop the Oomph, and we got a response from around 1200 people who filled in a 15-minute survey and sent it back. In my other company, that’s unheard of to get people that will put that much time and effort into telling you how to improve a product. Even your open rates typically are below 10% on good products. To have that much engagement, we felt confident that our list, when we went in, would give us a good return, and they did really.
Roy Morejon:
Speaking on the engagement part, give me a little bit of your experience in working with and communicating with your backers so far? With over 1200 backers in your first campaign, and this one with over 1500, how have you managed the feedback and how has some of that feedback potentially guided some of your new product design?
Matthew Deasy:
During the campaign or before the campaign? I suppose guiding the design will be before the campaign and then handling the comments, and so on, in the campaign. Do you want me to go through both or is one of more interest to you?
Roy Morejon:
Yeah, whichever. Again, I’m sure with the first campaign four years ago now, hopefully those folks are still engaged and loving your product, and hopefully many of them are returned to back the newer version.
Matthew Deasy:
Yeah. I’d say the most useful was pre-project, because if you think about the money that’s spent by some huge companies to essentially try and get people that will give them feedback and really shape your product design, I would be slightly remiss if I wasn’t to acknowledge that a lot of the design features have come from customers. We’ve had customers, one customer even basically who’s an engineer know possible solutions to issues that we had gotten literally to the point of he did diagrams and sent it. The thing must have taken hours for the guy to do. He is a retired engineer.
Matthew Deasy:
I’d say that, and listening to those people, taking the time to write back to them. You can’t reply to everyone, but at least if you like or share or give them some form of feedback, people really, really appreciate that and they feel part of the ride, really. I think that’s essential, that people do feel part of the journey. That makes them support you more because the path of your and the supporting the team or supporting anything in the sporting world or anything. People feel part of it. They will support it and they’ll push it, even to the point where they’ll defend your product.
Matthew Deasy:
Sometimes we’ll go online to Facebook comments and you’ve got some naysayers saying, “Oh, it’ll never work.” Before we’ve even got on there, one of our backers will have said, “It does work. I’ve got one, it’s great. I use it twice a day and this is how it does it.” It saves you a lot of work. It’s such a powerful thing, really. The key thing, I think, which is what you’re driving at an answer for probably, is you have got to basically creates that journey for them.
Matthew Deasy:
With us it was, “This is the product. We, obviously, appreciate you really like it, but we also know that it could have been better.” Literally, started from that, that we could have made this product better. “These are the ways we think we could’ve made it better. How do you think we could’ve made it better?” Each of those people vote and then you send that voting back to them, so they can also verify that these guys have actually listened to what we said. We can see how people have voted. We made them part of that, “Look, this is what your opinions were. This is what the crowd’s opinions were,” to float that back to them. That then stops people then getting upset with you maybe not taking their opinions on board because they’ll think, “Well ask for a pink one, but it looks like no one else wanted a pink one, so fair enough. They’re not going to go for that.” Whereas if you didn’t feed that back to them-“
Roy Morejon:
Last question, before we jump into the launch round, is what’s the one piece of advice that you would give to a new startup entrepreneur creator that’s looking to launch their Kickstarter campaign to help them succeed?
Matthew Deasy:
I think it would be build a strong list for that first day, definitely. When you launch, you’ve got to launch with a strong, not just any subscribers, really engage with your subscribers. Don’t engage before you launch, because remember that people will get bored if you go quiet for a bit before you launch. Don’t speak to people, send an email out three days before you launch or anything like that. We just, literally, went quiet for one week and what you’ve found is that builds up a bit of curiosity for what’s going on here. They said there were launching around now, and then it was just bang, we’ve launched.
Matthew Deasy:
That seemed to really work because it created that little bits of frenzy type behavior from people wanting to get those early deals. I would say really work hard on that list and then you can hit the list more than once during your campaign as well by segmenting who didn’t click on it, so you’re not miring the people who did click on it. Really watch your list, segment it appropriately, and get as big a list as possible. I’d say that’s going to be your biggest return on Kickstarter.
Roy Morejon:
Solid advice. All right, this is going to get us in the launch round. You ready to go?
Matthew Deasy:
I think so.
Roy Morejon:
So what inspired you to be an entrepreneur?
Matthew Deasy:
What was that sorry?
Roy Morejon:
What inspired you to be an entrepreneur?
Matthew Deasy:
It was just a natural thing, really. I wasn’t very good at working for people. I was in sales and IT, I did really good and I thought, “I could do this for myself,” rose-tinted glasses. I then realized how hard it was. Obviously, you’ve got costs and things; you don’t just make a sale and that goes into your pocket. I would say it was just that really, I never really conformed to doing the right things, dress code wise and stuff. I just couldn’t get to grips with being told what to do. I think for most people it’s a natural and that [crosstalk 00:19:22].
Roy Morejon:
If you could meet with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would you want to have a cup of coffee with?
Matthew Deasy:
Any entrepreneur. I don’t want to say someone that’s cliche, but I probably would want to meet someone that cliche. I probably would want to meet Bill Gates. I probably would want to meet Bill Gates to tell you the truth.
Roy Morejon:
Yeah, he’s definitely in the news these days with coronavirus and his Ted Talk from six years ago resonate quite well.
Matthew Deasy:
Yeah, yeah. The one where he predicted it. Yeah. I would, just because I think he covers so many bases as an individual. I always remember watching an interview from the guy from IBM who said that he had a solicitor in the room and an accountant in the room and he said he knew more about computers than I did. More about accounts than my accountant, and oh gosh, I forgot the other lesson. Basically, more than everyone in the room about their own individual subjects. He’s just an impressive guy. It would be pretty cool to meet him, I think. You’d definitely get something out of it.
Roy Morejon:
Any book you would recommend to our entrepreneur and startup listeners?
Matthew Deasy:
The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt. It’s a book I read a while ago. My father-in-law forced me to do it. It’s a very strange book because it’s written as a novel of a guy saucing his life out. In it, engineering principles and physics principles that are lightly dropped into conversation. For anyone looking to go into business, it cements a lot of a good business ideas without you knowing that you’re absorbing it because you read it like a novel. But yeah, The Goal, it’s a really good book.
Roy Morejon:
Nice. All right, last question. In the rapid-fire round, Matthew, what does the future of crowdfunding look like?
Matthew Deasy:
With COVID-19, that’s a difficult question. I think it’s getting difficult, and from our perspective, it seems like some big guys are ruling the roost a lot more than the first time that we did it. It’s gotten harder to do well on it, I suppose. At the same time, you can get big figures in the middle ground. Maybe it’s got fairer for everybody. It seems to be people who are doing it multiple times. If you can get into those top rankings, that’s still where most of the big money has to be made.
Matthew Deasy:
It’s slightly more level playing field in those top positions now than it was when I did it. It’s not as sensitive to that, being in that top 10. Obviously, it is still good to get up there, but it seems like you can make make money in the middle ground, which certainly wasn’t the case the first time I did it. It was basically a desert as soon as you went out of the top 50, whereas it doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.
Roy Morejon:
Well Matthew, this has been awesome. I know our crowd is going to get a lot of insights out of this. This is your opportunity to give that crowd your pitch, tell people what you’re all about, where they should go and why they should check out Oomph.
Matthew Deasy:
Okay. Oomph is basically a pressure brew coffee maker that is designed into a perfect travel mug. The first time we did it, everyone said the coffee was great but it needs to be more portable. Oomph 2 is exactly that, it’s very portable and it looks pretty cool too.
Roy Morejon:
Beautiful. Well audience, thanks again for tuning in. Make sure to visit artofthekickstart.com for the notes, the transcript, links to everything we talked about today. Of course, thank you to our crowdfunding podcast sponsors, The Gadget Flow and product type. Matthew, thank you so much for joining us today on Art of the Kickstart.
Matthew Deasy:
Okay, you’re very welcome. Thank you.
Roy Morejon:
Thanks for tuning into another episode of Art of the Kickstart, the 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 you loved this episode a lot, leave us a review@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 inventuspartners.com. Thanks again for tuning in and we’ll see you again next week.