For this episode of Art of the Kickstart, we caught up with Scott and Ed, the inventors of the Hush Buddy sleep training device for toddlers. Hush Buddy is a reactive nightlight for toddlers that serves as a gentle reminder for bedtime. Listen in to see what they learned from their first Indiegogo campaign, how they applied that knowledge to their second crowdfunding campaign and more.

Topics Discussed and Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • How Scott invented the idea for Hush Buddy by attempting to solve a real-life problem
  • Things to keep in mind while prototyping
  • How they used customer listening to learn from their first campaign and what they applied to their second campaign
  • How to use a Facebook Group to drum up excitement for their upcoming campaign
  • The value of working with an agency during a crowdfunding campaign

Links

Sponsors

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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 a $300 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 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 Scott and Edward, inventors of the Hush Buddy, sleep training device for toddlers. Scott and Ed, thank you so much for joining us today.
Ed:
Thanks for having us, Roy. It’s great to be here.
Roy Morejon:
Yeah, thanks Ed. I’m really excited about this product coming to market. One, because I think it’s an innovation that all parents really need. And two, because I’m a parent that needs this and got to use this and I’m really excited about the results as well. Let’s jump in and tell the audience a little bit about where Hush Buddy started and what inspired you to create it.
Scott:
Sure. Well, what Hush Buddy is, is a sleep training device for toddlers ages two to four. It’s an interactive or reactive nightlight. A little character face on it and it listens to the room and reacts to the child’s behavior in a very gentle way. If the child cries and fusses and acts out at bedtime, the light dims just briefly and just enough to be noticed. And when, if they’re quiet, the light goes back to full brightness again. And we pair that up with a storybook that engages the child’s imagination so that they love this character. The characters name is Whisper, Whisper the Hush Buddy. And so you can go into bedtime now with your toddler with this character at your side and being very careful, we got to be quiet now at bedtime. It’s a very gentle reminder that there’s quiet time at that time. And that type of response, that type of gentle visual feedback has a lot of impact on the child’s behavior and just reminding them, if I was just quiet, I’d probably be asleep right now. I think as parents we’ve all kind of had that experience at bedtime.
Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. When you were creating Hush Buddy, what was that process like? How did you go about deciding what features to include, how to design it, colors, those sorts of things?
Scott:
Sure. Yeah, great question. The first question meant for my background is as a father of twins. Bedtime was my thing. And so I was really in tune with this issue, but it wasn’t until a nephew of mine at age two melted down on a family trip that this idea came to me of a nightlight kind of giving that feedback. And so that’s part of the whole design process and bringing it on board. Just as luck would have it, I’d worked with him on some past projects and he happened to be in my office the day after I had the idea and I happened to mention it to him and he happened to say yes. And the last three or four years haven’t been the same since.
Scott:
Our design process, because neither one of us had any experience taking a product to market like this. But we knew that we were smart and we could learn things and we knew enough to know what we didn’t know. We reached out to people who did know that information. And yeah, Ed was the one who, he found a group in Atlanta who takes a children’s toys to market. And the first great piece of advice we got came from them. And that had to do with our prototype. They said, “Keep it simple, keep it ugly. People go crazy trying to make the prototype perfect but you’re going to change it so don’t worry about that.” Honestly, we went on Upwork and we found a freelancer who could design this what we call our big ugly, clunky prototype. It’s just massive.
Scott:
And we had all of these design, like we had a dial to control sensitivity for the room of just other devices, white noise machines. And we had a dial that could control how long it stayed dim and things like that. But it did what it needed to do. And we took that out, we slapped a little literally drawn with a Sharpie, a face drawn on a little globe up on top of it. And we took it out for testing with kids and the kids loved it. And what’s funny about that Roy is, our next step after we had the success in our test families and we knew that we were onto something, from a design standpoint our next step was to go to a professional design team. And what we kept hearing from our test moms, kept drawing us back to our original design. A very simple character.
Scott:
These pros are making these awesome, beautiful designs and our moms are saying, “Yeah, that’s too stimulative. My child would play with it. It looks too much like a toy. We like the old face.” And so we just kind of cleaned up that design and went with it. That’s kind of a challenge on this product because when you’re dealing with a child’s sleep product, you don’t want it to be too stimulating and to look too much like a toy. We tried to keep it somewhat tool like, and utilitarian.
Roy Morejon:
Interesting. Fast forward or I guess rewind in this case back to 2018 when you guys launched the initial Indiegogo campaign that was ultimately unsuccessful. Talk about a little bit about what happened there.
Scott:
Sure. We went into it knowing that we knew how to tell our story and thinking that that would be enough on a crowdfunding platform, which of course is not. The the support that we didn’t have and the ability to do ourselves was the audience warming and the audience development there. Ed was concerned about that going into it and Ed, if you want to talk about that a little bit too. But it was like the size of our mailing list going in, how we contacted them ahead of time and sort of that early marketing to that group. We found that there was a lot of education. We got people going to the campaign but they didn’t necessarily know what crowdfunding was. That was one concern.
Scott:
And then the other one was that they were concerned about how long they would have to wait for the product. And that was a real learning point for us as well. How long, what a concern that was. With the current one we’ve really cut down that time and we’re hoping to be able to deliver within weeks of the campaign ending. But Ed, what do you think really I did us in on that first campaign?
Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. In terms of preparation now and fast forwarding to last year, you guys did a significant amount of more research, building up a community. I know you guys have a great group of moms now that you’re communicating with. Talk a little bit now about the month or two leading up to the launch, which will happen next week, the second week of February, that you guys have adjusted the strategy towards.
Scott:
Sure. We built a Facebook group for one thing which is going to be so important to us, not just from a marketing standpoint but from a customer support standpoint. One thing that sets Hush Buddy apart is not only this device that we’ve patented, Whisper the Hush Buddy and not only that it’s devoted to sleep science and that it’s science based as so many other products on the market are not. But we have a commitment to help solve this problem. And we think that if parents can talk to parents, that they can do that. That they can really help and feel supported in that. The Facebook group kind of played into that as well. I can’t say enough about the help and support Enventys Partners has played in this because what that’s opened our eyes to is the value of an agent, of hitting all of the talent at an agency available to you. The breadth of that.
Scott:
People who know email campaigns deeply, more than just an entrepreneur can learn his or herself. People who know social media marketing and graphic design and all of that. To be able to have those resources available that we didn’t have the first time. It was us plodding along, doing as much as we could ourselves. And that was really eyeopening for us. Even moving onto the future, we decided, we thought our first hire was really going to be a marketing person. We really needed to have a good marketing person because that’s so much a part of, if we just get our story in front of people, they react to it. They like it. But we’ve since said, “You know what? An agency is really a better investment because you have that breadth of services available to you.” If I was talking to any entrepreneurs, who is thinking about going out and crowdfunding, don’t downplay the idea of the money that you put into something that this sort of professionally just the crowdfunding campaign itself, that process, people who know that, what a relief that that’s been a tremendous experience for us.
Roy Morejon:
What’s been the biggest thing that you’ve learned through the whole process of launching on Indiegogo to now migrating and about to launch on Kickstarter that you can recommend or it gives some key points to our audience on?
Scott:
I think talking to an audience that understands crowdfunding. See, that was a frustrating thing that we had with Indiegogo. Because once you build up excitement about your product, you throw them into the Indiegogo environment and suddenly there’s new terminology that they may not know. Perks and that type of thing. And so if you have somebody who’s completely new to that environment, that’s quite a learning curve that they have right there to go through. And so that was, we found ourselves answering a lot of questions from people like, “What’s a perk?” And I have to sign up to this service, what do I have to, it was just basic education. One thing is to be able to target people who are already out there and familiar with the crowdfunding campaign that that’s good.
Scott:
The second thing and I think we had this down before, but we’ve just honed it so much, is knowing first of all, having a good story and we have a good story. Here’s the problem, here’s the solution. We have a good story. Knowing how to tell it because the crowdfunding platform is so, the table is set for storytelling. And so honing that story so you know that. The other thing that we’ve had is that we were able to run some Facebook campaigns between then and we can find out exactly what our cost of acquisition was to a customer. We knew what segments work. Hey, a big surprise, but it makes total sense is that grandparents do great for us. The initial impulses while we, here’s the age group for parents of young children. Wait, wait, wait. The older folks do great for us because they see the problem times two, they see it for their grandchild and their child and they respond very well to that. We knew that coming into it and we could help guide where the audience was and what it should cost to acquire them.
Roy Morejon:
Impressive. Outside of that, what’s been the biggest surprise in terms of the preparation for the campaign?
Scott:
Well Ed, what, what would you say has been the thing that, we left our initial meeting I know just sort of setback in our chairs. We got a lot of work to do here and it’s been very manageable. We’ve been surprised by that. I’ll think about it a little bit, Ed, while you answer.
Scott:
Yeah. I think people have this idea that if I just put a good idea on a crowdfunding platform, it will fly. And what we learned the first time through with Indiegogo was, how much behind the scenes marketing and prep work goes into that. And what we’ve learned this, what I’ve learned this time around is that even then I was underestimating it because when you look at, we have email campaigns, we have social media campaigns, we have a PR campaign. Any one of those could consume all of your time as an entrepreneur trying to do it yourself. To have people who already know how to do that, to reduce your learning curve, just moves things along so quickly and so well. I’ve just been so impressed by how complicated a campaign can be to do well and how important that is. My advice, please disabuse yourself of the idea that I’ve just got a good idea and if I just put it out there on a campaign page, if I have a landing page out there, I’ll do well. There’s so much that goes into it. There really is.
Roy Morejon:
Well, I know the team here at Enventys Partners has been really looking forward to the launch of this project and obviously working with you guys on this. I know the campaign will probably go live hopefully the week this comes out or the week after. But Scott, this is going to get us into our launch round where I’m going to rapid fire a handful of questions at you. Are you good to go?
Scott:
Okay. Yeah, absolutely. Hit me.
Roy Morejon:
What inspired you to be an entrepreneur?
Scott:
I got fired from a job. That’ll do it.
Roy Morejon:
Unhireable, right?
Scott:
Yeah, yeah. When you, it’s the freedom. It’s the freedom that comes with it and just being able to set your own pace in life and your own course in life is there’s nothing like it.
Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. Sir, if you could have coffee with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?
Scott:
Oh, throughout history. Well you mention history. I love history. And so I’m sure everybody says Thomas Edison because that, he was like the original entrepreneur and just, I just love how he took others’ ideas. And I don’t mean that that way. It does sound like he misappropriated them. I mean that he used others’ ideas, all of these developers yet working for them and maximized it. I love that. But I’m also a big fan of the Home Depot guys. I’d love to meet Arthur Blank and talk with him because he tells this great story about having the numbers to put together Home Depot and the numbers didn’t add up. They weren’t attractive to investors. And so he told his partner, “Well, change the numbers because they’re all just sort of fictional anyway.” And I just love that idea, that confidence of saying, “You know what? Whatever the number is, we’re going to hit it. We’re going to be successful people.” I’d like to talk to him about that.
Roy Morejon:
Well, he’s been quite successful down in Atlanta. What would have been your first question for him?
Scott:
I think it would be about exactly about that. The confidence that he had to know that he could make it no matter what. When you just say, “I’ll tell you what the numbers are going to be. We’ll make it work.” Well what goes into that statement of we’ll make it work? That’s what I’d like to know about, because I feel the same way. Ed and I have talked about it. I think that so often investors want to know what your five year numbers are and you’re even pre-revenue. How can you know that? I think a more important question is, is the team agile? Does it adjust? Does it learn from mistakes and make changes quickly? Looking at the team and then looking at the quality of the idea. And I think that’s what I would like to ask him about. How did he know that that was a good idea?
Roy Morejon:
Nice. Since we’re talking about children and sleep, I’ve got to ask, what’s your favorite fairy tale or nighttime story?
Scott:
It’s Goodnight Moon. Boy, my boys couldn’t get enough. Is that in your repertoire?
Roy Morejon:
It is. Absolutely.
Scott:
Yeah. Oh yeah. And the little old lady. Honestly, there’s a little bit of a tip of the hat to Goodnight Moon in Hush Buddy. And it’s the word hush in the name. If you remember in the story, the little old lady who whispers, “Hush.” And my boys loved that and they would put their fingers to their lips. And so when I was trying to think of a name of this product, I thought, it needs to be words that toddlers know. And right away I remember them going, “Hush,” from reading that book. And so hush and then buddy is just a dad name, that’s, hey buddy, how you doing? Everybody knows buddy. Hush Buddy became the name of this. And part of it is because of Goodnight Moon.
Roy Morejon:
Yeah. And that’s also one of the words that you actually say almost as a whisper, right?
Scott:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. The onomatopoeia of it. Just a very quieting hush. Yeah. It’s the perfect word. That’s the one thing about this product we never tested. We just said that’s the best name. That’s a good name. We just knew it.
Roy Morejon:
All right. Scott, last question. What does the future of crowdfunding look like?
Scott:
I think it is so, I think it’s very bright. I really do. It removes so many barriers that a person with a good idea, a person with a good idea and a good team will eventually, going the conventional route with investors, hit an obstacle where they really, they need to sell that to the investor. There’s a purity about having a good idea and going to the market with. And I just, I love that about this because that’s something that we’ve had, we’ve had so much thirst from the parent market out there, the parent community, please, we want this please. And whenever we would go to an investor group, they would say, “Hey, sell 5,000 of them and come back and talk to us.” There’d be that obstacle. Well, crowdfunding removes that. And I just, I love the idea of somebody with a good idea being able to connect directly like that. And I just, I think the technology, I think the knowledge of how that works is growing and I see nothing but growth in that area. Would you agree, Ed?
Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. Well, Ed and Scott, this has been amazing. This is your chance to give us your pitch, tell people what you’re all about, where people should go and why they should check out Hush Buddy.
Scott:
Oh great. Yeah, love to. Our campaign, hopefully by the time you hear this, is already live on Kickstarter. Please check it out. We are devoted to helping parents solve a problem that everybody always thought was unsolvable. If you had kids, you’re just supposed to be tired. We don’t think that’s the case. We think if you know some strategies and you have a little bit of help from behavioral science, that you can have a better bedtime. Check us out.
Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. Audience, thanks again for tuning in. Make sure to visit artofthekickstart.com for the notes, the transcript, links to the campaign once it goes live and everything else we talked about today and of course thank you as always to our crowdfunding podcast sponsors, the Gadget Flow and Product Type. Scott, Ed, thank you so much for joining us today on Art of the Kickstart.
Scott:
Thanks Roy, it’s been great.
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, 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.