In this week’s episode of Art of the Kickstart, we spoke with Ricardo Bottome and Frankie Najera, creators of the Treepod. Check it out to hear more about why they love crowdfunding and what they learned after running two Kickstarter campaigns.

TreePod: A Spacious Hanging Retreat

Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • Why Kickstarter is a great option for launching a new product
  • How to make sure your product photography sells your product
  • What to keep in mind if you’re running your second or third Kickstarter campaign
  • How to prepare for a Kickstarter Live
  • Why planning your Kickstarter project well in advance is so critical to its success

Links

Connect With TreePod

Sponsors

Art of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by The Gadget Flow, a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save, and buy awesome products. The Gadget Flow is the ultimate buyer’s guide for cool luxury gadgets and creative gifts. Click here to learn more and list your product – use coupon code ATOKK16 for 20% off!

backerkitArt of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by BackerKit. BackerKit makes software that crowdfunding project creators use to survey backers, organize data, raise additional funds with add-ons and manage orders for fulfillment, saving creators hundreds of hours. To learn more and get started, click here.

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 buyer’s 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 with Ricardo Bottome and Frankie Najera with TreePod. Gentleman, thank you so much for joining us today.

Ricardo Bottome:

Thank you for having us.

Frankie Najera:

Nice to meet you.

Roy Morejon:

Alright, so you guys just crowdfunded TreePod, the combination of a luxury cabana with the portability and suspension of a hammock, for ultimate relaxation. I must say that everyone in our office wants one of these products. I know it just recently finished on Kickstarter.  Now we’re over on Indiegogo InDemand; raised over $300,000 for this campaign. You guys were fully funded in 48 hours.

Let’s talk about this product idea. Where did it all start? What inspired you to create TreePod?

Ricardo Bottome:

So, a few years ago, my brother was … We were at the beach, family meeting and he just said, out of the blue, “It would be cool if you do a hanging tree house for kids.” He goes [inaudible 00:02:17] developing product for many years [inaudible 00:02:22]. So I came back home with the idea. We did our first Kickstarter two years ago and it was the original TreePod, designed for kids.  Trendy colors, smaller, not as practical as the new one. Now, we kept thinking how to make the product appealing to a wider audience and more mature. And, it also had to look good. And there was one day, I was running and I remembered a chair I had seen at the Smithsonian Design Museum in New York, the Magis Fun chair. I thought I could marry that shape with our product and make it look a lot better. And we dreamt up the design, had a sample made and it was out of the box, great. It was a little warm. My wife was one of the testers and she said “Whoa, on a hot day, this could be uncomfortable.” And that headed to the next big aha moment, which was adding the mesh walls. So now you have an option that gives you somewhat privacy. You are suspended, comfortable, but the breeze is going by. You’re shaded. It’s the perfect relaxation nook.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. So you had mentioned you’d ran the first product through crowdfunding. What ultimately made you decide that crowdfunding was the right avenue to launch TreePod?

Ricardo Bottome:

Well, we see it as giving us a first exposure to a wide range of consumers. It gives the feedback of what features they want to see and it gives the first batch of product ambassadors. We see it more as gaining that first group of converts than necessarily the dollar amount.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. So, I’m assuming you took quite a lot of their feedback from the first campaign and incorporated that in to this new version?

Ricardo Bottome:

Yes. So going from 130 backers to over 1300, ten times more backers, is what has us so happy with this campaign and this new product.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. Well we are certainly excited to be working on the campaign with you guys. When you guys talked about the crowdfunding campaign, what changes did you make from running the first one, to running the second one? What were some of the big things that you guys changed?

Frankie Najera:

Between the two campaigns, the first Kickstarter campaign, we really … We pushed it out to a lot more family and friends that we were pushing it out to and we didn’t work with a lot of advertising, so we put a lot more advertising at first to really spread the message of TreePod to reach that larger audience.

Ricardo Bottome:

And we had professional advice, which we didn’t have the first time. It made a huge difference. We now [inaudible 00:05:54] campaign. And we still learned even more to apply for the third one. To keep things, the offering, simpler and easier to understand.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely.  Talk to me a little about your campaign video. What was the process like in terms of getting that set up and all the different shots and angles you guys had included in that? It looked like it was really well done.

Frankie Najera:

Yeah, so again, working with professionals the second time around, we had TreePod sent off to Hawaii, on Maui. Had my brother, actually he’s a photographer, he did the product shots out there, and at the same time we were working with a local company that we’ve done numerous videos with kind of organize the structuring of the video for us, and requesting specific shots, so we were able to grab some shots from Hawaii, some video from there, as well as here, around Colorado.

Ricardo Bottome:

Yeah, the concept behind the video was showing that the new TreePod was at home both outside and inside the house. So we had multiple shots in multiple settings, showing how many places you can use it. That was the all overriding theme.

Roy Morejon:

Excellent. So with all of the marketing efforts you guys put in to this campaign, hiring our agency Enventys Partners, working with professional photographers and videographers, what do you think led, or was it the combination of all of those elements that led to 10 xing the campaign from your first one to your current one?

Ricardo Bottome:

I think all of it goes together. We have the better advice. We have the better advertising strategy. But we also had a better product that appeals to a wider range of people and pricing was better. So we improved on all areas. On the product, on the pricing, and on how to present it to the consumer through Kickstarter.

Roy Morejon:

Nice. Let’s talk a little bit about your experience with your backers. I know you guys did a Kickstarter Live. What did you do to prepare for that and what should other campaign creators know before doing their own Kickstarter Live?

Frankie Najera:

Definitely what I can prepare … Prepare for it. Research the technology that will be available. I was familiar with Facebook Live, so was used to shooting off my phone. Well, with Kickstarter Live, at the current moment, you need a webcam and your computer so …  [inaudible 00:08:54] around so you really want to kind of just plan your shots. We did it kind of outside. I’m sure some people can do it like in an interior, inside a controlled environment. So just being aware of anything you might not be expecting. You can’t be aware of that. Then just kind of going with the flow, like you can sit there and just talk at people or that can get pretty boring, so just kind of working with the audience, fielding their questions, going [inaudible 00:09:23] have a chance to look through their campaign, the comments, messages that we’ve picked up. A couple frequently asked questions, we were able to hit on those many different times.

Roy Morejon:

Nice. So what was the biggest thing that you guys have learned throughout the whole process of now launching your second Kickstarter campaign?

Ricardo Bottome:

That planning pays. Our first campaign was a little bit, on our own, let’s go … let’s see what happens. The results were good. We were very happy, but this time we had the product at a much better state of completion. We had production prototype ready. We had the message ready. We were ready with most of the questions people would ask. So, the campaign on one hand, was a lot easier, and on the other hand, had a lot more reach. And to give you an idea, we’re already thinking of the next one. Even though it’s at least a year away, but we’re already thinking how can we do something better the next time we go around and how many more coming we need to have even better shots, better places of the product being used, and I don’t know, continue improving and a simpler message. We tried to simplify from campaign one to campaign two, but we still think we can be more concise at what the benefits are of the product.

Roy Morejon:

So what was the biggest surprise of the Kickstarter campaign this go around?

Ricardo Bottome:

The number of backers, right?

Frankie Najera:

The amount of people.

Ricardo Bottome:

I’ll go one step ahead. We are surprised at the number of people who have ultimately bought the bug net. We didn’t invest in the product as something that would need a bug net. We invented it more as a hanging chair and sofa. A cool hammock. But, once we offered it as an add on, I think 76% of people added it.

Roy Morejon:

That’s great.

Ricardo Bottome:

Yep.

Roy Morejon:

So what advice would you give to someone else looking to crowdfund their outdoor product like this one? Or outdoor/indoor product I should say.

Ricardo Bottome:

Plan time and do several focus groups to figure out what people want. And then once you start the campaign, you don’t have time to correct the product midway. That happened to us on the first campaign, people started asking for the bug net, we are not ready. We were halfway ready this time. You need to know what people are gonna ask and what key people are going to give you feedback, and be ready to respond either by providing it or by explaining why you don’t need it or why it won’t be offered.

Roy Morejon:

Solid advice. Alright Ricardo, this gets us in to our launch round, where I’m going to rapid fire a handful of questions at you. You good to go?

Ricardo Bottome:

Good to go.

Roy Morejon:

So, what inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

Ricardo Bottome:

I think my family have all been entrepreneurs for two generations at least.

Roy Morejon:

So if you could grab a beer and sit in a TreePod with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?

Ricardo Bottome:

Ah, I’m currently a fan of Elon Musk.

Roy Morejon:

Nice. So what would be your first question for Elon?

Ricardo Bottome:

You get me there … What do you tell yourself each day?

Roy Morejon:

Good one. Who did you look up to when you were growing up?

Ricardo Bottome:

I looked up to my father and grandfather. They were both … Started their own businesses, helped other businesses come up from the ground. They were always hard workers and moral, ethic.

Roy Morejon:

Excellent. What book would you recommend to our audience?

Ricardo Bottome:

Wow, there’s many.

Roy Morejon:

What come to mind?

Ricardo Bottome:

Yeah, I am drawing a blank. Ha ha

Roy Morejon:

Ha ha, fair enough.

Ricardo Bottome:

I would pick One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey.

Roy Morejon:

Okay, that’s a first one for our interviews. Last question Ricardo. What does the future of crowdfunding look like?

Ricardo Bottome:

I think it looks great. It’s the opportunity to show your product first to an audience that is ready to embrace new products, is unique and very valuable. Those 1351 backers, I think of them as my new best friends. They are there for the product and they made the product possible and we need to treat them as our best friends forever.

Roy Morejon:

Indeed. Well said Ricardo. Well, guys, this has been great. It is your turn now to give our audience your pitch. Tell them what you’re all about, where people should go and whyy they should go buy a TreePod.

Frankie Najera:

So, the TreePod is the ultimate hanging, hangout zone. You’ve out me on the spot here.

Ricardo Bottome:

I thought Frankie would be closer, quicker with a response. [crosstalk 00:15:35] I think for myself, I’m looking forward to the Spring break … Take my TreePod to the beach, laying there, letting the breeze go through, while shaded and suspended. It might sound as a cliché, but I think it’s the best relaxation you’re gonna have. We’re currently live on Indiegogo and will then be available on our website, mytreepod.com. Products start arriving at the end of the month and will be available for the holidays.

Roy Morejon:

Awesome. Ricardo and Frankie, thank you so much for being on Art of the Kickstart. Audience, thanks again for tuning in. Make sure to visit the website for all the notes, the transcript, links to everything we talked about today, of course including the campaign links. And of course, thank you to our crowdfunding podcast sponsors, the Gadget Flow and Backerkit. Ricardo, Frankie, thank you so much for being on the show today.

Ricardo Bottome:

Thank you for having us Roy. You’re great.

Frankie Najera:

Thank you.

Roy Morejon:

Thanks for tuning in to 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 love 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.