In the episode of Art of the Kickstart we hear from Petr Prochazka, founder and CEO of Skinners. Tune in to learn more about the inspiration behind Skinners, what the prototyping process looked like leading up to his campaign and what question he’d love to ask Forrest Gump.

SKINNERS: Revolutionary Ultraportable Footwear with Silver

Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • Where some of the best project ideas originate
  • How long prototyping takes for a new product
  • Why you should pay attention to other crowdfunding campaigns before launching your own
  • The importance of building a community around your product
  • How to make fulfilling rewards a priority

Links

Connect with Skinners

Sponsors

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Transcript

View this episode's transcript

Roy:

Welcome to Art of the Kickstart, your source for crowdfunding campaign success. I’m your host, Roy Morejon. President of Command Partners, the top full service crowdfunding marketing agency in the world. We have helped raise over seventy 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 take your startup to the next level with crowdfunding. 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 buyers guide for cool luxury gadgets and creative gifts. To learn more visit the gadgetflow.com. Let’s get on with the show.

Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today, I am joined by Petr Prochazka with Skinners. Petr, thank you so much for joining us.

Petr:

Thank you for inviting me.

Roy:

You guys have created this revolutionary, ultra-portable footwear. Tell us all about your campaign.

Petr:

I don’t know where I should start. We are saying that the Skinners are your second footwear that fits in your pocket. We are saying that it’s footwear of [inaudible 00:01:23]. I don’t know, it’s such a general question. I don’t know how to answer this one.

Roy:

How about where this idea came from.

Petr:

It was lighting from clear sky. It came to my mind when I was working in Norway as a chef. I was there with my friend and one day he injured his foot. During the healing, he couldn’t fit that foot in the regular footwear so he start walking barefoot in the streets and in his socks as well. I was wondering, “Hey man, you have such nice socks. You are going to destroy them in a few minutes or after a few walks.”

His response was that he just started saying all the advantages. How great it is how he can move freely, etc. It was the first thought to my mind. I was thinking that sounds interesting why there’s nothing on the market that could be for your foot like a sock but protective as a shoe.

First, I tried to Google it and couldn’t find anything so at night I went to a closed construction site for some scrap material or some pieces, what I could find there. I made a first prototype the very same night. That’s the story. That’s the origin.

Roy:

He challenged you to build something. The best Kickstarter projects that we’ve seen have always come out of unique situations where a new product needed to be developed and this certainly is unique. We love your video. We think there’s obviously tons of different use cases for this product. You mentioned that you started about eighteen months ago. Talk about some of that prep work, not only building out a prototype but in terms of building up a campaign.

Petr:

First the prototypes, I was doing in my parent’s garage using Google to get all the necessary information I would need because the technology is quite new. The biggest challenge was to combine a few technologies to work together because we combined technologies no one did before. It took us twelve or fourteen months to tune up everything.

When we finally found or achieved that we can produce Skinners in a series, in manufacturing, then we decided to go to Kickstarter to [inaudible 00:04:09] the idea to get feedback from potential customers because I think there’s no better tool like Kickstarter is.

Roy:

This is true. What was some of the prep work you had done, once you had some prototypes done? What made you ultimately decide to use Kickstarter as your marketing validation tool?

Petr:

I think it’s my hobby to watch other campaigns and other people’s stories, how they came up with the idea and they’re trying to develop it with the help of the crowd. I [inaudible 00:04:49] and the community about crowdfunding where people are helping you. I think the prep working was watching the campaigns for one year and I was asking myself, “Hey, why do I like this campaign? What’s good about it? What’s the video? Is it good? Do I like it? What about rewards? Is the product expensive? Is it affordable? What about shipping options? Is it good or does it repulse people because, I don’t know, shipping is one hundred dollars.” I broke every single campaign into pieces and tried to find the unique mix, how to get the biggest or widest funnel where people are going to [inaudible 00:05:41].

Roy:

You certainly found a key product where you’ve got about six thousand backers and over four hundred thousand dollars raised. You’ve certainly created a product that people want.

Petr:

Yeah. I don’t know what to say [inaudible 00:05:59] As I said, we didn’t try to find the solution to some specific problem. It just hit me. In my brain, a few things connected. There’s nothing like sock shoe or there’s nothing between the sock and the shoe. It’s why don’t work on this idea and let’s see if people will like it and if people will like the marketing targeting.

I found inspiration, how to present the Skinners like the footwear of millions of views. I was inspired by Crocs because almost nobody knows today that Crocs started spa footwear or the footwear for [inaudible 00:06:54] and shapes. It simply came out. It appeared on the market and everybody took it and started using it in the way they like it. With Skinners, we tried to jump over a step and immediately offer people a way they can use the footwear as they want. That’s why we decided for Kickstarter and the way we are presenting the product.

Roy:

You guys funded the campaign in less than six hours and doubled it in twenty-one hours. What were some of the marketing initiatives that made the most impact for you?

Petr:

The first one was community. A few months before the campaign we started with local marketing. Getting people aware of this product, building the email list and in the end, it helped us a lot. As you could see, we got funded in six hours. To be honest, we thought that we will raise the ten thousand dollars, that was our goal, in two or three days. It was a big, big surprise for us that we could achieve it in six hours.

Roy:

Absolutely. It goes to show that the product and the marketing messaging you put out was, obviously, correct and found a niche that people wanted your product for. You said you built up an email data base. Most of our interviewees typically use Facebook to target and find potential audiences that fit. Given that your product is designed for everyone, not just fitness or yoga or people traveling or camping or hiking or running or what have you, how did some that initial lead generation flush out for you?

Petr:

We put some money in Facebook marketing. We tried to focus on people who do sports, who travels and then we were comparing what groups are doing the best. Where’s the biggest response? Where’s the biggest action taken? In time, it crystallized how we should target our campaigns and that’s how we build the email list. It was experimenting and then suddenly it was clear after a few weeks of testing.

Roy:

In terms of prototyping and product development, you guys spent over a year and a half putting it together. Can you talk about some of the hurdles you’ve had to jump over to get it to a working product now?

Petr:

Yes, the first big hurdle was to find companies who are using or dealing with technologies that we thought [inaudible 00:09:55] Skinners. When we finally found them, another hurdle was to find the process, how to combine unique technologies to produce Skinners. The product look was very simple but the production, it’s really difficult to make something look simple but the work behind it, it’s really tough.

Roy:

Absolutely, we know every product to develop is tough. Certainly, you guys have added some additional technology into the sock itself, if you will. We get that every campaign is a little unique in terms of some of the hurdles they have to jump over. What’s been the biggest surprise for you, not only in product development but in terms of running the campaign itself?

Petr:

It was the attraction that the campaign caused because, as I said, we thought that the campaign could do well and we could raise around, for example, one hundred thousand dollars and we would consider it a really huge success. Now, we are crossing 400K that’s the surprise. We weren’t expecting that. We didn’t have another stretch goal prepared. People are asking where we will add another stretch goals but that’s not possible. The calculations and everything that we could add, it was already added.

Roy:

You guys have obviously crushed that goal and blown it out of the water. What’s next for the Skinners team and the Skinners product line?

Petr:

First, we have to expand the manufacturing line because our capabilities are quite limited. That’s the first task. As we describe everything in the campaign that we already started production of Skinners because we already take it as a burden or our duty to fulfill what we said. All of us, on our team, we are [inaudible 00:12:11] and we really don’t like when most of the campaigns are delayed because of anything. It was very important for us so the people will receive their rewards in time. I think a million other things are ahead of us, what can raise without expectations, but I think we are ready to deal with it and deliver everything on time.

Roy:

Awesome. Petr, this gets us into our launch round where I rapid fire a few questions at you. Are you good to go?

Petr:

Okay.

Roy:

What inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

Petr:

The freedom I saw behind it. The freedom of doing whatever I want. Not be stuck in one place. Simply the freedom.

Roy:

That’s a great answer and I know a lot of our entrepreneurs can appreciate that as well. If you could take a walk in your Skinners with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be with?

Petr:

I don’t know if you could consider him an entrepreneur but it would be Forrest Gump.

Roy:

Forrest Gump. All right, say you’re running with Forrest Gump then.

Petr:

He was hunting shrimps or at least in the movie.

Roy:

Say you’re on a shrimp boat with Forrest Gump, what would be your first question for him?

Petr:

Why did you decide to hunt shrimps?

Roy:

Fair enough. You’re the first person to ever mention Forrest Gump as a potential interviewee.

Petr:

Actually, I wanted to say [inaudible 00:13:48] but I know that most of the entrepreneurs are saying him so I wanted to be a little bit original.

Roy:

That’s good for our mix up in terms of our running total of entrepreneurs to hang out with. Who did you look up to when you were growing up?

Petr:

To my successful friends and parents.

Roy:

What book is on your nightstand?

Petr:

Right now, it’s The Mindset from the Harvard Psychology [inaudible 00:14:21].

Roy:

What would you say your biggest weakness is?

Petr:

I’m a little bit stubborn.

Roy:

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Petr:

Working on Skinners and some other new projects.

Roy:

What big thing do you want to accomplish in your life time?

Petr:

To help other people to be satisfied with their lives and to do things they really want.

Roy:

Awesome. Last question, what does the future of crowdfunding look like?

Petr:

I think the crowdfunding market will be a little more crowded; more and more campaigns are starting. It will push the creators of the campaigns to prepare better campaigns to push on quality and it will be a little bit more difficult to succeed, I think.

Roy:

Awesome. Petr, you’ve been great. Please give our audience your pitch. Tell us what you’re all about. Where people should go and why they should go buy a pair of Skinners.

Petr:

You can visit and support our Kickstarter page for Skinners. That’s the [inaudible 00:15:35] and we will appreciate every kind of help or spreading the word or, I don’t know, whatever. Thank you very much and thank you for inviting me.

Roy:

Our pleasure, Petr. Everyone, thank you again for tuning in. Make sure to visit artkick.wpengine.com for all of the show notes, a full transcript of what we talked about, links to the campaign, and everything else. Also, visit for a coupon code that we have for Gadget Flow. Petr, thank you again for joining us.

Petr:

Thank you, bye.

Roy:

Thanks for tuning in to another 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, be sure to visit artkick.wpengine.com and tell us about it. There you’ll find additional information about past episodes and our Kickstarter guide to crushing it. If you’ve loved this episode, leave us a review at artkick.wpengine.com/itunes. It helps more inventors and entrepreneurs find the show and helps us get better guests on here to help build your business.

If you need a more hands on, crowdfunding strategy, please feel free to request a quote on commandpartners.com. Thanks again for tuning in. We’ll see you soon.