In this episode of Art of the Kickstart, we interviewed Hannan Hakim, co-founder and CEO of Hyper Lychee, creators of Skadu. As the faster, easier way to clean stuck-on grime anywhere in your home, Skadu is the hand-held, electric power scrubber with a lightweight ergonomic design and a variety of attachment options. Listen in and learn about the brand’s product development journey and their road to Kickstarter.

Topics Discussed and Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

    • How a visit with an elderly relative gave Hannan Hakim the inspiration for Skadu
    • Why they choose Kickstarter as the avenue to introduce Skadu to the market
    • How they prepared for the crowdfunding campaign two months before the launch
    • The importance of testing to determine your best audience whether that be through a crowdfunding platform or retail
    • The biggest takeaways Hannan can give as a first time Kickstarter creator

    Links

    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!

    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 hundred million dollars for our clients since 2010.
    Roy Morejon:
    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 we are speaking with Hannan Hakim, co-founder of Hyper Lychee. Hyper Lychee is an amazing new innovation that’s on Kickstarter right now, set out to truly revolutionize the way that people execute daily tasks at home. It’s an amazing, powerful scrubber that I first got the opportunity to see at the Consumer Electronics Show last year. So I’m really excited that this innovation has launched, raised over $172,000 so far with close to 2000 backers. So Hannan, thank you so much for being on the show today.
    Hannan Hakim:
    Thank you for having me, Roy.
    Roy Morejon:
    So, this is a really cool innovation. I can’t wait to use it in my kitchen for just all of the cleaning and dishes that I have to do these days now that everybody’s at home and my kids are eating more than I think I’ve ever seen them eat before in their lives. So there’s a lot of dishes going around, but this product is definitely, has more than just one use case. So, take us back to, I guess, 2016 when you founded the company and the inspiration to create this product.
    Hannan Hakim:
    So in 2016, I was visiting my great uncle and aunt. That is the, my mother’s uncle and aunt. So you can imagine they are really old. And one fine day in the morning, I saw them cleaning the kitchen. And my first reaction was that, “Please give me the scrubber so I can do it.” And then I started to think about this really annoying task that we have all taken for granted and why it was not very difficult for me to put in some arm strength. I saw my uncle and aunt really struggle.
    Hannan Hakim:
    So, that actually led to the initial opening question as to why this task can’t be made simpler or faster or better and easier. So that was the initial inspiration for actually starting to create a product that would solve this nightmare of scrubbing by hand.
    Roy Morejon:
    Amazing. So, let’s talk about the process of then creating the product, the innovation itself. Where did that start in terms of beginning to design it, engineer it, and then find factories that can actually make this brand new thing?
    Hannan Hakim:
    So I think that that comes with experience. I’m an industrial designer and I have been designing products for almost a decade now. I’m designing engineering and also bringing them to life. And I think I honed all the skills of getting everything done in one roof because, when I returned to India from Italy, where I was working as a designer, there were no jobs for industrial design. And so I started going to all the big companies and requesting projects from scratch, which meant that I would need to do everything. At first, it was really challenging, but that really built my skill to design, engineer, and then also source the part components and manufacturing for those products. So I think it was just experience that led to getting everything else in place.
    Roy Morejon:
    What were some of those challenges in terms of designing the product? Our audience runs into hurdles all the time and many people get 90% of the race done and then they quit. So, what allowed you guys to continue progressing forward and actually deliver such an amazing tool?
    Hannan Hakim:
    The one thing that I would advise any entrepreneur out there trying to build a product, is perseverance. So you might have failures, and that’s fantastic, because the sooner you fail, the faster you will correct it and get better. And it should not be a deterrent to move forward, it should only be a tool to learn from.
    Hannan Hakim:
    I think for us, there were many challenges when you were building this product because there was not a second product that performed the way we wanted our product to perform. We had a different, unique approach to creating a powerful scrubber than what others have done in the market previously. And we really tried to overcome all those pitfalls.
    Hannan Hakim:
    When you copy somebody’s idea, it’s much simpler than when you try and make a completely new, innovative approach. You will have to go through multiple iterations and countless failures to finally succeed. So I think we went about a total of 100 prototypes by the time we had the final version that you showcased at CES, which I think you saw it as well. And that’s there on the campaign page right now.
    Roy Morejon:
    Yeah. It’s truly impressive. And in terms of the product itself, I actually got a chance to use it and get a feel for it. And definitely, truly innovative, especially, as you mentioned, for an older community, to be able to clean multiple things in their house and just not being able to get in there with arthritis or whatever it may be in terms of other health issues.
    Hannan Hakim:
    Yeah.
    Roy Morejon:
    So in terms of crowdfunding, how did you guys first get introduced to crowdfunding, Kickstarter?
    Hannan Hakim:
    So I have been following Kickstarter since 2013 or 2014. And I have always been amazed as to how ideas can be brought to life by getting people to believe in your cause. And I think that really boiled down to researching a lot more into how that works and how the economics of that work. So, it’s been quite a while since I know about this platform.
    Roy Morejon:
    So, talk about how you guys decided then that Kickstarter was the right path to launch this innovation on.
    Hannan Hakim:
    So we debated a lot about the platforms available out there, like Indiegogo and Kickstarter. In the end, we finalized on going about Kickstarter because we’d really built our product and we do have a story. We are all real people on this side with a united story of building this product. And we knew that people on the platform, when we tell them our story, they would see us and they would see what we have worked hard for.
    Hannan Hakim:
    And so it was a no brainer by the end of it, of actually putting everything down, then selecting Kickstarter because it had a much wider community. And then we always knew that Indiegogo would be the second place to continue our campaign and keep scaling the campaign [inaudible 00:07:03] the Kickstarter.
    Roy Morejon:
    So let’s talk about prep work for the campaign itself. How long ago did you guys begin marketing or building up any marketing collateral, assets, customer lists before the launch?
    Hannan Hakim:
    We started preparing for the campaign three months prior, and that involved everything, right from getting a team in place to shoot the video, getting some photography done, getting our landing page professionally made. It also involved putting an ads team together to start generating leads that would back us on Kickstarter on day one. So I think three months was, let’s say the starting point, and then it got really intense in the last month.
    Roy Morejon:
    So when you guys launched your campaign out there, you guys had some really good early success in terms of initial funding coming in and doubling day after day. How big was your pre-campaign database, and do you wish it was larger?
    Hannan Hakim:
    I mean, I have very mixed feelings about this because we had about only 1,000 people that we had for the pre-campaign. And it’s not that we didn’t try to scale our ads, it’s just that we were unable to get enough signups at a decent lead cost. So often 1,000, when the cost, it just started jumping, we stopped. I would, of course, have wished for a much larger list, but the biggest issue that I feel is not just nurturing the list, but also getting a decent conversion on the list that you generate.
    Hannan Hakim:
    So if you have a really inexpensive product and you spend quite a lot to generate your list, you might run into a loss making statement for day one. But for us, it was, I think, just about break even. On the effort of actually doing the 1,000 leads and then getting about, I think we had about 30 people from the 1,000 who actually backed the product.
    Roy Morejon:
    Okay. So, with the prep work leading up to the campaign, three months is certainly a decent amount of time in terms of 100 days to get that thing ready. Do you feel that there would be anything that you would have done differently during your pre-campaign that you might do for your next project?
    Hannan Hakim:
    Yes, absolutely. I think the one thing that any creator should do is get a marketing agency to do testing for them, to test and see if the audience on Kickstarter is the right audience for their product, because sometimes some products are brilliant for Kickstarter, but they don’t do well in retail, and don’t do well on Kickstarter, but they are amazing in retail. So that testing will give you an initial heads up of what kind of initial investment or what kind of money you should be allotting to your campaign and if that should be… And that will also help you plan your goals and your path forward. So I think that is something that we would do differently next time is actually test the idea out to the audience. Not that we are in a bad place right now, we are doing pretty good, but I would do it this differently.
    Roy Morejon:
    Let’s talk a little bit about your experience with the community that’s come in so far back in your campaign. 90% of these customers are pre-existing, existing backers on Kickstarter itself with only 10% of the folks, roughly, being a first time backer. Have you gotten much feedback from the Kickstarter backers out there, the super backers if you will, and how have you gone about managing the feedback from these communities that you’ve built?
    Hannan Hakim:
    So, I mean, there hasn’t been a lot of feedback, but there have been a lot of questions. I think one of the most common questions that people do ask us are already there on our campaign page, it’s right there in our FAQ’s at our campaign page. So there hasn’t been anything that I would say that is drastically different, but there are still a lot of people… Like what we have done is we’ve opened the conversation with our backers and our updates to give us feedback and ideas for attachments or product upgrades or things that they feel that might make Skadu more helpful.
    Hannan Hakim:
    And what we have realized is that there are people who do that. The comments, if you go through them, you’ll find a lot of people giving ideas on, “Okay, I want to use this for cleaning my shoes, can I have a specific attachment for that?” Or, “Can you please tell me if I can attach polishing pads to this product?” So there is a mixed variety of conversations happening.
    Hannan Hakim:
    There are, of course, people who question the power of the product or the engineering of the product. And that’s where we sort of give them our understanding of why the product is made the way it is. And we also let them know at every stage that we are 100% there and listening to what they are saying, so please keep giving us feedback because that’s the whole point of getting early adopters on board to get the product in their hands. If they don’t keep giving us feedback, and if they don’t keep suggesting, then this sort of does not make them our backers, in a way, it just makes them customers that have come in earlier because they got a discount.
    Roy Morejon:
    Yeah, and I think you bring up a really important point in terms of… Kickstarter allows the community to truly have a voice and have a one-on-one potential conversation or discussion with the creators themselves to improve it, or add additional features. This is what we learn throughout this process of how to make it better, or how to appeal to potentially more consumers that are out there through the comments that they leave.
    Roy Morejon:
    So, what has been the biggest thing, or the number one takeaway that you can educate our audience on in terms of the whole process of launching on Kickstarter for the first time?
    Hannan Hakim:
    I would say that there are two ways to look at launching on Kickstarter. One is that you really need to be confident about your product and your offering. Make something that people want, and test that to check if people want that. And once you have that, then the path is based on how you want to scale your campaign. If you can work with an agency, that’s fantastic because they will really help you scale and they have all the know-how and the talent to actually drive a campaign forward. But in our case, we were slightly cashed up, we didn’t have a lot of money on us. So, we really had to just do it on our own and we figured it on our own.
    Hannan Hakim:
    So it was a little slightly… I wouldn’t say slightly, but a lot more difficult for us to achieve this part. And I’m sure that we would have been in a much better place if we had an agency in place. So, yeah, I would say that get a product in place that works, that is… Tell your story, be honest with your story because backers are also smart people out there who will see through you if you lie to them and that’s happening on many campaigns out there. So, don’t hide anything, be honest, tell them what you’re doing, and your story will reflect that automatically. And get an agency if you can.
    Roy Morejon:
    So, what’s been the biggest surprise of the campaign so far? I know you got six days left as we record this, any surprises so far?
    Hannan Hakim:
    I think the biggest surprise is projects we love. We were not expecting that. And I think when we got that we were very excited and very happy and apart from the fact that they also help get you backers, these are also these small wins that you have in life that add to your happiness in that stage of your life. So for us, it was a very happy surprise to get projects we love during our campaign.
    Roy Morejon:
    Got it. I’m interested to know where you guys are headed next, what’s the next innovation that you guys are going to be launching?
    Hannan Hakim:
    So our first priority focus is to get Skadu out and [inaudible 00:14:59] that we are already working towards a conception model of Skadu Ultra, which is going to be not just restricted to cleaning, but also many other things that you can do around your house using a rotary tool. Where it can have an array of attachments. So it might be the last tool that you will ever buy at home. So that would probably be our next move in this space.
    Roy Morejon:
    Man, well, I can’t wait to see that invention. Well, Hannan, this is going to get us into our launch round, where I’m going to rapid fire a handful of questions at you. You good to go?
    Hannan Hakim:
    Sure.
    Roy Morejon:
    All right. So what inspired you to be an entrepreneur?
    Hannan Hakim:
    Necessity’s the mother of all invention. Like I said, when I came back to India, I could not get a job and automatically I was pushed to do something on my own, to be an industrial designer. And that just led to entrepreneurship. When you run your own studio, you are technically an entrepreneur, and then I never looked back.
    Roy Morejon:
    Amazing. So if you could meet with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?
    Hannan Hakim:
    Sir James Dyson.
    Roy Morejon:
    Ah, interesting choice. What would be your first question for him?
    Hannan Hakim:
    How does he drive his happiness in life?
    Roy Morejon:
    Yeah. He went through quite a few different models of products to get them out there.
    Hannan Hakim:
    And he went through a pretty rough stretch making his company and building his company to where it is. So, for someone who can build an empire like this, it’s really crucial to know how he kept himself happy. And that, I think, is a key to life.
    Roy Morejon:
    Absolutely. Any book you would recommend to our aspiring entrepreneurs?
    Hannan Hakim:
    Absolutely. Jugaad Innovation, J-U-G-A-A-D, Jugaad Innovation. And I think this is a book that every entrepreneur should read. And if I can just elaborate for a quick 10 seconds on this is that, I read a post on LinkedIn recently where a Silicon Valley based product design company said that if you don’t have two years and $2 million to develop a product the size of your palm, you shouldn’t even start. And when I read that I just laughed and laughed and I wish I could show them ways to do it in under $20,000. That this book is all about frugal innovation. And I hope that all entrepreneurs, and I wish for all entrepreneurs to read it.
    Roy Morejon:
    That’s first time on the show. So I’m looking forward to reading it and sharing it with the audience, Hannan. Last question, and I know you’re doing your first campaign and it’s almost done, but really interested to hear your take on what does the future of crowdfunding look like?
    Hannan Hakim:
    I think a lot more local, the future of crowdfunding. Right now, I think what we are doing is we are reaching out to people who are in different countries and different parts of the world, but we are not really tapping alone into our local communities. And I think that the future of crowdfunding is going to be getting more and more people in your local community to participate.
    Roy Morejon:
    Yeah, no, solid insights there, sir. Well, this is your opportunity to give our audience your pitch. Tell people what you’re all about, where they should go, and why they should check you out.
    Hannan Hakim:
    Sure. So Skadu is a handheld electric scrubber that comes with multiple attachments and it removes and takes away the nightmare of scrubbing by hand. And I think this is a problem that anybody who’s listening to this can relate to. The product is up on Kickstarter right now, it’s live. There are five days to go, and we are still running our early-bird deal. So you can go on kickstarter.com and search for Skadu, S-K-A-D-U, Skadu. And it’ll show right up.
    Roy Morejon:
    Awesome. Well audience, thanks again for tuning in make sure to visit artofthekickstart.com for the notes and the transcript. Links to the campaign and everything else we talked about today. And of course thank you to our crowdfunding podcast sponsors, the Gadget Flow and ProductHype. Hannan, thank you so much for your invention and coming on our show.
    Hannan Hakim:
    Thank you for having me, Roy. I really appreciate it.
    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.