In this episode of Art of the Kickstart, we interviewed Hannah Brennen and Mark Coombs, the founders of the Sleepout Curtain. The Sleepout Curtain is a patented, portable OEKO-TEX® 100% blackout curtain that blocks light and installs anywhere for better sleep. Light enough to fold up and take with you anywhere, this curtain is also the first portable blackout curtain that installs on windows in seconds. Learn how Hannah and Mark prepared for the launch of their campaign that, in less than a week, has already raised over $102,000 with the support of more than 800 backers.

Topics Discussed and Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • The pre-launch campaign planning that allowed Sleepout to raise over 6-figures in less than a week
  • How Hannah and Mark’s experiences with insomnia and tech served as the inspiration for the Sleepout Curtain
  • Insight into the Sleepout Curtain prototyping process from testing suction cups to using negative reviews for feedback
  • How the relationship between sleeping in cool, dark environments and melatonin production makes the Sleepout Curtain a great tool for getting a good night’s sleep
  • How seeking out mentors positively impacted Hannah and Mark’s experience the Sleepout Curtain
  • Advice Hannah and Mark have to offer new entrepreneurs when creating landing pages and utilizing Facebook ads

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, entrepreneurs and startups, to Art of the Kickstart, the podcast that every entrepreneur needs to listen to before you launch. I’m your host, Roy Morejon, president and founder of Enventys Partners, the world’s only turnkey product launch company that has helped over 2,000 innovations successfully raise over $400 million in capital since 2010.

Roy Morejon:
Each week, I interview a crowdfunding success story, an inspirational entrepreneur, or a business expert in order to help you take your startup to the next level. This show would not be possible without our main sponsor, ProductHype, a 300,000-member crowdfunding media site and newsletter that’s generated millions of dollars in sales for over 1,000 top-tier projects since 2017. Check out producthype.co to subscribe to the weekly newsletter. Now let’s get on with the show.

Roy Morejon:
Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today I am super stoked to be speaking with Hannah Brennen and Mark Coombs, the founders of the Sleepout curtain. Today is going to be a special episode, because their campaign is about to launch within the next 24 hours, so you’re catching them at a really good time where they’ve caught up on all their sleep. Just kidding. But they’re about to launch, click the button on Kickstarter. So Hannah, Mark, thank you so much for joining us today on Art of the Kickstart.

Mark Coombs:
Yeah, just a huge privilege to be here, and thank you so much for having us, Roy.

Roy Morejon:
Well, it’s my privilege. So let’s dive in. I know I usually begin these interviews talking about the product and all of that, but I think it’s important, for this show, to talk about both of your backgrounds and what led you down this entrepreneurial path and led you to be entrepreneurs. So if you would, let’s start at the beginning and take it back to the beginnings of how you guys began your entrepreneurial journey together.

Mark Coombs:
Yeah, for sure. So I can start with that. I’ve had a couple of careers already in my age. I actually started out as a lawyer downtown in Toronto. A law professor of mine connected me with a tech startup called Blue J Legal, which is a legal tech company that predicts the outcomes of court cases, which is pretty interesting.

Mark Coombs:
Anyway, I left law practice behind within two years of practicing, because I was interested in AI technology, and I wanted to get a sense of what the practice could morph into. That’s where I ended up meeting Hannah. The rest is history there. We quickly moved to other tech positions but really fell in love with the entrepreneurial nature of startups. Fast-growing, lots of skills being learned. And so went from Blue J to another legal tech startup, and Hannah and I got together during the pandemic and realized we wanted to create a company of our own.

Hannah Brennen:
And so we had a couple different… We’ll get into this more when we talk about the product, but we had a couple different ideas that we were sort trying to figure out. And while we’re reading about all these entrepreneurs that we really look up to and looking for the right idea, Mark is struggling to sleep every night, because he’s had insomnia for pretty much his whole life. And we were staying in a rental apartment, so we couldn’t install anything permanent. Darkness, light needed. Darkness was really important for Mark to get good sleep, and we had just this awful time trying to make our room dark enough. And that’s how we decided to get started with Sleepout. It was such a headache for us for so long. We realized we could do better than everything that existed on the market, and that was what sort of came to us as the thing to finally take the leap.

Roy Morejon:
So let’s talk about this thing, this idea, this inspiration. What inspired you to then create the Sleepout curtain? And then talk a little bit about the product as if I’d never heard it before.

Mark Coombs:
So the inspiration is, as Hannah said, I am terrible to sleep next to, and Hannah had to deal with that. Like, literally using every method available to us. So we had tried every other product that existed. Most of them were for babies. We tried tin foil, we tried garbage bags, we tried blankets, we tried jeans, everything else, and we pretty much had to make this product for ourselves. And when we realized that a lot of other people also had this issue, not many people are as light-sensitive as I am, but lots of people have children or just want to be able to darken a room when they travel or they rent.

Hannah Brennen:
Or just scientifically, people sleep better in darkness.

Mark Coombs:
Yeah, all of that was critical. And so we prototyped and just kind of went to work. And Hannah was a huge part of that. At the beginning of this was just random blackout fabrics and attaching different forms of suction cups and just finding a way to make this work.

Roy Morejon:
So I just ran into this issue. Rented a beach house this past week for a much-needed vacation with the family post-COVID and all of that. Bright sunshine all day. And right now, again, this is the longest days of the year, right? And I could not get my kids to go to sleep, because they’re like, “Dad, there’s still light outside. I don’t have to go to bed yet.” And I was so frustrated that the blinds didn’t do it, so I was just making this makeshift, pulling comforters and trying to get them to stay. And then it’s just a whole rigamarole of trying to get my kids to sleep where this product that you guys have solved, I wish I already had, not only for just the trips that you take, but again, with kids or business travel, you never know what you’re going to get in the room.

Hannah Brennen:
Exactly. We’ve had that same situation, both vacationing and staying in an Airbnb. It’s like a much-needed weekend away, except 5 a.m., the sun comes in, and that is… People that get up at 5 a.m., good for you. I’m not somebody who’s on that schedule. And so then you wake up, and you’re really sleep-deprived. And when you’re traveling for business, it’s exactly the same situation. If you’re worried about sleep, there’s a whole bunch of uncertainty around your sleep environment. Then you don’t know how your meeting’s going to go the next day. And I’m so glad to hear you say that, Roy, that that’s something that you already need, because honestly, the response has been so amazing. And I think it’s something that really is just going to make a difference for people. It certainly has for us. We use our prototypes every night.

Mark Coombs:
Yeah, I think that’s the big difference here, is we actually still sleep with ours and travel with ours wherever we go. I think people understand pretty well the need for having a mattress or a pillow to sleep on. They understand that they sleep in a dark environment better, but they don’t really know why. And so we love being a part of that education change as well. All specialists recommend sleeping in a cold, dark environment. The reason why is because it’s actually darkness that triggers your melatonin production. So your body doesn’t even know it’s time to sleep unless it is in a dark room or somewhere dark.

Roy Morejon:
Yeah, Hannah, I am one of those crazy people. I do wake up at four or five in the morning. I’m also always trying to get better sleep, deep sleep, so I’ve got the Oura Ring, I’ve got the Ooler chiliPAD to monitor and keep myself cool at night. I’ve got the Gravity Blanket to cuddle up with and everything like that, and I think this is the next piece in my sleep repertoire to help optimize my sleep time that I do get.

Hannah Brennen:
There you go. And good for you for waking up early. You’ve got to tell me how you do that. [inaudible 00:07:17]. But it’s exactly like you’re saying: There’s some really cool science that backs up why darkness is so important, and sleep research and sleep [inaudible 00:07:30] has come so far. The benefits of it are so much broader than you think. You’re like, “Sure, I sleep better in the dark.” But research shows that sleeping in darkness is linked with a lower risk of obesity, a lower risk of depression, more mood stability, more stable circadian rhythms.

Hannah Brennen:
It all comes back to melatonin production, because they’ve done these studies where they’ll be measuring people’s melatonin. If you can’t tell, we’re pretty nerdy about this, but they’ll measure people’s melatonin, and that’s what triggers you to go to sleep and to sleep deeply. And then they’ll be in a dark room, and they’ll be producing melatonin, and somebody will turn on a light for literally a second and then turn it back off, and they’ll keep measuring that melatonin throughout the night. The second the light turns on, the production stops. And then halfway through the night, you’ve got about two-thirds of the amount of melatonin. Towards the end of the night, when you’re getting that REM sleep and that deep sleep, your melatonin is at maybe half of the level that it would be if you were sleeping in darkness. So having access to that at home and also everywhere else you go, it just gives you so much certainty around your sleep environments and getting that much closer to a good night’s sleep every single night.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. So let’s talk about the business. Is it just the two of you, and if so, what are your roles within the company?

Mark Coombs:
Yeah, that’s a great question. So it is just the two of us, and we’ve been asked this before. Hannah is amazing on product and supply chain. I tend to have to do the fun stuff of legal and CFO and some of those angles. We know that we’ll have to eventually hire for other roles, but the great thing about Hannah and I is, we can totally trust each other to jump in on pretty much anything that’s going on and just be able to handle it. One of the reasons that I wanted to do this with Hannah: When we had her at Blue J, she was hired not with an actual particular role. It was just kind of, “Come into the startup and help us do everything.” And being able to work with somebody like that to deal with supply chain at one second and then handle Facebook ads the next second or customer issues has been absolutely incredible.

Hannah Brennen:
No, and [crosstalk 00:09:37]… Oh, go ahead, Roy.

Roy Morejon:
No, go ahead, Hannah.

Hannah Brennen:
Well, just adding to that, Mark is the best leader that I’ve ever had the privilege of working with. The way he can switch and walk into meetings where you have to be really on and just communicate the vision to turning back and looking at little details that are going to make or break ad performance or how we do on the website. We work really well together and play well to each other’s strengths. Yeah, right now it’s the two of us. It works really well.

Roy Morejon:
Nice. Yeah, and I think that was just what I was going to say. I think it helps when co-founders can wear multiple, different hats and have the jack-of-all trades, potentially, but obviously expertise in certain categories where they are the go-to one, but then you solve things together. And I think a lot of startups struggle with that, whether they be single founders or bringing in multiple founders. Just understanding those clear divisions, but also where there’s some overlap and where you can kind of collaborate together to make the best product and get the best product out to the customer.

Mark Coombs:
100%, and I seriously could not ask for a better co-founder than Hannah. She’s able to do all the other things that I’m either not good at or don’t want to do, and vice versa. It’s been an incredible journey just for us to be able to do all of this together.

Roy Morejon:
So in talking about this journey, let’s jump into the design side of things. When you guys found the product, the problem, all of that… Talk about the process from deciding what features to include and how to design the product the first time around, and what changes and iterations you’ve made along the way.

Mark Coombs:
So I’ll talk on the research side, and then Hannah will talk on the design side. The research was actually somewhat easy for us, so one of the reasons we decided to go into this business was because this was already a bestselling product on Amazon with poor reviews. So we knew this is the best type of data you can get: somebody who’s willing to pay money to solve a problem and is still not satisfied at the end of it.

Mark Coombs:
So actually, our best data came from reading thousands and thousands of negative reviews. From there, we ran different tests to landing pages, just to see if we added a couple of features that people kept complaining about… Our analysis showed there were two that mattered the most. One was: Does it actually stay up for the whole night? Does it fall down? If it falls down, then you’re going to be pretty pissed off if this is the reason you’re waking up. The second one was: Does it have light bleeds everywhere, meaning it’s not effective in actually blocking light. So we ran a couple of tests, and we knew that those were the two design issues that we had to go to work to fix, and that was largely Hannah that did that.

Hannah Brennen:
That’s very kind of you, Mark. I mean, we were starting from personal experience and able to use that to figure out what data we needed to understand the problems. As far as product design goes, we started with the problems that we had to solve, and then it was sort of, at first, a painful process of figuring out how to go about solving it.

Hannah Brennen:
Both Mark and I have backgrounds in tech with software, so physical products were a big learning curve. But I think the biggest thing that we did, and this has been consistent in every aspect of the business, is just reaching out to other entrepreneurs who have solved these problems who know more than we do and who are experts in areas that we don’t know. And that’s been how we’ve made all of the biggest leaps, as a business and definitely in product development. We were introduced to our manufacturer through another entrepreneur. We figured out the locking suction cups. That was a recommendation from somebody else who has a suction-cup product. And same thing on blackout material. We started by reaching out to 100% blackout fabric companies in the States. There’s only one that does this. And our questions got a lot better as we went along. Our prototypes got a lot more sophisticated as we started to learn even what we were aiming for.

Hannah Brennen:
So we figured out the suction cups. That was the first problem. And having a recommendation on using locking suction cups probably took two or three months out of our development cycle. We tested a whole bunch of different ways to attach the suction cups to the curtains. And we’re still constantly thinking about what the next version of the product is going to be, how we can still make it better. And then over the past couple of months, we’ve been working with the manufacturer to get everything really perfect and get it to the best it can be for this version. So making it all fit together really well and making sure the experience is as easy and intuitive as possible, making our packaging look beautiful, and then getting the product here.

Roy Morejon:
So I love the fact that, again, talking about this product launch formula, or just finding the right product, and you started with the biggest problem in Mark’s life: sleep. And then you start doing the research, right? The Helium 10s or the Jungle Scouts and looking at sales data and then reading reviews and seeing if you are able to solve that problem. Then you tap into your own network to find out if there are other people you can talk to and communicate to to build this product and make it better. I think that just goes to show that this is how you’ve been able to transition and build out this product so quickly and efficiently, is being able to follow that formula, if you will.

Hannah Brennen:
For sure. And it’s worth mentioning, too: We both have backgrounds in sales, and most of the people, if not all of the people, especially on the product development side that we’ve reached out to, we didn’t know. We reached out cold, maybe using some old cold outreach sales skills. But just saying, “Hey, we’re new entrepreneurs. We need some help on this one thing.” And the response that we’ve gotten from other people doing this, looking to help pass on the help that they got when they were in our position, has just been incredible.

Mark Coombs:
I think that’s been the single biggest X factor, by the way, for us, is being able to reach out to other entrepreneurs who are way ahead of us on suction cups or way ahead of us in business. Talking about entrepreneurs that have had nine-figure exits that were willing to sit on an hour call with us to help direct us in the sleep industry or help direct us in factories and how to use a really high-quality factory. The reason that we have such a high-quality manufacturing partner is because one of them literally guided us to our manufacturing partner that’s also used by Disney. So being able to seek out mentors or other people that were way ahead of us increased our time speed by probably triple. I don’t think we’d be anywhere near where we are now without that kind of help.

Roy Morejon:
Yeah. I mean, in terms of working and partnering, you worked with us here at Enventys Partners for a while now for this launch. Talk about some of those considerations that you guys had when choosing an agency to partner with to launch this product with.

Mark Coombs:
Yeah, exactly. I mean, we asked around. We asked some of the most successful companies and successful sleep companies, people like Hush Blankets, people like Vertiball who the best person to partner with was. And then we got your name, Roy, and the Enventys team has really… I mean, we can’t believe the level of marketing that we’ve gotten for this Kickstarter, and that’s why I’m so excited to launch tomorrow. The video’s incredible. The page is absolutely amazing. All of the artwork done, all of the copy done. It’s really just been the most amazing experience, and we may have never known about that, had we not had mentors who had already been through this experience at the highest level.

Hannah Brennen:
Absolutely. This is really the first time that we’ve seen everything come together. We’ve got a product. We’ve got a landing page and a website that we’ve built up. But putting everything together, all of the work and the prep that goes into Kickstarter, telling a cohesive story that’s compelling, and just packaging the messaging and the product all together… It looks so legit, it’s awesome. And Mark and I have had, I mean, how many conversations about just how incredible working with Enventys has been, because we wouldn’t be anywhere near this ready if not for that.

Roy Morejon:
Well, I know you guys can’t see me, but I’m blushing. It’s so wonderful to hear, and I know the team is super stoked to be able to launch this. The landing page Hannah mentioned was trysleepout.com, so we’ll definitely provide all the links to everybody as well as the Kickstarter campaign once the project goes live tomorrow for everyone.

Roy Morejon:
But let’s talk a little bit about the crowdfunding campaign and some of that preparation leading up to the crowdfunding campaign. So any prep work or tips, nuggets that you want to instill into the audience, in terms of what it looked like leading up to the launch and some of the things that have been done for it?

Mark Coombs:
I’d say number one is, as we’ve talked about, have a really good marketing partner. Again, Enventys… We wouldn’t be able to handle all the different aspects of this: PR, ads, videos, getting the entire page done… There’s so many aspects that you may not be thinking of. And even really successful entrepreneurs, people that now have huge businesses that did a Kickstarter that didn’t do so well, they’re like, “Wow, I really wish I worked with a better partner,” or “I really wish that I did a lot more pre-launch work.” So that’s the next tip.

Mark Coombs:
A lot of this we haven’t actually launched yet, so it’s not like we can say, “Hey, this was successful for us.” But we have 6,000 people who’ve already signed up, and we feel good about that. We’ve been working towards this launch for months. We’ve been getting out there. We’ve been driving traffic. We’ve been driving up hype, and we’ve been telling our story. So I’d say building in public and the pre-launch is something that a lot of people probably don’t think about, but it’s actually super critical. And Hannah, I don’t know if you have anything to add to that.

Hannah Brennen:
No. I mean, we’ve been trying to be everywhere and figure out where the communities that are going to be most affected and most benefited by our product are. So in addition to all of this prep, it’s sort of like testing different subreddits, for example, of, like… In our case, night shift workers really have to sleep in darkness and have to sleep during the day, so that’s an organic approach. There’s so much that goes into these campaigns, and without a team of people to, first of all, organize it and then manage it up to launch and… I mean, we haven’t even started the campaign yet, but I think that we’re just going to feel even more this way once we go live. It’s really essential.

Roy Morejon:
So reflection time. What’s the biggest thing that you’ve learned throughout the whole process during the pre-launch of launching this campaign on Kickstarter tomorrow?

Hannah Brennen:
I think the biggest reflection is just the value of testing and iterating. Being able to hypothesize something, put it out there, see how it’s doing with different audiences, see how it’s resonating with people, and then tweaking and repeating that process over and over. We’ve done that on everything with our landing page, with our product, with our campaign. And the feedback… You try to [sell it 00:20:37] to new people every single time. The feedback that you get changes, and it improves as you get better. But I think it’s a mindset you have to go in with, and it’s something that you get better at doing the more you do it.

Mark Coombs:
And I think the only thing I’d add to that is being open with our story. Since we’ve launched this company, we have been posting about everything that’s been happening, and that’s built such a level of trust and community already. We actually ended up having to move our Kickstarter launch to Tuesday from last Wednesday, and we DM’d probably hundreds of people who were like, “I’m going to share, and I’m going to do all this stuff for you.” And what we got back was just this outpouring of, “We don’t care. We’re supporting you guys, come hell or high water. We’ve been waiting for this from the beginning.” And that was scary to do, actually. We had a lot of people tell us, “Be secretive about this. Don’t even launch on Kickstarter. Don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. You’re going to have your idea stolen.” That hasn’t happened. It’s actually been the opposite. By being so open about it, it’s already given us a little bit of a community moat now, which has been great.

Roy Morejon:
Yeah, I love the fact that you guys are building in public. If you would, give our audience a little bit of background, in terms of what that may mean and what you guys have done.

Mark Coombs:
So what building in public means to me is, you are open with your audience, especially the people who are actually going to support you or buy your product, about the entire journey. And that’s not just really high-end Instagram photos of the beautiful product and everything at the end and how you’re so successful. It’s being honest about the journey that you’re going through, the choices that you’re making as a company, what your brand is actually morphing into and what it stands for, how you’re selecting people, and how you’re not selecting people.

Mark Coombs:
And I think that going forward over the next 10 years, the most successful brands, at least in B2C, the ones that have real connections to their customers, kind of have to be that way. People see through all of the general… We got our first video done, and the product looks amazing, but if it was just all about really flashy shots of the product, I don’t think we would have one-tenth of the people that we have right now that are willing to help us.

Mark Coombs:
So I actually think that being open about your strategy and where you’re going with everything is a source of potentially even a competitive advantage. And I think it’s going to become even more and more critical for brands going forward, especially with new social causes that are becoming more important by the day.

Hannah Brennen:
Especially for brands that are on Kickstarter and are generally earlier-stage. I think it would be incredible and radical if you were to have, like, Microsoft or IBM building in public. It would work a little differently because they’re so big. But for smaller brands… We are two people, and people connect with other people. So humanizing the brand, being really open, like Mark was saying, about our story, his story, how nerdy we are about sleep, it comes off, I think, as genuine. People want to support it, want to root for the little guy and get behind us. And now we’ve got this [inaudible 00:23:30] community of people that are excited about the product and excited for the launch.

Roy Morejon:
Indeed. Well, Hannah, you’ve cued me up perfectly for the launch round. Mark, you drew the short straw because you got the most sleep last night. You ready to go?

Mark Coombs:
Yeah, I’m ready to go.

Roy Morejon:
Let’s do this. So what inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

Mark Coombs:
For me, what inspired me to be an entrepreneur was, I love creating things, and I just love starting from zero. One of the things that drew me to Blue J in the beginning was, they had no revenue and nothing, and I just love the idea of building something from nothing.

Roy Morejon:
So if you could meet with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?

Mark Coombs:
So am I picking a live person or dead person, or does it matter? I do have answers for both.

Roy Morejon:
Either/or.

Mark Coombs:
Either/or. So if I’m picking dead, it’s going to be Edison or Ford. If I’m picking live, it’s going to be Musk, which I’m sure you probably get 99% of the time, but I’ll give you the reason as to why. It’s because I think the most important part of being an entrepreneur is to be able to see a reality that others can’t see yet and hold onto that, even as you’re told over and over again, “You’re wrong.” We’ve been told so much that this won’t work and other people already have this.

Mark Coombs:
And so when I think of Elon Musk or Thomas Edison, I think of people who have really had to shift on a broader-basis reality around space or electric cars or even the light bulb. And I even think about Elon Musk in particular. What struck me the most about him was his story about his heroes of space flight that actually all doubted him, and his honesty about that and pushing through that.

Roy Morejon:
Nice. So any books that you’d recommend to our listeners?

Mark Coombs:
I think there are a million books that you need to read if you’re an entrepreneur, but a couple of really critical ones that have made a massive difference for us… Measure What Matters by John Doerr. This is all about OKRs in the early stages of Google. Could not be more critical when you’re launching a business to do the right things daily and prioritize, because you’d literally have everything to do. And I routinely go to bed not having everything possible done, but we know we’ve done the right things. And that’s just the most critical.

Mark Coombs:
The other one, I would say, is Trillion Dollar Coach. It’s a story all about Bill Campbell, who’s a lesser-known coach of Silicon Valley and talks about the soft skills or the other important things of building a company you may not think about.

Roy Morejon:
That is a great book. I’ve listened to that twice now on Audible, one of the few that I’ve listened to multiple times. Great read, great rec. What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur or inventor looking to launch their new product?

Mark Coombs:
I’d say one of the best things that you can do that’s never been easier is to actually just test your idea using a landing page, using Facebook ads, and potentially Hotjar. That’s when we really knew we were on to something. You can talk to people all day, and you absolutely should talk to people and do customer research and interviews, but there’s nothing like actually watching a video of someone that you don’t know going to a landing page and hit buy now on your product. It’s the best possible data that you can have that you’re on to something. And it probably will cost you, with free trials, like, $50. You should be doing it.

Roy Morejon:
Nice. Great recommendation there. So what do you think are the top three skills that every entrepreneur needs to be successful?

Mark Coombs:
I think number one is the ability to prioritize or focus. This is so critical, because literally everything needs to be done in the early stages of the company. So if you are able to distill that chaos into two things that you’re really happy to get done by the end of the day, I think you’re going to see some success.

Mark Coombs:
The next one is the ability to negotiate or actually think about how to partner with people. And this comes at a time… When you’re launching a business, you have your savings and not much else. You don’t even really have a brand yet. So being able to actually talk to somebody about what’s in it for both sides is going to be critical.

Mark Coombs:
And I think the last one is a relentlessness. You have to be somebody… And this is why sales is helpful if you have a sales background, but you don’t need to have a sales background. I was a lawyer who developed this. You need to realize that you’re going to get a ton of rejections and be okay with that and be able to set that aside. So whether that’s doing meditation or just getting used to getting rejected, you just have to prepare for it.

Roy Morejon:
Nice. Mark, what’s one invention that’s made your life easier?

Mark Coombs:
I love inventions. The one that I’m going to say is the Dohm white noise machine. It’s something that I do travel with everywhere. I’m a sleep-crazy person that has every sleep invention, but this one’s one that people may not think of. It’s very simple. It’s actually just a little machine that always gets flagged when I travel on an aircraft because it doesn’t look that great, but it just gives the perfect level of white noise, and that’s helpful for any sleep environment.

Roy Morejon:
So, mental notes: Don’t sleep near Mark, and don’t fly with Mark. Got it. All right. Last question, Mark. You’re doing great. And I know we haven’t launched the campaign yet, but still interested to hear your take on what does the future of crowdfunding look like.

Mark Coombs:
I think the future of crowdfunding is only going to get bigger and bigger and stronger and stronger. I think generally, even dealing with large banks and trying to talk to them into giving you capital, thinking about some of these other entrepreneurs who are already successful, I think that traditional forms of financing for companies are going to be disrupted pretty heavily. I think crowdfunding is going to be a big part of that. I’m a big blockchain and crypto guy, so I think that those things are going to become pretty heavily involved in crowdfunding as well. And I’m seeing a decentralized future where people can fund projects from all over the world without having to go through banks or payment platforms.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. Well, Mark and Hannah, this has been amazing. This is your chance to give our audience your pitch, tell people what you’re all about, where people should go, and why they should check you out.

Mark Coombs:
Okay. We’re Sleepout, so we are creating the world’s best portable blackout curtain. We know, because we sleep with it every night. Our curtain won’t fall down and will block out all the light bleeds in your room. You should use it if you care about sleeping in the dark and care about getting a better sleep. And Hannah, you should add to that.

Hannah Brennen:
I mean, everybody needs to sleep. It’s something that every single person who is alive has in common. Your day is better when you have a better sleep, and we can help you have a better sleep. Whether you are a new parent, putting your kid down for a nap, whether you’re a shift worker who’s working nights, whether you’re renting your apartment, staying in university housing, just trying to have a nice vacation, Sleepout is the kind of thing… Once you start sleeping with blackout curtains, you won’t go back. Ours actually work better than regular blackout curtains, and you can bring them with you everywhere. So we’d love for you to check out the campaign and help you sleep better.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. Well, audience, thanks again for tuning in. Make sure to visit artofthekickstart.com for the notes, the transcript, link to the active campaign, and everything else we talked about today. And of course, got to thank my crowdfunding podcast sponsors, the Gadget Flow and ProductHype. Mark and Hannah, thank you so much for joining us today on Art of the Kickstart.

Mark Coombs:
Thank you. It was a pleasure, Roy.

Hannah Brennen:
Thanks so much, Roy.

Roy Morejon:
Thanks for tuning in to another amazing 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, show us some love by giving us a great rating on your favorite listening station. And of course, make sure to visit artofthekickstart.com for all the previous episodes. And if you need some help, that’s what we’re here for. Make sure to send me an e-mail to info@artofthekickstart.com. Thanks for tuning in, and I’ll see you on the next episode.