Casper Chien and the dokiWatch team created a smartwatch that’s designed for kids too young for a cell phone, then they brought it to life on Kickstarter. In this episode we learn the story behind the product and how the team encountered phenomenal success through crowdfunding.

dokiWatch: The World’s Most Advanced Smartwatch for Kids

Success Quote

“Work hard, play hard”

Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • Challenges when creating a technology product
  • When to choose Kickstarter
  • What marketing and prep work is necessary leading up to a crowdfunding campaign
  • How to line up press coverage before you launch
  • How to assure potential backers that your product will ship
  • The future of equity crowdfunding

Links

Connect with dokiWatch

Transcript

View this week'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 crowdfunding marketing agency in the world.

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 with crowdfunding.

Let’s get on with the show.

Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today I’m honored to be with Casper, with the dokiWatch. Casper, I appreciate you joining us today.
Casper:

Thanks for having me.

Roy:

So, the dokiWatch, the world’s most advanced smartwatch for kids. Tell us about the product and how it came to life.

Casper:

Sure. The idea really came about when we were looking at what are some of the kid’s wearable devices out there currently, in the market. We didn’t really see a device that is holistic as what we are currently offering with the dokiWatch.

We are the most advanced smartwatch for kids, like what you just mentioned, but apart from a smartwatch, what it really is is a communication device, it’s a safety device. It also is a fitness tracker. Essentially, it’s a wearable phone on your kid’s wrist.

We’re the only smartwatch for kids that runs on an Android OS, so it means that, basically, all the features that you see on there, currently, for example, video calling is one of our main, key features. We’re the first and only smartwatch to have such a feature incorporated and integrated into our device. There’s voice calling, there’s voice messaging, there’s text messaging.

On top of all the basic communication features, there’s also the safety aspect of it, whereby parents can track their child through GPS tracking, they can set geo-fences on the companion app where, whenever their child reaches a certain location, a certain proximity or area, it’ll send a notification to the parent’s smartphones.

It also has the added benefit of a fitness tracker incorporated onto the device. From a kid’s point of view, what we wanted to do was to create something that is really appealing for the kid, as well. What we did was, we “gamified” fitness tracker. We made it into something like an electronic pet. If you remember the Tamagotchis back in the days? It’s something similar, in the sense that the pet grows, but in accordance to how active and how healthy you are. It’s almost a win-win situation where you encourage kids to stay healthy, to move around more, and they can also have fun with their electronic pet at the same time.

These are all some of the features that we have on the dokiWatch, but like I said, we run on an Android OS, so we can always enhance and introduce new features to the product in the future.

Roy:

Does this mean I need a cell phone plan for my six year old?

Casper:

You’ll need a cell phone plan, but the good thing about dokiWatch is that, right now, you’ll need a micro SIM card, you’ll have to get it from your local carrier. You can actually get a … With AT&T and T-Mobile, I’m sure they have a family plan where you just add a couple of dollars, five dollars, ten dollars a month. You get an additional SIM card and it runs on shared data. It wouldn’t cost you a lot to subscribe to a full mobile plan, for example, because you wouldn’t need that. All you need is to subscribe to an additional family plan, for example, with your local carrier.

Roy:

Gotcha. How much data do you think, in an average month … I guess it depends on the child, right

Casper:

It’s a great question. It really depends, because video calling is the one feature that eats up the most data. Everything else, as far as we’ve tested, with our device, 500 megs per month is definitely enough to begin with.

All the features run on data, except for voice calls. Voice calls runs on GSM, so you’ll need a voice or talk time included in the SIM plan. The reason why we decided to go with GSM instead of an IP call or VOIP, is because we really wanted to make sure that the call is stable, and it’s clear enough so that when parents are calling their kids, it’s not choppy. If you’re using an IP call, sometimes, when the network is not as strong, it could become choppy. With this it really guarantees and it really helps make sure that, whenever parents want to find their child, want to call their child, they’re able to listen to them, and it’s a very clear, clear voice from the other side.

Roy:

You have a pretty good technical background, Casper, I’m assuming? Is this kind of what the product came out of?

Casper:

We have a pretty strong team. I’ve worked for Fitbit, for example. We have people on our team who worked for Apple, Lenovo, and all these big tech firms. From a technical background, we definitely have an advantage, but at the same time, the reason why we really wanted to develop this product was because some of us have kids, as well. We know that there is a definite need for such a device, especially when we talk about safety, security. It’s something that every parent really cares about, especially when we talk about kids six to twelve years old. That’s the target audience, or target user that we are targeting with dokiWatch.

In the market currently, the smartwatches that you see, none of them are standalone devices. What we propose is that, because they run on a SIM card, like I mentioned before, it’s essentially a wearable phone on your child’s wrist, but with added parental controls. Before your child gets a smartphone, and our position is that we don’t believe that kids six to twelve years old are really, necessarily ready for a smartphone, just yet. With such a device, with dokiWatch, it provides a sense of transition. It’s a great device, a transition device, before your child is really ready for a smartphone. It gives a child some level of independence, they learn responsibility, with communications devices like a smartwatch. At the same time, you, as the parent, you maintain parental control, and you can remotely control several different aspects of the device through your companion app, directly from your own smartphone.

Roy:

Impressive. What have been some of the challenges that you’ve faced, not only going into the children’s market, but on the technology side?

Casper:

On the technology side, I would say that the video call feature was definitely was the one big challenge for us. It’s never been done before. We have articles written about us saying that we’re the first ever smartwatch to feature video calling ability. Even Apple Watch isn’t able to do that, yet. This is one thing that we’re proud of, that we were able to develop, engineer, and innovate.

From an engineering point of view, there’s a lot of, you know, testing that we have to conduct, in order to make sure that the video call is stable, because we’re making sure that all our servers, especially when you talk about … Because we’re going to be selling dokiWatch across the world and not just in specific, one country or two countries, we wanted to make sure that, as a user, the video call is stable enough, it’s not something that would cut off easily, or the clarity of the call is something that we’ve been testing, to make sure that it’s at least up to our standard. We hold ourself to very high standards when we talk about the development of dokiWatch.

Roy:

Absolutely, and I think it shows in the product design and the obvious features that you guys have included. It’s a beautiful, beautiful piece of work.

Let’s kind of back up a little bit, and talk about why you guys decided to go with Kickstarter to launch your product.

Casper:

We actually were thinking about several different approaches. Obviously, we were talking to angels, and DC investors. In the very beginning, obviously, when you start your company, you would talk to family and friends to ask for your initial capital start up.

We saw Kickstarter as a great platform to really get our name out there, get our product out there in front of people’s eyes. The best thing that Kickstarter can offer is a great platform to create more awareness around our product, more noise around our product. We wanted to make sure that every one of our specified target audiences are aware such a device, that it exists in the market.

Kickstarter is a great platform where we can talk about our story, and at the same time, obviously to get some funding behind us. That’s not the only thing that we were doing the Kickstarter campaign, obviously. We have to do our digital marketing, we have to do some social media marketing, as well, just to make sure there’s more traction and more traffic going through our Kickstarter page.

I think we did a pretty good job, because we can say we’re the most funded wearable device for kids on any crowdfunding platform to date. It’s been a great couple months so far, since we launched on Kickstarter.

Roy:

Absolutely. You guys have done really well, thousands of backers, hundreds of thousands in backing. What was some of that marketing prep work that you guys did leading up to the campaign? You talked about some digital advertising and social media. Which were the elements that truly drove the most, not only funding, but traction for you guys, during the active campaign?

Casper:

I think what drew the most traction was just the media, actually. When I say media, I’m talking more about blogs and forums and online tech media. What we did was, we took an approach where we wrote our press releases, and we sent out our press releases before we actually launched on Kickstarter. Without really launching on Kickstarter yet, you won’t necessarily get much press around your product just yes, but at the very least, we wanted to do that so that once we actually activated our campaign on Kickstarter, the press would at least know, and they’re aware about us.

Whether we get any press about us is really up to how compelling our product is, and we believe that we do have a very compelling product for the press to have interest around us. Once we actually launched on Kickstarter, right away we got at least ten different media outlets, or even more, fifteen different media outlets writing articles about our product. I think that’s what really drove more traffic to our website and even, eventually, converting that into pledges and then funds on Kickstarter.

Roy:

You guys set a funding goal at $20,000. Obviously, that’s pretty low for the technology that you guys were building out. Was that a strategic decision?

Casper:

It was a pretty strategic decision for our side, because for us, $20,000 was really an arbitrary number, if you will. As you know, with a technology like our device, it requires much more than just $20k to develop it.

We did have funding, and we were in quite a healthy financial position already, before we actually launched on Kickstarter. Kickstarter was really a platform to for us to really try to get more awareness about our product in the market. For us, we were a bit overwhelmed by how successful our campaign was. On Kickstarter, we’ve raised about $312,000, and we just shifted our campaign to Indiegogo about a month ago. We’re on Indiegogo on their InDemand campaign for about a month now.

Like I said, funding wise, with such a device, obviously it requires much more than just $20k, but we knew that. We were going into this knowing we had a good financial position, and that’s the guarantee that we want to give all our backers. We wanted to tell them that, basically, this device is going to be manufactured with no problem at all. We’re very confident that we’re going to be able to ship our first batch of products in May, which is what we’ve set as our target shipment date for our first batch of products to our Kickstarter backers. That’s something that we’re still very well on track.

Roy:

Excellent. Great to hear. Well, that brings us into our launch round of rapid fire questions. Casper, are you ready to go?

Casper:

Sure.

Roy:

What is your life quote/success quote or business quote that you live by?

Casper:

It might sound kind of cliché, but work hard, play hard. For us, even at doki, our whole team, we’re relatively young, some of us are young parents. We understand we’ve got to put the work into it to make sure that our business is successful. At the same time, we want to make sure that the culture that we build within the company is one that is open. At the same time, we do have fun whenever we can.

That’s not to say that we don’t put the work into it. We do a lot of focus groups with parents, with kids, all of which, I think it does a lot to help with our business success, but at the same time, we learn about our end consumer, we learn about what kids want, and what parents want at the same time. I think that’s something that we really enjoyed throughout this process of creating this business.

At the end of the day, this is something that we believe can really help consumers and users. It’s not something that we thought that we wanted to sell a ton of these devices. We do believe that we were really trying to help and enhance the lives of both parents and kids.

Roy:

Absolutely. What inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

Casper:

For me, myself, I always knew I wanted to come out and create my own business and start my own startup. I wanted to develop something that can really create an impact in this world. No matter how small. For us, dokiWatch, it is as safety device, but at the same time, I believe, if our device can save even one child or two children, when they’re in danger, or when they’re in need, they need to find their parents, we believe that, and I believe, personally, I believe this is something that is really helping the social aspect of it, and also the world. As we know, in a lot of developing countries, there are still kidnappings and kids getting lost is still a very common situation, unfortunately in some areas of this world. I believe that this particular product can help in many ways.

Roy:

If you could meet any entrepreneur throughout history, who would you meet?

Casper:

Throughout history? I think it would have to be Steve Jobs. He’s a legend. I think any entrepreneur, or any startup, especially in tech, like we are, we definitely look up to him. It’s something that, if there were ever an opportunity to go back in time to meet Steve Jobs, I think that’s one person I would really love to meet.

Roy:

What would ask him?

Casper:

I think I would ask him what were some of the challenges that he faced after he was basically pushed out of Apple, back in, I think it was 1980. It’s something very real, because, looking into the future, if we are successful, one day, when there’s more board members on our team, you never know what could happen. It’s an inspiration to see that he’s come full circle. He was pushed out from Apple, and then eventually he was able to come back to Apple, and create the most successful and the most valuable company in the world. That’s something that we, and I, myself, definitely look up to.

Roy:

What’s your favorite business book?

Casper:

Business book. I don’t believe I have a favorite business book. I think I like to learn by experience, and I learn on the job. That’s why I think, as a startup, we are very early stage. It’s still going to be a long learning process for us. There’s going to be setbacks, nothing’s going to be completely smooth, but we learn in the process. I think that’s the best book you can have, the book that you create yourself, through experience.

Roy:

Favorite musician?

Casper:

Favorite musician? I don’t know, I don’t necessarily have them, but I guess John Lennon. I love the Beatles, and I think he’s a good musician.

Roy:

Fair enough. Final question. Where do you see crowdfunding in five years.

Casper:

I think crowdfunding in five years, you will see a lot of crowdfunding turn into more equity funding platforms. We’re actually seeing a lot of those right now.

I think there’s good and bad to that. I think, as a startup, you never really want to lose equity in the very beginning stages. At the same time, if it could get you the resources necessary to scale up and expand your business to the next level, I think it could be a win-win situation, but we’ll really have to see about that.

Roy:

I’ve got one more question, then. Do you think you guys will go into equity crowdfunding, post-campaign?

Casper:

I don’t believe so, because we are, like I mentioned, we’re in a very healthy financial position at the moment. We do have a lot of interest on VC’s already, so we’re talking to them. Disney, for example, the Disney Accelerator, they’ve approached us, as well. It’s looking good for us, and I don’t believe we necessarily need to put the dokiWatch into equity crowdfunding platforms, at least in the short term.

Roy:

Awesome. Casper, it’s been a pleasure having you on the show. Finally, please give our listeners your pitch, tell us what you’re all about, and where people should go, and why they should buy a dokiWatch.

Casper:

I think, with dokiWatch, it’s the most advanced smartwatch for kids, for kids ages six to twelve years old. It’s a great transition device before your child is ready for a smart phone. For you as a parent, you’re able to track your child, you’re able to voice call, video call, message your child, all the key and basic communication features that our smartwatch offers. Plus the added benefit of the safety side, whereby you can track your child’s location and set geo-fences, make sure your child is safe at all times.

We are on Indiegogo right now, on InDemand, so if you are interested in our product, you can go over to Indiegogo and just search dokiWatch, D-O-K-I-W-A-T-C-H, dokiWatch, and you’ll be able to find us. We look forward to speaking with you, hopefully.

Roy:

Awesome. Casper, thank you so much for being on the show, and everyone, thank you for tuning in and coming on. We’ll see you soon.

Casper:

Thank you.

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 share it with your friends.

If you need a more hands on crowdfunding marketing strategy, please visit our website at commandpartners.com and request a quote. Thanks for tuning in. Catch you next time.