In this episode of Art of the Kickstart, we interviewed Jacob Webb and Craig Hammond, cofounders of Stairslide, the children’s slide for indoor stairs. As a safer alternative to sleeping bags, cardboard boxes and laundry baskets, Stairslide is durable, lightweight and can be stored easily. Not only did Craig Hammond help create this campaign, but he’s also updated us on the status of PEEjamas, another project he’s guided to crowdfunding success. Listen in and learn about how this pair of creators met as well as Stairslide’s road to Kickstarter.

Topics Discussed and Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • The mistake of overcomplicating a product and how they avoided that with Stairslide
  • The importance of safety and the hoops they jumped when designing a children’s product
  • The marketing prepwork that crowdfunding agency, Enventys Partners, helped with
  • The storytelling formula they used in Stairslide’s kickstarter video
  • Where Craig and Jacob see the future of crowdfunding

Links

Sponsors

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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. 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 talking with Jacob Webb and repeat guest, Craig Hammond. Jacob, Craig, thank you so much for joining us today on the show.
Jacob Webb:
Thank you.
Craig Hammond:
Yeah. Thanks for having us. Excited to be back.
Roy Morejon:
Yeah. It’s great to have you back and another innovation for children, I love this product, having kids, myself and them finding unique ways of injuring themselves. And typically it’s always on the staircase. My daughter’s got the welts to prove it on her legs. I’m really excited to talk about this product, Stair Slide, which is a semi-permanent children’s slide for indoor stairs. And I was one of those kids that would always go down the staircase in a laundry basket, and usually tumble once I made it to about step six. So I’m really interested, Craig, to hear about this idea with Jacob in terms of this patent pending design of really there’s no assembly required. You just put it on the staircase and the kids can have some safer fun.
Roy Morejon:
So let’s start at the beginning, if you would Jacob, and tell us where did this innovation start? What inspired you to create Stair Slide?
Jacob Webb:
Well, great question. So like you, I’ve got five awesome kids and they like to slide down the stairs themselves. A few years ago, they were doing that and they were sliding down in a sleeping bag, and I think one of them got hurt. And my wife looked at me and said, “Can’t you just invent something that’s safer?” And so I started thinking about it and reached out to a neighbor who’s an industrial engineer and started working with his firm on the concept, put together some CAD drawings and prototypes and 3D models. And again, that was a few years ago. And then the idea of fizzled out until last year when I had a little bit of bandwidth and decided to pick it up again and reached out to Craig because he’s in my neighborhood and a good friend, and I know he has kids. And so together, he and I have been tooling around with the concept, trying to get the final prototype finished, which we did. And then now we’re looking to launch on Kickstarter here next week.
Roy Morejon:
Sounds like a neighborhood full of entrepreneurs.
Jacob Webb:
Yeah, I think so.
Craig Hammond:
And kids.
Roy Morejon:
And kids, exactly. Which I think a lot of innovations come out of solving our children’s problems, right?
Jacob Webb:
Right.
Craig Hammond:
Absolutely.
Roy Morejon:
Craig, yeah, we had you on the show, gosh, it was over two years ago now for your amazing innovation, Peejamas. I guess give us an update there. What’s been going on with Peejamas?
Craig Hammond:
Peejamas is still growing, man. It has been a couple of years. I think we were maybe almost done or just wrapped up our crowdfunding campaigns and we just had tremendous success. And as we discussed in the past, I personally still strongly believe that Enventys was a big part of that. And that’s why we came back. I recommended Enventys to Jake when we started talking about launching Stair Slide on Kickstarter.
Craig Hammond:
But with Peejamas, it’s been a pretty wild two years. Right after we recorded in 2018, essentially right after we finished our crowdfunding, we went on Shark Tank. I was a total bomb on Shark Tank. I’m not a salesman at all. I’m the behind the scenes marketer. But we’ve continued to grow. We’re now distributing.
Jacob Webb:
But it was a good experience, Craig. You got to look at it.
Craig Hammond:
Oh, it was a great experience. It absolutely was. It taught me a lot that I needed to humble myself and work on my salesmanship. But yeah, we’re distributing internationally. We have some licensing deals, both to license characters and we’ve signed a five-year agreement with a licensee to distribute our product in mass market brick and mortar in the US. And so soon enough, we’ll be available where everyone’s shopping for their kids, both online and in store.
Roy Morejon:
Amazing. Well, it’s great to see these two products actually seamlessly go together, not the wet Peejamas, but pajamas in general, to be able slide down these right?
Craig Hammond:
We should have gotten some pictures, Jake, of kids sliding down the Stair Slide in Peejamas. What was I thinking?
Jacob Webb:
You know what? You and I should have dressed up in onesies and slid down.
Roy Morejon:
I think the audience would have loved that you guys. Next photo shoot, let’s see it.
Craig Hammond:
Stick with the kids, they’re cuter than us.
Roy Morejon:
So Jake, let’s talk about the engineering side of this product. And again, the design is you understand it because it’s a slide, but obviously some engineering went into this in terms of staircases and depth and how it holds up and how to overlay each individual component over the top of each one. So if you would, talk a little bit about that design and engineering process to how did you design it and how did you figure out how to make this so that longer staircases could be used as well?
Jacob Webb:
Okay. So I’d say the beauty of the product is in its simplicity. And I think one of the things I’ve learned through this process is that from the beginning, we tried to over-engineer it. We over-thought it, made it more complicated than it needed to be. And there might be a few reasons for that because the more people who are involved and the more ideas that are involved and sometimes that can happen. But in the end, when we finally figured it out, it’s when we started to eliminate things that were just unnecessary. For example, when we first started, we tried to duplicate what we were seeing on the playground, where you climb up the stairs and there’s these big loops up there to hold onto, and then you slide down. And so, we’ve got some photos of our early prototypes where we had similar features and attributes that ultimately just added weight to it and made it clunky and maybe even more dangerous just because of the fact that it was heavier.
Jacob Webb:
And so ultimately, what won out for us was when we decided to eliminate all that and just create a relatively quote, unquote simple design that nests into each other, kind of like I guess you could say it has like a telescoping feature where, because it nests on top of each other and you can slide it up or down the stairs, depending on the measurements of your stairs and extend it so that you can cover taller stairs. So it’s got a little curve on the top, kind of like you might see on a slide there on the playground, and it’s got some walls to give it not only stability, but improve the safety of the side so kids aren’t falling off. But ultimately, it was just by simplifying the design and still creating a design that could be duplicated over and over again, where you don’t have to have different pieces. They’re all the exact same piece.
Jacob Webb:
And because they nest on top of each other and you slide down on top of it, yet it works and it works great. It also has a high density rubber strip underneath the top part. And that really is the key, if you will, it’s the secret sauce of the product because that rubber strip will anchor, so to speak, the slide against the stairs. And I think not to get too technical, but I think it’s because of the high coefficient of friction that exists there between the rubber and the stairs, be it a wood material or a carpeted material, it stays in place. And so because of that, it is indeed a much safer for alternative to other methods like you used to experiment with, cardboard boxes and laundry baskets.
Jacob Webb:
And my kids love using sleeping bags, but ultimately the fun dies out when somebody gets hurt. And that’s what really we’re trying to avoid here. We wanted something that’s safer, something that was long lasting and durable. It is a patent pending design, but because of the unique design, you can stack them up. And if you have multiple pieces, you can stack them and put them in a closet so that you save space. Yeah, we’re really excited about this, Roy. I think it’s going to be a real great product for the market.
Roy Morejon:
Are you guys going to come out with an adult version now, after this?
Jacob Webb:
I’ll admit, it is tested and we do say that there’s a weight limit and we’re thinking it’s going to be about 70 pounds. But truth be told, we’ve all used it and we’ve all loved it. We even got some video of Craig’s wife sliding down the stairs. So it works great.
Roy Morejon:
There we go.
Craig Hammond:
It does work great. I talked to Jake, I said, “I don’t know that we need to put 70 pounds,” but that’s really for safety recommendations. But it’s worked great for all of us. So it’s fun for kids and adults.
Roy Morejon:
That’s always fun. Are you going to put a curve in so we can luge down the staircase and curve into the hallways?
Craig Hammond:
That would be so awesome.
Roy Morejon:
Next, you’re probably banking.
Jacob Webb:
We had so many people ask that. I think it’d be worth exploring. Maybe that’s Stair Slide 2.0, who knows.
Roy Morejon:
Or it’s a good stretch goal, honestly, for the campaign. Once you reach certain funding and you start doing the engineering on the banking.
Jacob Webb:
Yeah, yeah. I think that’d be a blast.
Roy Morejon:
Yeah. No, I think the kids are going to have a ton of fun with this. So let’s talk a little bit about some of the prep work. In terms of coming into a campaign, Craig is obviously very experienced on his side. What’s some of the prep work that you’ve been doing, Jake, on your side to put the campaign in a great position to launch when it goes live here very quickly.
Jacob Webb:
So a lot of that has involved Enventys and their support, and they’ve been great. We’ve been working with Enventys directly now for a few weeks and already we’ve seen really strong results from the targeted advertising that they’re doing there on some social media sites. And so that’s, I think in a way, really positioned us well for a strong launch next week, because we’ve already seen a very healthy number of leads come through that effort. I’m assuming when you’re asking, you’re talking about marketing related prep work, is that correct?
Roy Morejon:
Absolutely.
Jacob Webb:
Yeah. So we’ve done a lot of stuff online and Craig and I personally have spent considerable time fine tuning the logo marks and the color scheme and all of that good stuff that would go into a marketing package. And then of course, Craig and I just finished a few weeks ago, the Kickstarter video, which that was fun. All of our kids got to be involved and I don’t know, Craig, why don’t you tell a little bit more about that video process. Because this is the second time that Craig’s had to do that.
Craig Hammond:
Yeah. I’m a believer that Kickstarter tends to have a very platform specific video that leads to a higher probability of success. So we followed honestly the same pattern, the same template, if you will, that I did for Peejamas, which is again, pretty common in the crowdfunding community, which really starts by identifying a pain point that might resonate with the customer and then immediately providing your solution and the benefits of your solution. And so using that simple framework, we created a video that we really feel quickly engages and communicates the value props of Stair Slide.
Craig Hammond:
Really, all you have to do, in fact, it may even be too long, all you have to do is you see the slide in action in the video and it immediately makes sense. In the limited pre-launch marketing that we’ve done, we’ve seen exceptional results from a cost per lead perspective. But the other thing that we’re seeing is the engagement is so high that somebody will look at just a landing page. People haven’t even been seeing the video and they just see the pictures, they read the quick value props, three or four value props and it’s so clear what the slide is and what it does that it just speaks for itself and makes people so excited about the product.
Roy Morejon:
Yeah. And it’s nice to have products like that, that truly explain themselves.
Craig Hammond:
Yeah, exactly. That’s what I’m going to say. I believe marketing should be as simple as possible and it helps, or it’s easiest when the product explains itself, like you said. And Stair Slide, one from the name and two from a visual, even just a static photo, immediately depicts what exactly it is and what it does.
Roy Morejon:
Yep. Yeah, it makes us marketers’ jobs a little bit easier when the product explains itself simply and succinctly and the audience can really grasp onto it, understand what it is and be like, “Yeah, this is something that I want to get from my kids or maybe myself.”
Craig Hammond:
Absolutely.
Jacob Webb:
We’ve had plenty of people on Facebook replies saying, “Can I use it myself?” So we know it’s got a broad appeal.
Roy Morejon:
Yeah. No, absolutely. So, given the short amount of pre-campaign marketing time that you guys have been involved on the prelaunch, what are some of the things that you guys have learned along the way outside of its massive appeal thus far?
Jacob Webb:
Based on the feedback we’re getting on Facebook, for example, I’ve learned that people really care about their kids’ safety. And I knew that to begin with, I’ve got kids. Their safety is important to me too, but just reading some of the comments and the feedback about it, it’s very clear how important that is to people. So we’re optimistic about how the product will do in the marketplace, because it is designed to be a safer and more durable alternative to those quote unquote fun solutions that kids are using to slide down the stairs.
Jacob Webb:
And I’ve also learned, me personally, I’ve learned that there is a process and a process for taking a product like this to market. You don’t want to rush it. You want to be strategic. You want to be judicious, especially when it comes to the safety of your users and your customers. And I feel strongly that Craig and I, we’ve been thorough in our efforts to make sure that the product we put out there is going to be not only safe, but something that’s long lasting and durable and provide many years of fun for our customers.
Roy Morejon:
Yeah. Well, I am truly excited to see this product come to market. I may have to hide it from my kids until they actually enter themselves truly trying to slide down these staircases. But no, I’m really excited to see where this product comes out.
Craig Hammond:
Yeah, it’s going to be fun. One thing that Jake said that I wanted to just touch on real quick is we were so eager to launch with the times that we’re facing right now with COVID and people being stuck indoors a lot more, we just saw such an opportunity to provide a product that would help people that were feeling a little cooped up. And we really tried to push it without doing some of the legwork that I think is needed to make a successful product and a successful product launch.
Craig Hammond:
And after taking a more thoughtful and strategic approach of getting things right, we’re finally ready to go and though it definitely took a little bit of patience, we feel we have the best product and much better marketing communications because of that more well planned strategic approach.
Jacob Webb:
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. We wanted to launch so that the product could be in our customers’ hands by Christmas this year. But I think if we had pushed for that, we might’ve compromised some things, certainly the marketing aspect of what we’re doing. I think we would have had to give up some stuff on marketing that has proved to be really valuable for us.
Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. Yeah. I know with folks just at home and potentially at their wits end that their children haven’t gone to school or whatever the case may be, providing any additional entertainment value for these kids, I think is going to be welcomed in homes.
Jacob Webb:
Yeah. I agree.
Roy Morejon:
Well, Jake, this is going to get us into our launch round. You drew the short straw since Craig’s already done this. So are you ready for the questions?
Jacob Webb:
Yeah, let me get situated here. Okay, go ahead. Shoot.
Roy Morejon:
All right, let’s do this. So what inspired you to be an entrepreneur?
Jacob Webb:
My dad.
Roy Morejon:
If you could meet with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be.
Jacob Webb:
Jack Welch.
Roy Morejon:
Nice. What would have been your first question for Jack?
Jacob Webb:
Pass.
Roy Morejon:
Pass. All right, fair enough.
Craig Hammond:
Phone a friend.
Roy Morejon:
What’s your favorite amusement park ride?
Jacob Webb:
Favorite amusement park ride? Oh, Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland, by far.
Roy Morejon:
There you go. Any book you would recommend to our entrepreneurial listeners?
Jacob Webb:
Do I have just one that I can recommend?
Roy Morejon:
You can recommend as many as you’d like.
Jacob Webb:
Alright. So I think The Goal is a biggie, got to read The Goal. That’s a MBA staple. Good to Great’s always a classic. I think The Paradox of Choice is also a good one. I’m sure a couple will come to mind over time. I’ll fire them off as they come to mind.
Roy Morejon:
Awesome. Great recommendations. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Jacob Webb:
I see myself in five years climbing another mountain. Stair Slide is just another mountain to climb. I’ve got a few other businesses that I’ve launched and I’ve got the entrepreneurial bug. So it doesn’t take long for my attention to get distracted and want to find something else. But no matter where I’m at, in five years, I want to be at a place that’s challenging, that’s rewarding, that is a good place for me mentally and physically and gives me the time and freedom that I need to spend with my family so that they’re blessed as well.
Roy Morejon:
That’s great. Well, Jake, last question. And I know the campaign hasn’t run yet, but interested to hear your take and then Craig, I’ll ask you the same question, given that you’ve got a different lens on this. But Jake, what does the future of crowdfunding look like to you?
Jacob Webb:
You know what, I’m going to let Craig go first. Let me think about it while Craig’s talking.
Roy Morejon:
Okay. Fair enough.
Craig Hammond:
I think I may have mentioned this last time, but I think the present of crowdfunding is very competitive and I think it’s only going to get more competitive. And unless you are truly happy with the bare minimum you need for your MLQ or to bring your dream to reality, you really need to invest in marketing and plan to spend on that marketing. Because of the competition, it’s becoming like advertising, I don’t want to say on Facebook, but advertising in general where you are competing for eyeballs, because there are so many people crowdfunding or with crowdfunding projects. And there are so many good projects and products that to cut through the fray and get seen, you’ve got to be willing to invest in advertising that project. I full on belief that.
Craig Hammond:
In fact, I’m advising a guy right now, who’s launching a bracelet company, it’s called Ever Hope. And it’s a really cool bracelet, but he’s a little apprehensive to invest in the marketing, understandably, right? That’s why he believes, as a lot of people do, that they are going into the crowdfunding to raise the money, not planning to spend the money in crowdfunding. But if you want to have a much better chance of knocking it out of the park, be prepared to invest in the marketing and in the paid advertising?
Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. Well said, Craig. Appreciate that. Jake, what about you?
Jacob Webb:
My experience with crowdfunding is fairly limited. So I don’t have the depth of perspective that Craig has on it. But what I’ve observed is that crowdfunding over time at least, or recently, has proven to be an effective means for small business or entrepreneurial minded inventors to take their product to market. I suspect that over time, you’re going to see some consolidation in the crowdfunding industry or category, if you will. We already see a handful of different crowdfunding websites, for example, from Indiegogo to Kickstarter. And eventually, I think people are just going to say enough minimalist wallets, “I’ve got enough minimalist wallets out there. I don’t need another one.” And I think what’s going to happen is entrepreneurs are going to be forced to be more creative when it comes to taking their product to market through crowdfunding.
Jacob Webb:
So, I suspect consolidation will be a part of that process. But ultimately I think Craig’s right, it’s going to come down to marketing and the efforts that you make, at least on the front side. Again, I need to go back to the thoughts I shared with you about what we’ve learned and how valuable the prelaunch campaign can be. We haven’t launched yet, but we can already tell how important that investment in marketing upfront is going to be in our success. So yeah, I think you’re going to see some changes, but I think in the end, no matter what changes happen, the success of your crowdfunding is going to be dictated or dependent upon how you invest in your marketing campaigns.
Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. Well, gentlemen, this has been a lot of fun. Jake, this is your opportunity to give our audience your pitch, tell people what you’re all about, where people should go and why they should check out Stair Slide.
Jacob Webb:
Okay. Stair Slide. Yes, that’s what it is. It’s a slide, you put it on your stairs. It’s simple. It’s fun. It’s a semi-permanent slide for children for indoor stairs, but it’s also a safer alternative to using a sleeping bag, a cardboard box, a laundry basket. And it’s a very durable solution that won’t break down like a cardboard box will. And because of the unique patent pending design, you can stack it together and store it conveniently when it’s not used. But let’s be honest, it’s a simple product. It is what the name implies. And it’s going to give parents and caretakers just another tool that they can use to help their kids detach from their tablets and their screens and get a little bit more exercise in the home, which I think we can all agree is a real valuable thing right now when we’re all dealing with coronavirus.
Jacob Webb:
So we’re so excited about this, Roy. We think this is going to be a great product for the market. Our customers are really going to enjoy it as long as they use it wisely and take care of it, it’s going to provide lasting years of fun for them.
Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. Well, I can’t wait to see it come to market. Audience, thanks for tuning in. Make sure to visit ArtoftheKickstart.com for the notes, the transcript, links to the campaign once it goes live. And of course, thank you to our crowdfunding podcast sponsors, Gadget Flow and ProductHype. Jake, thank you so much for being a first time guest. And Craig, thank you for coming back to the show.
Craig Hammond:
Yeah, thanks for having me back.
Jacob Webb:
Thanks, Roy. It’s been great. 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.