In this episode of Art of the Kickstart, we interviewed Dmitri Leonov, co-founder of Taopatch, the wearable wellness device. Combining cutting-edge nanotechnology, light therapy and acupuncture, Taopatch provides immediate and long-lasting relief, physically, emotionally and mentally. Listen in to hear about the brand’s product development journey and how it’s grown from the Italian medical community to the mass market.

Topics Discussed and Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

    • the inspiration and technology behind Taopatch
    • how the brand changed between the launches of Taopatch Start and Taopatch Pro
    • the marketing tactics chosen to introduce Taopatch to a broader audience
    • what the future of Taopatch looks like

    Links

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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.
    Roy Morejon:
    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 cool luxury gadgets and creative gifts. Now let’s get on with the show. Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today, I am speaking with Dmitri Leonov, co-founder of Taopatch. Dmitri, thank you so much for joining us today on Art of the Kickstart.
    Dmitri Leonov:
    Thank you for having me.
    Roy Morejon:
    So I’m really excited to hear about this innovation, right? We get a lot of different innovators on this show, but I think yours is truly groundbreaking. So I’m really excited to hear about Taopatch and this wearable wellness device that you guys have created and are working with. So if you would, kind of give us the history and where did this all start?
    Dmitri Leonov:
    Sure. So the story started seven years ago and the guy who invented Taopatch, his name is Fabio Fontana, he has been a bioengineer for quite a while. And so he was studying the negative effects of EMF, electromagnetic pollution on the human body. And about eight years ago, he got into a bad accident and was in pain, he couldn’t move, tried every single therapy and what finally worked for him was light therapy. And there’s a couple of different names for it, there’s, it’s called low level laser therapy or laser therapy or light therapy. And the idea is exactly what it sounds like. You apply a weak laser to very specific points on the body and that’s literally the only thing that worked for him.
    Dmitri Leonov:
    Essentially what Taopatch does is it combines light therapy with acupuncture. And so the product, by the way, has been around now for seven years and we’ve been selling it in Europe only and only through a network of doctors. So there’s now a network of 1,800 of doctors, therapists, chiropractors, who have been prescribing it. And in Europe, and specifically in Italy, we’ve sold 250,000 of these things. So it’s actually quite big. And then what we’ve decided to do this year is launch it in the rest of the world.
    Dmitri Leonov:
    And so that’s kind of my role and my co-founder Marco. We’ve realized that the technology itself it’s complicated but it’s not hard to use. And so what we’ve figured out is rather than dealing with a doctor and having the doctor place it and track it, we can productize the whole experience just for mass market, for people to buy them and self apply them. Does that make sense so far?
    Roy Morejon:
    Absolutely. Yeah. I’m really interested in terms of, I’m a big fan of acupuncture and I think you guys combining these two ancient disciplines, if you will, in terms of light therapy and acupressure and now adding on this nanotechnology, I feel like I’ve got a lot of buzz words in there. So talk about in terms of the innovation itself, in terms of, you’ve got a quarter million customers that have used it now, what has been their experience in terms of doctors now using it and now applying it for commercial use from a consumer being able to do it themselves?
    Dmitri Leonov:
    Yeah, by the way. So we combine acupuncture, light therapy, nanotechnology, AI, blockchain and, I don’t know, couple of, I’m just kidding. The last two are a joke, but yeah. So really what it does is it combines, as you mentioned, some very… Acupuncture is actually the oldest known kind of form of medicine. And what’s interesting, it’s been studied the most. There are more studies on acupuncture than any other form of medicine. Essentially the way Taopatch works and what it is, it’s a little round patch, a little round circle that contains layers of nanocrystals. And so what these crystals can do is they capture the heat from your body, store it and turn it into light. So it actually glows in the dark.
    Dmitri Leonov:
    So when you place it on specific points on the body, and when you buy it, we send you the detailed instructions on exactly where to put it for what conditions. And when you put it on your body, it’s essentially captures the body heat and turns it into light and it sends that light into your central nervous system. So on specific acupuncture points, but through those points into your nervous system. And what it does is, and kind of the principle behind it and why light therapy works and why Taopatch works is this, so our nervous system uses photons to communicate. So our nerve cells actually use not only electrons, but also photons and specifically they’re called biophotons.
    Dmitri Leonov:
    And so the principle behind Taopatch is it’s the same wavelength, same color of photons that our body naturally uses. And so what it’s able to do is essentially rewire, kind of retrain your central nervous system on how to communicate with the rest of your body. The first effects that you notice are your balance improves, your posture improves, your movement improves, your athletic performance improves. And so there’s lots of athletes that use them, they use Taopatch including, there’s probably one of the better known European soccer teams from the Premier League that uses it. And they literally pay us to not talk about the fact that they use them. Presumably because it works so well they don’t want their rivals to find out.
    Roy Morejon:
    Of course not. Competitive advantage [inaudible 00:06:42].
    Dmitri Leonov:
    Exactly. Yeah. So our experience has been just outstanding. And the thing is we’ve kind of stumbled on this thing. Initially, it was designed to treat muscle contractures, so kind of like spasms. And then one day, one of the doctors that was working with it decided to put it on a multiple sclerosis patient. And what they noticed within 15 minutes of the person wearing it is they started walking straight. So MS, multiple sclerosis is a very debilitating disease with lots of different symptoms, but one of them is you just can’t walk straight.
    Dmitri Leonov:
    And with the Taopatch, within minutes, it just became very, very noticeable. So that’s how we stumbled on the fact that it actually treats multiple sclerosis symptoms. And since then, it’s actually been kind of one of our main customer segments and has been working just outstandingly. And we’ve kind of soft launched it in the US with some customers and it’s just incredible to see the testimonials from people who have been suffering from this for years and they can’t walk and they can’t stand straight and they’re in pain. And they put it on and literally within 15 minutes, their symptoms are significantly better. And then within hours and days, it keeps getting better.
    Roy Morejon:
    That’s great.
    Dmitri Leonov:
    Yeah. It’s been just outstanding.
    Roy Morejon:
    So let’s jump into, in terms of the product launch here in state side, if you will. In terms of leading up to the Indiegogo campaign that’ll likely be active once this podcast airs. Talk a little bit about why you chose Crowdfunding to launch here in the States and some of the prep work that you guys have done to lead up to the campaign launch.
    Dmitri Leonov:
    Sure. So the reason we decided to launch it on Indiegogo is… Well, so for the last seven years, we’ve had one product and it was called Taopatch. And this year we’ve built a couple of different versions. So the really new products we’re launching is called Pro, which is a bigger, stronger, faster version of Taopatch with more layers of nanocrystals, more frequencies that it emits. So it’s just more powerful and better on all fronts. And then we’ve rebranded and kind of improved the original version of the Taopatch and now is called Taopatch Start and Taopatch Pro.
    Dmitri Leonov:
    And so we are using Indiegogo as a way to launch a new product, which is exactly what it’s designed for. And as far as the preparation, we are very lucky because this is not a new technology that we’re developing and we’re kind of using it. We’re using Indiegogo to raise money, to develop the product, the product is already developed, right? So in our case, we’re relaunching the campaign next week. So it was going to be June 23rd, and we’re going to be ready to ship at the end of July, right?
    Dmitri Leonov:
    So customers won’t have to wait very long. And again, it’s already been proven. We have double blind-studies conducted at major universities, published on PubMed. We have thousands of testimonials from very happy customers and just lots of traction already. So we’re a little bit of unfair advantage. But that said, Indiegogo is still one of the best places to launch new products. And so we’re very happy to be doing that.
    Roy Morejon:
    Absolutely. So in terms of market audience, is there a, not necessarily a one size fits all, but doctors have been previously prescribing this. How are you guys going to go about in terms of finding and targeting a new market audience for the pro version?
    Dmitri Leonov:
    Well, the interesting thing about this is, because of the way it works, because of the way Taopatch kind of rewires your central nervous system, the effects are just across the board. Our tagline is the human upgrade device. And that’s actually what it is. It literally upgrades the way your body functions. So the first things you see is your balance and posture improves, there’s just a first order effect. But it improves your focus, it improves your sleep, athletic performance and recovery from athletic performance. Pain is a really big one, right? Especially anything joined or posture based, it doesn’t just mask the pain, it doesn’t just make the symptoms go away but it actually heals the underlying condition.
    Dmitri Leonov:
    So the overall kind of wellness and well, one of the things people report is they just feel more present, they feel better, more just kind of stable in their body, but also the emotional wellness, that’s a really, really big component. Where we’re seeing, especially if there’s some specific points for stress and anxiety, there’s two points in your ankles where we’ve heard from many, many customers where people who have been anxious for like a decade now just feel completely at peace and calm.
    Dmitri Leonov:
    So speaking of the target segment it’s, unfortunately I know as a marketer, you want to narrow down your niche as much as possible. In our case, the benefits are so wide and across the board. That said, we are focused on athletes, we are focused on yoga, we are focused on, I mean, just anybody who is into holistic wellness or not into using pharmaceuticals, but into using kind of the natural medicine.
    Dmitri Leonov:
    And one of the really exciting thing, there’s a bunch of quotes from Nikola Tesla that talk about kind of the, I think the famous one is, if you want to understand the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration. That’s a pretty well known one. There’s a lesser known quote by Einstein who said that, back in, I think it was 1920s, that the future of medicine is the medicine of frequencies. And so this is kind of really exciting for us. We are kind of at the forefront of that whole movement.
    Dmitri Leonov:
    There is quite a few products that are using electromagnetic frequencies as a wellness tool. We’re using light, right? And again, light therapy is not a new concept, there’s quite a few studies on the benefits of it. But what we’re doing is we’re combining it in a very unique way so you can just stick it on your body 24/7 and have the benefits of light therapy kind of through the lens of acupuncture applied 24/7. And have a really, really wide range of benefits that really can help pretty much anyone, but especially people who are in pain or suffering from any specific conditions.
    Roy Morejon:
    Impressive. So in preparing for the upcoming launch on Indiegogo, what’s been the biggest thing you’ve learned?
    Dmitri Leonov:
    Interesting. The biggest learnings are is still coming.
    Roy Morejon:
    Sure.
    Dmitri Leonov:
    I think it’s been really interesting to kind of see what the community building aspect of this is and the importance of building the community, building the email list. I’m a kind of a marketer by training. It’s really interesting to see how Crowdfunding is a relatively specific way of marketing. So it’s different from traditional marketing or channels obviously. And so slightly different rules apply and different tools work better.
    Roy Morejon:
    Absolutely. I mean, you’ve been working with us here at Enventys Partners for a while now. What were some of those considerations that you went through when choosing an agency to partner with on your upcoming launch?
    Dmitri Leonov:
    Interesting. Well, so obviously you guys has track record and we just looked at some of the campaigns that you’ve launched and we thought we’re going to be in good hands with you guys. Especially there’re some products that were very, not close, but in the same universe as us. So just showed that you are familiar with the space in general.
    Roy Morejon:
    Sure.
    Dmitri Leonov:
    And so far your team has been just really professional and knowledgeable so far, very impressed.
    Roy Morejon:
    Oh, that’s great. So after the campaign ends, where are you guys headed next?
    Dmitri Leonov:
    The world is our oyster. I don’t want to give away too much-
    Roy Morejon:
    Sure.
    Dmitri Leonov:
    … I’ll just kind of hint at some things. So we’re headed towards, where else can we embed this nanotechnology where you spend a lot of time? Yeah. I have to be really careful.
    Roy Morejon:
    Competitive advantage. Come on to Dmitri, we talking about that earlier.
    Dmitri Leonov:
    Well, I guess we’re going to launch maybe another Indiegogo campaign for that too, right?
    Roy Morejon:
    [inaudible 00:16:13].
    Dmitri Leonov:
    But no. Okay. I’ll tell you this, first, just imagine if we put Taopatches in motorcycle helmets, right? Where you put it on and you’re constantly treating yourself. Jewelry is another one. So far, we’re just astounded by the reception and what we’ve… We’re continuing to get inbound requests from even acupuncturists who haven’t been able to see their patients for a few months. And now they’re looking for different ways to work with with their patients and be able to allow people to self apply these patches instead of having to go into a session with needles in your body. So there’s a lot we can do. And to be honest, we’re trying to take it one day at a time. This is going to be a big bump for us, we’re very excited.
    Roy Morejon:
    That’s great. Well, this is going to get us into our launch round, where I’m going to rapid fire a handful questions at you. You good to go?
    Dmitri Leonov:
    Let’s do it.
    Roy Morejon:
    Let’s do this. So what inspired you to be an entrepreneur?
    Dmitri Leonov:
    I honestly don’t know what else I would do. It’s one of those questions like, it’s not why I chose to be an entrepreneur, it’s why not and what else I could possibly do. It’s just after a while doing work in big companies, you kind of realize that number one, I think I’m a generalist at heart. And so I don’t know what other job I would pick that would be wide enough to allow me to have my [inaudible 00:17:53] satisfied.
    Roy Morejon:
    Sure. If you could meet with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?
    Dmitri Leonov:
    Leonardo DaVinci.
    Roy Morejon:
    Yeah. He’s a good one. What would have been your first question for him?
    Dmitri Leonov:
    I’d like to understand his sleeping schedule. So I guess to-
    Roy Morejon:
    Interesting.
    Dmitri Leonov:
    Yeah. I would say, “Tell me more about your sleep cycles.”
    Roy Morejon:
    How well you sleep? Any books you would recommend to our listeners?
    Dmitri Leonov:
    Yes. This is not an entrepreneur related book, but it’s just my favorite book that I recommend to everyone. Okay. I’m going to do two, yeah, my two favorites. One is called, The Theory of Everything by Jed McKenna. There’s quite a few books called The Theory of Everything, it seems to be a popular book title. But Jed McKenna is the one you want to look for. And I’ve been kind of exploring the physics and nature of reality for quite some time. And that book just summarize everything perfectly for me. The second book I would highly recommend, especially to men is, The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida.
    Roy Morejon:
    Interesting.
    Dmitri Leonov:
    Yeah.
    Roy Morejon:
    Those are two new books for the show. So that’s exciting. Last question in the rapid fire round, Dmitri, what does the future of Crowdfunding look like?
    Dmitri Leonov:
    I honestly don’t know if I’m qualified to answer that. I think you would be much better. It seems that the future is bright and growing, right? From looking at what’s kind of been happening just holistically over the last few years, entrepreneurship is on the rise in general, right? And then looking at how kind of counter cyclical it’s been just over the last few months, is just astounding to see that Crowdfunding continues to grow. So with the uncertain future in the financial markets and everything else, I think Crowdfunding is just going to get bigger and bigger.
    Roy Morejon:
    Absolutely. Well, Dmitri, this has been awesome. This is your opportunity to say what you didn’t say, give our audience your pitch, tell them what you’re all about, where people should go and why they should check you out.
    Dmitri Leonov:
    Sure. Well, go to Indiegogo and search for Taopatch and back us. Depending on where you are kind of on your philosophy on life and your philosophy on wellness, I think we’re kind of walking the line between being pretty far out there as far as our understanding of like how reality works, how the human body works, it’s a really astounding fact. If you really slow down to think about it, putting a very, very barely visible light bulb on a specific acupuncture point, doesn’t seem like it’s going to produce anything, right? But people who haven’t been able to walk for a decade are now able to walk 15 minutes after wearing it. So it kind of feels like magic, but it really isn’t. There’s science, there’s, again, double-blind studies on PubMed.
    Dmitri Leonov:
    This is very, very, very real. And then the really exciting part is just, if that’s what it can do for a multiple sclerosis patient, just think of what it can do for a overall healthy person who wants to improve their focus for instance, right? This is just the beginning. We are just kind of scratching the surface on this whole, the vibrational medicine category. We’re very excited to be here to bring this to the Indiegogo community and just the world in general. And our vision is a world where everybody, at the very least, knows that they don’t have to take chemicals.
    Dmitri Leonov:
    It’s actually not even about putting things in your body. It’s not about putting anything in your body, whether it’s herbs or pharmaceuticals, certainly herbs are better than pharmaceuticals. But even just applying a very, very weak pulse of light on a specific point can have profound effects. And if you take kind of a next logical step from that, what does it actually mean? So what does that tell you about us, about our body, about the world we live in and if that’s possible, then what the heck else is possible?
    Roy Morejon:
    Absolutely. Well, this has been awesome. Audience, thanks again for tuning in. Make sure to visit artofthekickstart.com for the notes, the transcript, links to the campaign when it goes live and everything else we talked about today. And of course thank you to our Crowdfunding podcast sponsors, the Gadget Flow and Product Type. Dmitri, thank you so much for being on the show today.
    Dmitri Leonov:
    Thank you very much.
    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 @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.