For this episode of Art of the Kickstart, we caught up with Kristina Cahojova of kegg. Tune in to learn more about how Kristina and her team utilized incubators and Indiegogo to not only raise money, but conduct customer listening, for their important and technical fertility tracking monitor.
Topics Discussed and Key Crowdfunding Takeaways
- Working with incubators like SOSV and HAX, as well as the importance of raising initial capital before crowdfunding
- How to approach designing such an intimate device with crowdfunding marketing in mind
- Why they chose Indiegogo for their fertility tracking monitor
- The importance of educating your customers through marketing
- The importance of a strong campaign video
- How to apply backer feedback to your product while weighing it against your business model and FDA requirements
- Their best tips for future project creators
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Art of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by BackerKit. BackerKit makes software that crowdfunding project creators use to survey backers, organize data, raise additional funds with add-ons and manage orders for fulfillment, saving creators hundreds of hours. To learn more and get started, click here.
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 billion 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 BackerKit and the Gadget Flow. BackerKit makes software that crowdfunding project creators use to survey backers, organize data, and manage orders for fulfillment by automating your operations and helping you print and ship faster. 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.
Roy Morejon: Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today I am talking with Kristína Cahojova, CEO of Lady Technologies. Kristína, thank you so much for joining us today.
Kristina C.: Hi Roy. Nice to talk to you.
Roy Morejon: So Kristína, I know we’ve known each other for a few years now and I’m really excited to do this interview now that kegg has officially launched on Indiegogo. So I would love for you to give a little bit of the back story to our audience about where this idea started from.
Kristina C.: Yes, thank you. kegg is a fertility monitor. It takes into account the most crucial information for fertility, which are information from vagina. I wanted to bring this product to life because there is nothing in a market that is sensing the information which really matter for conception, which are vaginal information. When you go to a doctor, they don’t look at your heart rate or something. They really need to understand what’s going on inside you and ideally your vaginal environment. And unfortunately now in the market there is nothing that can tell you this. Everyone is trying, more or less focusing on all the ovulation, but everyone is missing the core that we need to know the fertile window and the days before the ovulation that leads to conception. Because that is how we are getting pregnant.
Kristina C.: Like we are having sex and then we can see when the sperm is inside and meets with the egg and fallopian tube. But it’s crucial that sex happen like 48 hours, or even 72 hours and even more, before the ovulation when the vaginal environment is most fertile. Because the sperm, they needs the nutrition. And so we are tracking fertility or we’re giving women the fertility trackers which are from last century. And we are kind of neglecting the fact that this is not how the proper way should be done. So I made the first fertility tracker that is taking into account this most crucial information, kind of like bringing a medical device to consumer hands.
Roy Morejon: So one of the questions that our audience had been asking me recently is to talk more about initial funding. And I know one of the things that you guys had done very early on, outside of taking investment from our startup capital, was working with SOSV and HAX, which has a long history of successfully crowdfunded products.
Kristina C.: Yes.
Roy Morejon: So talk to us a little bit about your experience raising capital initially for the idea.
Kristina C.: Yeah, we took the first cash from HAX. HAX is a hardware accelerator backed by SOSV fund. And the reason why is because hardware takes a lot of capital to finish. There are a lot of fixed goals that you have to do. And once you’re crowdfunding your product on Kickstarter, you already have a product that is ready for manufacturing. You’re not in the R and D phase or if you are, it’s probably not the best way to do it. And this takes a lot of capital up front and that’s why I think is very important to fundraise before you even do Kickstarter. At least, a right amount that you can finish your R and D. And HAX is a very good way to start because they focus on early stage hardware technologies. So if you can pitch to them and they can write your first check, it’s a very solid start.
Roy Morejon: So going back in when you were creating kegg. Talk a little bit about the design process, the hundreds of iterations that you guys have gone through. And then deciding kind of what features to keep or get rid of with the current designs.
Kristina C.: Yes, we knew that we have to have a sensor in a convenient way in vagina. Sensor in vagina was apparent because in vagina there are the best cyclical or fertility data, way better than anything else. That’s how the doctors do it. So we knew that we have to finalize the sensing part. And to go in vagina we have to be user friendly. So these two, to marry these two things together? It was not easy, but it’s doable of course. So apparent choice was sex toy but then we refrained from it because when you use sex toys, there are a lot of restrictions that apply in advertising and everything. But there are devices which enhance sexual wellness and woman’s health, Kegel devices, that are meant to train your pelvic floor. So we were like, “Fine. Yeah. Kegel devices that enhance pelvic floor is our way to go.”
Kristina C.: Next focus on the sensing part. Sensing part. We were doing research on available sensors that we can make smaller. And one sensor that we knew that we can make smaller were impedance sensors. Impedance is sensing pulses of electricity to determine minerals and electrolytes in fluids surrounding them. And it’s very easy to make them smaller and put them on some small device. The hard [inaudible] is then on the softer part. So we had the selection and then we were just prototyping it, so it’s like convenient, and accurate, and it just works. And the prototyping part, that was very challenging because size is also a problem. We have to be small.
Kristina C.: So now I think we are on 15th and final kegg version. But it took 15 different keggs before. We started in polymorph, then we went to plastic. We had a lot of plastic testings. Then we want to TPU. And then we went to silicone. And silicone, we did last six iterations in silicone. So this is a long process, but it’s very important because once you go to production you want to know that I made sufficient iterations that I know this will not have some technical problems.
Roy Morejon: Yeah. So talking about another long process was our pre-campaign in terms of finally getting something launched and obviously we weren’t able to get it onto Kickstarter because of their payment processing rules that they’ve recently implemented. But let’s talk a little bit about the prep work leading up to the active Indiegogo campaign right now, what we did in terms of preparation for the campaign, and getting the campaign in a great spot where it’s fully funded today.
Kristina C.: I think Enventys has been doing a great job, that they understand that you have to get people attracted to the product before it’s live. So we spent a lot of time funneling people and educating them about the product before we went live. So you have to talk to your potential audience before to understand who they are, what they want, and why they would like to back the product. And this means spending money on paid ads so you get their emails. But also, those that you have the emails, you actively communicate to them, and you talk to them about the products so once you go live, they’re ready to back you. And we did this in a way that we funneled everyone into the private group when we everyday talked to them about product features, their opinions, some interesting topics. So we keep them engaged with the brand and with the product before we ship.
Roy Morejon: So let’s talk a little bit about your experience with your campaign video. I really love what you guys have created there. Talk a little bit about the process on the video, what you decided to include, and what not to include on that video, and how that’s been received by the community.
Kristina C.: Yeah. We made the sweetest video. I’ll put your bun into oven, like showing how the conception process work in a sweet way, that the lady is baking cookies. We decided to go through this sweet nonmedical way because it’s way more acceptable and way more nice to share, than just showing how the conception process work, and why it’s important to get the accurate tracker, and why it’s important to measure what matters. And it was a nice process. It was funny, I have to say. But having a good video is very important because in the video you have to explain how the product works. And when you have a medical product, or you have deeply technical product, then you have to find very easy way how to communicate deep technologies to user that is more interested in the outcome for the user. And how it works for him rather than what the technology is really about.
Roy Morejon: So…
Kristina C.: So we partnered, Enventys introduced us to video producer, which is in Los Angeles. And I flew there. We made a video. Then we did the final cuts. And that’s the video that we used.
Roy Morejon: Yeah. And I love how it came out. In terms of your experience with your backers in your community so far, I know we’ve been engaging with them for what seems like years now. Talk a little bit about how you’ve been communicating with them so far, with the backers, and then managing that feedback into the campaign itself, all while trying to bring this product to market and get FDA approval.
Kristina C.: Yup. Yes. So we are FDA class one. So we are registered. FDA doesn’t approve us, they are just registering us. And we have to follow certain rules, and certifications, and standards. So all that’s our classification. So there are some nonnegotiable stuff. Nonnegotiable claims, nonnegotiable manufacturing standards that we have to follow. But the user experience, and the final design and packaging, this all, we can take feedback from users. So we have been engaging our audience, or the private group, with questions like “Hey guys, this is a box design that we are thinking of. This is how you will open it. This it what it includes.” And then they were giving us a lot of feedback, what they would love to see there, which colors they like, what they don’t. And we finalized the box with them.
Kristina C.: We did the same thing for the mobile applications. We listened to them and then we implemented the feedback. And the other thing that we did was also the kegg has Kegel functions. So it vibrates and tells you how to squeeze your pelvic floor muscles. And again, we talked to them to finalize that experience.
Kristina C.: I have to say here that users will want everything. They want to implement everything. They wanted it to be the best possible device on earth. And you have to be cautious because those that are expressing their opinion the loudest are the super users, the early adopters. Which might not be your full, full, the big audience that you’re going to capture. So you have to keep them engaged and happy, but you’re not going to make a niche product that has all the implementations that they want.
Kristina C.: So you have to have defined the minimal viable product or the minimal sellable product of you’re going to sell. And then you have to [inaudible] like, “Hey, does this make sense?” Like they want it, we will make them happy and we’ll implement it. If it’s a box color, yes we can do it. If it’s a feature that requires a lot of technical development time, probably not. But at least me asking them a feedback is a very nice way of engaging them in a product development and they will feel part of your product once you launch.
Roy Morejon: Absolutely. And that’s obviously the beautiful part of crowd funding is getting people’s opinions. But it’s a great point that you bring up for our audience of startups and entrepreneurs and soon to be founders is, yes, take everyone’s opinion but weigh it against your business case and the product that you’re actually going to bring to market initially, and then potentially adding on those feature requests as the market sees fit.
Kristina C.: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.
Roy Morejon: So throughout this process that you guys have been active on Indiegogo, which is not even a week now I think, what tips or what’s the biggest thing that you’ve learned throughout the whole process of finally launching your crowdfunding campaign?
Kristina C.: Ah, yeah. So yeah. Okay. So I was hoping we will do it on Kickstarter, but Indiegogo is a great platform because it offers way more customizations. I think like the biggest learning for me was that you have to have community on your board the day you start. We had us a little unlogged, that we had to change from Kickstarter to Indiegogo within 40 hours. And the community was not ready for it. And we had a lot of watering the fire, like what’s going on and why we were doing it. So it was quite interesting. But you really have to have your community engaged, and you have to have a certain amount of backers ready, that will go out and back you when you’re linked. And this is the biggest learning, if you can spend as much time as you can before day one, with your users, have thousands of them ready. If you have like 100, the number’s too low. You have to have like, you have to be in thousands.
Roy Morejon: Absolutely. Well Kristína, this is going to get us into our launch round where I’m going to rapid fire a handful of questions at you. You ready to go?
Kristina C.: Yes.
Roy Morejon: So what inspired you be an entrepreneur?
Kristina C.: My father. My father is an entrepreneur. I always knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur like him.
Roy Morejon: So if you could meet with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?
Kristina C.: I would meet with Marie Curie. She was not an entrepreneur, she was a scientist. But she was kind of an entrepreneur.
Roy Morejon: Yeah. The first [crosstalk 00:15:11].
Kristina C.: Because she was super, super awesome in her period.
Roy Morejon: Absolutely. So what would have been your first question for her?
Kristina C.: How do you focus on work and do such an excellent job when there is so much distractions and you have to wear skirts in the lab?
Roy Morejon: What a book would you recommend to our audience to read or listen to?
Kristina C.: I like Zero to One from Peter Thiel which is talking about how to start a startup and where to focus your energy. That one definitely.
Roy Morejon: Absolutely. A great read for all our audience. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Kristina C.: Yes, kegg is going to go into preventive health care and we are going to use the data to help users to manage actively their health and fertility. So we would be probably launching the kegg number two. And we would get that reimbursement codes. And we would become a B2B treatment company. So in five years we are going to be heavily helping women, not just to track fertility, but do useful things with this data. So we can really help women not to even have fertility problems. And diagnose a given problem that they might have, intimate problems and so on and so forth. So that’s where I see ourselves in five years.
Roy Morejon: Beautiful. Well last question in the launch round, what does the future of crowdfunding look like?
Kristina C.: Better and better projects. People are going to crowdfund only once they’re really ready to ship. And users and backers are getting even more pickier and more demanding.
Roy Morejon: Indeed. Well Kristína, this has been awesome. 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 kegg.
Kristina C.: We are bringing the first fertility monitor to the market that is measuring what really matters for fertility and gives women information, not just about when they ovulate, but also when they can conceive during their fertile window. We are empowering women with this information because they need this to understand, not just for conception, but for overall health. And our app is bringing this data to them. And if you not a woman, you still can go online, and buy a shirt which is saying Let’s Get Intimate, and support us in this way.
Roy Morejon: Absolutely. Audience, thank you so much for tuning in. Make sure to visit artofthekickstart.com for the notes, the transcript, links to the campaign and everything we talked about today. And of course thank you to our crowdfunding podcast sponsors the Gadget Flow and BackerKit.
Roy Morejon: Kristína, thank you so much for joining us today on Art of the Kickstart.
Kristina C.: Thank you very much, Roy. Have a lovely day.
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 of 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.