For this exciting episode of Art of the Kickstart, we’ve lined up a very special giveaway! But first, tune in to hear from the creators of the game Watch Ya’ Mouth about launching a game on Kickstarter, protecting your intellectual property, selling your product through Amazon Launchpad and much more.

Watch Ya’ Mouth – The Hilarious Mouthguard Party Game

Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • What it looks like to develop a minimum viable product
  • How long it takes to set up a Kickstarter project
  • Why the timing of a Kickstarter campaign is important
  • How giving backers a chance to help influence the final product can help your campaign
  • How to handle inquiries from potential partners during your Kickstarter campaign
  • How to use Kickstarter to test your product and grow your fan base
  • Why speed to market matters when trying to protect yourself against counterfeits and knockoffs
  • How to use Amazon Launchpad after a successful Kickstarter campaign

Links

Connect With Watch Ya’ Mouth

Giveaway

***This giveaway has closed. Congrats to our winners!***

In honor of the holiday season, we have an exciting giveaway lined up for you!

Want to win your own Watch Ya’ Mouth game and NSFW expansion pack? Give us your email address below to sign up for our newsletter and enter for a chance to win! Want bonus entries? Head over to our Facebook page and tell us what card you’d like to see added to the next expansion pack! We’ll be randomly selecting five email addresses and five Facebook comments to win a prize! Deadline to enter is Monday, January 1 at 11:59pm EST. Official contest rules, terms and conditions can be found here.

Enter to win a Watch Ya Mouth! NSFW Expansion Pack:



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!

backerkitArt 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.

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 agency in the world. We have helped start ups 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 start up 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 buyers guide for 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 joined with Peter and Alison Denbigh from Staunton, Virginia. So Peter and Alison launched a crowdfunding campaign all the way back in May or June of 2016 called Watch Ya’ Mouth. So they successfully raised over $27,000. It’s a Kickstarter project now to be one of Amazon’s best sellers, inspiring this movement, if you will. So really excited to have both Peter and Alison on the podcast today. So thank you guys for joining us.

Peter Denbigh:

It’s really great to be here Roy. Thanks for having us.

Roy Morejon:

My pleasure. So you guys launched this campaign. Basically I’ll let you guys talk about the product. So please give our audience a little background of where this all started and what inspired you guys to create a game called Watch Ya’ Mouth.

Peter Denbigh:

Go ahead Alison.

Alison Denbigh:

Okay. Well, we are a family full of games. If you look at our closet, we probably have 100 plus games. We have a tendency of just manipulating current games to give them a new fresh start. When Peter saw the movie called The Boss where Melissa McCarthy is wearing what we call a cheek retractor for the purpose of spreading your cheeks so you can see your teeth, he knew there was something unique about that. So he searched and found a few, ordered them, the next thing we know, we’re in our kitchen, and we have these silly things in our mouths. We’re trying to talk and our son is having a blast. Our neighbors are having fun experimenting with us. My husband said, “Well, if it can make you laugh, then it can make anybody laugh. Let’s see what we can do with it.”

Peter Denbigh:

Then, from there, it was a real exercise in execution. I’ve been in start ups all my life and I’ve found that really one of the keys to a start up success is not necessarily the idea but how well and how quickly and effectively you can execute that idea. So I set off to execute this just as quickly as I could and pulled from the knowledge I’ve had from lots of other successes and failures to really put a prototype together quickly and get it on Kickstarter.

Roy Morejon:

That’s really interesting. What I love about this is that this is a simple project, obviously in the product itself. You only had three perks to choose from so there wasn’t that hesitancy of having too many options with it. How long did you guys spend preparing to do the crowdfunding campaign and what made you decide that crowdfunding was the right path to launch your game?

Peter Denbigh:

The timeline was short. So from when I saw the movie until I had a MVP, minimum viable product, was about a week. That consisted of the mouth pieces that I ordered from Ebay, getting cards printed on MOO so that they were thick and looked like actually playing cards, and constructing a box out of a USPS flat rate box covered in red vinyl. Then I did a 99 Designs competition. Got some fantastic results. In fact, still work with one of those designers to this day.

Excuse me.

So in the matter of about a week and a half or so, I’d say, we had a legitimate working product. So from there, it was building the page and waiting for approval and whatnot. So from the idea inception to the actual launch of the Kickstart campaign was about a month. It was about a month. But the product and the MVP was finished in about a week and a half. The rest was all learning experiences such as how long it might take Kickstarter to give you that final approval so you can go live.

Roy Morejon:

So we talked to a lot of different founders and entrepreneurs about the importance of the time that you spend on the pre-campaign. It sounds like you guys didn’t spend too much time in terms of building up that launch. Can you talk about that?

Peter Denbigh:

No, that’s very accurate. In future campaigns that we’re getting ready to launch, that focus has shifted significantly. So I don’t want to minimize the importance of that pre-work. We got lucky because videos of our game and the concept went viral around the same time as our campaign launched. As a result, people were driven to it. It was a product that just really struck a cord with the audience during a very … This was in height of the presidential election. People were looking for a release to laugh. There were just a lot of … Timing was everything with this. So we don’t claim to take all the credit through the initial success of the idea. But we do take a lot of credit for the success that followed because of the extraordinarily hard work and long hours of problem solving that we put into keeping up with demand.

Alison Denbigh:

One of the nice things about the Kickstarter campaign with our product specifically is that in the cards we created a community card program where any of the backers of Kickstart can submit a phrase that they thought would be perfect for our game. If we liked it, we selected them and their name and where they’re from is at the bottom of every card printed of that phrase.

Peter Denbigh:

So we really worked to engage that community. I mean, Kickstarters and crowdfunding in general, the backers, the audience, are just so important and so special that we really wanted to look for a way to include them and allow them to help with some of the product development.

Roy Morejon:

I absolutely love that. You know, anytime we do a campaign or work with a campaigner, we’re always looking for that angle to involve the crowd. The fact that, you know, you’re personalizing this and allowing them to create custom cards or at least have an input or a say in the game, I think, is brilliant. Then going through and looking at the community of backers that you guys brought in almost are over two thirds of them were first time backers.

Peter Denbigh:

Yeah.

Roy Morejon:

How much feedback were you getting from them and where do you think they were coming from and finding you guys?

Peter Denbigh:

Do you want me to take this one or you got it?

Alison Denbigh:

As for the feedback, they loved being part of the development of the game. So with a lot of Kickstarter or other crowdsourcing channels, a lot of the times the product’s already made and you’re trying to get backings for it. But on ours we had the premise and the base and the graphics but not all the phrases were completed. So it was really fun for all parties included to be a part of that and all their suggestions. The adults expansion pack that we had as an option in our campaign was wildly successful. There’s just an untouched demand, I guess, for adult, dirty humor, which has kind of been part of our expansions of all of our other expansion packs is that was a dead that people wanted. So you’ll see that we have a total of three expansion packs now and more on our digital app, which is on both Android and Apple. As far as other information from Peter …

Peter Denbigh:

Yeah, so that was the positive feedback. The negative feedback we got because a lot of them are first time backers, they didn’t really understand what Kickstarter was. I think a lot of them treated it a lot like just another e-commerce platform where they thought they could get it and they could order and it would pretty much ship immediately. So we spent a fair amount of time with the way we solved that or the way we handled that was to spend a fair amount of time over communicating as best we could via updates and emails. Then just one on one communication when people would help us.

In fact, the first hire we ever made at what became the company was somebody that specialized in customer service because we really wanted to make sure that there was a positive reputation associated with this project, with this platform, and with the experience.

Roy Morejon:

So midway through your campaign, as you guys are active, you partnered with Buffalo Games. Can you tell me a little bit about how that came to be and how they’ve helped you guys now in terms of fulfilling orders?

Peter Denbigh:

You bet. Buffalo Games has been a fantastic partner. We joined forces. They found us via Kickstarter. So it was interesting. When you’re a creator on Kickstart and I’m sure other platforms, you get a lot of spam. You get people that just really want to help make this and make that and be a distribution partner, financing partner, and this and that. So the lesson I learned there is that not every one of those messages is spam. This one came from Buffalo Games and it was a cold call. They said, “Hey, we really like this.” At the time, I hadn’t even heard of Buffalo Games. No offense, guys. They’ve turned out to be just a fantastic partner in this. And really helped grow the distribution, navigate retail channels, aid with product development, aid in marketing, but it’s been a real partnership. I mean, that’s what I think is unique about this licensing agreement with Buffalo is that they really do handle a lot of the distribution. That is absolutely their strength. Distribution and production. Our strength is the customer connection via through marketing, through customer service, through product development. So really you have two independent, yet closely aligned teams working on this idea and future ideas now. So it’s been very positive for us. I think if you were to talk to Buffalo Games, they would say it’s been positive for them as well.

Roy Morejon:

Yeah I know in going back, Alison, you had mentioned in terms of the not safe for work card games and I’m always reminded about the Cards Against Humanity. You know, that ran in early 2010, maybe the end of 2010.

Alison Denbigh:

It did.

Roy Morejon:

Certainly, obviously, they have had a tremendous amount of success. So certainly focusing in on that niche, Kickstarter and that community itself is obviously a right place to be able to go after those consumers.

Alison Denbigh:

Agreed. Our not safe for work does get compared against Cards Against Humanity very frequently because it’s on the same level of inappropriateness.

Roy Morejon:

Which is always fun for adults, right?

Peter Denbigh:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alison Denbigh:

Correct.

Roy Morejon:

So like I said, you guys ran this campaign over a year, year and a half ago. What was the biggest surprise from the Kickstarter campaign itself outside of Buffalo games reaching out?

Peter Denbigh:

There are both positives and negatives. So I’m trying to think of the best positives to talk about.

Alison Denbigh:

I think the positives would be that we had a fantastic backer community that really launched our product beyond Kickstarter. So they were spreading the word about our product. We were getting this almost self marketing that was very organic that had a huge part of our long term success. In that way, Kickstarter and these crowdfunding channels are a wonderful way to get a loyal fan base and for testing products and getting a lot of feedback from the very beginning on other ways to improve your product before production or for expansions or other avenues to expand your product line.

Roy Morejon:

Nice. So what advice would you give to someone else looking to crowdfund a game like this?

Peter Denbigh:

I don’t want to bring down the mood, but we were really astonished by the amount of counterfeits that came about because of our early exposure. So if we had just gone straight to market, I think marketing would have been more difficult, but our IP would have been much more secure because we were exposed on Kickstarter and there was a period between the completion of the campaign and when we actually were selling in a huge volume that a lot of knock offs came about, both from independents and from very large groups. So that was a lesson learned there and the advice I would give is Kickstarter is very important to the launch of an idea, but never, ever stop moving. So halfway through your Kickstarter campaign, if it’s going to be successful, then you better start being in production halfway through your Kickstarter campaign and have your distribution channels pretty much lined up at that point, so that when you have the product in your hands, that you can move as fast as possible. IP production such as patents, trademark, copyrights are fine and they go so far, but really what makes you successful is your speed to market. That has really been the key to our success is the speed to market. Even against some very large, notable brands out there.

Alison Denbigh:

And to add to that, really it’s like barriers to entry. So you said that our product is very simple and fun and I totally agree. But because it’s simple, it’s really easy for other manufacturer in another country to manufacture it and try to sell it as if it’s yours, like ours. So as a start up, you don’t anticipate having a budget item having to do law enforcement against your products. If you don’t have the mental or financial backing, that could really devastate a start up.

Peter Denbigh:

Yeah. It almost crushed us. We were getting … If you look at our Amazon page, for example, you’ll see a bunch of negative reviews, unfortunately, that are right at the top. They’re like counterfeit product, knock off, get the real game, etc. That’s because there were third party sellers literally copying our game on a copy machine, shipping out of China with terrible card quality and misspellings and uncomfortable mouthpieces and all that. People were buying it and it would ship in a plastic bag from China and arrive in a million pieces. Just a terrible customer experience. So that just blindsided us. We had no idea that would happen as quickly and profusely as it did. So we actually worked with a group called CSC, called Net Names, and CSC, we pay them a fair bit each year to really patrol this and try to mitigate it. We’ve worked with Customs and Border Patrol and a few other groups as well to try to mitigate this. Unfortunately, now we’re finally having reasonable success, but not for about a year later.

Roy Morejon:

So you guys had mentioned that Watch Ya’ Mouth is now a best selling game on Amazon. This is always interesting for companies and clients that launch their product and get it out there and that are looking for that path to continue sells and grow that community to which they built off Kickstarter and Indiegogo initially. What marketing efforts do you think have been the most helpful in terms of getting you to that point now?

Peter Denbigh:

For us, it was honestly I would say it’s less marketing more operational. Starting with a program called Amazon Launchpad. Really, that was kind of the means to the end, if I’m to be honest about Kickstarter is I really wanted to be a part of Amazon Launchpad. At the time, the criteria for joining Launchpad is either you had to be product of a venture capital firm, a VC firm, or the product of a successfully funded crowdfunding campaign. So because we were successful in Kickstarter, we were able to be admitted to Amazon Launchpad, which helped us reach the incredible capacity and volume that Amazon has with some really neat perks to stand a chance on Amazon. So because we were on there, the demand was there, but because of our relationship with Amazon, we were able to meet the demand.

Roy Morejon:

Yeah. Amazon Launchpad has been one of our strategic partners as well. We’ve certainly put a lot of clients on there as well to get their product out there. So that’s great that you guys were able to solidify that relationship and are now seeing great success from that. So that’s always good.

If you were to give someone a piece of advice for selling their product on Amazon after their crowdfunding campaign, do you think Launchpad is definitely the best path for someone to follow along that?

Peter Denbigh:

I do. I do, especially Launchpad in the U.S. particularly has the ability to be either third party, like through Seller Central, or work with Vendor Central so you’re not limited by the scale or perceived scale of your idea. That you can be a three pea seller but still have access to many of the Launchpad opportunities. So that would be my first piece of advice.

Then second is just to have a really quality listing and really work on getting some early wins, such as a good review base, a good making sure you’re in stock, your sales are ranking, that sort of thing. Those early wins really set you up for future success.

Alison Denbigh:

Amazon has what you call an A plus page. So it’s stuff beyond just your basic beginner product page. It allows for you to have videos on it and a lot of additional content and pictures. I feel, as a buyer, myself that I lean towards the products that have multiple pictures of the products and videos. Therefore, I can really grasp the quality and the specifics of that product. Then if that meets the criteria, then the next thing I do is look at customer reviews to find what they like and dislike about your product. If they found something that they disliked about it that I probably would dislike too, then I move on to the next product. So it’s really important to have good customer reviews. If, by chance, you had a poor customer review against your product, immediately resolve it. Respond to that review on your product page.

Peter Denbigh:

To Alison’s point about the A plus page, as a Launchpad participant, you get access to a Launchpad specific A plus template where you can include … It’s really geared toward crowdfunding so it can say, “Hey, we were crowdfunded. Here’s how much we raised. Here’s a picture of our team.” Kind of makes it very personal so you don’t get lost in the hustle of commerce.

Alison Denbigh:

I’ll add another thing. What Launchpad brought to the table that you couldn’t quite get as a third party or a larger brand through Vendor Central is that you get a contact person. You actually get to speak to somebody if you needed to. You get some guidance that you normally don’t have. Like I didn’t know about AMS. Amazon has all these different channels that you can tab into to support your product. So AMS is a marketing channel. You also had brand registry, which really helped out with some of our IP issues. So there’s all these different channels that you just have to ask somebody to help problem solve.

Roy Morejon:

Awesome. So you guys sold, what? Almost a thousand products during your 30 day campaign. How many of these products are you guys selling now on a daily or weekly level?

Peter Denbigh:

I wish we could tell you. Because of the competitiveness in the industry, we can’t reveal numbers. But we can say that we were the top five selling game of all games in 2016, even though we really only on the market for about four months. That’s mostly publicly available data from NPD group.

The other thing I want to throw in there is, yeah, we did sell almost a thousand games during Kickstart campaign, but the one thing that we did that I’m very glad we did is we also set up a pre-order system, so that the second the Kickstarter campaign ended, we were still able to capture demand through a pre-order system. So we had a … We used BackerKit actually, is who we used. Used their very simple pre-order page. I don’t know. You can look on BackerKit, it’s up there. I think we ended up raising about $50,000 via pre-orders on BackerKit. So even more than the Kickstarter. So it was really integral to our success.

Roy Morejon:

Yeah. BackerKit’s obviously one of our sponsors on the podcast. We love working with them. They are a great asset for anybody crowdfunding their campaign and need that additional assistance to figure it all out post-crowdfunding success. So that’s great that you guys use them and selling more products.

Peter Denbigh:

Yeah. It goes back to the operational success I was talking about earlier. So I mean, we’re small team. We still only have six people. At the time of the Kickstarter campaign, we had two people. That was me and my wife, Alison here. So by having systems in place like BackerKit, we didn’t have to spend days going through and following up with all of our backers and getting addressing correctly and printing shipping labels. Because the systems in place, that was a maybe several hour process to get all that done and get all the shipping labels printed. Then we could focus on fulfilling and getting the product out the door and moving on to actually working on our company versus working in our company. So it was a great experience.

Roy Morejon:

So, Peter, you drew the short end of the straw for the launch round where I’m going to rapid fire questions at you. You good to go?

Peter Denbigh:

I believe so.

Roy Morejon:

All right. So what inspired you to be a game-preneur?

Peter Denbigh:

I’ve been in start ups all my life. I just can’t help it. I think it’s either a trait or a disease, I’m not sure. But I wanted to have a product that really made people happy and a product that was very scalable. So in focusing on speed of execution and speed to market, the game industry, it just checked all those boxes.

Roy Morejon:

So if you could play the game with any entrepreneur throughout history, who’d it be?

Peter Denbigh:

Elon Musk. Without a doubt.

Roy Morejon:

So what would be your first question for Elon Musk or what word would you try to mouth for him?

Peter Denbigh:

Oh, what word would I use? Energy. How does he balance his energy amongst so many projects and be effective at them? I think that’d be a very interesting conversation to have with mouthpieces in.

Roy Morejon:

Yeah. I think something like space ship success or something like that would be a pretty good one, right?

Peter Denbigh:

There you go. That’s perfect. I’ll put that on a card and put your name on it.

Roy Morejon:

Done. I love it. Who did you look up to when you were growing up?

Peter Denbigh:

I’d have to say my father. He’s also been in the small business. He’s always had the philosophy that they good guys can finish at the top, as well. You hear a lot about negativity and people always operating from a philosophy of scarcity and suing people and saying, “This pond isn’t big enough for you,” and whatnot. He really taught me that the pond is big enough and that if you’re kind to people and you treat people well, that there’s enough abundance out there for everybody. The way to not go through life is trying to elbow your way through, but rather to deliver value to provide happiness, to be able to look yourself in the mirror, to tell the truth, and that has really been a huge guiding principle for me throughout my career.

Roy Morejon:

Nice. What book would you recommend to our audience?

Peter Denbigh:

Probably How to Win Friends and Influence People. It’s an oldie but a goodie. Just kind of a foundational people skills 101 that has been extremely influential in my life and a fun read.

Roy Morejon:

Awesome. Last question, Peter, what does the future of crowdfunding look like?

Peter Denbigh:

Very fast paced. I think crowdfunding’s great for testing ideas and getting products to market. As more and more people get on to that train, it’s just going to be very fast paced. It’s going to be very exciting because it allows entrepreneurs and innovators to test their idea with very little repercussions. So you can put an idea out there and see how it goes. If it doesn’t go well, you can iterate or pivot. If it goes well, then you can create a trend on what really people are looking for. So I think it’s a really wonderful fast feedback loop between innovators and customers, so that needs are meeting … Innovations are meeting the needs. The needs are driving innovations. I think it’s very exciting to see what evolves as a result of that and the pace of that evolution.

Roy Morejon:

Very good. Well, Peter and Alison, this is going to wrap it up for us. But I want to give you a chance to give your pitch to the audience. Tell them what you’re all about, where people should go, and why they need to go buy a Watch Ya’ Mouth game?

Peter Denbigh:

Thanks, Roy. Well, this is Peter and Alison Denbigh from Watch Ya’ Mouth, the hilarious mouth guard party game. We are a small team in beautiful Staunton, Virginia. We are the originators of the game Watch Ya’ Mouth. We really appreciate the support we get. You can find us on Amazon, you can find us at Target, you can find us at Toys R Us. You can find us at WYMgame.com. If I can ever help anybody, please reach out. You can go to our website. There’s a contact form. Let me know if I can help you. Thanks for laughing with us. Thanks for supporting the small, crazy venture. Roy, thanks for having us on the Art of the Kickstart. We really wish the best to your viewers and hope they get out there and kick some serious ass.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. Well, I know this has been exciting for me. I think it’s going to be exciting for all of our listeners because you guys are nice enough to do a giveaway along with this episode. So I certainly thank everybody for tuning in. Make sure to visit ArtoftheKickstart.com for a chance to win free product from the kind folks of Peter and Alison of Watch Ya’ Mouth. Check out all the notes, the transcript, links to the product, of course. Again, thank you to our crowdfunding podcast sponsors The Gadget Flow and BackerKit. Of course, if you loved this episode, please leave us a review on iTunes. Peter and Alison, thank you so much for joining us on Art of the Kickstart.

Alison Denbigh:

Thank you.

Peter Denbigh:

All right. Thank you. Have a great one.

Roy Morejon:

Thanks for tuning in to 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 love this episode a lot, leave us a review at ArtoftheKickstart.com/iTunes. It helps more inventors, entrepreneurs, and start ups find this show. It 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.