How do you handle adversity? Do you learn from it and move forward or does it tend to knock you back and cause you to question your approach? James Daigle joins the podcast to share his experience with crowdfunding and the lessons he’s learned along the way. In our conversation, James opens up about his first two unsuccessful crowdfunding campaigns, what he learned from the process, how his third campaign succeeded, why it’s important to keep your backers in the loop and so much more! 

Don’t forget to build an audience!

Building an audience is not an easy or straightforward endeavor, but it can set you and your fledgling product up for long-term success. Too often startup entrepreneurs charge ahead and fail to take the time to do their research and connect with an audience that will fan the flames once they launch. James Daigle wants as many entrepreneurs as possible to learn from his oversight and take the time to find an audience before it’s too late. During a product launch is the worst time to be searching for an audience, do the legwork and connect before you launch! To hear James go into further detail on this important topic, make sure to listen to this episode!

Responding to disappointment.

Let’s face it, an unsuccessful crowdfunding campaign is a tough pill to swallow. You pour time, resources and energy into an exciting project only to see it fail to reach the level of success you had hoped for. What do you do, scrap the whole thing and go back to the drawing board?  For James Daigle, everything started off promising, they had the right tools and an ambitious goal, but they failed to reach their goal by $4,000. Instead of letting this disappointment sour him on the crowdfunding platform, James used this lesson as fuel and went on to launch two more campaigns before he found success. What can you learn from James’ story?

Finding a path forward.

Determined to find success through the crowdfunding platform, James Daigle and his team went back to the drawing board. Experiencing a second setback would knock most people out of the game but James pushed forward and tried for a third crack at getting a product funded via crowdfunding and he succeeded! If you are convinced that you have a product that will benefit the marketplace then stand behind it and don’t give up. Be prepared to face adversity and challenges, they can either defeat you or help you learn along the way. Learn more helpful lessons from James’ inspiring story by listening to this episode, you don’t want to miss it!

Why you need to keep your backers updated.

You’ve heard of the golden rule, right? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Consider that wisdom as you launch your product! Put yourself in the shoes of your backers and treat them as you would want to be treated by someone you’ve invested in. It really doesn’t have to be more complicated than that. If you don’t trust your ability to consistently follow up with and engage your audience, then outsource it! The last thing you want to do is cause ill will with the people who’ve taken a chance on you. For more perspective on this subject, make sure to listen to this episode with James Daigle!

Key Takeaways

  • [1:05] James Daigle joins the podcast to talk about his experience with crowdfunding.
  • [3:00] James talks about his first crowdfunding effort.
  • [6:50] Why it’s important to set realistic fundraising goals.
  • [9:00] The wisdom of building a crowd of fans before a product launch.
  • [10:30] Building off of crowds from previous campaigns, the third time’s the charm!
  • [12:45] Why you need to keep your backers in the loop.
  • [15:00] James enters the Launch Round, rapid-fire questions.
  • [17:00] Why you should check out James’ work with Ubiqweus.

Links

Connect With

Sponsors

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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.

Connect With the Art Of The Kickstart team

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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 $100 million 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 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 joined with James Daigle. James, thank you so much for joining us today.

James Daigle:                  It’s a pleasure to be with you, Roy. Thank you for having me.

Roy Morejon:                   So James, I’m really excited to talk to you today. You’ve run three crowdfunding campaigns now over the course of the last four, four and a half years and obviously you’ve learned quite a few lessons. So I think this is going to be a unique episode where I think we kind of take it back to some of the basics and, you know, some of the lessons learned over the last, you know, four or five years in terms of running campaigns and finally having a successful one. So let’s talk a little bit about where this all began. Where did it start?

James Daigle:                  I was one of those entrepreneurs just wanting to dive into something and didn’t really know where to get started and I knew it would take a lot of resources and it would take a lot of help. So right around the time I started to get into creating products and developing things, crowdfunding started to hit the scene back in those days. So I was following it a little bit and I said, “You know what, I’ve done enough research on this. I’m going to dive in and try my first campaign.” So I launched my first one in 2013 and launched a transmitter receiver product called [inaudible 00:02:10].

Roy Morejon:                   So what initially drew you to crowdfunding as a way to launch your project?

James Daigle:                  When I started to get into developing products and speaking with people, I knew the resources, and the capital was going to be quite extensive, and I looked at it, at first I looked at crowdfunding as a way to raise capital and to market test my product and my idea. So without having to put a whole lot of upfront cost into the tooling and everything else that would go along with it, that’s why I jumped in, was strictly to try to get some traction before making the investment. That’s why I got into it and then through that process, learned a couple of things of some ways I should have reconfigured that first launch.

Roy Morejon:                   Yeah. So you’ve launched three campaigns, two that didn’t reach their funding goal and one that was successful. To start with, let’s talk a little about your initial campaign and, you know, what happened there.

James Daigle:                  So the initial campaign, I was launching a new product, I formed a team around me, got some help from a marketing company. We were trying to create a campaign that was very visually pleasing, and we put all the bells and whistles, and we rented special cameras, and we said, “You know what, we’re going to make this fantastic video and then we’re going to launch it to the world and then we’re going to be off to the races.” Lesson learned through that one is you didn’t need all the fancy cameras back then or anything to make a special video.

James Daigle:                  You need to get the message across and so we had a $20,000 goal. We raised $16,000, so we were just shy of our financial goal, which when you’re doing Kickstarter, and it’s a, you have to raise all the funds. We quickly realized if we were planning on making this product anyway, whether the campaign was successful or not, we might’ve rethought about our campaign goal because we could have used that $16,000, but instead it was a all or nothing campaign, and we ended up starting from scratch again.

Roy Morejon:                   Yeah. So what are some of the lessons that you learned about setting campaign goals?

James Daigle:                  You have to sit with your team and figure out, are you doing this just to raise money or are you doing it to create awareness, and in that case it was more of awareness and hoping to raise some money as well, but I had full intentions of developing this product on my own with or without the help of crowdfunding. So in that case I probably should have set my goal a little lower because I knew I was going to put funding into it myself. You have to think of what your long-term goal is.

James Daigle:                  If it’s, you know, you’re going to launch the campaign and if it’s successful you’re going to keep going with it, then put a realistic goal of, you know, what’s it actually going to take to develop this? What’s it going to take to deliver this and all the costs that are associated with it. However, if you’re planning on making this as a product, as I was back in that day with or without campaign financing, then I could have put a lower goal and reached that goal quicker and maybe gave me some traction out of the gate.

Roy Morejon:                   Absolutely. So did you end up patenting that initial product?

James Daigle:                   Yes, and that’s another lesson I learned. I came up with an idea. I was one of these entrepreneurs that always comes up with the great ideas and some of them great, some of them not so great, but I was tired of seeing things I’ve thought of years prior hit the market. So what I decided was when I came up with this transmitter receiver combination product, I said, “You know, this is a great product. I’m going to patent this.” I filed for patent in the US back in 2007 and waited for four years, which is a long process to actually get the patent issued in 2012.

James Daigle:                  Once I got it issued, that’s when I decided to go ahead and start my developing and getting engineers involved. For all the entrepreneurs and people out there, if you start, you have a one year leeway with your provisional patent. Do as much work you can do in that one year to see if it’s worth going through with the patent process and it also gives you a huge jump, because I think in hindsight now when I look back, I would have been four years earlier out of the gate and would have had that much more time before competition started hitting.

James Daigle:                  In that particular case, I was doing a transmitter receiver combination and Bluetooth wasn’t on the scene yet. So if I think of it, if I would’ve started four years earlier when I just filed for the patent, I would’ve been leaps and bounds ahead of competition. What ended up happening is after the patent was issued, I started the process of crowdfunding and getting the team together and everything else. Around the same time, technology advanced so much that Bluetooth was coming up as a big competitor to my first product and it didn’t give me that competitive edge in the race to market anymore. So I think that had a lot to do with the next couple of years of where my direction went going forward in electronics.

Roy Morejon:                   So fast forward then three more years after that you guys relaunched or launch a new product on Kickstarter again, and this one falls short of the goal as well. Let’s talk a little bit about some of the lessons learned there on the second campaign now.

James Daigle:                  Okay. So then I kind of didn’t take my own advice from the first campaign, and it was one of those things that I had to set the target properly, but in the second campaign that I launched, which was 2016, I did it with a team behind me, and it was a partnership. So I formed a company with my now co-founder, and we decided we were going to have a goal of $100,000 because we knew that we needed a lot of money in funding and for marketing and there was a lot more to this product than there was in my last one. So there was a lot of more development costs and everything else. So we set $100,000 goal, which is a bold try and because we didn’t hit that goal, then it was all or nothing and we start from scratch again. So the lesson I learned in the first one, I didn’t really learn it until the second time around unfortunately.

James Daigle:                  So it’s again, for anybody listening, it’s about setting realistic goals, knowing what it’s going to cost to make your product and kind of basing your goals on that. Also, when we’re thinking about what financial target or goal we’re setting in a campaign, there’s a lot of tricks that we may get into, and I know that you’ve touched on in other episodes about how you can get some viral traction. It’s about trying to reach that goal in the first 24 to 48 hours and when you have $100,000 goal, it’s a little harder to get there. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but to hit a goal of $20,000 or $10,000 is much quicker than a $100,000 goal.

Roy Morejon:                   Yeah. I mean it’s tough to pre-sell a product, especially the first one ever out there, right?

James Daigle:                  Exactly. We’re tapping into that, you know, the bell curve and the early adopters and there’s only so many out there. So you really got to get your message across of why those early adopters want to get it and have your product. So again, it’s messaging to the right audience and setting those campaign goals realistically of what you can hit in that short a period of time.

Roy Morejon:                   Do you think there was one main thing that, you know, struggled to hit your funding goal on the second campaign? Or was it just a multitude of others?

James Daigle:                  I think in business in general it’s a multitude, but if there’s one thing I can stress that I didn’t do in any of the campaigns enough, I think we get into this trap as entrepreneurs of, you know, just move, move, move, keep pushing the ball go, go, go. The planning part of crowdfunding, one of the most important things, I think all in all, is building your crowd before you launch. I think I heard that in the past, and I kind of thought, “Oh yeah. We got the power of marketing behind us, and we’re going to do ad spends and everything else,” but realistically you need to have a huge crowd going into it so that they give you the push. We didn’t do that in our campaigns and in hindsight I know I’ll launch campaigns in the future, and that is going to be my number one goal. The building a crowd before you launch.

Roy Morejon:                  Yeah. That was going to be one of my follow-up questions is, do you plan to use crowdfunding to launch another product in the future?

James Daigle:                  Yes. We do have plans to do that. The particular product that we funded and we’re getting ready to deliver, we’re just manufacturing now, we can go a couple of variations of that. So once we deliver this campaign, because that’s one of the things you have to deliver on your campaign before you can launch another one. So we’re in the process of manufacturing and delivering now and then we plan to come out with similar products, just different, it’s an IOT product like internet of things product, so just different sensors that are in our products. So we might crowdfund that moving forward.

Roy Morejon:                   Excellent. So you had all these lessons learned over years and years of trying to launch a successful campaign and then boom, you finally make it successful on the third campaign. You hit your campaign funding goal in two days. So what was overall, you know, what do you think factored in on some of these successful moments that you had very early on or, you know, throughout the third campaign?

James Daigle:                  I think with the third one it was building on the crowds from previous campaigns and going out to them and telling them, “Okay, we’re launching in, you know, next week we’re launching in 24 hours,” and then a few hours beforehand and it was really being strong out of the gate. We didn’t have a huge crowd. We didn’t build, like I said earlier, we didn’t build up enough of a crowd to really get a viral campaign where you see some of the real success stories in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, but we were going into that launch knowing that we pretty much had enough people kind of soft committing saying, “Yeah. When you launch let us know. We’re behind you,” and we were getting good feedback before we even launched and I think that’s why it was successful like within 24 or 48 hours out of the gate.

Roy Morejon:                   So we talk a lot about how important that month or two leading up to launch is. When you did the third campaign, what did you do differently from, you know, campaigns one and two to put yourself in a great position to fund within the first two hours or two days?

James Daigle:                  We did a couple of press releases and, like I say, we built on that crowd. Like that previous question, we built on the crowd we already had, came out of the gate strong. I will say that we weren’t too concerned about it like going viral. Of course that’s the dream of everybody is have one that goes viral and you make tons of money and you’ve got a good starting pocket of money to start your product with, but we were using it more as a marketing thing and also as a test case. Like we told our backer’s going out, we need some Beta testers for our product, so we want to do this quick. We want to do a quick campaign and get some product in the hands of people and they can be our testers and work with us.

James Daigle:                  So that’s the way we looked at our third campaign. We didn’t have these big dreams of hitting, you know, hundreds of thousands of dollars. We were more concerned with getting product in the hands of people, so it was quick and easy on that third time around.

Roy Morejon:                   Always nice. So tell me a little bit about the experience with your backers so far. Obviously they’ve been following you along for years and finally been able to get a product off and successful. Talk about receiving feedback from them, managing it and then coordinating all of that with manufacturing and new product innovations.

James Daigle:                  I think the big thing, and we hear this and we read about this when we’re looking at, you know, the tips for crowdfunding all over the online is you have to stay engaged with your backers. One of the things about crowdfunding campaigns is the backers want to hear from you because there are campaigns that end up failing and not delivering on what was promised. So even during struggles, like we had some struggles in manufacturing, we had to reconfigure some stuff, they want to hear about that.

James Daigle:                  What I found was in the beginning, after the first initial few weeks or months, I didn’t go out to them enough and tell them what was going on and we hit a few hurdles and stuff and I was almost reluctant to go out to them and say, “You know, listen, we had some problems with our mechanical design. We’re making a tweak here, a tweak there,” because I thought that would come across as, you know, that we’re failing or something. But I quickly realized that even through the struggles, stay engaged with your backers because they’re putting their trust and their faith in you and they want to see you succeed.

James Daigle:                  So sometimes you can even pull experience from those backers. They might refer you to somebody or say, “Don’t worry about it. Just keep us in the loop. Good luck,” and it’s kind of encouragement, but if you keep them in the dark, then they get antsy and they don’t know if you’re pulling the wool over their eyes. So they start to be a little more negative. So if there’s anything I can say is moving forward we’ll stay engaged more. We try to send out regular updates and I’ll continue to do that in the future.

Roy Morejon:                   So James, I’m really interested to know what’s the biggest thing you’ve learned through running multiple crowdfunding campaigns.

James Daigle:                  Build your crowd, build your tribe, build your following, build it and stay engaged with them. We know that today with everything we do online and social, everybody’s building an influencer market, like that’s the way our life is going now. So I think the biggest thing is for anybody who’s thinking about crowdfunding, you don’t need to give all of the ins and outs of what your product’s going to be, but find a group of people that might be interested. Stay engaged with them, see what they’re talking about, and really build your crowd before you launch. The other thing is have a team because during the 30 days leading up and the time afterwards, there’s a lot of work that goes into crowdfunding. So be prepared to delegate that work and spread it out because you can’t do it on your own. It’s good to have a team around you.

Roy Morejon:                   Indeed. All right James, this gets us into the launch round where I’m going to rapid fire a few questions at you. You good to go?

James Daigle:                  I’m good to go.

Roy Morejon:                   So what inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

James Daigle:                  I always have been. I followed in my father’s footsteps. He was an entrepreneur and I just always liked creating things and trying to develop things that were cool and new.

Roy Morejon:                   So if you could meet with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would you want to have a beer with?

James Daigle:                  It’s a tricky question. I got to say some of my best insight, it might sound a little corny, but some of my best insight and some of the greatest things I’ve learned is from my father. He’s been in many different things and I’m always happy to share a beer with dad.

Roy Morejon:                   Nice. So what book would you recommend to our audience?

James Daigle:                  Which book. There’s a few out there and that’s where I got the bell curve quote from. Crossing the Chasm is a great one, but it’s kind of one of those answers everybody says, but Crossing the Chasm is a great book, knowing how to get to that next level. So that’s what I’ll say on the rapid fire.

Roy Morejon:                   Fair enough. Favorite vacation spot.

James Daigle:                  I’ve been fortunate enough to be to 45 countries in my life and I’m going to say there’s a lot of great ones out there, but I named my dog Aruba. So I think I’m going to have to go with the Aruba.

Roy Morejon:                   Very good. Last question, James, what does the future of crowdfunding look like?

James Daigle:                   I think it will change. I don’t know if we’ll see a more of a personal thing where technology out there is where people are kind of making their own platforms and not following the big two or three. I could see that being a change in the future, rut right now I think like Kickstarter, and Indiegogo, and the big names in crowdfunding, they’re pushing to keep their market share. So I don’t see it slowing down anytime soon. I just think we’ll see greater products coming out in the future.

Roy Morejon:                   That’s the hope. Well James, 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 you out.

James Daigle:                  Well, like we said, my name’s James Daigle. I have a company Ubiqweus and it’s U-B-I-Q-W-E-U-S.com. We’re planning on launching lots of cool products in the future. So go to our website, sign up to our mailing list and stay in touch and you can check me on Twitter at James R Daigle. I hope to hear from you guys and if you liked the podcast, like I say, shoot me a message on Twitter. I’ll get back to you whenever I can.

Roy Morejon:                   Awesome. Well audience, thanks again for tuning in. Make sure to visit artofthekickstart.com for the notes, the transcript, links to James’s site and everything we talked about today and of course thank you to our crowdfunding podcast sponsors the Gadget Flow and BackerKit. If you liked this episode, make sure to leave us a review on iTunes. James, thank you so much for joining us today on Art of the Kickstart.

James Daigle:                   Roy, it’s been a pleasure. Thanks so much for having me. Have a great day.

Roy Morejon:                    You too. Cheers.

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.