091: Market Testing Prior to a Crowdfunding Launch - MAKO Design + Invent

091: Market Testing Prior to a Crowdfunding Launch

MAKO Design + Invent – September 1, 2021

With Will Ford, Co-Founder of Launchboom

Will Ford is the Co-Founder of LaunchBoom, the world’s largest crowdfunding agency. He also has built multiple successful companies prior to LaunchBoom. Today, Will is going to share some valuable knowledge on how inventors, startups, and small manufacturers can use smart testing before launching their product on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, and how to use that testing for both marketing feedback and product development feedback. He will also talk about the upcoming Crowdfunded Summit, a completely free online crowdfunding conference with over 20,000 attendees, a conference which I will also be speaking at on Oct. 5.

Today you will hear us talk about:

  • Mitigating your crowdfunding risk by focusing on pre-launch testing
  • Using feedback from testing to make your product launch optimized
  • Using feedback from testing to improve your product prior to launch
  • The Free Crowdfunding Summit coming up Oct. 5, 2021

The Product Startup Podcast
Episode 91: Market Testing Prior To A Crowdfunding Launch
With Will Ford, Co-Founder of Launchboom

00:00 | Kevin Mako (KM): Hello, product innovators. Today, we learned from the co-founder of the largest crowdfunding agency in the world on how to ensure a highly successful crowdfunding campaign for your consumer product invention.

00:09 | Narrator: You’re listening to The Product Startup Podcast, the show that helps bring your product idea to life by chatting with successful inventors, product developers, manufacturers and hardware industry professionals. 

Our goal here is to get to the bottom of what makes a product successful, from initial idea to getting your product on store shelves. We’re taking you step by step to build a functional product and scale your product business. 

Hosted by Kevin Mako, one of North America’s leading experts on hardware development for small product businesses. Now, on to the show.

00:49 | KM: Welcome back, everyone. Today, I’m very excited to introduce Will Ford (WF) to the show. Will is the Co-Founder of LaunchBoom, the world’s largest crowdfunding agency. He also has built multiple successful companies prior to LaunchBoom. 

Today, Will is going to share some valuable knowledge in how inventors, startups and small manufacturers can use smart testing before launching their product on Kickstarter or Indiegogo. And how to use that testing for both market feedback and product development feedback. 

He will also talk about the upcoming Crowdfunded Summit, a completely free online crowdfunding conference with over 20,000 attendees, a conference which I will also be speaking at on October 5th. Now, on to the episode.

Will, welcome to the show.

01:27 | Will Ford (WF): Kevin, thanks so much for having me on the show. I’m excited to be here.

01: 29 | KM: It’s always great to talk with you, folks. We had Mark, one of the other Co-Founders, on the show a few months ago. It was a great topic going over the broad strokes of understanding of what crowdfunding is. And today, I am excited to dig in a bit deeper to understand how to really win when it comes to crowdfunding. 

01:44 | WF: Yeah, crowdfunding has been around that long. Kickstarter or Indiegogo, they first opened doors for business back in 2008/2009. So, it’s just more than a decade old right now. 

And I first got involved with crowdfunding back in, like 2014/2015. Before crowdfunding, I’m super entrepreneurial, as you know, I built four companies from the ground up and I was fortunate to have some big exits along the way. 

And after I exited my last company, one of my advisors asked me to help him and a Navy SEAL launch a consumer product. And I asked them if they’d ever heard of Kickstarter or Indiegogo. And they looked at me like a deer in headlights, like, “What are you talking about?” 

So, I took them through a crowdfunding campaign. You know, we raised a bunch of money, they get the product off the ground. Today, that Navy SEAL has done phenomenal with that product and brand. 

And going through that first crowdfunding campaign, helping kind of guide them through it, it’s really kind of what triggered the bigger idea of LaunchBoom, Because at the time, I was looking for a LaunchBoom to help support us with our launch. And I did a bunch of research and I was looking for marketing agencies that specialize in crowdfunding, and they didn’t exist. There was no one out there doing what we do today. 

And so, the idea, from like a macro perspective was, hey, let’s do the work and prepare the launch before we go live on Kickstarter or on Indiegogo. Let’s build an audience that’s hyper-focused and ready to buy. So, when we launch, we have a launch boom effect. And we control the launch because we know how to set the funding goal and we know exactly what we’re going to be able to raise within that first 24-hour period, as soon as we go live. 

In kind of working through that process and that logic, we’ve made so many iterations over the years, as Kevin, I’m sure you do on your side, with all the prototypes you’re building and creating for your clients. 

It’s been such a fun journey because where we’ve landed is there’s so much value to pre-launch work, to preparation. The real value that we’ve learned is helping entrepreneurs, helping project creators save their time and money. 

And so, over the years, we’ve built a very tight system here at LaunchBoom, where we truly mitigate the financial risk exposure for each and every one of our clients with every new product that they want to launch.

04:02 | KM: I find that really amazing because that was a unique – especially looking back into 2014/15 when you were getting this going. It was a really unique proposition that you had to first test the crowdfunding campaign in variety of ways. And then of course, you do your full launch, if the test is starting to show good results. So, it’s a small test and then leverage that for big results in the end. 

Of course, you’ve now grown to be by far the biggest crowdfunding agency in the world. So, obviously the model works, let alone the fact you’ve refined and tweaked it over the years. How is it that you’re winning in these campaigns? Let’s really understand and break down that test and why that test is so important. What lessons that hardware startups can learn when they’re thinking about crowdfunding as the launch platform for their new product.

04:43 | WF: Yeah. So, Kevin, I mean, literally every day I get calls from entrepreneurs all over the world. Like, right now, we’ve got clients in over 48 countries worldwide. It’s wild. Because crowdfunding is not just for Canadians or Americans. It’s literally a global platform, that you know, Kickstarter or Indiegogo. 

And so, everyone calls with the same question. They’ll say, “Will, I need to presell a million dollars’ worth of my product on Kickstarter or Indiegogo. How long will it take for you to do that? And how much money am I going to make on that type of raise?” 

And I tell people the same thing. I’m like, “Well, first of all, guys, maybe one-tenth of one percent of all the campaigns ever on Kickstarter or Indiegogo have actually made a million or more in pre-sales. Only one percent of all the total campaigns on Kickstarter or Indiegogo have actually exceeded $100,000.” Right so, I’ve got to better set of expectations early on. But the truth is, crowdfunding is the best way to validate demand faster with much less risk. 

So, what I tell everyone we work with, I tell them all the same thing. I’m like, “Hey, listen, I don’t even know if crowdfunding or if even LaunchBoom is going to be the best system and strategy for you to launch this product. So, give us a couple months to really do the heavy lifting first and figure out who your audiences are, what the demand looks like and whether or not crowdfunding even makes sense and is the best place to launch.” 

So, a lot of them ask me, “Okay, Will, what does the test look like?” And so, for a much, much smaller cost, we can literally figure out the messaging, the positioning. We can open up the millions of backer audiences in our database to help structure ad dollars even further to get them more data faster so they can actually start to understand what features and aspects people like most about their products. 

Because in some cases, we’ll take them through this two-month test, we’ll get more than enough data to understand whether or not it makes sense to go into Kickstarter or Indiegogo. But for the most part, we get all sorts of incredible feedback through the testing. And a lot of that feedback in most times, we’ll get ideas from them that we never even thought of that can actually help you, Kevin, critique and improve that prototype so that now we can hit the market harder and have a much, much stronger outcome and much, much bigger campaign outcome.

07:03 | KM: That feedback is so powerful. What I find amazing too, is you mentioned that, very few, as a percentage, very few of those campaigns hit those six-figure and definitely into those seven-figure marks. But by using your platform, test it, you’ve been able to figure out basically almost 100 percent success rate of going into an actual full campaign.

07:22 | WF: That’s 100 percent correct. And that’s exactly why we started the test, because what I didn’t tell you are all the headaches we had in the early years of figuring this out. 

07:30 | KM: Oh, I’m sure.

07:31 | WF: Right so, in the early years, my model was different. I’d say, “You know what, Kevin, I like you. I like your product. Give me 50 grand, and I’ll turn that into a half-million dollars or more in pre-sales on Kickstarter or on Indiegogo.” And you’d say, “Wow! Will, that’s awesome. What’s the 50 grand for?” And I’d say, “Oh, 25 goes into marketing, video production, to create all the assets. Twenty-five thousand goes into the advertising budget, because you have to have an ad budget to drive the traffic, to drive the conversions.” 

Now, the problem with that model was it was flawed; it was incorrect, because not every product converts the same way. Every product have different price points, different costs it can get sold, different demand, ads perform different. There’s a lot of different variables associated. 

And so early on, my model wasn’t right. It was flawed. And then what I realized was, there is a better way to do this, and there’s a much smarter way to really control and mitigate the financial risk exposure for all the products that we work on.

So, in, like early 2017, is when we created what’s called test boom. And test boom is that test program that we run every single project through as an agency. And the reason we do it is because it’s so much smarter. It’s the highest and best use of their resources and time that these entrepreneurs have. 

And after two months, you know, to your earlier point, we have the data we need to understand, first off, does it make sense to launch on crowdfunding? Secondly, we could actually now show them, based on the data, how much we can realistically raise and then how much money we’re going to need in advertising to hit those bigger numbers and hit their manufacturing minimum orders. So they can actually manufacture, produce, deliver to those early backers. And at the end of that test, we can show them what the profit margin will be on every unit that moves through the LaunchBoom system. 

So, to your point, it does mitigate all the risk. But more importantly, that’s why we have 100 percent success rate at LaunchBoom with launching projects because we only launch when we have the data necessary where we know we’re going to win. Does that make sense?

09:35 | KM: Oh, that’s great. I think there’s really two big areas to focus on here. Not only is that test, for a crowdfunding campaign, showing you the sales, and I love how you can use that test to predict revenues, costs, all of these other things, even volume that you expect that you’re going to hit based on using those test metrics and trying to scale them up. 

But on the other side is on the development side, which every business and in every product, you have your sales and you have your development. One of the key pieces here is being able to look at it and say, “Okay, well, we’ve done this pre-test and we realize maybe two of these features aren’t necessary,” or “Maybe this other thing is really frustrating people,” or “Maybe there’s this other market we didn’t even think about that is more attractive and that’ll yield to a better return on ad spend.” 

So, that’s a phenomenal tool, I find, when you when you were doing these preliminary tests. And we’ve worked with a number of your clients. I understand it firsthand exactly it goes. They come back to us and they say, “Will and his team just came back to us and they said, ‘We absolutely don’t need,you know, whatever this is, this LED feature,’ or ‘We don’t need to pair it with an app to start,’ or “There’s another use case that we didn’t even think about. Maybe we should be focusing on that first, because the market’s demanding it.” You’re not going to get that data unless you do some form of a test. 

And I think what’s great about what you’re talking about here can actually be agnostic across product development. Even if you’re not doing LaunchBoom or any kind of crowdfunding campaign, understand the lessons here that Will is talking about; looking at testing your product. When you’ve got that prototype, going out to a small sample size of people, getting real buyers and real feedback is the most powerful intel. 

Obviously, we’re a big fan of crowdfunding. I think that’s one of the most powerful tools out there, especially right now. It’s a great time to be in the hardware business because of this tool. But think about it even beyond that. If you’re talking to a distributor that you think you’re going to sell to, getting that feedback, which is so critical,and we’ve talked about on this show, is really important, both from a sales perspective. But don’t forget the other, also, just as important thing, which is your development perspective. When you put the two of those together, you can double, triple, quadruple your actual value to the market. 

And that’s where Will’s team can then take it back into full launch boom,which is the full crowdfunding campaign on the platforms and really maximize those sales with a great product that you already know the market has got interesting because you’ve already tested it.

11:53 | WF: That’s right. Yeah Kevin, I mean, again, just to keep it basic, the real value, like all we really care about at LaunchBoom is the test. Because once that test is positive, well first, now we know that crowdfunding is the right way forward. Now, we can help better set the expectation for our clients with how much we can realistically raise, how much money they’re going to make per unit. But now, we can create better content. 

So, when we go from test boom over to launch boom, now we take on bigger ad budgets. Now we actually take on bigger marketing budgets. Now we actually create better ads for our advertising system on Facebook and Instagram because we’ve got all that data from the test. 

So, what that means is now we know who the customers are. We know what demographics to target. So, let’s hire those actors or actresses for the video content for those teaser video ads. Now we go deeper into those audiences with better content, we get better returns on the ad spend that we manage. 

And that’s another big key here is that at the end of the day, what I’ve learned and what I know to be true with crowdfunding is it’s all about maximizing the return on ad spend and having the best digital marketing strategy and team behind you. It’s the only way to get those big six and seven-figure outcomes that you see through LaunchBoom. And a lot of that work happens before the launch. 

It’s almost impossible today to take your awesome product, even if it is the coolest product ever Kevin, and just launch on Kickstarter or Indiegogo and raise a hundred grand. You have to have your audiences built, ready to buy, before you go live. It’s the only way to really maximize that organic reach on those platforms and get those eyeballs. 

Because when Kickstarter and Indiegogo our launch booms and they see is outside traffic coming in and converting well, they’re like, “Wow, this product’s popular. People like this.” They start to promote it. We get higher ranking on their platform, and that opens up massive amounts of organic traffic to tens of millions of people. And we get this even bigger return and this organic lift because of that pre-launch prep work that went into preparing for that launch. 

So, anyway, I could go on and on for hours about all the pre-launch, you know, variables that we look at. But from a high level, I wish I had a LaunchBoom 10 years ago when I was launching my own products. I wish I could say, “Hey, Kevin, here’s my prototype. Here’s a small budget. And in two months, tell me whether or not I should put more my time and resources into this.” That’s what test boom does. That’s what LaunchBoom does. 

And then when we get that data back, sometimes we get really good feedback where we can iterate; we can improve that product and then launch a better, much bigger campaign behind it. 

So, just because the test results may come back and they’re not as exciting as we want them to be, it doesn’t mean that we should give up on the project. It just means that it’s an opportunity to improve, iterate, and hit the market with a much, much superior opportunity that makes sense.

14:47 | KM: Well, and that’s a key point, right? And it’s what happens if the results aren’t great. Of course, the beauty of this method is you’re getting not just one or two opinionated pieces of feedback, as you might with a mentor or even one or two potential buyers, if its wholesale or whatnot. But you’re getting dozens, if not hundreds, if not potentially thousands of pieces of feedback and all sorts of data and rationale, both from a marketing and from a user feedback perspective as to what the key elements are that can help you both improve or solve pain points or whatever it might be within those customers? 

Will, I’m curious, just in terms of, I mean, you’ve been doing this for ages. What are some of the best practices, if you’re new into developing a product, especially if you’re new into crowdfunding? What are some tips that you would give customers to have their best shot, even just to, let’s say, come in to test boom? What should they be prepared with? What should they be thinking about, potentially ahead of time, to really, at least have their best shot to go into the test so that ideally the test comes back as good as possible and allows you to pivot and have a great launch boom success, if it’s not ideal, and if it is ideal, to double down and go big?

15:54 | WF: Yeah, that’s a really good question. And Kevin, I think that’s why I’m so excited to be on the show with you because you actually help us big time with preparing our clients for LaunchBoom or even the test boom portion. 

So, for us, ideally, we really want to see our clients come in with like a physical prototype that looks good enough to photograph. It doesn’t even have to work. Because when we’re doing the testing, we’re using static images. We’re doing a photo shoot. We’re not using video yet. 

Right, and that’s another way we keep costs lower because doing static ads and static images is so much more affordable versus video production. And then doing like cutting, editing those videos into teaser video assets. That comes later; that comes during the launch boom, when we do the ad expansion. 

So, again, I’d say the biggest tip would be like, if you’re listening to this and you’ve got that awesome idea and you’ve drawn it on the napkin, that’s awesome. You know, getting started is the hardest part. 

Now, take that napkin to someone like Kevin. Have Kevin here basically help you turn that into a beautiful CAD image, a CAD drawing, and then figure out how to develop the prototype. And once we have that prototype that looks good enough to photograph, you can start testing at that point. 

I have done a lot of tests over the years using CAD images, CAD drawings, and it’s just not as consistent as when we get a physical, real prototype in our studio that we can photograph. 

So, I’d say that, for me, would be like the best tip for having LaunchBoom give you the best opportunity to get the best data out of our system is when we have a physical prototype that looks good enough to photograph. Like I said earlier, it doesn’t even have to work. And then obviously, someone like Kevin here could easily get you to that point.

17:41 | KM: Will, I appreciate the kind words there. I mean, we’ve had dozens and dozens of clients have gone through the crowdfunding avenue, and I think it’s so powerful. I’m certain that over the years going forward, it’s going to be more and more of our client base, especially as the startups, the entrepreneurs, the inventors that are coming through and doing their design, development, prototyping work, getting to production with us, I know that more and more, as a percentage, every year using crowdfunding as that opportunity. 

And it’s amazing that I really like how LaunchBoom is  breaking it down where you have the test, then we can iterate a bit more, fix it up and then go forward. 

And one of the beautiful things that we always focus on, right from the onset of design, whether it’s going directly to production or whether we’re going to be doing a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for presales to go to production, having a really well-thought-out product, both from obviously a feature and function perspective and making it sexy and modern and beautiful and all that. 

But as well in the early phases, from our perspective as a design and engineering firm, we want to know how that thing is going to be built in production. So, even from our early sketches, going into CAD, going to that prototype that you mentioned, we have logic at least to carry it forward so that if basically Will’s team comes back to us and says, “Look, this is going to be a big one. We need to get this to production in six months”, you don’t all of a sudden want to now circle right back to the sketch board because you’ve created something impossible on day one. 

So, one of the things that we find really help is get it obviously to where you can, in the development process. Will’s obviously got great strategy, in terms of what level you need to be at, and also making sure that that your team, whatever it is, whether you’re hiring a firm like ours, or whether you’re doing it yourself, or if you’re an industrial designer and engineer and you’re building your product yourself or whatever it might be, understand how that if this thing takes off, you need to have a path to production. Because remember, at the end of the day in crowdfunding, they are pre-purchasing real units of your product. They are expecting delivered product at the end of the day, and you really want to ensure that the product is quality. 

And one other quick tip I would give on that. I said it before on the show, but keep the product itself very simple; keep the features simple, but do them at a very high quality. I would rather have two great features that are solving that main pain point than five so-so features because you overextended your budget.

19:56 | WF: Yeah, well said. And the other thing that I forgot to mention is that we need to understand manufacturing cost; cost of goods sold, COGS. And again, we don’t have to be like – it doesn’t have to be precise, but we have to have a good understanding what that’s going to look like, because a big part of the value with LaunchBoom is we also help figure out the pricing model as to what consumers are going to be willing to pay for. And that happens during the test as well. 

So, again, it’s having a proof that that looks good enough for us to photograph, but it’s also having someone like Kevin here help you better understand what the cost of manufacturing is going to look like. Because another advantage with crowdfunding is if you have a huge crowdfunding campaign and again, it’s a presale, you get all that money upfront before you have to place your manufacturing order. So, with economies of scale, as you place larger volume orders with your manufacturers, you should potentially be able to get much more aggressive price breaks per unit. And that’s another way to add on more margin, you know, per unit, that you’re moving through the crowdfunding system. 

So, again, understanding like price breaks, pricing, it really helps our team at LaunchBoom better set you up for much more success because now we can figure out how to maximize the average order value per unit, how to really make that profit margin as fat as possible so that your business will be more successful long term.

21:23 | KM: I’m glad you brought up manufacturing there, Will, because that is a big part of making sure that your development is at a certain point so that not only can you do it, but you have to remember, we talk about it a lot on the show; margins, margins, margins. Make sure that you’ve got the margin baked in because a lot of that will get used for sales and advertising, essentially. Like you said, it’s returns on ad spend. 

So, it’s really important as an inventor and an innovator to think if you’re going to produce something, what margin do you need to be able to fulfill all these different value-add elements along the way so that you ensure that you’re profitable in the end or at least close to it. Because what you don’t want to have is to miss-predict your manufacturing cost and run into a major problem where it’s costing you way more than you thought. 

And another thing, you know, when we talk about simplicity, all this really helps because the simpler the product is, and especially that standard of high quality, the easier it is to actually predict what that manufacturing cost is going to be down the road. As you can complicate your product, as you add bells and whistles, and features, you’re exponentially making it more difficult to do those predictions, especially if you’re, you know, let’s say, midway point through development. You’re trying to predict what manufacturing costs would be so that you can do a test boom

So, it’s important; keep it simple, but understand how it’s going to work. Make sure obviously it’s done in a modern and sexy way, and then that gives some incredible ammunition to LaunchBoom and the teams there that work with customers in the product space to do that test; to get that great data. 

And remember, you can always tweak modify something as you move forward with that information, so you don’t have to worry about exactly nailing it right at the first launch. You just want to make sure that you’ve got it to be a quality product and you understand those metrics that we talked about.

23:01 | WF: Totally. And just like any business like, there’s other variables as well. But I will share one other tip here because I think it’s really important for people to understand, especially anyone listening that’s never crowdfunded before. A huge advantage with crowdfunding versus like e-commerce or, you know, I’d say, Amazon is going to be shipping. 

So, what a lot of people also need to figure out is like what the shipping cost is going to be because there’s a really, really good chance that you’re going to be shipping to people all over the world because these backers aren’t just coming in from the United States or Canada, but they’re coming in from literally worldwide. So, figuring out the shipping costs. 

But what’s unique about crowdfunding is that backers are totally comfortable and cool, paying extra for shipping. So, what we do is we usually will move forward with the lead offer, just to sell the unit for the highest average order value possible. And then once they choose their package, whether it’s a bundle or one unit or multiple units, then we actually have shipping auto-populated for them. 

And what we’re usually able to do is make our clients, our campaigners, we’re usually able to help them make even more profit on shipping. Because once we figure out the shipping costs, we can actually add margin out of the shipping as well. 

And that’s something I’ve only ever seen through crowdfunding. Again, on e-commerce, it’s totally the opposite. On e-commerce, people don’t want to pay for shipping. So, we’ve got to figure out how to create different marketing value propositions where the consumer feels like they’re getting free shipping because it’s absorbed into that average order value of the price on the e-commerce side. 

So, something to really think about is also understanding like your shipping cost, but know that shipping will help you through crowdfunding because you can make margin there too.

24:51 | KM: That’s some really good insight. Obviously, you’ve seen a lot of data over the years in a lot of these campaigns, you’re able to identify that. So, that’s a big tip out there for listeners. But it would be hard to find by just Googling that information. So, really appreciate that. 

And I think one of the big things here to understand that probably comes from that shipping conversation, the reason people are willing to do that is one of the beauties about crowdfunding is that people are taking a bit of a risk on your product. It is a new product and they understand that you’re going to be ironing through wrinkles in production and there may be shipping delays and you may change certain features as you are getting more and more feedback from what they bought. It may slightly change or it may slightly modify. But as long as you’re keeping those folks updated. 

Understand that they’re almost quasi-partner in your business. Now, they’re not an equity partner; they’re simply buying units. But they are taking a bit of a risk. And there is an understood inherent risk as a purchaser on Kickstarter or Indiegogo that you are kind of helping that startup get the ball rolling. 

So, I think that’s probably why you’re seeing some of the math skew there because it’s generally in favor of the entrepreneur. These are folks who want the entrepreneur to succeed; they want you to succeed. And that’s why they’re buying this product in advance, as opposed to just waiting for it to come out and buying it a year later.

26:06 | WF: Yeah. Well said, Kevin. Another way to look at that, guys, is the reason crowdfunding works is because Kickstarter and Indiegogo, you actually have to apply before they’ll approve your product to even be able to even launch on their platform. 

The reason they’re doing that is they’re making sure that that product has never been seen or sold anywhere else before, and that’s why the audiences converge so well on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, because backers know that they’re getting access to the coolest, newest products. They’re also going to be getting a huge discount off retail, and they’re going to be the first ones to get that product before anyone else. And because of those reasons, they’re happy to give you their money today and give you all the time necessary to figure out manufacturing, shipping, delivery. 

And most of these backers are happy waiting anywhere from six to 12 months for you to have that presale, take their money upfront, and then figure out the manufacturing and shipping, before it even arrives at their doorstep. 

And as long as you deliver a good experience to that backer, they’re also super loyal. So, as you come up with new products, a new crowdfunding campaign launches behind that first one, we usually see very large conversions of those first-time backers converting again and again and again. Because as long as you take care of them, they’ll keep coming back for more.

27:29 | KM: Well, Will, you’re talking about a massive perk there, because one of the big things that we’ve talked about on this show is if you can prove the fact that you’ve got sales to real customers and they love your product, you now become exponentially more valuable as a product business. 

So, looking at that as you’re not necessarily a profit making center. I really advise against looking at your crowdfunding campaign as a way to make money. But I look at it very heavily as a way not only to build equity value in your company, if you’re looking to raise an investment round, venture capital round, series round, C round, whatever it might be afterwards, but also looking at it as that’s a massive springboard to talk to your next potential buyers or your next potential customers. This is like a tiny fraction of the market, and if you can hit this and get some loyal customers there, then the world is your oyster afterwards.

28:19 | WF: Yeah, Kevin. I mean, you just nailed it on the on the head, man. Crowdfunding isn’t going to make you rich, at all. But what it will do; it will give you real validation and it will give you much more leverage to potentially go raise, you know, capital. You can sell equity at a much higher valuation once you get through the reward-based crowdfunding on Kickstarter or on Indiegogo. 

So, what I mean by that is a lot of people come to me all the time and I tell them, “Shoe strap as long as he can. All you need to do; use your credit cards, if you have to, but get through that Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign first to validate demand, to validate that people love your product. And then take that story and then go hit the investors, if you want to go accelerate your growth.”

29:04 | KM: Absolutely. Even use it in your marketing, right? Tons of companies are doing that now, “Here’s our successful crowdfunding campaign. Now you should buy our product on Facebook”, right? “As seen on,” almost right; it’s a similar mentality.

29:15 | WF: And there’s a lot of other ways, too, to raise capital, you know, beyond Kickstarter and Indiegogo. You know, we’re having a lot of success right now with clients that go through Kickstarter or Indiegogo; they have that big validation. And then we take them over to equity crowdfunding platforms like Wefunder and StartEngine and we actually help them convert their backers from Kickstarter and Indiegogo again. 

29:39 | KM: Oh, that’s brilliant. 

29:40 | WF: And we turn them into investors over there. Because once we’ve produced and delivered a good experience from Kickstarter and Indiegogo, those people are pumped. They’re loyal. And then when we hit them up or we Wefunder and StartEngine and we say, “Hey, thank you for your belief in our business. Thank you for backing our Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign. Now we want to give you an opportunity to own a piece of our company. And you can own a piece for as little as a couple hundred bucks.” Those backers convert again. 

So, again, there’s a lot you can do with crowdfunding, and Kevin, honestly, that’s another whole ‘nother segment that we may want to dive into later, but that’s become super exciting as well.

30:19 | KM: Yeah, I’d love to do a segment, just on spring boarding off of a crowdfunding campaign. Like, how do you really leverage that campaign in your business in many ways? And I love that. Just looking at the different investment angles, it’s a big deal. But also looking at all the sales channels and looking at the ways that you can use that crowdfunding campaign to accelerate your next level of sales; whether it’s to distributors, as you’re using that is your kind of golden goose egg, as your validation, or even if it’s direct to consumer through Shopify, Amazon, whatever it might be, right? Again, how do you maximize and leverage that? 

We’ll save that topic for another day; I know we’re running out of time here, Will, on your schedule there. 

30:55 | WF: Sure. 

30:56 | KM: So, how can people learn more about what’s going on? I actually really appreciate the invite to speak at the upcoming Crowdfunded Summit. I think it’s your third summit now for crowdfunding?

31:07 | WF: Yeah, I know it is. Yeah. So, anyone listening that may be interested in crowdfunding or even learning more, if you go to launchboom.com, we provide massive amounts of free education. We have blogs, we have webinars, even podcasts, like you’re listening to right now. There’s just a ton of free information on launchboom.com, where you can learn a lot more about crowdfunding. 

But to Kevin’s point, we actually have our third Crowdfunded Summit. We’re getting ready to launch on October 5th. So, Crowdfunded Summit is still the world’s largest crowdfunding conference. It’s a virtual event, not because of the coronavirus or any of that, but because most of our attendees are worldwide. They’re coming from all over the world. So, it’s a really fun event. You know, it’s not unusual to have tens of thousands of attendees at these events. 

So, it’s a lot of people that are looking to launch their first product or maybe looking to launch their 100th product or just interested in learning how they can leverage crowdfunding to be much more successful. 

So, this next summit, it’s actually going to be our biggest and best one yet. We’ve got a very tight group of preferred partners that we’ve invited into this next summit. 

October 5th, every hour, starting at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time until 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time, we’re going to have an expert that you really need to listen to, to learn about the ins and outs of what you actually need for support, for managing a successful crowdfunding campaign. 

We’re going to have partners like Easyship where you can learn more about shipping and how to really control your costs and make money on your shipping pricing when you’re launching your crowdfunding campaigns. 

We’re going to have an IP protection lawyer at this event to teach you how to protect your idea, your business, so someone can’t knock it off or steal it from you. 

We’re going to have Indiegogo as one of our platinum sponsors to give you the ins and outs of how to maximize your launches on their platform. 

Obviously, we’re going to have MAKO Design, helping all of our attendees learn how to make better prototypes, better products and better understand their manufacturing. We’re going to have retail experts there. We’re going to have equity crowdfunding partners there. 

Again, I could go on and on, but it’s going to be the biggest, best one we’ve had yet. This is our third summit that we’re hosting on October 5th. So, the first day is going to be a great full day of valuable content where. And it’s free attendance. So, if you’ve go to crowdfundedsummit.com, you can sign up for free. You can come in and check it out on the fifth. Learn a ton. So, definitely take advantage of that. 

And then at the end of that first day, on October 5th, on Tuesday, at 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time, we’re going to have a pitch competition where we’re going to be giving away hundreds of thousands of dollars to our top-five finalists. The last time we had, we had over a thousand applicants come through the pitch competition funnel, and it was a lot of fun. It’s a great pitch competition and there’s so much value for the people applying to be in the pitch competition.

So, if you’re also listening to this, go to crowdfundedsummit.com and you can apply. If you have a product idea that you need more funding or you need more support, please take advantage of the pitch competition application, because there is a good chance that you could be chosen. You get to pitch your product in front of – We’re going to have judges like Indiegogo. We’re going to have a judge from Platform88. They’re a massive manufacturing outfit out of China. And again, there’s also going to be a lot of cash and prizes being awarded to support those launches. 

The second day of the conference, October 6th, which is a Wednesday, it’s going to be how to launch a product using crowdfunding. And it’s going to be a deep dive sync with my internal team here at LaunchBoom, from where to start and what it looks like every step of the way. We had that segment as part of our last summit, and it was one of the most attended events, which is why we’re bringing it back for this next summit. 

But again, Crowdfunded Summit, Kevin, I’m so pumped that you’re going to be a part of it again, because you added so much value last time as well. 

So, anyway, I really enjoyed being with you on your podcast today. And any other questions for me?

35:45 | KM: Yeah, that’s phenomenal, Will. Really appreciate that you put on that summit. I love the fact that you’re so passionate like we are at MAKO Design about the education side of the industry, because it helps everybody. And I must say, I can’t wait to listen to the other speakers talk about everything that’s going on; both in the product, manufacturing, shipping, IP, as well as getting into everything that your team’s talking about in terms of really nailing it and essentially expanding on everything we talked about today in crowdfunding. 

I’ll put all the links in the show notes here. So, if you’re listening, just scroll down the page and click to The Crowdfunded Summit, launchboom.com, if you’re interested in the services they have to offer. 

Will, really appreciate having you on the show. Look forward to talking again.

36:26 | WF: Yeah, me too. Thanks, Kevin.

36:28 | Narrator: Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The Product Startup Podcast. The show that teaches you what it really takes to bring your product to market and turn it into a big success. 

This podcast series is brought to you by MAKO Design + Invent, the original and leading firm in North America to provide global caliber, end-to-end physical consumer product development to startups, inventors and small product business clients. 

If you’re looking for product development help on your invention, head over to makodesign.com. That’s (M-A-K-O) design.com for a free consultation from one of MAKO Design’s for-design studios from coast to coast. Thanks for listening and see you next time! 

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Thanks for tuning in! See you next time.

MAKO Design + Invent is the original firm providing world-class consumer product development services tailored to small businesses, startups, and inventors. Simply put, we are the leading one-stop-shop for developing your physical product from idea to store shelves, all in a high-quality, cost-effective, and timely manner. We operate as one powerhouse 30-person product design team spread across 4 offices to serve you (Austin, Miami, San Francisco, & Toronto). We have full-stack in-house industrial design, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, patent referral, prototyping, and manufacturing services. To assist our startup and inventor clients, in addition to above, we help with business strategy, product strategy, marketing, and sales/distribution for all consumer product categories. Also, our founder Kevin Mako hosts The Product Startup Podcast, the industry’s leading hardware podcast. Check it out for tips, interviews, and best practices for hardware startups, inventors, and product developers. Feel free to Contact Us anytime for help with your project.