34: Crowdfunding Stories: Dale Backus & Ohsnap
We’re back atcha today with another good one that includes a very impressive guest who is also literally live on Kickstarter right now! Our client Dale Backus has developed a wildly-popular phone grip that has been raising thousands of dollars per day to challenge a complacent industry leader. Let’s see what we can learn from his crowdfunding story…
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1. Entrepreneurs don’t always pioneer new markets but sometimes substantially improve existing products by providing new-and-better competition.
2. Although it’s usually best to start with a minimally viable product (MVP), some products require more-than-minimal functionality to effectively compete.
3, Crowdfunding can provide a wealth of useful data, including data that helps with manufacturing forecasts.
4, Customer surveys should be worded very carefully in order to obtain accurate actionable data, or else they might lead surveyors astray.
5. Backer updates and other communication should be authentic in presenting both the product and its creator.
6. Effective marketing can’t compensate for a flawed product, but a great product will benefit from effective marketing.
7. Successful startups need to continue to improve their products/services or else they might allow competitors to overtake them.
[00:48] Zach reminds listeners about Funded Today’s Ultimate Crowdfunding Pre-Launch Checklist and Ultimate Crowdfunding Success Guide.
[01:22] Zach introduces Dale Backus, whose surname is oddly appropriate for crowdfunding.
[02:40] Zach overviews Dale’s work history co-founding a video-production company, producing a winning SuperBowl ad, developing a high-definition LCD monitor for filmmakers, and ultimately founding several other businesses that include Ohsnap.
[04:56] Dale reminisces how Ohsnap developed as he noticed a need to improve upon PopSockets.
[13:06] Dale relates how he prototyped Ohsnap, rendering it more-than-minimally viable while leveraging his existing relationships with suppliers to render it cost-effective.
[19:44] Dale conveys how he decided to spend time-and-money on a crowdfunding campaign in order to help him to appropriately forecast his manufacturing scale while drawing upon Kickstarter’s “organic” traffic.
[23:14] Zach details why Funded Today personnel believe that Ohsnap is such a great product, plus an effective mid-campaign survey that Dale sent to Ohsnap backers, and Dale warns against potential flaws with such surveys.
[30:12] Dale explains how he updates his backers so effectively, including the importance of authenticity.
[37:44] Dale remarks how PopSockets essentially created the phone-grip market in 2013 and still enjoys great volume and momentum, but that it hasn’t bothered to develop its product significantly since then and, as such, it doesn’t address all of the problems that Ohsnap is now addressing.
[43:14] Dale reviews his experience with Funded Today’s marketing services, adding that good marketing can benefit great products but can’t do much for flawed ones.
[46:38] Zach and Thomas and Dale present this episode’s Projects of the Week.
Zach Smith: (00:00) Funded Today Nation, welcome back to the Funded Today podcast. We’re back at you today with another of the one that includes a very impressive guest who is also literally live on Kickstarter right now. And last time we gave you a free download access to our beautifully designed newly minted "A through Z, Ultimate Crowdfunding Prelaunch Checklist", so definitely be sure to download that, if you'd not done so already, we put that baby to work for you right away. Now let’s get on with today’s episode.
Announcer: (00:22) The Funded Today podcast is brought to you by fundedtoday.com. Funded Today is a premier marketing and video agency. From startups to Crowdfunding to Amazon and beyond, Funded Today has helped their clients generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. If you’d like help launching or growing your business visit www.fundedtoday.com to speak with one of their experts.
Zach Smith: (00:49) Welcome back to Get Funded Today, the Funded Today podcast, I am Zach Smith.
Thomas Alvord: (00:53) And, I’m Thomas Alvord.
Zach Smith: (01:33) And again I just wanted to briefly remind you to download “The Ultimate Crowdfunding Success Guide” at fundedtoday.com/guide, along with our “Ultimate Crowdfunding Prelaunch Checklist”. There are literally no better resources out there than these two guides, when it comes to planning and orchestrating your product launch "Start to Finish A to Z", we know you’re going to love them, and if you like any of our now of thousands of listeners who are already using them, and putting them use they might just prove to be the difference makers or making no money on your next launch, but instead raising hundreds of thousands, and becoming the next big thing. It just to happens to be our guest today, and boy is this one going to be a good one, the topic “Dale Backus” the chosen one of Kickstarter, and the “Oh Snap Story”, “hey Dale, welcome to the show today”
Dale Backus: (01:35) Hey, “how are you doing Zach”?
Zach Smith: (01:36) Doing really well, so excited to have you. So before we get started into this thing, I’ve got to get to the bottom of this the chosen one of Kickstarter tale. I love it and the origin story is pretty funny, so it only happen a few day ago right, can you tell me little bit about how that came about?
Dale Backus: (01:49) Yes, it's funny, as you just said my name is Dale Backus, and, you know, we launched the Oh Snap Kickstarter campaign, you know, two plus weeks ago, and then about a week ago or so, maybe little less a person on Kickstarter commented he was asking is Dale Backus is your real name? And I was like “yeah” because apparently I've not really notices until he pointed out, but, you know, my name is Dale Backus for Kickstarter, it's sort of a great name to have for Crowdfunding, then he went as far as say Dale could also kind of you could slur that and it sounds like Vale, so it's Vale Backus and so it just. No one in our team, no one at Funded Today, no one realized that nor made that connection until this guy brought it up so, pretty funny.
Zach Smith: (02:33) Man I love that, I can’t get it out of my head now.
Thomas Alvord: (02:34) It's the subliminal messaging that’s why he is doing so well on Kickstarter.
Zach Smith: (02:38) That’s exactly, that’s got to be a -- well Dale I want to backup for just a second, you have a pretty impressive story, and I think kind of deserves everybody to understand a little bit more where you are coming from? So before we jump into the episode today, I just want to give a little bit of a biographical account of your entrepreneurial life so far, and I’m just going to kind a read a little bit about what we have on you, if that’s okay, and then we’ll jump into things.
Dale Backus: (03:00) Absolutely.
Zach Smith: (03:01) Dale Backus, is a serial inventor, and entrepreneur. Started his first company, Five Point Productions in a basement at age 21 with his high school friend and business partner. Shortly into that endeavor, he stumbled across the "Doritos Crash The Super Bowl" video competition, where thousands of amateur videographers would submit homemade ads for the ultimate opportunity, airing in an ad on the Super Bowl. Their ad “Live the Flavor” was chosen as a top five finalist and ultimately chosen as a the grand prize winner, and aired in the 2007 Super Bowl. This propelled the fledgling basement startup into the limelight, quickly gaining regional notoriety, and the ability to compete for larger contracts. From here Dale and company were required to rapidly innovate their production quality capability through the invention of various devices. One of these was a high definition LCD monitor that Dale was to build despite any formal engineering training. At the same time, no such device of equivalent capability had existed. So they decided to offer to others in the film making community for sale. This led to the formation of their second business that Dale founded "SmallHD". Over the next ten years, SmallHD grew to become a world leading brand in "on camera display technology", and can be commonly founded in nearly every cinema film set in the world today. Dale, also produced and competed in the "2010 Crash The Super Bowl Contest” again winning and this time netting $600,000 which was used to fund his new company SmallHD. In 2014, SmallHD was sold to Vitec, a London based Public Holding Company for $4.7 million in cash, and an aggressive earn out package. Since then Dale has started several other businesses that are all in various stages of development. Currently, "Oh Snap Inc." is running a highly successful Kickstarter campaign with nearly $3,000 raised at the time of this recording. Oh Snap is a game changing take on the widely popular, phone grip stand mount phenomenon. Wow! That is quite the story Dale. Two wins for the Doritos Super Bowl contest, and then the second one a $600,000 prize you’ve to exit story I mean there is a lot of stuff that we can unpack here, tell me a little bit more about where do you want to go with this thing?
Dale Backus: (04:57) Yes, so I mean as you said really what I am more than anything else is an inventor, just it's been the common thread through serve my entire, you know, adult life in my career for safer certain, and so I started these are the businesses, sold the one five years ago and I’m just been working at the company now since then still running it on a day-to-day basis, and still leading the product team and everything, which is still my primary role at the company is to invent products. I just have a much larger team now that actually executes, you know, the actual creation of the product right. But on the side, I’m always -- for reason I just have a very active idea center in my brain where I just -- I look at the world a certain way, and I just make connections with problem solutions a lot. I mean I have a huge document of this various ideas and inventions ideas and things like that, and so about a couple of years ago. I was actually at CES, and the first thing I saw was, you know, there this company called LoveHandle right they make this phone grip, it's an elastic band and, I went over to see this guy’s booth, I think he was in Eureka Park or something, and I went over there and I said “hey Manase you look cool, and he has like advertising all around the convention center and so I was just like I was really impressed by this whole thing I was like such a simple device”, you know, and then I asked him like how many devices have you sold far, you know, how have you been around. He is like oh I've sold about a million of them, and I would say what? And so he just comes from quick math in your head, you know like wow “this is just really, really crazy and then the literally the next day I got a PopSocket and some promotional swag from some other company maybe it was Amazon or something I can’t remember, but and I put this PopSocket on my phone, and I was like okay this thing is it's great I totally get it. I see the need, I totally understand why this product exists, but it immediately when I put it on my pocket I was just like okay now I don’t want it anymore, I just ripped it off, and threw it away immediately, and ever since then it just start stuck in my brain that that there is okay this seems like, you know, one of those areas where it's a relatively new problem that only existed past several years because, you know, phones going being around/this big right for probably five, six years now, and then, you know, so you have all these kind of takes on the problem that I have solved in various ways, but in my opinion that no one had really solved it the right way whereas, you know, you put this thing on your phone to solve one or two problems, but at the same time it creates one or two problems of its own, and I was like there is a got a better way to do and to serve your classic better mousetrap situation, you know. Anyway so with this kind of stuff in my head, and in one night which is kind of popped in my head the idea for Oh Snap, the concept of using is kind of bi-stable spring mechanism, which is essentially with a slap bracelet if you remember those from 90.
Zach Smith: (07:37) That’s what I though as I was using it, yeah.
Dale Backus: (07:38) Yes, so next past two years, you know, I’ve just been running the idea as I work my day job and got to where it is now and here were are.
Zach Smith: (07:46) Wow, I love it that is awesome. And I love how you kind of started with what was out there, it's not like you reinvented the wheel, you saw something that was wildly popular. You heard that they had sold a million units, or whatnot, and then you also looked at PopSocket and you said there is a got to be a better way to do it how can it be done.
Dale Backus: (08:00) Yes, exactly.
Zach Smith: (08:01) And that’s -- I mean that show and what’s happened on your Kickstarter campaign, I mean your raising $20,000 a day or so pretty much every single day, so it shows you’ve kind of tapped into that need by innovating on something that is already out there and making it even better.
Dale Backus: (08:14) Yes, exactly, there is absolutely a demand for a product which is out there as we’ve seen like we’ve just seen a ton of organic growth on a Kickstarter, which really took me by a surprise I know it's good product, but it's also kind of a complicated product for the category, right like all these other products outside searching they're various -- very one dimensional, they’re very simple to understand, where Oh Snap has a ton of hidden functionality it's not -- it's super intuitive, so that’s sort what we’ve had a kind of work against, but also as like ten features compared to like the one, or two or three of the other ones and so that’s going to challenge, but yes as you said we definitely stuck with core, especially with people who, you know, I’ve already had something like this already right, because they -- because that’s a big part of our target market now as people that have had a phone grip and understand why they want the products, but then, you know, realize the shortcomings that they want something better so.
Zach Smith: (09:02) And just for our listeners who are maybe not understand what a PopSocket is been living under a rock or who knows, this is a back of the phone type of accessory and what exactly does your Oh Snap do? List off those ten features or so?
Dale Backus: (09:16) Yes, PopSocket is a little circle disc, it's an accordion style thing, you pull the circle in it, it expands it allows you to get two fingers rapped on the back of your phone securely and then it works as essentially a stand, that’s primarily your PopSocket. As Oh Snap is the same and that it uses adhesive to stick on the back of most any phone or case. It's very, very thin, it's under 3mm stand, PopSocket it's about 7 so it's much, much thinner, and it tapers on the ends or the edges, or on the perimeter. So there is nothing to get snagged on right, which is a huge design constraint, I was trying to keep in mind the whole time, but essentially has a loop that you can sort of actuate and then immediately use as a grip or stand, but that then loop can close then lock which allows you give you a ring, but unlike all those other metal rings it's soft and it's really well-sized and so it's really secured and feels really good to hold, and then act as like you really secured grip and then that ring also rotates kind of all, all directions 360 degrees and so you can use as a grip and portrait mob also landscape mode to watch video which is where a lot of thread grips, you know, fail they don’t do that, so it means there is a different portrait mode if you want to hold it in landscape you have to hold it you regular phone. It has magnets embedded into the device as well, which allows to you stick your phone to on to anything steel, like a refrigerator or a car, general equipment etcetera which has been really, really popular, and the entire device slides up and down about an inch need the direction which gives you extended reach with one hand. Although the biggest complaint we hear about phone users could you be using phones today is that you clearly can’t use in one hand anymore. If you are an iPhone user you going to going to top life left back one possible to reach if right-handed people, and so this allows you to kind of quickly to slide the phone down your hand they get that, so if you have a coffee or bag or something in your other hand, if you really need to reach your phone you’re kind of without something like this, so it has that functionality. The whole thing is removable really quickly, but so still be used wireless charging, no I admit it's not the most elegant solution in that regard but we really wanted to keep that in intact which it's why it's there.
Zach Smith: (11:20) Yes, but it's an option that all the other devices don’t have for wireless charging so kudos to you for thinking of that anyway I love it.
Dale Backus: (11:23) Exactly, yes and I think the last was important thing I skipped over a couple but the last was important thing it replaces that steel metal plate, that disc or that square disk on the back of your phone that works your magnetic mounted to car right those are very, very popular and those again. So, you get one of these other mounts say like a left-hand holder but now you kind of choose a disc or a grip, you know, and this works with those magnetic mounts, that has an embedded steel of its own, which is really great, and again it won’t block where it was charging because you can remove it unlike a metal disc. So, its look that’s it at a pretty level.
Zach Smith: (11:59) And you left out the one thing at the very end of your video, you used it to open a box, how did that work?
Dale Backus: (12:07) Yes, yes, and so it's kind of it's interesting stuff we need more of a challenge is, the base piece of this is what we call the frame, it's actually a piece of CNC’d aircraft aluminum, and if, you know, anything about manufacturing the CNC process is a very expensive process, it doesn’t scale very well, right, like most process you can -- you make a mold or whatever and that’s expensive and now you can shootout, you know, parts of pennies or pieces so whatever were CNC is it. It will take the same amount of time to make each individual piece whether you’re making one or making a million and so it's very costly as a process. However, the result is a very nice, you know, quality piece of mold that matches the luxury feeling of your phone most likely which is why we did it. And so side after that is general rigidity but also, you know, when you remove it, you kind of have this, because the edge tapers, you have this little bit of an edge, it's not sharp enough to cut you, but it's definitely sharp enough to slice through an Amazon box which is actually been a surprise feature, and I’ve actually heard a lot of people have these -- the demo units and stuff have actually turned off to rule that.
Zach Smith: (13:06) Yes that’s awesome I love it. So, Dale it sounds like this thing has a lot of moving pieces, there is a lot of stuff going on here, just speaking to people who maybe will listen to this episode and say well how the heck can I invent something like this? How did you get all of these moving parts together and such a beautiful elegant product like "Oh Snap" what advice can you give to them and how did you go about logistically getting the same to where it is now, which is quite frankly pretty close to enable the ship already from what I’ve seen from the demo products we have right?
Dale Backus: (13:35) Yes, yes well it is, and that sort of where it's going to be hard to get universally applicable advice here because, I’m sort of lucky and the fact that you know, I’ve been working on in a manufacturing business that I founded for over 10 years now, and so and the process I’ve forged solid relationships and many suppliers and manufacturers, overseas and domestically which has allowed me to leverage a lot of favor with these people, you know, to develop this product over a long period of time, without having -- invested enormous amount of money upfront, because Oh Snap actually, you know, we had to invent a lot of the actual manufacturing process to make this thing, but, you know, a lot of products you’re working within manufacturing processes that exist already or you’re making injection mold or plastic or whatever, and this has all that but it also has some things that you just aren’t off the shelf process like that, and so that was really quite challenging. But, you know the advice really is there is for me I guess is really I think the biggest thing that people have crowdfunding, you know, camping miss 90% of the time it seem, is people don’t realize -- people often massively underestimate the huge cassim of difference between making a prototype of a product and mass manufacturing a product, you know, at a good cost, at a good quality in the good timeframe, that is really, really, really hard. And so but there is, you know there is barriers of play here right sometimes you just don’t have, you know, the money to start the manufacturing process before you raise funds for, right so there is kind of natural dichotomy there, that’s really hard to navigate. And so in my particular cause I had this relationship I was able to leverage, and so I was able to kind of test and try and fail, and fail, and fail, and fail, until we found something worked, because I can show early prototypes of this thing and you’ll be like “oh! My God, it's like, it's insane” how far the thing has come, right but it took a really it took a lot of trial there to get to that point.
Zach Smith: (15:34) Send those to us and we’ll include them in the show notes I think our listeners would like to click on those and have a process.
Dale Backus: (15:39) Yes, I can definitely do that, it will shock you. Although, that’s really where every situation is different, you know, that it just totally depends on the product you’re making, but my advice is to really before you go to crowdfunding, get as much of that thought that as you possibly can, and honestly, honestly you can actually make the argument that I, you know, as the inventor and the founder and, you know, the person finding the business, you know I was able to control these elements myself, right and I’m able to change the constraints of the equation as I’m going through things which is something that, when you’re at a multi a business with multiple people and multiple groups and things like that it's hard to do, but in this particular case, you know, I was like -- I wasn’t going to be happy until I knew I could build something that was just like shockingly awesome and useful, and so I kept adding functionality to it, what I probably shouldn’t have the deal - is the deal outage of minimum viable product right, like put the thing and just get the right thing, you get the first thing out it's not embarrassed by the first product you ship, and you shipped you late all that like I get that, I totally get that, but in my particular case, I really want to get to that like second and third version on version one, and so I made it really hard on myself, because this thing is very difficult to manufacture at a good cost, but, you know, again I’m leveraging a lot of my experience there, I know it was a super useful to listeners, but.
Zach Smith: (16:59) Oh! Super useful there are so many gems to unpack there, they are the first takeaway I have is by doing what you’re doing you’re actually standing out from pretty much everything else on Kickstarter, I mean you’ve been number one to number five in popularity on the entire platform of Kickstarter, pretty much your entire launch, and that’s because of exactly what you just said, you’ve kind created a version two, version three before a version one even shipped and your version two, version three is so amazing and so great in so many ways, and I think that’s important nowadays more than ever on Kickstarter just because of people maybe look at a product and they think oh “I can do something like that, and then they create something like that, and then it doesn’t perform well, and then they’re like why didn’t that perform well, this one did well, well it's because that one the market, that one is already there, and you’ve gone a couple of times ahead and I think that’s making you stand apart, and then the other thing is that I love, yes you put a lot more money upfront, yes you put in a lot more work, but by doing so you’ve already created these raving fans, you’ve created a community of people who are very excited about Oh Snap I mean you have over 9,000 backers now I believe, and these people are going to support you as you continue to build this company, and you're going to probably meet your shipping dates. You’re going to actually deliver in a reasonable fashion were I don’t know 90% 95% of Kickstarter projects aren’t able to do that, and that's a huge win for you long term, even though it might hurt you upfront so.
Dale Backus: (18:17) Yes, exactly and I think one thing to point out here is, is just kind of back to the normal viable product I think things like this kind get infused into startup culture, and a lot of the time I think it’s done from sort of pedestal position where they have people the luxury of saying that, and when you’re actually trying to do it yourself like it's a different story. I mean making a product that has an enormous in the competition right, I mean how many people in China and all over the world are sitting there and trying to invent products like this, you know what I mean? Like and so minimal viable products really is defined by I think the first part of that equation is his work is like focused on way to often okay minimum, minimum, minimum right, but it's really what’s viable, viable, viable, like in viability means to me that it's actually going to have a really good conversion rate right, that’s it's going to sell well, it's going to have great organic growth rate, because of how compelling it is right. And so I think everyone focus is on the minimum part of that equation, not the viable part, and I really encourage people to really like you think about that, you know what I mean, you’re going to make things a lot easier on yourself if you make a product that makes people go wow, you know, and that's really well how I define viable.
Zach Smith: (19:29) And here is the thing, you’re exactly right, and by defining viable, and instead of just neglecting it like most people do, and they just get to the minimum side, your product is converting at a 20% rate right? One in five people are buying this thing.
Dale Backus: (19:43) Yes, it fluctuates, yes, depending on the audience but absolutely yes it's very high.
Zach Smith: (19:46) That’s amazing. All right, now I want to take a step back, you weren’t planning to crowdfund Oh Snap originally, what made that change? Why did you decide to eventually launch on Kickstarter?
Dale Backus: (19:57) Yes, we walked back and forth on it dramatically, and part of the reason is because I’ve never done one before, and so I did realize how much sort of side benefit there is, you know like there is a direct benefit right you will ultimately trying to get sales that’s really why is anything, and so then it was okay I can get sales like Kickstarter or I can sales on my own website, and not pay the overhead of being of Kickstarter and all the other your costs and, you know, the pressures that come up running a campaign right, but and so what tip the skills I believe was honestly just a financial -- with the product that is in this cost range right it's pretty well low cost range that could either sell 1,000 a month or a 100,000 a month it was really hard to know how many to build in one shot right, with the manufacture it's like if I build 5,000 and right the sell first these products have a lead time it's not going to be with our inventory for weeks and weeks that's going to suck, and so but if I flip that but when you flip that if I go bill 100,000 right and we do sell a 1,000 a week or a month or whatever then I have all this inventory and I’m screwed. And so it was really hard to kind of know how to build or what forecast to build to. So Kickstarter is a fantastic way of building a forecast, because what you do with Kickstarter right, is you get the end result which is great, but then you also get this, you get all this metrics with it like how many backers per day, how many - how much revenue or funding dollars per day, what’s your conversion rate is, for audience all this then you can use to back into an actual sales forecast, whereas then you can use as your supplier to build product on a forecast which if you’re in a manufacturing business that’s absolutely what you want to be able to do. Forecasting is everything and so that was a big reason why, and then there is the other reason where Kickstarter just has it's naturals platform charisma where it attracts this really interesting, you have all these people out there trolling Kickstarter for interesting projects, there is all these opportunities that arise from being successful on Kickstarter versus being in your own world and so that was a big part as well.
Zach Smith: (22:00) That’s awesome, I can’t even add anything to that answer, so very, very powerful. I love the idea of forecasting on Kickstarter, we talked about that in prior episodes but not to the level that you have just explained where it just really helps you from a manufacturing standpoint. No -- just so you don't lose your shorts right I mean you can make a really big decision and be stuck with inventory for years if you got wrong and maybe get two going on a product that maybe doesn't resonate with market as well as it should and not have the money to make the necessary pivots and what they want, and Kickstarter people tell you look we want this, so we don’t want this, you probably learnt a little but about that as well as you’ve gone through this process.
Dale Backus: (22:34) Oh yes, absolutely which is really why I did the survey, I really want to learn so and that’s where, you know, for me coming from a business right we’re building really, really expensive complicated, you know, essentially mobile phones. What we build strong here is essentially an iPhone was automotive, I'll rate that how we are using the screen, and really high end with your processing all those kind of stuff and it's expensive to make and the lead time is really long, and so we’ve been through several inventory crisis at SmallHD, and so I’ve lived that nightmare multiple times over, and so I mean really sensitive to it. But forecasting in a business where you have physical inventory is so, so important, and Kickstarter gives you sort of a head start on that which is really useful.
Zach Smith: (23:16) Yes, I love that, now you talked about a survey, and I want to kind of pivot into that right now. We pulled everybody in our company and got a little feedback as to why they believe you’ve got such a winner here in Oh Snap, and here's some other unfiltered commentary, and maybe it will be useful for you to hear, and for the listeners at Funded Today to kind of learn a little about why they feel like things are good, and then we’ll get into the survey which I really want to spend to a second to talk about as well so this is just their comments, and their feedback. I just think Dale has nailed it on doing things right, he does everything right, he has got a cool product that everyone can use, his pricing is very fair, his video on his page are amazing I’m watching by the way they are really it's about four minutes long, so it's a little longer than we would normally recommend, but it keeps you engaged the entire time. It is a great video from start to finish, there is humor, there is sarcasm, there is comparing different products that are out there with his product that you done an amazing job and I think that stems from your Doritos commercials which I until I had learned that about you, and then I went back and watched those commercials I was like a Oh! Okay that’s where is all coming from coming from, you know, you got that really cool fun tape it's really popular nowadays too so. Samples, you’re samples on hand and you’re your quick to communicate how many different journals and press have we lined up that you’ve been able to send them overnight shipping to these products and suddenly an articles live the next day right that’s a huge win it's been able to get you a lot of press that a lot of people who don't have that preparation, and don't have those products are unable to do because a lot of journals want to make sure it's legit what you're selling but it’s going to be as good as the video says it is and your product lives up to that so that’s huge. So you’re not held up by any opportunities, you’re likable, your updates are really and often you listen to your audience, you just a very good proactive guy, we’re getting lots of comments on our ads that people want the creator to be shipped with the product. They want Dale with the product, and now let’s get into the survey. Shannon wrote this, I know she has been working with you quite a bit, she said one thing we got here about a week into the campaign, we had a slower day, and Dale immediately jumped to action. He is following -- he is really following both the comments on ads, as well as questions on his page. He sent a survey to his backers that was awesome, and then since Shannon was one of the backers, she received the survey and I just want to read it because it's not too long, and anybody wants to take a look at it, you could have a look to at Oh Snap.com/survey, here is what Dale says, "you pledged for an Oh Snap on Kickstarter, congratulations you made a great choice". "However, something is been on my mind, I spent nearly three years meticulously designing this product that has as few compromises as possible, in order to deliver a product it would be extremely difficult to say no to, and while Kickstarter thus far has been a massive success, on average only about one in five people that watch the video are pledging". I'm not complaining as this is a great statistic, but I have a hunch there is still unnecessary friction present. So, out of your curiosity I have two simple questions, I want to ask you for those of you who did in fact see the value here of Oh Snap. And the question was, what was your biggest question or concern you overcame to purchase Oh Snap? And then you have A through I of different choices, and then your second question anything you would like to add regarding questions or concerns you had about Oh Snap that weren’t answered on the campaign page, and it's just a free response. I love that what made you come up with that idea and how effective has that been for you as you reached that as you received that feedback from your backers and other people.
Dale Backus: (26:32) Yes, so surveys are double-edged sword a lot of the time, you have to be really careful with them, because, you know, my experience evidence I’ve done several of these over the years for various reasons, and the questions, and how you ask them is just so enormously important because I've seen surveys just as often like just lead you down the wrong path right, because the data you get it get and now also have is data says this got to act on it right but maybe you just are asking the wrong questions or asking the wrong way and again like I wrote in the preface there like I still hard time like understanding why, you know, when people see this, why they’re saying no, and this marketing 101, you just want to remove as much friction from the process as possible, and so I really just and I’ve also learned that people have extremely short attention stands right, and I’ve also learned just I’ve sort have had I’m the naturally very optimistic person, and so in my last ten years of my career have beaten into me this sort of more pessimism, but really just I think just more realism overall, that people are just being inundated with information, and marketing, and product offerings, and so you really, really, really have to cut through a lot of that with simplicity and clarity, and sometimes it's long general survey that could be interpreted in 1,000 different ways, I really just want to know the one thing. What was the one thing that got stuck in your head something you had to overcome in order to press the buy button right, and I think that something as Kickstarter people are so much more responsive to things like this then regular customers to see you. So, the response we got was an enormous and I think at the time when I sent we had 4,000 backers, and I think I got over 2,500 survey responses which is a huge, huge, huge, engagement rate for something like this.
Zach Smith: (28:22) This could be feel for things when you normally send out an email you might a 10% open rate, and then maybe 15% click through rate on something like that but Dale until had not only more than a 60% click through rate, he had a 60% finished the survey rate so huge.
Dale Backus: (28:38) Yes, exactly so huge, huge numbers and so that's really good it means people are excited about the product, and secondly I like having opening sort of response questions because whether they actually answer the question or not isn’t important, what you’re get is something what’s on their mind right, and I like getting the unfiltered response so just what's on their mind, when they're thinking about the subject matter which is Oh Snap in this case, right, I just wanted to know, you know, what they’re thinking "Oh! My gosh it's a treasure trove" it just gives you such a different perspective we into these things it's tedious because you have to go through and read these one by one there is no way to build the report right so you can’t just a get a big cross-section in one glance, you have to read one by one but it's so, so useful.
Zach Smith: (29:23) Did you learn anything in their own words? When you were hearing what they were writing, did you learn anything like "Oh! well, that's how they describe that particular feature or if that's the problem they're saying", and use their own words the kind of mimic the way they talk on your campaign page or how you go about marketing them?
Dale Backus: (29:39) I absolutely will, I haven't done that yet, because I was really focusing on the most actionable stuff at first which is really that key friction plan, where I gave like seven different options of what gave you cause and the decision or any of those surprisingly almost annoyingly it was really evenly split between those seven or eight things, and which is for this kind of thing it's kind of frustrating, because you‘re it was one thing you just fixed but of course it's not. So you just kind of have to work through and constantly be refining your message, you know, and but yes it was massively useful.
Zach Smith: (30:14) Love it, love it. Now kind of going along the same lines, not only did the survey impress me, but just the way your backers are reacting to this product, they’re loving Oh Snap right? But they're also loving you is a creator, you've taken a really unique approach to the way you update and communicate with your backers, what your thought process there and how you go about doing that? The only person I can think of who was similar in all my years of doing this might be “Katherine Krug of BetterBack” she always had the most amazing updates I put you on the same level of how she went about doing her updates, what’s your thought process, how do you go about - how do you go about -- just tell me what you want to want to say to your backers and how to get that engagement when these people haven’t even met you before?
Dale Backus: (30:50) Yes, you note the funny thing is the updates I don't even put that much energy into them. I really think there is two principles here that I go by, which is one I'm really using this as an opportunity, this whole experience just to sort of be myself, and am not trying to put up any sort of barriers upfront or, you know, and the perspective spin or anything on myself, I’m just saying “this is who I am, this is my story, this is what I built, this is why you should buy it, but I’m not really try to spin any other way". And then the second thing is that, you know, in every -- and I think this is where so many people were wrong, and this is just me reacting as a consumer right like I just as being someone who gets a lot of emails from marketing companies and product companies, it's like I want add value right in every communication right, and which is why I cannot pro-tip idea right, instead of just saying “hey guys, instead my own horn and every update we surpass this milestone, yes, yes, you know, I’ve not been excited, like why should they be really excited about that, if anything they should be nervous about that, because it if they so successfully they might be worried that, you know, it's going overwhelm supply chain or something right. So, I said well I want to give them a you a reason to read these things that benefitted them and that’s where the pro-tip came from and so -- it doesn’t take me a long to them, you know, there are so many different ways of using Oh Snap now myself for quite a long time, so I've learned all these little tricks and most people that I’ve given Oh Snap to don’t even know these things, and so it's really been that difficult I think just we get caught up so much as entrepreneurs, you know, the perception of who we are, and how it comes across that I think the really the best advice for anybody is just be authentic, because authenticity is what people are craving right now, there is so much so much out there like 90% out there is just wildly inauthentic. And that’s why, you know, if you’re into like social media advertising or anything else is saying now to make your make your ad video kind of like homemade style, because of people see comes across like to glossier, obviously marketing video they’re going to skip right by because so everyone’s defenses are just are just on high alert right now, and so really it's just authenticity its actually, its easiest things to do.
Zach Smith: (33:08) That’s what we teach in one of our episode, then the entire episode we have on paid media and Thomas could speak this is all about that, so I love that.
Thomas Alvord: (33:14) You know, I love about that Dale, and you’ve shared two things ,and maybe you’ve put these together or not, but I'm in a put it together for the listeners. You talked about providing value for the people you're building the product for right -- for the customers, and then you also talk about being authentic right? I think you can be authentic when you are actually striving to provide value to do something that’s good right, and that's where when you’re not that, when you're cutting corners you can't be authentic right, because you don't want people to discover you, but where you put your heart and soul into it, and you're really creating something, you can be authentic right? You can be yourself, but if somebody does go, goes and grabs something off of Alibaba, and then rebrands it, it's going to be very hard to do that, so but I love what’re your saying?
Dale Backus: (34:03) That’s a great point, I’ve backed, you know, you can even see on my profile on Kickstarter I’ve backed 45 campaigns, you know, I’ve probably got on top of those right, and so, you know, you see so many of these products where they are clearly some Chinese company whose making a product that just is trying to portray sort of an American style brand or whatever, and they have someone doing it voiceover on run video or whatever right it's very clearly just what's going on here, you know, what I mean, like you can't really tell that I think people are just going to stick in that in that concept yeah.
Zach Smith: (34:32) I love the way your videos integrated you with the product in a way that is just fun and engaging but also I’ve showed your video probably to like 50 people now, which I never do I mean I own Funded Today so I'm usually not doing that, but your video is such a good example of every single thing we want to see and I’m trying to get more people to create videos like that that have that authenticity that associate an amazing creator like yourself, with an amazing product, and the result just speak for themselves I don’t know why everybody doesn’t do it? Probably because it's harder, probably because it takes more time, probably because it more money but it’s worth it right, is it worth it in the end?
Dale Backus: (35:06) In the context of Kickstarter in particular, I think the video is the single point of emphasis that you should place on, I mean I think you should spend more effort on that, but anything else by multiple orders of backers to you, you know the thing 80% of times you should be spent on the video, because I think that’s just the medium that we use today and it's what everyone watches and it's like such an opportunity and I think it's if you see so many times that there and these brand these examples is overused, but it's Dollar Shave Clubbers, Squatty Potty or whatever like you make the right video, and you’re going to just going to get this enormous exponential effect on the outcome, and its free at that point, you know, what I mean, and so really.
Zach Smith: (35:48) There is a trust element too, I mean there is a trust element people trust you suddenly were as before they could be like well is this guy going to deliver, is he going to ship, is he going to be like other Kickstarter projects that take a year or longer to go, but they watch the video with you and suddenly all those barriers are broken down, and they’re yes, sure I’ll back these product. I love that.
Dale Backus: (36:00) Yes, and the trick is the trick is though is making a video, a good video is very difficult I mean I’ve been doing it for -- I may haven't done in a long time, this is actually real challenge for me because, you know, all the Doritos ads and the Video Production company I used to be a part of whatever was I think team of people there who actually were much better in even this than I am, I was more in the producer role and those experience is right. So, I had to do this one all myself I had to write it, I had to direct it, I had to especially be in it and it was a really, really it was a huge challenge for me but personally and but.
Zach Smith: (36:34) Did you get their help or feedback and all and get some ideas from them on how they did it because I mean you won the Doritos Super Bowl Contest twice, I don't think anybody can have that.
Dale Backus: (36:45) Yes, and I was part of the core team for those commercials, and I was part of the ideation and all that stuff but no. I did not -- I did the scripting everything entirely by myself, and I literally I think this was probably my 20th 30th idea that I ended up, ends up going with, and ended up because I kept coming of these like very cute, you know, very over the top ideas and I just one day, you know, what I just need to be clear I think clarity is going to be the most important thing here. I want to make it fun throughout the way right so I’m going to lace that in, but I really just want to tell the story of the product and that’s when I look at this approach.
Zach Smith: (37:19) Wow, you did it perfectly, I don't even know if there's a better way to do a video than the way you've done it, and I’m not just throwing the high praise on you for the heck of it, I really do believe so well done.
Dale Backus: (37:28) Yes, and I mean and see that 40% finish stand on this right. So, everyone that watched the video 40% finish, which is really, really, good so.
Zach Smith: (37:36) And, like I said this is a four minute long video, four minutes long too.
Dale Backus: (37:39) Yes exactly.
Zach Smith: (37:40) So with an attention span economy it’s about 15 seconds nowadays, so.
Dale Backus: (37:45) Yes, I was really surprise to see that yes.
Zach Smith: (37:47) All right, Dale to kind of wrap up the episode I want to talk about the elephant in the room, and that’s PopSockets, a $168.8 million in revenue in 2018, the reason I know it is because they were number two on the Inc. 5000 for fastest growing privately held companies in 2018.
Dale Backus: (37:53) Yes.
Zach Smith: (38:06) When they launched their Kickstarter January 2012 they raised roughly $19,000 bucks exactly $18,591 dollars, United State dollars, you’re doing $20,000 a day does that say anything about what you've created here and how you plan to take them -- how do you plan to take them on? What’s your goal here?
Dale Backus: (38:28) Yes, I mean PopSockets I think they’re going to - I think first of all I think they’re going to do a lot more 2019 if we’re going to ever see that number, because like you said they’re private, but, you know, $186 million in 2018, I think we’ll probably do $300 million or something this year right, so they just ramped into pace and are everywhere, they’re literally everywhere, I see them in every story I go to, and so they've essentially invented and popularized the category right, and the reason they only do they did in 2012 is because in 2012 this problem was just surfacing and they were really, really, early on seeing the solution and we actually kind of got lucky because he was inventing a to solve the headphone code problem, not the grip stand problem, there is sort of benefits that ultimately ends up pivoting into very successfully, I don’t think the Kickstarter campaign is really indicative of the potential right, but in that particular case. So, well as it pertains to us, though, you know, we're just now riding this this wave of popularity for the category, and honestly think that it's not going to be as easy as it might seem, you know, because of the Kickstarter campaign, because they have such brand recognition now, and they have the really, really, really good about litigating all these box and keeping in, you know, Amazon clearing all that kind of stuff and so they have this such momentum. The analogy I’ve been using now hopefully so is turns out is PopSockets is sort of the MySpace, because, you know, at one point in 2000 -- I don’t know 2005 or something MySpace accounted of 5% of all web traffic, like which is a staggering number if you think about it, and then, you know obviously they are nothing and then Facebook came along. So MySpace and Friendster sort of invented the category, invented social media at least in that way. You know, Facebook came along with a better, more fine product to do it the right way, and here we are right so really hoping that that's how it works out for us. So, PopSockets invented the category, they came up with a design that works well for what it was, but Oh Snap is going to come in here with a superior design, you know, with ultimate well run, you know, operationally sound business that hopefully scaled really quickly, and then take advantage of sort of the market that they created with a much better product, because honestly what really surprises me about them is the fact that they haven't taken the product and tried to improve put the core IP of a product that all like it's still the same mechanism, it's really bulky and I’m just really surprised we haven’t tried to improve it so but we’ll see, we will see.
Thomas Alvord: (40:58) It's interesting because I was just looking up PopSockets appears at the beginning of 2019, they were looking at doing an IPO, and I’m kind of thinking what are the products are the ruling out with right and you make a great.
Dale Backus: (41:14) Yes, it's risky yes.
Thomas Alvord: (41:16) It's 50-50 whether the person who makes the category will be the dominant player right, and so along with the superior product and frankly and I don't want to speak negatively about PopSockets, I know Zach has one of them people I have one. I actually didn't really like it I didn’t like how it felt, I didn’t like how it was mote pokey, and so I actually just took off, kind of actually so my phone case when I took it off but it still work better, but anyways so like you I think you're totally is a market and what you guys are doing is awesome.
Dale Backus: (41:46) Yes, and so I just think, I think an IPO for that company is based on what we seeing from them, which is PopSockets, the Minis, the Wallet which are just not really innovative they are just the same thing and then, this new thing the cozy thing which apparently they stole from, you know, one other influencers which is crazy, but just tell, it just speaks to me that they don’t really only understand who they are what they want to be. If I was best route it would be like okay what’s your actual plan here I’m sure they have stuff in the works, but like what’s your DNA, like what’s your mission what are you actually trying to do long-term because, you know, what the smartphone phone factor is a moving target, and it's something that's going to change here in the next five years probably pretty dramatically with either folding phones or augment reality or something right, so is a limited minimal opportunity for this specific physicality that were all kind of focusing in it right now right so it's like where is -- what is your business kind of long-term, I don’t know the answer to that, I’m not sure they do either but we will see.
Zach Smith: (42:44) Yes, I love that, I like your forward way of thinking it comes across in your Oh Snap compared to PopSocket and then it comes across and what you’re going to create in the future to I think that’s a huge advantage of your own intellectual property I guess you could say that you bring to the table as you continue to bring this new business to life, so good on you.
Dale Backus: (43:04) Yes, absolutely, and we have I mean -- I have probably more than a dozen products I'm currently working on right now, it's kind of fresh out of the Oh Snap Ecosystem as well, so it's going to be a fun ride.
Zach Smith: (43:15) We’re going to have to have you back again it's been amazing having you, I got to ask the question put you on the spot a little bit but what you think about working with Funded Today so far? I got to kind of do the survey how is it been what can we do better?
Dale Backus: (43:28) Yes, honestly I'm going to perfectly transparent so I think it's best for everybody. When I first started I was a little lukewarm about it, because I was just really know to expect to get that on Kickstarter I just sort of -- I kind of it was onboarding process right and it is also felt very automated and I was like the stuff is going on the background and I couldn’t see it it's like what’s going on like anyone doing anything? But then once we got going a little bit it just everyone kind of popped and everybody the whole thing kind of came to light we could see the gears start spinning, and it was it's been very, very, very fun and I loved working with you guys, and I’ve actually I think you using me as a reference because I’ve been talking to other people about you who are considering starting Funded Today and my reviews always been very positive, but that the thing that I've been telling people is you know what like Funded Today isn’t magic right there much think about them like an investor in a business like they want -- they want to apply their formula to a working concept but your concept is broad inherently, they’re not going to like magic, we make it make it massively successful, and so and that's I think one of the biggest challenges in general kind of entrepreneurship in general right. But, if you have a great product, they will absolutely like propel you way beyond what you can do yourself, and so I if I feedback for you it would be just maybe a little more transparency on the front end but just people pull people into the process little bit more. I guess if they want that right, I’m just kind of person who well obvious kind of OCD and I want to see everything what's going on at least in the beginning but overall it's been fantastic.
Zach Smith: (45:04) How can we keep our systems and processes in place so that we can be in place so we can be efficient like that, and then add transparency in personal element if you could give us like one or two takeaways what would you think would be best to do that?
Dale Backus: (45:21) Yes, I don’t honestly have a really strong idea that I think because what happens is you sign on right and then you get like -- you send out all like to the form documentation explaining who is going to what, when and how and all kind of stuff right. And then you form the Skype group thing were you can kind of starting to talking everybody and everything and that you can look to the very beginning of the history of this group chat or whatever you’ll see me going there like what was going on you know what I mean and I just think if maybe if there was some sort of like daily update or something or what else and this is what’s happening right, or something like that just to make people feel like, you know, what they’ve invested in right because, you know, you just -- all that kind of stuff and you want to know that doing stuff right, it's really more of a perception thing then it is then it is anything else.
Zach Smith: (46:12) It's kind of what you have done with your product in your video where even though you can't be there with people, because you put yourself out there it feels like you're right there with people they can trust you along the way I love that.
Dale Backus: (46:20) Absolutely, absolutely.
Zach Smith: (46:23) All right, well Dale this this was amazing I got bit of a takeaways myself from it, it was very helpful we’re going to have you back again when you're in invent those next 10 to 12 products that you have down the road and maybe once you’re the next, once you’re the Inc. 5000 number one fastest growing company in 2021 or something so.
Dale Backus: (46:39) Yes, that’s the goal.
Zach Smith: (46:41) That’s awesome, very cool. All right, Funded Today Nation, now it is time for our segment of the podcast that we really loved this is the products of the week. Of course, I’m going to have to pick to I’m going to give Oh Snap my product of the week, they’ve got just over a week and a half left or so in it check it out, Oh Snap, Kickstarter very easy to find that’s Oh Snap. Dale awesome you going to also want this product if you have any sort of phone this is the best phone case for it. Dale is going pitch here in a second as well for the product of the week so I’ll we have some time for that, that’s my first one. The second one is “Ettitude” this is bamboo bedding, and I've been trying it out for the last little bit just to make sure I loved it, because I've always been a Egyptian cotton type guy, and wow I don't know if I’m ever going to back bamboo is amazing to sleep on it. If you want to best sleep, sleep of your life, you got to try Ettitude, how is it different from other sheets? One comfort it's feathery soft, sometimes I feel like I'm in cotton candy without the stickiness. I don't know how to describe it is just such an amazing feeling you don’t want to get out of bed. Here are some customers that kind of puts in their words maybe do better than me. It feels like you're being cocooned by a zillion kittens, they make your cotton sheets feel like sandpaper, and an -- said she and her boyfriend haven't needed melatonin since her first sleep on Ettitude, sheets. My wife is spreading it right now she has been telling that she is having the best sleep of her life every single night on these. Cooling, I get really hot when I'm sleeping. I think most guys that way and maybe the lady likes to wear a little bit more cloths or something, with the these sheets it is absolutely amazing, this is organic bamboo lyocell and it's is extremely breathable it regulates your temperature to improve your quality of sleep. This is no exaggeration throughout this time that I have been testing I have not sweated at all when I’m sleeping, so I absolutely love it, and then it's antimicrobial, many customers even claim their skins appearance has improved after switching to Ettitude sheets, and they’re not change the sheets every week either. So, bamboo just has an antimicrobial nature to and then here is what I like the most everybody is going green Ettitude is doing it in the bedding space it's better for the environment. Organic bamboo lyocell will recycle about 90% of the water that they use. So, it's sustainable and cotton is kind of pesticides ways and can’t even be harmful to the environment, which I didn't really know until I got exploring Ettitude. So, check it out Ettitude Bedding E-T-T-I-T-U-D-E ettitude.com I think you’re going to love it. Let them know that Zach Smith of Funded Today sent you there and I’m sure they’ll hook you up. They ran at Kickstarter not too long ago, did pretty well and I really love bamboo sheets so ettitude.com. Thomas what you got for us?
Thomas Alvord: (49:14) My product of the week is called BUNDL, B-U-N-D-L it's a heated sleeping bag, but it has a whole bunch of new features as well as a price tag that actually makes affordable. There is some other popular brands out there that have a heated sleeping bag and you might be spending $500, $600. So, with the BUNDL on Kickstarter right now it's $350, and basically it allows you to have your sleeping bag, and then if it's colder you can turn on the battery, it's a portable battery that can actually charge up to four nights of energy, and warmth, and it works with your smartphone, and even if you don't want to bring your smartphone on a camping trip, you can actually still just use it with the button right there. And there's three sections and you can change the heat so if you can’t especially if it's called checkout BUNDL it's an awesome sleeping bag.
Zach Smith: (50:15) Dale, give us the pitch on Oh Snap.
Dale Backus: (50:18) So, you guys really like sleeping apparently because man it's all sleeping stuff. So, Oh Snap is it's what we've been saying is Oh Snap is the phone grip that doesn’t suck right. It's the one fingered comfortable phone accessory that you’ll actually want to use we really think that if you're using a phone, and which is literally everybody, and then you should put in Oh Snap on it because it's it literally has no compromises. I mean the only compromise is the $19 you’ll have to spend to buy it and 3mm of thickness on your phone, better than that it just provides so much value that literally we’ve given hundreds of these things away, and I haven’t run into anybody that hasn't that has likes decided to take off their phone because they didn't like it for one reason or another right. We got a couple issues with quality because these are all preproduction units and everything, but other than that it's -- everyone just fell in love with it and now we get -- what we say is people get Oh Snap addicted and now if you don't have it on your phone then you literally just are super uncomfortable, and you find everything you do everything you can get back. And so I really think that Oh Snap is game changing, and I love for you to shout out.
Zach Smith: (51:35) Love it, and if you're listening this episode in your influencer, press, journalist and you want to try one out Dale does have a lot of these products available and we would love for you to try them out and then review the product because like Dale said I think you'll find that this is the only thing you need to put on the back of your phone once you get it, so it's a phone accessory that doesn't suck, so check it out, we love it. Dale I can see why you are called the chosen one of Kickstarter not just because of Del Valle Backus just you got a lot of insight, you got a lot of wisdom, it's been awesome having you on the show. Thanks again for coming we appreciate it so much.
Thomas Alvord: (52:09) Thanks Dale.
Dale Backus: (52:07) Absolutely, thank you Zach.
Zach Smith: (52:10) Funded Today Nation what did you like about this episode? What did you think about Dale and his invention, we want to hear about it. What about his story? And who do you want as our next guest? Is there somebody out there that you’d like to hear from let us know snow we’d love to get him on the show. And finally what’s been your favorite episode so far and why, the more we hear from you the more we are able to create content that's going to help you bring your next big idea to life. Please email us, support at funded.today and leave us a comment on your website www.funded.today/podcast or gives us a review on iTunes we’ve got over a hundred now positive five-star reviews so they really help us continue. We read every single one of them, and they help us figure out what we wanted to create more great episodes for you. Next time, we’re going to you talk about “what to do when things go wrong, on your crowdfunding campaign” and not only that we’re to talk about what you can do to turnaround a bad project or even a project that gets suspended into a remarkable success story, you’re not going to miss it. So tune in next time and remember don’t wait until tomorrow, get Funded Today.
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References and Resources
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