10: “The Crowd Whisperer” Evaluates Projects
In this episode, we’re busting out our secret weapon. There’s even a bit of some “water cooler talk” going on at Funded Today, that this guy is “THE Crowd Whisperer.” If there’s anyone in the entire crowdfunding universe who has an eye for a great product and how to create one yourself, it’s this man, our very own Director of Client Specialists at Funded Today, Mr. Curtis Child.
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1. Learn as much as possible from your competitors’ campaigns about what helped render their products and/or presentations successful.
2. Before you ever launch a campaign, back some campaigns, both to familiarize yourself with the crowdfunding process and to establish yourself as part of the crowdfunding community.
3. Crowdfunding backers constitute a community with certain commonalities, and you can expect most of your project’s backers to be repeat not new.
4. The crowdfunding community seems to notice campaigns more readily when they use attractive uncluttered thumbnail images created from high-quality soft photographs of trendily-colored products on white backgrounds.
5. Crowdfunding campaigns raise funds better anytime they’re the first to offer the crowdfunding community a desirable innovation to a ubiquitous product, rather than marginally improving upon a previous project, although the latter can also enjoy success.
6. Rather than marginally improving upon someone else’s original idea, campaigners might succeed better by applying an already-successful innovation to an entirely-different product.
7. Many crowdfunding campaigners expect to raise $1,000,000 but don’t—but short-term success does not correlate with long-term success.
[01:26] Zach introduces Funded Today’s Director of Client Specialists, Curtis Child, who has unusual talent for evaluating crowdfunding projects.
[01:57] Zach and Curtis discuss how Curtis earned his nickname “The Crowd Whisperer” by learning to discern “diamonds in the rough” among live Kickstarter campaigns—projects that had potential to do better with good marketing.
[04:09] Thomas and Curtis discuss how crowdfunding entrepreneurs often severely overestimate their potential for success.
[05:53] Curtis and Zach note that crowdfunding projects are more likely to prosper when they’re relatively ubiquitous rather than niche.
[10:03] Curtis urges crowdfunding entrepreneurs to back projects, both to familiarize themselves with crowdfunding and to present themselves as part of the crowdfunding community.
[11:37] Zach and Curtis and Thomas discuss offering improvements to some products that have already proven successful in other products.
[15:33] Zach and Curtis discuss the importance of timing in innovation, and that copycat projects never fare as well as the original ones.
[17:42] Zach and Curtis agree that projects that are genuinely new will always fare better than projects that offer only marginal improvements over previous projects.
[18:53] Curtis emphasizes that Kickstarter is a community, and that Kickstarter backers may support a project in droves that’s new to them, even though it’s not new to the world, and Thomas reiterates that platform is a significant factor in crowdfunding success.
[22:18] Thomas points out Kickstarter’s “Community” tab that shows that most Kickstarter backers are repeat backers.
[23:52] Curtis elaborates upon the importance of the “it factor” in both product and presentation.
[25:22] Zach and Curtis discuss the need for a working prototype that looks good.
[25:57] Curtis acknowledges that committing money is important for those who want to “go big,” and Zach suggests that entrepreneurs might want to run their first campaign with their idea that’s least expensive to prototype, while reiterating the importance of social capital in prosperity.
[29:17] Curtis notes that Kickstarter backers are most likely to peruse and back campaigns while at work, and that campaigners can attract attention to their projects by using attractive uncluttered thumbnail images that present high-quality soft product photographs with trendy colors on white backgrounds.
[34:04] Curtis and Zach urge crowdfunding campaigners to study their competitors’ past campaigns to learn as much as possible from them.
[37:06] Curtis urges crowdfunding campaigners to avoid feeling disappointed whenever their campaigns fail to raise $1,000,000, and to accept that genuine success is more subjective and long-term, and Zach cites PopSockets as an example of how small crowdfunding successes can lead to huge e-commerce successes.
[39:20] Curtis explains how crowdfunding entrepreneurs may contact him.
[40:40] Zach and Thomas and Curtis present this episode’s Projects of the Week.
Zach Smith: (00:00) Funded Today Nation, welcome back to the Funded Today Podcast. Last time we talked about poverty and wealth and how your mentality is critical to your success. We also talked about how capital is much more than just financial capital. That episode was a deep one, so if you missed it I think you’re absolutely going to love it go check it out. Now today we’re breaking out our secret weapon, there is even a bit of some water cooler talk going on here at Funded Today that this guy is the crowd whisperer if there is anyone in the entire Crowdfunding universe who has an eye for a great product and how to create one yourself it’s this man. Our very own Director of Client Specialist at Funded Today Mr. Curtis Child.
Announcer: (00:42) The Funded Today Podcast is hosted by world renowned entrepreneurs and business experts Thomas Alvord and Zach Smith. To get a help with your next big business idea or to take your business to the next level go to fundedtoday.com.
Zach Smith: (00:57) Welcome back I’m Zach Smith.
Thomas Alvord: (01:00) And I’m Thomas Alvord.
Zach Smith: (01:01) And in our last episode we talked about how some mindset shifts regarding poverty and wealth can make all the difference. That episode might have been one of my very favorites of our show so far, check it out and readers leave a comment or two on our website, tell us what you thought of it and what you think of our podcast so far we’d really appreciate it and every five star review helps us spread the tips, tactics and techniques we personally used to make a lot of money and create great lives for ourselves along with the others that we built.
Now today is a very special one. We’ve got the Director of Client Specialist of Funded Today Mr. Curtis Child on with us. He’s got an eye for knowing which new ideas are going to win and which are going to lose. If you are an investor and you want to make sure you’re making the right bets or if you’re a new business owner with multiple ideas and you don’t know which if any you should pursue, today’s episode is for you. So Curtis welcome to the show.
Curtis Child: (01:52) Hey, thanks for having me guys.
Zach Smith: (01:54) Before we get started how did you affectionally get the nick name and a somewhat even revered status at Funded Today as the “Crowd Whisperer”.
Curtis Child: (02:03) I’m not really sure, to be honest with you I guess that came from you guys and the members of the Funded Today team so it’s an honor to be called that, even though I don’t know if I consider myself that. So I would say that back when Funded Today first started, we were not getting that many inbound leads as a company this was four years ago give or take a few months and every project that we closed needed to come from outreach to new clients that were on Kickstarter and there were 6,000 live projects to choose from and I would scroll through pretty much every single day through different filters that I had made up on Kickstarter through hundreds of pages and there was probably about 20 projects per page so about 2,000 projects.
And there were some that had raised $1 million dollars and there were some that we would refer to as diamonds in the rough and hadn’t even reached their funding goal. But there were projects that all had some sort of like common denominator as to these would be successful and they had what I would refer to as the “Hit Factor” some of those that had raised over $1 million that I chose to reach out to were the BauBax Travel Jacket or the Meat Thermometer or Field Skillet. And then those ones obviously had already proven themselves to be great projects, they just needed a little bit of gasoline poured on the fire and that’s what we’re able to do. But there were the other projects that I referred to earlier as diamonds in the rough, and these were projects that may not have even raised their goal or had raised $0 prior to bringing us on like SpineGym who ended up raising $400,000 and then another million on Indiegogo and TRAKLINE BELT and another interesting one that I picked out was the Filippo Loreti Watch which now is pretty much the gold standard for watches and marketing campaign on Kickstarter. But at the time when we picked them out they were a diamond in the rough.
Thomas Alvord: (04:15) When you talk with people Curtis, you talk with how many creators everyday would you say new creators?
Curtis Child: (04:22) I would say around 10 to 20 different creators each day.
Thomas Alvord: (04:26) Okay. And how many of those people say “Hey, my project is going to kill and I’m going to make $1 million dollars?”
Curtis Child: (04:35) Oh! Man that I laugh because it’s very common everybody thinks they have the next million dollar idea and I think it’s a good mindset to have but probably 50% of people think that their product can do $1 million in sales while they’re on Crowdfunding.
Thomas Alvord: (04:53) You laugh because I think just based off of statistics they’re not all going to raise $1 million but do you have an eye for, “Hey what’s going to work, what’s not going to work.” What do you look for?
Curtis Child: (05:08) Yes it’s crazy the statistics would say that less than a percent, a fraction of a percent will raise a million and that’s what we’ve seen, but there are definitely are things that set you up for a chance to succeed and without doing those things you basically have a 0% chance of raising a million, doing those things putting together a product, putting these things on your page then you’ll have a chance to raise that money. So yes I would say that we definitely have and I personally have a good eye for what you need to reach that level of success.
So I would say the first thing when you put your pen to that napkin or a piece of paper when you’re first coming up with your ideas are, you need to have a product that has the potential to raise a million dollars. And what I mean by that are you basically have two types of products one being a more niche item meaning that your target audience is very, very specific and when we’re already on Crowdfunding you’re already in a funnel meaning there’s the whole population and then there is the 20 million or so people that are on Crowdfunding and so you have to be able to reach and raise a million dollars just by targeting this select group of people familiar with the platform. So going after a niche product that only targets us a select demographic probably isn’t going to be the best idea. Even though there have been products like “The Evolution Bra” that specifically targeted females that raised a million dollars. So it’s not impossible it’s just more difficult.
Thomas Alvord: (06:55) So it’s kind of like our formula then Curtis, “Ubiquity plus innovative techie equals huge chance for success” the more Ubiquitous you can go, while still having that innovative techie element the better?
Curtis Child: (07:08) Exactly. So I was able to analyze all of the projects well at least some of them that were multi-million dollar raises that we have worked with and some of those just to name a few are the BauBax Travel Jacket, Peak Design Messenger Bag, The Amabrush Toothbrush, Filippo Loreti and the Liberty+ Headphones. So just as you were saying Zach, everything there is a Ubiquitous product and so that means that anybody can buy it males, females, person that’s 25, 50 it really doesn’t matter. If it’s a good product then the target demographic is huge, it’s a broad product.
Zach Smith: (07:51) Everybody travels they can use a jacket, everybody needs a messenger bag to carry their laptop, everybody brushes their teeth Amabrush is good, everybody can wear a watch and everybody needs a good pair of knives, good set of kitchen knives.
Curtis Child: (08:03) Exactly, yes.
Zach Smith: (08:05) We’ve talked a lot about Ubiquity then and it seems like it’s almost a must to raise a million dollars you almost need to go as broad as ubiquitous as you can. Tell me a little about the inverse of that though, niche products Curtis.
Curtis Child: (08:20) Niche products like I said, can raise a million dollars you just can’t go too niche because the funnel is already created when you choose to launch a Kickstarter project you’re no longer on E-commerce, you’re no longer targeting everybody in the world, your conversion rate is going to be much, much higher if you’re targeting people familiar with Crowdfunding and as I’ve been in this space the more I tell people about what I do the more I realize how few people know what Kickstarter, what Indiegogo actually is and so the likelihood they’re going to know what a backer is what a pledge is, when they get their product is lower. So you need to pick products that they can be niche but don’t pick like a drone bag for a specific model of drones, if you’re going to do that then, make your product available for all drones or a multitude of models for drones and don’t just limit yourself down to one specific product.
Zach Smith: (09:19) That’s part of the reasons why we have started this podcast. We noticed the same thing because we eat, sleep and breathe Rewards-Based Crowdfunding it’s easy for us to think Oh! everybody knows about this, this is Crowdfunding this is the new thing but in reality it’s actually a very, very small market place and if you’re trying to raise money on Rewards-Based Crowdfunding, Kickstarter and Indiegogo you better be as broad and ubiquitous as you can or if you are going to be niche at least make that niche apply to as many people within that subset as you possibly can if you want to raise the big money is that about sum it up Curtis?
Curtis Child: (09:57) I would say you are spot on with that, yes perfect.
Zach Smith: (09:59) Alright now we want to kind of change gears just for a second. I want to talk about our second topic for today and that is about picking a product for Crowdfunding I think a lot of people say well maybe I’ve got a couple of ideas, maybe I’ve got this one idea or what about our investors who listen to this podcast, how do they know which product they should throw some money at. How do they pick a product for Crowdfunding, Curtis?
Curtis Child: (10:20) To start off picking a product for Crowdfunding you have to be invested in what is Crowdfunding. So do not launch a product on Crowdfunding if you’ve never backed a product, go back a product for $1 or $5 learn about the process look at five, 10, 20 different products and then see what these products have because it isn’t E-commerce again this is very, very different.
Thomas Alvord: (10:47) And Curtis I have never even thought to tell new creators that, I just assume people know is there a reason you recommend that? Have you found people launch a campaign and they don’t even know what they’re talking about or what’s happening or why that recommendation?
Curtis Child: (11:05) Well yes if you haven’t been down the road that you’re telling people or wanting people to go down for you, then how are you going to be able to ask somebody to do that when you haven’t done it yourself. It’s pretty much the golden rule put in business right, go back a campaign if you’re wanting thousands of people to back your own campaign that creates credibility and again it creates the notion that you’re part of this community which is Crowdfunding, you’re willing to support others, so you want others support.
Zach Smith: (11:35) I like that a lot. Now Curtis moving down memory lane and perhaps this is where you finally solidified that Crowd Whisperer status, tell me about that story with the Silvon Sheets and what realization you had?
Curtis Child: (11:49) We were sitting at your house what we had done was, we always have ideas and I think it’s very common for everybody to have ideas acting on those ideas is the hardest part but we were running the Silvon Sheets Campaign which is basically a bed sheet a very ubiquitous product that took a techie cool aspect of weaving in some silver threads to – for anti-microbial purposes and I said “Wow, that’s a really good idea, nobody likes to wash their bed sheets” and then the next thing you know I’m in the bathroom I use a towel and I said “Why can’t you use a towel, why can’t you infuse silver into a towel nobody washes their towels as much as they should they stink, they get musty” and so I said “Well the next person that does this towel I wish it were me” but I didn’t act on it. We run Onsen Towel several months later and they did the exact same thing, they take a towel which is a ubiquitous product, they infuse silver, they do a (Inaudible 0:12:49) type texture and they raise over $800,000 and I’m sure they’re doing very, very well on Amazon and other website sales right now.
Zach Smith: (13:00) And I think you’ve just hinted on one of our favorite strategies, I think Steve Jobs said this and before him it was probably somebody even else. “Good artists steal, great artist copy”, emulate success we talked about that a ton on this podcast so you look at something like the Silvon Sheets and you say “How can this technology apply to something else that’s ubiquitous and then you do that time and time again with all of these other different products and that’s exactly what Curtis did didn’t execute we talk about that quite a bit. But somebody did and Onsen Towel came about raised over a million dollars when you combine with Indiegogo and their E-commerce sales.
Curtis Child: (13:37) And Zach I think you got that quote wrong.
Zach Smith: (13:39) No, did I?
Curtis Child: (13:40) It’s great artist – “Good artist copy, great artist steal”.
Zach Smith: (13:44) Yes, yes sorry yes you’re right.
Thomas Alvord: (13:47) Don’t worry.
Zach Smith: (13:49) I don’t think he means he’s ripping people off for stealing copyrights or anything like that Onsen didn’t do that, Onsen simply looked at the technology that was available, they saw it was very successful they follow the Funded Today formula, ubiquity plus innovative tech gives you a huge chance for success and they build out. So Curtis tell us about that, I mean new spends on common items.
Curtis Child: (14:11) It’s, yes it’s very, very common it’s hard to do and it’s even harder to execute Onsen did it well, Silvon did it there are several examples, for example there’s common items such as travel pillows and travel pillows and travel products are very, very common on Crowdfunding. What we look at is there’s been a few they have innovated the game and changed the design, the look, the feel of travel pillows. BullRest, FaceCradle and Woollip took a product that sells millions of units every year in airports, online etcetera and they changed the way that it looks and they launched a Crowdfunding Campaign a new twist on a very, very common item.
And we already referenced Amabrush earlier that raised about $3 million everybody brushes their teeth. So what is something that I can do with this tooth brush to make it more innovative and techie and the big players in the space, The Philips, The Sonicare’s they've taken and made the electric toothbrush they innovated, they took a true, techie twist and they executed on the idea and Amabrush did the same thing but to a new level was something even cooler, even more techie and that's why they were so successful.
Zach Smith: (15:31) So you have a saying that I remember you, you told to me and I actually gave it in a presentation when I was speaking in Canada a few years ago. You said “It's not always, am I building the better mousetrap, it's am I building what somebody wants right now”, what did you mean by that?
Curtis Child: (15:52) Well I think it goes into people create nicer products that are less expensive and that perform better than your competitor all the time but the execution comes into play and timing comes into play. Meaning if you look at and will continue to use the Amabrush example because it's what we've been discussing but Amabrush launched a $3 million campaign and people went and they tried to copy the idea without really innovating the idea. And so you look at campaigns like UNICO, uFunbrush, The Y-Brush are all Crowdfunding Campaigns that have launched subsequent projects to the Amabrush tried to capture that same idea and didn't come anywhere close to it. So the timing of the idea is crucial compared to what your competitors have done and how well they've executed on the idea.
Zach Smith: (16:50) We see that from quite a few creators don't we? “Hey, give me the BauBax Travel Jacket”. “Here's my BauBax Travel Jacket”, “Well what have you done differently?”, Well I've got 19 pockets and theirs had 17”, Oh! Okay”.
Curtis Child: (17:05) Yes I mean I get approached all the time as we said the gold standard for watches because it was the most successful traditional watch is Filippo Loreti everybody wants to outdo them and they say “I can now do them because my watch does X, Y and Z better than theirs” and that's not all that comes into play with a million dollar project, it's they executed, their timing was better and now you're second to the game and what are you doing different or better than them in terms of the timing and execution and I don't think you cannot do that because it's already been done to the best possible.
Zach Smith: (17:43) Now that's profound and it reminds me of your story again of Silvon Sheets versus Onsen. Onsen didn’t say “Hey! Let me go and make some silver infused sheets and I’ll also put some copper in there because that will improve circulation and then I’ll weave them too, so that they can breathe a little better” that would have been cool but it wasn't Onsen, they took a horizontal approach, they didn't go vertically and stay in the same industry, they went out wide and said where else can this technology apply. I think a lot of times in Crowdfunding and correct me if I'm wrong here Curtis, but what raises the million dollar plus nowadays is something that people haven't seen before.
If you are going to go create another wallet again it better be revolutionary by this point, there's been hundreds of wallets, if you’re going to go create Smart Luggage it better be something people have never seen before and you can't say this is going to do better because it does all the same things this Smart Luggage did just a little bit better, it charges faster it wheels better, it spins better, it it's got more compartments that's cool but that's not new, that's not innovative anymore people have seen it and therefore it doesn't resonate with them. Tell me a little bit about a company that's doing this right now that you're working with I think it's one of your clients DanForce.
Curtis Child: (18:56) Yes, so new and you mentioned this when you were just saying that. New does not mean new to the whole world, new can mean new to Crowdfunding because again it's a very niche community and it is a community meaning they support the people that are on their platform and they want them to be successful, that's why certain people can back hundreds or thousands of projects a year, crazy as it might sounds that actually happens. And so the client that you are referencing Zach is called DanForce and it's a tactical flashlight. So the reason why DanForce is being so successful right now on Crowdfunding is, they took an idea that is very common with projects on Crowdfunding and on Kickstarter it's tactical, tactical bags, tactical knives, etcetera and they said “Okay what's a product that's in the tactical space that hasn't been launched on Crowdfunding” and there's hundreds of options on Amazon right now for tactical flashlights. But tactical flashlights have not been introduced on Crowdfunding and so that's why they've raised six figures and they'll probably raise close to half a million dollars on their campaign by the end of the project, it's because they're introducing something new to Crowdfunding and it's the tactical flashlight that all of the users on Kickstarter are loving.
Zach Smith: (20:24) Man I love that, new to Kickstarter not new to the world that is a powerful concept but I don't think I've even internalized until now. What can you bring to the market.
Thomas Alvord: (20:36) That really hits on that “P” of platform that really does, the platform matters and the same product on a different platform might do well and might not do well and so he might launch this tactical flashlight on Amazon and maybe he’d have a hard time because there's a lot of other tactical flashlights but on Kickstarter in a way it's first to market on the Kickstarter platform and he has that advantage yes.
Zach Smith: (21:00) When you are on Kickstarter we're sitting here talking about Kickstarter, Indiegogo Rewards-Based Crowdfunding because of the conversion rates. This product is converting extremely well and like Thomas said if it were to go on Amazon it might be successful and long term it will absolutely because of the success it's had on Kickstarter already, but short term the conversion rates that this client DanForce is experiencing have been tremendous, have been five to 10 times better than they're ever going to see on E-commerce or Amazon because they are new to Kickstarter, they are new to this niche super tight community of super backers and others who love to bring new ideas to life and they just haven't seen this type of a product before, that's powerful.
Question for Funded Today users that I want you all to ponder, what can you bring to Kickstarter it might not even be new overall to the whole world but has not been introduced to Kickstarter yet and what innovative techie element can you add to that product, I think that is a powerful thing to ponder so that you can come up with a great idea that will succeed.
Thomas Alvord: (22:05) Expanding a little bit on what Curtis has shared if you go to Kickstarter or Indiegogo but on Kickstarter you get a little more data there is a community tab and it will show you the number of backers on the campaign where they are first time backers and then the number of backers that are repeat backers. And on many campaigns 80% to 90% of the backers are repeat backers meaning you are marketing these products and the people backing are predominantly people from the Crowdfunding community and that really helps explain why, what Curtis is saying happens, it's because these people if they've already seen that product and it’s been on Kickstarter they've likely have backed it or they weren't interested in that type of product.
Zach Smith: (23:02) Thomas you are going to love this, I just decided to look up DanForce just to see if your theory proved true check this out. 138 new backers, 1778 returning backers tell me that is not a powerful takeaway here guys. This means that – I don't know what is the amount on that about 2,000 backers, 90% don’t hold me to my math here 90% back to Kickstarter product before this is the type of product you want to create and that's why it's converting so well. Has it been introduced to Kickstarter existed in the marketplace overall and look at the conversion rates and look at the amount of returning backers.
Thomas Alvord: (23:46) And that's why we bring on experts like Curtis because in the process I'm learning as well.
Zach Smith: (23:49) Yes love that Curtis, huge share that's powerful, huge takeaway, that might be the takeaway of the podcast so far. Alright let's go to topic three now Curt. When creating your product it has to have that Hit Factor for presentation, What is this Hit Factor?
Curtis Child: (24:04) The Hit factor plays into how your product actually looks when somebody has the Hit Factor it's many times used in spaces like sports, they have the Hit factor, they're going to be a great athlete later on in their career you look at young athletes. Well when your product is being made or produced does it have the Hit Factor can you look at that product and ask yourself “Would I use this product myself, could I see my friends and family buying this product, am I embarrassed to tell people about this product” can you compare it to your competitor's products and say “Yes, this is a better product, this does accomplish what I was meaning to create” and so that's the Hit Factor then you have to capture that Hit Factor in the presentation of the product when you're developing the prototype no longer is Crowdfunding a space where you can put on loosey-goosey type produced prototype that doesn’t really meet all of your end requirements and still have success. You need to come to the table with a product that is ready to sell
Zach Smith: (25:14) What does Kickstarter do with those working prototypes, is it some kind of policy thing that they require now?
Curtis Child: (25:20) Yes. So you’re going to need a working prototype but that’s not – that doesn’t just encompass the “Hit Factor” a working prototype could look terrible. It could look like a $10 product which probably means that it’s going to raise $10. If it does not look like a million dollar product then it does not even have the potential to sell a million dollars on Crowdfunding, so you’re not setting yourself up for success from the beginning.
Zach Smith: (25:49) So what would you say to our readers that are budget conscious, they’re like “Ah, man I want to raise a million bucks but, I don’t have 50,000 bucks to go and build this prototype” and that’s a scary crazy endeavor I want to do rewards-based Crowdfunding because I don’t want to take that huge risk I want to validate my idea in seven to 10 days I want to make things happen on a couple of thousand bucks. That sounds scary that’s sounds risky any recommendations for those types Curt?
Curtis Child: (26:20) Well the first thing I would say is “Scared Money Don’t Make No Money” and so if you want to go big, you have to go big in the production you have to go big in the presentation and make it look good, but to the other individuals that are – I don’t know if scared is the best or cautious want to take a more cautious approach to it which is fine and that’s the reason why sometimes I don’t act on the ideas that I have is because I’m afraid of the outcome or failure. But I think there’s a lot of different ways to create prototypes to partner up with people that maybe want to take a greater risk. So 3D printing using partners, partnering up with individuals that have done the process have connections to factories in China or overseas that can do it at a cheaper price I think as a really great option.
Zach Smith: (27:12) In our last episode we talked about poverty and wealth and we talked about the different types of capital. What Curtis just hinted on was social capital, who’s in your network, who can help you out, who can bear some of the risk, who can take some of that burden and feeling of “Oh! No I’m going to be a failure, I’m going to lose some money if I do this” who can help you out, who can share in that scary entrepreneurial leap of faith to help make your idea happen and I have one more thought too. Maybe you got two or three ideas and you don’t know which to pursue, here’s an idea start with the idea that has the least amount of barriers, if I have this techie fancy smart watch that’s going to require a lot more prototyping than an Onsen Towel would, and Onsen Towel is pretty much a towel I could probably get something like that prototyped and manufactured overseas in China or the Philippines or Vietnam or somewhere like that probably for a couple thousand bucks or less maybe even less than that.
So maybe start with the product if you have a bunch of ideas that has the least barrier to entry. Now gratitude competition is going to be a little bit more fierce that way because if you are successful, you can bet your bottom dollar a lot of people are going to jump on that and create a lot of competing products but, now you’ll have some capital for your next idea, you’ll have some seed you won’t need that rich uncle or a relative or the dad, the mom or somebody to give you a bunch of money to start your idea because you will have created that seed through that entrepreneurial leap of faith on your first idea, and your second idea and eventually maybe it’s your third or fourth or fifth idea that requires a lot more upfront takes money to make money and scared money doesn’t make no money like Curtis just said, you eventually be able to get there. I like that a lot and I think that that can maybe help you as well. Start with ideas that maybe are the least cost intensive because they can still raise a lot of money I mean that towel raised over a million bucks and I don’t think it cost that much to get started, do you Curtis?
Curtis Child: (29:06) No, no not at all I’d say a few hundred dollars probably.
Zach Smith: (29:11) So tell me a little bit more about some of the stuff that makes these million dollar products and how do we create that “Hit Factor” give me some takeaways for our readers about what they can do to make their product resonate on Kickstarter, Indiegogo what can they do to stand out from the thousands of other products that are live on Kickstarter in any given point in time?
Curtis Child: (29:30) As I was saying earlier about my approach to finding these projects it’s literally a manual process where I load the page and load and load and load and look for these campaigns and that’s what Kickstarter backers are doing while they’re at work. Believe it or not the best time for sales is nine to five while people are at work supposedly working and they’re just browsing through Kickstarter, they are scrolling the pages, product design category, tech category you need to make yourself stand out, one that comes to mind that really does a good job of this is a client called “KP Luggage & Bags”. And they do a phenomenal job at creating this product that looks like a million dollar product. Now none of their projects have raised a million dollars they’ve raised six figures, half a million dollars or more several times but their product looks like a million they give their selves a chance to raise that.
And what they do is they have high quality product shots I don’t know they probably spend more than a few thousand dollars on their photography where they have a really great photographer that works for cheap, but what they do is they create a nice white background, high quality soft images, their bags are made out of colors that are modern and trendy and people esthetically love the look of them like I’m a huge Mac user over Android and many of you might take offense to that. But Apple does a phenomenal job at the lines, the materials, the textures that they use and those pop-off of the page don’t clutter a thumbnail image, don’t clutter images make them nice and clean and so that they can pop-off the page when somebody is scrolling because other than that you’re not going to catch their eye.
Zach Smith: (31:21) Any choice for colors? What you recommend color wise when people are determining where to go?
Curtis Child: (31:29) Well I just say stay basic, meaning don’t go with bright, vivid colors greens, blues, reds, use neutral earth tone colors that’s very in nowadays everybody is earth conscious everybody is using recycled materials, colors that are earth tones. I would say that those are more appealing to the eye as they come across and capture those with some great photography.
Zach Smith: (31:54) Here’s a deep question for you, I know when we were making the logo for this podcast you probably provided more feedback on almost anybody and it turned out really great. I noticed something you were the only person out of a 100 something people that gave feedback on the different logos that we ultimately chose, you’re like “Hey, it’s missing the little on the – on Funded Today, it was missing a little triangle piece inside that made a letter on today the A of the – the inside of the A” again it’s kind of hard to describe but a little triangle piece was missing and you were the only one who caught that, you’re like “Hey, you need to cutout the little A there so it will look more like an A”. Where do you – how did you get this meticulous sense of detail to be able to notice things around you, so that you could have this eyes that you could provide this type of feedback and to make these observations is that something that you’ve just been born with or is it from looking at thousands and thousands of campaigns because I swear the first time I ever met you kind of had that eye.
Curtis Child: (32:51) I wouldn’t say it comes from Crowdfunding I say that I’m able to apply it in Crowdfunding and that’s what helps me identify these products that are potential huge homeruns, but I would say it’s just something that is part of me I don’t like clutter, I like clean lines on cars, on phones, on – really on houses I mean if you try and clutter too many things I just like simplicity and I like things to be organized and if something is out of place I’ll notice it. And so if the product is a good product but it needs a few tweaks or it needs a few changes, those diamonds in the roughs we can find those and we can make you standout on Kickstarter, so don’t ever think that your project is lost we can make those changes even during a live campaign or pre-campaign and make your product a winner from just being a diamond in the rough, polish up a bit.
Zach Smith: (33:47) “ShotBox 2.0” story right?
Curtis Child: (33:49) Yes, exactly there’s few tweaks to make a project a winner versus a loser and it’s sometimes simple, sometimes pretty difficult but we can do it for sure.
Zach Smith: (33:59) So how can somebody become like you, somebody like me who maybe doesn’t have that eye recognizes that I don’t have that eye, how can I develop some of those characteristics to kind of know before I push go whether something’s going to win or lose any tips for listeners?
Curtis Child: (34:16) Well I think comparison is sometimes a good thing especially when you’re creating a product go on and look at your competitors, see what they’re doing. Don’t look at products as a whole, look at different aspects to a campaign so if I’m reviewing a campaign page on Kickstarter, I might first write down the 10 things that I want to analyze, and then don’t cloud your vision with all of the things at once simply take one bullet point at a time and go and look at 10 projects and see how they did it. For example if you want to put GIFs on your product page I highly recommend that, go look at how GIFs as a category have been utilized and then utilize them to the best that you have seen on those product pages.
Same thing with text, images, placement of organization on pages and then with manufacturing products go look at your competitors how they did things, how they laid it out, the colors that they used each thing go through it analyze your competitor step-by-step don’t cloud your vision with a million things at once, and I think you’ll come out with better products as you slowdown and go point by point.
Zach Smith: (35:32) Baby steps, I like that and I think that’s another reason why we love Kickstarter Rewards-Based Crowdfunding anytime I say Kickstarter I’m just referring to that whole broad category I think it’s why we love it so much. It is such an amazing thing to be able to look at hundreds of thousands of people who have done it before and say “Okay I want to create a towel” and then you type in towel and you the 10 or 20 towels that have launched on Kickstarter. “I want to create a wallet” you see the 100 of wallets, “I want to do a smart luggage” you see the 100 smart luggage and then you take those ideas and then you take them horizontally and you create something a little bit different using the same ideas and technology that they used to raise millions and you can’t really do that anywhere else at least not with the amount of transparency and details and stats like that community tab Thomas was talk about that you can’t on say a Kickstarter platform right?
Curtis Child: (36:18) Yes exactly and I think you can take those new products and become very, very successful with somebody else’s idea, you don’t have to have the idea from the ground up. Somebody could get you to Point B, but you have to take it C, D and E, and you know Piggyback, Emulate those are some of the terminology that we have used in this podcast but I think it’s really, really smart you don’t have to be the person to get it off the ground just take it into the sky.
Zach Smith: (36:47) This has been a great episode I’ve learned a little bit myself as well and anytime that happens I’m really excited that’s another reason why I love doing this podcast we just get to interview so many smart guests from all around the world and learn a little bit about what how they see the world and how that perspective can help to shift our own to something bigger and better. In that light, how would you summarize everything we’ve talked about today, do you have any wise words, parting wisdom for the Funded Today listeners?
Curtis Child: (37:16) I would say the major takeaway would be, do not be disappointed if you come to the table and you think your product is going to raise a million dollars and it does not raise a million dollars, because statistics show that that’s difficult. However success is a subjective term and raising $100,000, $30,000, $50,000 could be the start that you need to create a multimillion dollar company. The Million Dollar Campaigns the biggest companies on Kickstarter was “Pebble Time” they’re no longer in existence today, some of the projects that raised $50,000 are around today and they’re still thriving. So keep your head-up if you didn’t raise a million dollars because that’s not success or failure that’s not the benchmark, but success or failure is again subjective and to get there, create a product that you like, that you take interest in and that you would use yourself and at the end of the day I think you’ll be happy with yourself going forward selling thousands of units and helping the world advance.
Zach Smith: (38:27) We’re on the same wavelength Curtis, I was recently looking at the Inc. 500 results and the second fastest or was it the fastest I forget was PopSockets guess what I did, I went did and little research they ran a Kickstarter campaign I think four or five years ago, guess how much that Kickstarter Campaign raised, about 18,000 bucks what was their revenue over $100 million I believe somewhere around there. Crazy right, like Curtis said you might only raise $10,000, $20,000, $30,000 “Oh! Man I didn’t raise a $1 million “ this campaign is the second fastest growing privately held company in all of America for 2018 so great advice. Curtis thanks so much for having you on the show, this has been an amazing episode so I’m sure many of our listeners are going to want to work with you directly, they want to get in touch with you what’s the best way that they can do that?
Curtis Child: (39:24) So I can take you through from having just an idea on paper to how you might go about producing now we have great connections in this space and/or if you have a live project that you want to see if it is a diamond in the rough then we can take it from zero to hero. I’m best reached just on e-mail Curtis, C-U-R-T-I-S @funded.today or you can simply apply to our website funded.today or fundedtoday.com and just put Curtis Child as the refer in the “How Did You Hear About Us Section” and then we can schedule a time to discuss at no cost and we’ll do a free consultation to see where you’re at, how can we help and see if you don’t have that next million dollar project or a great idea that just needs a little bit of help.
Zach Smith: (40:13) I might have to get on your calendar.
Curtis Child: (40:21) Come on, I know you’ve got ideas, we just need to get them off the ground.
Zach Smith: (40:23) I like that well thanks again Curtis we’re so glad that you joined our show today this once again was Curtis Child the Director of Client Specialist at Funded Today. Okay it is that time again for the “Funded Today Products of the Week” and my product of the week is a campaign we worked with not too long ago they originally raised over $100,000 on Kickstarter they are now live on Indiegogo InDemand this is the “FRAMEN Player” they’re calling it the best photography gadget remember those picture frames where they could cycle through all of your different pictures kind of maybe at the dawn of when the Internet started taking off, this product the “FRAMEN Player” is basically the Spotify for photos. It has taken that concept and basically put it on steroids, it’s beautiful, it’s well-designed, it’s one of the nicest looking picture frames I guess you could say “Looks perfectly in your house, very techie very web 2.0” and it cycles through all the most amazing pictures that you’ve ever taken, keep souvenirs of all the days that you don’t want to forget, adds a little bit of art or color to your house, check it out, I love it and they are on Indiegogo InDemand this is the “Framen Player” that is Funded Today a product of the week.
Thomas Alvord: (41:39) My Funded Today product of the week is the “Soto Massini” ballet flat it’s on Indiegogo InDemand and it looks like about a ballet flat but underneath and inside it’s engineered to work like a running shoe and the creator of this shoe has an experience in engineering for I think 20-30 years and I believe all the leather for it is sourced out of Italy it’s a topnotch shoe, check it out “Soto Massini” on Indiegogo InDemand it's a female shoe by the way FYI.
Zach Smith: (42:15) Okay Curtis now we’re going to put you on the hot seat here one last time, as we like to do with every single one of our guests, what is your “Funded Today Product of the Week?”
Curtis Child: (42:29) This is one that we just started working with it’s a past client this is a to time creator It’s called the “HighHealer” on Indiegogo it's currently live and doing really well. Basically if you’ve ever had foot pain, plantar fasciitis or just had sore feet after the end of a long workday you need to buy this product, it reduces inflammation, stretches the plantar fasciitis ligament, strengthens the smaller muscles, loosened your calf tightness and gives you a foot massage all-in-one product that you can put at the base of your sofa and use on a daily basis. So I recommend this as the Product of The Week.
Zach Smith: (43:16) The Crowd whisperer – again this one’s almost raise $100,000 check it out, and next time we have a very, very exciting topic if you liked our “Poverty And Wealth” one I think you’re going to love this one. We’re going to talk about something that is the single most important factor to determine whether you succeed or fail, you are not going to want to miss it, this one is very exciting and very dear to our heart. Relatively new realization that both Thomas and I have had and as always remember don’t wait until tomorrow get Funded Today.
Announcer: (43:50) Funded Today is the worldwide leader in Rewards-Based Crowdfunding on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Combined they have raised over $200 million and counting for thousands of new ideas and inventions worldwide, if you’ve got an idea for a new product or invention visit fundedtoday.com to speak with one of their experts.
References and Resources
- Funded Today: Blog: “What Kinds Of Projects Is Kickstarter Most Effective At Funding? Why?”
- Funded Today: Podcast: “Successful Presentation: Page Design”
- Funded Today: Podcast: “The Crowdfunding Success Formula”
- Funded Today: Qualify
- Inc.: PopSockets
- Kickstarter: Amabrush
- Kickstarter: BAUBAX Travel Jackets
- Kickstarter: BullRest
- Kickstarter: DanForce G1 PRO
- Kickstarter: Everyday Messenger Bag
- Kickstarter: FaceCradle
- Kickstarter: Field Skillet
- Kickstarter: Filippo Loreti
- Kickstarter: KP Zero-G
- Kickstarter: Liberty+
- Kickstarter: Meater
- Kickstarter: Onsen
- Kickstarter: PopSockets
- Kickstarter: Silvon
- Kickstarter: SpineGym
- Kickstarter: Trakline Express
- Kickstarter: WOOLLIP
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