Imagine you can get into a meeting with crowdfunding, manufacturing, and engineering specialists who know everything you don’t. They have developed thousands of products, made billions in sales, and are willing to share their knowledge with you. We talked to Will Ford, President of Launchboom, Ken Buras, Co-Founder of IN2 International, Rusty Allen, Founder of RAD Product Development, Ira Hayes, Founder of Smart Armor, and Fred Cary, CEO of IdeaPros, on how to make the entrepreneur’s dream reality.
Over the last five years, Launchboom has managed more successful reward-based crowdfunding campaigns than any other agency in the world. As certified experts on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, they’ve helped thousands of entrepreneurs worldwide make their dreams a reality. The agency is located in San Diego. They help entrepreneurs, inventors, and project managers all over the world to launch new consumer products and scale much faster through e-commerce. They get about 800 applicants a month. IN2 International helps you make the process of manufacturing as smooth as possible. RAD Product Development has developed a lean way to get to market. Smart Armor is an electrical/electronic manufacturing company.
We’ve talked about the ups and downs of entrepreneurial life, things you learn on the way, and the importance of figuring out if somebody is going to buy your stuff before you do anything with it.
In 2008, Rusty had an idea to make a reusable filtered water bottle, Gobi. There was no crowdfunding back then, so it was the old school way of launching products. He prepared a presentation, talked to investors, and raised $80,000 dollars.
After 2-3 years and spending around $400,000 in designing, engineering, prototyping the product and going back and forth with investors, the product was ready. Only then he realized that he hadn’t asked the most important question: does anybody want to buy this thing?
“The ability to crowdfund things, run ads, and test the market changed our perspective on things a good bit.” – Rusty Allen
The idea for LaunchBoom came from the fact that there were many great ideas out there. Even more, people spending money on manufacturing products without even knowing if there was a market for them. This resulted in losing time, money, and ending up frustrated.
Learning from his own mistakes, Will started validating the demand on platforms like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo before doing anything else with the product. This way he could collect the crowd’s money before placing a manufacturing order.
In the beginning, it was easy because you had an idea. You posted about it and could raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. After several big launches, the platforms were flooded and it wasn’t easy anymore. Product creators and manufacturers with massive communities of early adopters looking for cool innovative products used this new opportunity very successfully to raise money through crowdfunding.
“This is when we realized that you need to go into Kickstarter and IndieGoGo with a community.” – Will Ford
If you want to have a billion-dollar project, you have to have an advertisement budget, especially a digital marketing budget. LaunchBoom’s initial approach was flawed. They would offer to turn $50,000 into half-million or more pre-sales and only charge 10% commission to do work. From these $50,000, $25,000 would go to all marketing assets and the other $25,000 into the Facebook advertising budget. This model didn’t always work. In January 2017, they decided to change everything and test before we launched.
We take the product through our full system. We make sure that it has a scale with mediocre assets. No fancy videos. Just product shots, static ads, and images. If we get a good return meaning we can find a lot of demand. From there, we can build a big enough audience for a low enough cost then launch. They have built a digital marketing system that allows them to validate demand faster for lower costs and that was a game-changer.
IN2 International works with clients with no budget or with companies that have the budget but their schedules are unrealistic. Managing their expectations is a challenge. Entrepreneurs often don’t understand that something can go through dozens of iterations before getting the right one. Also, most of the factories are not interested in working with small quantities. It is useful to help entrepreneurs look at different designs and materials to get the cost down and profit up.
“It often happens that by the time we’ve gone through this whole process, the initial idea is turned into something completely different.” – Ken Buras
Having someone on your side who can help you simplify and refine your ideation is of tremendous help. Your product doesn’t have to have all the features you initially planned as long as it solves a problem people have and it is marketable.
This blog post is to be continued in part two…
The “Idea Pros” at IdeaPros have the resources, experience, and tools to help you at this step or any step in the entrepreneurial journey.
We partner with entrepreneurs at any stage and who are ready to invest their ideas. Apply for an interview and let’s explore partnering together.
Want to see the products we have launched? Check out the IdeaPros Launchpad!