CrowdFund Genius 004 Ume (KS)
ZacBob: Welcome back to episode 004 of CrowdFund Genius. On todays show we have Diego from Ume Flash wristbands. And he’s going to tell us about how he was able to raise over $15,000 dollars on Kickstarter for his waterproof bracelets that also serve as a Flash drive.
Real quick let me tell you about our Facebook page. You can find us by searching CrowdFund Genius. And were currently trying to build an audience there. Since I’m a one man shop I don’t get to blog as much as I like, I share a ton of information from my friends in the crowdfunding industry. There’s information on how to build your audience before you launch your campaign, information on how to attract popular media sites to write about your campaign. Just a ton of information that you could apply or use for your crowdfunding campaign. Plus occasionally I give away awesome prizes.
Okay now lets get started with the interview. So tell me about yourself Diego, and your crowdfunding project Ume, Cool waterproof, flash wristbands.
Diego from Ume: Absolutely, first of all, thanks very much for the opportunity. Ume was born from one of my collogues Clem. Who’s a musician here in New York and a recording artist in Harlem? And he kind of identified a challenge he had from carrying his music from studio to studio. With different memory sticks, or Cd’s. He wondered if there was an easier way to carry his music with background tracks and etc.. With him at all times. So he looked for bracelets that had USB technology. There were a lot back then and even more now. But those bracelets had a lot of shortcomings. First of all they were mostly clasp bracelets that kept coming off. And they weren’t really made for an active lifestyle. They weren’t water proof and lastly not all of them looked real good. So he really set on to create, design and manufacture a bracelet that met all his needs. One that was waterproof and looked good and that a musician in New York would want to wear and looked good. And that’s how Ume was born. And were talking just a couple years ago.
ZacBob: Interesting… interesting… Now this is an audio only podcast so our audience should check out some of the images on our show notes page on our website Crowdfundgenius.com Ume really is a flashy bracelet that serves as a USB drive as well. So for the audience listening, can you tell us what colors Ume comes in?
Diego from Ume: Right now we have four different colors and two models. We have the Vintage, which is the one we produced a year ago. We made about a thousand units for a trial run and to proof of concept. We sold all 1 thousand here in New York and that comes in Red, Blue, and black. We have a new model the seamless, which is part of our Kickstarter campaign. Which is a bit of an upgrade as far as the protection goes for the actual USB chip. And that one comes in Red, Blue, and White.
ZacBob: And how big are the actual USB drives? 1 gig? 2 gigs?
Diego from Ume: Its actually 8 gig for now. That’s going to be our first production run that we actually put out through Kickstarter. So that’s what were going to be using for fulfillment. Were actually hoping later in the year to start putting more memory on the bracelets as well.
ZacBob: I noticed you actually went out on the street and recorded video of what people actually thought of the product. Which was very interesting and easy thing any crowdfunder could do with their campaigns. It’s always great to have footage, or testimonials from people who would or already has purchased your product. Can you tell my audience what was the inspiration behind that?
Diego from Ume: Yea absolutely, I think the best way to sell a physical product or convince someone that a product works is to let folks touch and feel the product itself. And we went out in the street and gave away the product to different folks. And then just asked them what they thought about it and the feedback was outstanding. One of the things that was really surprising for us is every time we show the product to somebody they kind of came up with a different use for Ume. We had musicians in mind when we created the product. But it turns out a lot of folks that are studying whether its high school or college have to carry a USB around to transfer paper documents and etc.. From their laptops from their computers to their computers at school so they could share papers, share projects etc.… A lot of times the cloud is just not available. You need to be online in order to use the cloud. And a Ume bracelet was a really convenient way to carry that around. So every time we talked to somebody in the street we got tidbits like that. Another example was we talked to a diabetic patient who thought this would make a really wonderful medical bracelet. Because he hated wearing the medical bracelet because it wasn’t very fashionable. This one is fashionable and it can have purpose, we could even put medical information in there. So it was really about talking to people and learning what folks would use it for.
ZacBob: That’s very interesting and a very unique tactic you used to spread the word as well as learn new information about your own Ume. And the entire process is something so simple that any crowdfunder could do on his own. Just go out there on the street in populated areas, and start asking questions with a camcorder. Everyone has a camcorder or recording device right there on their phone if they need. Deigo, tell me why you decided to use Kickstarter instead of the other platforms out there?
Diego from Ume: We actually did a lot of research with other platforms. And there were a couple reasons we chose Kickstarter. The first one was the established name of Kickstarter. It’s a name folks recognize and as far as crowdfunding goes there is already a learning curve that folks have gone through just by hearing that name. And I think that recognition was really, really important for us. The other was an established audience. Kickstarter has the most folks that are engaged with their audience already. There is a community their that’s already engaged with Kickstarter. We thought we had a pretty good shot of engaging with that community, specifically with the folks that are interested in design and possibly technology. We listed Ume under design because we thought it would be more appropriate under there. But we also knew there was a lot of appeal in the terms of wearable technology and how much its in the media out there.
Diego from Ume: Yeah we actually did reach the goal. Our original goal was $15,000 and we beat it by about a thousand and change. So we raised 16,000 plus total in contributions. That goal was really a combination of things. First it was the minimum we needed in order to begin a sample production with. It would cover our costs for the molds and for the first production run. In order to fulfill the orders for the pledges that happened at Kickstarter. So that was the main way in which we set our goal. Secondly, after we did our first production run about over a year ago now, we actually sold and gave away a lot of our product. As you can imagine it’s a lot more difficult to go out there and get orders, and get featured when you don’t have the physical product. So we wanted to make sure that not only with the money we raised, we were not only able to fulfill the pledges but have a good solid run at numbers to be able to send out to different retailers, and bloggers and our clients and start selling online as well.
ZacBob: Now lets talk about pledges, what were some of your best performing pledge amounts?
Diego from Ume: The best performing one was our vintage, our single vintage which was $20 dollars. We also had a collection edition, which was for six of the bracelets. And that was a little bit over a hundred. So it had both the vintage edition and all three colors and the seamless edition and all three colors. And that was just over $100. That was are most popular pledges, but our highest pledge was actually driven to musicians. And that was a recording session. A session at the studio where you were able to not only use the equipment etc., but get the coaching from Clem one of our founders. He’s a musician so in terms of recording and arranging your tracks etc. And you got the opportunity to download all your tracks into ten Ume drives. So you could kind of Kickstarter your music career of sorts. And that was actually very well attended of sorts, we actually got what I believe was 4 pledges out of a max of 5 under that category. It was a great value, that’s something that upstarting musicians were interested in. The pledge amount was only $500 and that was a steal. So it did very well.
ZacBob: Your crowdfunding video takes place primarily in what I believe is that recording studio no? Your video is only about 1:38 long which is a bit shorter than the average Kickstarter video. So tell me about the journey that went into making your video?
Diego from Ume: Your listeners probably know that the video is such a critical component of the Kickstarter campaign. And if I can be completely open, it’s the one area I would do differently, if I could go back in time. We launched with a very different video, a video that was about 4-5 minutes long. We were not getting the type of engagement that we wanted. Our video plays to pledges was well, well below ½ a percent. So if we take some traditional metrics in online retailing, lets say clicks per show, or purchases per show. We should be as good as benchmark as anything should be at 2 percent or 2 ½ percent. So any which way we looked at it we thought ½ percent was really, really low. Additionally our percentage of complete was really, really low as well. Only 15 percent of people stuck with the video to the very end. So that meant after one week we really had to tweak the video. We made it shorter, more to the point; we focused the message and changed the music to be a little more upbeat and engaging. Eventually the video you made reference to arrived at 1 minute and a half. We brought up the percentage of video completes for the whole campaign to 35 percent. So after we changed the video we got a lot more completes. And we ended our campaign with a pledge to video play around 1 percent. We started with a lot of ground to make up, and we made that up with the video. So for all the folks that are in the process, or have done this before and are going to do it again this probably rings true. The video has to be short, has to be to the point, it has to be upbeat and engaging, you know all things we think the final version of our video was able to do. Our numbers would kind of support that. We learned our lesson the long way you could say.
ZacBob: I love the fact that you’re throwing all these statistics and numbers out there. Where did you find all these useful stats?
Diego from Ume: I was able to find the average video play to pledge statistic. And I think that would be a statistic that would be incredibly helpful. And so one of the things we did is; there is different blogs and different online communities were folks post some of the metrics for their products. So we tried to find a few that would be comparable to ours. The problem with that is it really varied from 5 percent to 35 percent plays to pledge. So it didn’t give us a really good sense of where we should be. But it did give us a sense that we were off the mark; we were very, very low. If you want metrics to online retail, or online shopping. Those are a little bit more available. We Googled a lot of different sources for what are folks in digital marketing looking for in terms of clicks per view, and purchases per click etc. and that’s how we came to our benchmark of 2-2 ½ percent. So it might not be specific to Kickstarter, but it was one more source of reference that if were doing above that were probably okay, but if were doing below that were probably struggling.
ZacBob: Did you use a company to make your video? Or an outside hire?
Diego from Ume: We did not. We did ask for some help. We had an intern that is a side cinematography student helping us out with the filming. He used his camera, which I don’t know the equipment but it was a very nice camera. It had a solid stand and very good microphone. So that certainly helped the quality of the video and the production.
ZacBob: Did you have any media or blogger attention going into the campaign?
Diego from Ume: Going into the campaign we did not, we had reached out to a lot of organizations, a lot of publications, But I think we were struggling a little bit on a couple of fronts. The first front was we got a lot of responses that liked our product, but the real story was if you get funded, not before. So to make a really compelling story for their readers, and their publications took a little bit more time than we thought we had with our timeline. If I could go back in time I would also do that differently. During the campaign we did get picked up bye a technology blog, Tech Boom. We got picked up in also some local newspapers here in New York. We got picked up by two newspapers in Peru and Dominica as well. One of our founders is from Dominica and I am from Peru. So we did get both a lot of traffic and pledges from both those countries.
ZacBob: Okay lets talk about social media! Facebook, twitter, did you have a following, did you use it effectively with your campaign? Go!
Diego from Ume: We started the campaign with a solid Facebook community. So our Facebook page had about 3,500 likes. About 2000 of those were organic. 1,500 had come from boosts that we had paid for in the past. So we had a good starting community that we could leverage for our social media campaign. And we did a lot for our social media campaign. We kept friends up to date on the progress. We did a lot of creative posts as well as boosts towards the music community, to the student communities etc. I think close to 10% of our pledges came from social media specifically through Facebook.
ZacBob: How did you go about finding your target audience to be primarily musicians and students?
Diego from Ume: Good question we did a lot of grass roots reaching out as well. Our office is located in Soho in New York City right next to NYU (New York University). Through our internship program and our office we have a lot of contact with students from NYU. As well as students from Stevens institute in Hoboken and the School of Visual arts in New York as well. We did a lot of Grass roots efforts as well by going out there and talking to students as well. In terms of social media we targeted key words and folks that were involved in music and student age appropriate for Facebook and the online communities that we posted in and participated in as well. The other thing that we did between the three founders of Ume, Myself, Ken and Clem. Every night we had some event. Whether it was a tech meet up, a music meet up or even a local band playing. We were attending events every single night and talking about the Ume drive. I think for entrepreneurs who are thinking about launching a Kickstarter campaign, you have the have the expectation that you will be out and about and talking about your product to everyone that you meet or everyone that says hello. Its very, very important.
ZacBob: A lot of times entrepreneurs will start their social media channels, their facebooks, their twitter accounts the same day they launch their crowdfunding campaign. How soon did you launch your social media pages and outlets before the launch of your campaign?
Diego from Ume: I think this one is key. We were fortunate because when we got the first run of the Ume, the thousand units, a year ago, we started our Facebook page. We started along time ago developing that community. So at least a year ago if not more. We’ve been out to concerts and other events handing out these bracelets. So like I said we had a very good community on Facebook of about 3,500 engaged folks. 2000 organic which is important because that 2000 are engaged and the other ones a little bit more…. Well you never know. We did this way in advance and I don’t know that our campaign would’ve been as successful if we didn’t have that established base and community on Facebook. Facebook is the platform that you can launch communication, post pictures, post updates. Link to your twitter accounts, its just a central repository of your story. And I think that’s very important.
ZacBob: I know early you had help with the crowdfunding video from an intern that was also a film student. What about all this marketing? Did you have any help from a company or anything?
Diego from Ume: Yea absolutely. I myself work in a marketing company called Magnolia Innovation. And we launched in January and one of the first projects we took on as a incubator was Ume. I am both a founder and the marketing coach for the Ume drive. The specific support we got from Magnolia Innovation was the marketing strategy. Who are we targeting, how are we positioning the product, etc. Magnolia Innovation really focuses on strategic marketing and helping with a business plan and the value proposition. For the marketing execution like writing the press release and pulling together the social media campaign the photos etc. That was a tag team from all three founders. Putting on our creative hats so to speak. But that was more of a grass roots effort for the video, which obviously was important. We did get the help from that student who was outstanding. A lot of support on the positioning and the marketing plan etc. The actual execution was more of the three spearheading it.
ZacBob: Was there a point in your campaign that the pledges just started pouring in? or was it pretty steady throughout most of the campaign?
Diego from Ume: We actual did experience the whole bathtub curve. We had a lot of pledges up front. We were probably 20 percent into our goals very, very quickly within the first week. The second two weeks were a lot slower. Finally the last week really, really picked up. I think there were a couple of faults on that in the beginning. We were relying on volume to make our goal. So $15,000 dollars at $20 dollars a bracelet is a lot of pledges. And if you take a look at companies like ours and products like ours, unless it really goes viral. It doesn’t cross a threshold of 500 pledges, 400 even, maybe 300. So in the beginning we really got friends of family, and friends friends, and people that know us to pledge and that was a lot. But even then we were only at $5,000 dollars. So what we really needed to do was engage folks outside our circle and engage folks with our higher rewards. And I think that was one of the areas that we hadn’t thought ahead enough in terms of the dynamic of having a product that’s $20 dollars. So we really started pushing for the luxury collection, which was all six products. As well as pushing for the higher pledged pries, which were 1000, and 500. Which were the studio time and the music coaching. Once we were able to push that and kind of promote that at a grass roots level and got a few of those under our belt things really started to move a lot quicker.
Diego from Ume: I went to a couple of Kickstarter events. They had information nights. Where future entrepreneurs could ask questions. They had mixers for entrepreneurs as well as established companies. And that was a wonderful way to be in the conversation. Talk about your product, learn what other folks have done etc. I wore a little pin that said I have a Kickstarter campaign going ask me about it. That was a conversation starter for folks as well. One thing we did do was we signed up for a lot of blogs, a lot of communities. One that I did like very much was Kickstarter Support group on LinkedIn. The video that we showed after the first week, when we were struggling a little bit. We put it up on a couple of those communities. And we got a lot of feedback which was really good. I recommend anybody that’s thinking about doing a campaign not only showing your friends but going to these communities. Folks are actually happy to give their opinions and its a lot of folks that have gone through a project themselves. So yea its very, very useful.
Diego from Ume: Well two things, the first thing is better metrics. We were talking about the pledges to video plays for instance. Kickstarter gives you a lot of statistics, but they could do an even better job of giving you those statistics. The other piece is there is a Kickstarter community out there that is engaged with Kickstarter. I don’t know that it’s a Kickstarter community per say. I don’t really know how to make it a community or how Kickstarter can coalescence it into a community that is accessible to entrepreneurs. But I think Kickstarter could do a much better job at engaging everybody that is supporting Kickstarter that is engaged with Kickstarter into a true community.
ZacBob: What is the one thing you wish you knew before starting your campaign?
Diego from Ume: The value of PR. We talked about the publications that featured us. I think that any future endeavors that we do through Ume or through Magnolia Innovation through Kickstarter. We will be looking to get placement on publications ahead of that campaign. You know, do I know enough people or is my network big enough to give me 70% of my pledges. If not than I really need to be featured in key publications, key blogs, key magazines. That will give me a reach much beyond where I am. And the time to do that is before the campaign starts.
ZacBob: What is the best tip, piece of advice, or secret tool that you can give to any Crowdfunders out there listening and hoping to accomplish their goal?
Diego from Ume: I think there is a couple of things I would say. The first one is work on your network first. Your own personal network, make sure its developed before you launch the campaign. Make sure you have access to key publications and key bloggers that you know when and where you will be feature ahead of time. It might require a PR person or PR agent you might need additional help there. Invest time in the video, and test the video. Test it with friends, family; put it out there on online communities. So that you can get some feedback about your video. Lastly make your goal a realistic goal. Take an assessment of where your network is and how much you need, and make that goal realistic with your project so you can have a success.
ZacBob: I think I speak for our entire audience when I say Thank you Diego. For the incredible insights, statistics and all of the wonderful advice you have given today on CrowdFund Genius.
Diego from Ume: Thank you so much I really appreciate it.
ZacBob: I want to thank everyone for listening today, don’t forget to leave a five star rating if you found any of this information useful. Also don’t forget to check out our giveaways on our social media accounts. As always, Happy Crowdfunding, ZacBob Out!
Diego from Ume Links:
Marketing company, Magnolia Innovation
Kickstarter support Group on LinkedIn