On this episode of CrowdFund Genius ZacBob interviews Chris from Trident designs who is an inventor that invented QuicKey, The clever key that opens everything, except doors. And Chris is our very first Indiegogo campaign on the show. Chris explains how his idea he couldnt believe didnt already exist because it seems so obvious and so useful. He was also able to make his campaign go from a $4000 dollar goal to a $200,000 dollar success! Tune in now and remember to subscribe.
ZacBob: We did it! Finally got a crowdfunder running an Indiegogo campaign on CrowdFund Genius! Lucky episode 11 if you will. And not only did our guest hit his goal, he surpassed it by 5,539%. Once a goal of $4,000 turned into $221,574 idea. Today we have Chris from QuicKey, and he’s going to shake it up a little bit with our first Indiegogo campaign instead of the oh so popular, Kickstarter. So before we jump into our interview and QuicKey we have one matter to settle. Recently, to show my appreciation for all my listeners for leaving reviews I purchased enough Skullcandy ear buds to last several weeks for the next several months. So every week I will select a random winner who places there Twitter handle in a review, after leaving a five star review on iTunes of course. And I will select one lucky winner each week. And this week’s winner is “VicVel” who left some very kind words and will now be receiving some free Skullcandy ear buds. So if your listening, send me a message so I can get your email address.
Chris from QuicKey: I live in Columbus, Ohio, grew up in Ohio, except for three years in California, I’ve lived in Ohio the entire time. Went to Ohio State University and started inventing projects as a teenager and then I’ve built a company around it over the years. So I spent my entire career learning how to make a living as an inventor. I got this company Trident Design with 17 employees and published over 80 inventions. Most famous the Power Squid and now the QuicKey. There’s also the Onion goggles and dozens, dozens more in a variety of industries. I’ve sort of made it my life’s mission to crack the code on how to bring inventions up to market and I think Trident Design is among the best in the world at this difficult task. My mission is to take everyday tasks and treat them like there the most important thing in the world. And transform these everyday things into opportunities to enjoy life. And that’s what I do whether its power strip or urinal screen, ill work on it and try to find a way to bring some interest to it. So that’s the background of Chris Hawker and Trident Design.
Chris from QuicKey: Yea this is my first crowdfunding campaign. I had been watching with great interest, the crowdfunding scene. Since it started, I first became aware of it probably before, or with the TikTok, iPod Nano watchband. That was the first time I heard of it and then I was watching it like holy cow there is something interesting going on here. And did these people know something I don’t know? The answer is they didn’t really. They were successful on Kickstarter, with getting funded but they didn’t really know how to bring products to market which is a very challenging thing. Its called hardware because its hard and they should call it very hardware.
ZacBob: Now that you’ve explained a little about yourself andTrident Design, tell us a little about your Indiegogo campaign QuicKey multi-tool, or a clever key that opens everything but doors. Share some of the ups and downs throughout the campaign, and what eventually lead Trident Design to Indeigogo.
Chris from QuicKey: Yea sure, so I originally had the idea for the QuicKey 2 or 3 years ago just using my keys to open a box, something I have done countless times. It doesn’t work very well. And one of the skills I’ve developed as an inventor is noticing when I get annoyed by something. So I was using my keys to open up a package and I got annoyed because it wasn’t working very well and I thought ah. Perfect opportunity! Why don’t I just have a key that has a little bit of an edge on it. So I thought you could even have a key cut to a pattern that would be extra suitable against tape or a package. And I had my design firm at the time we spent a little time tossing it around and we came up with some designs. But then it got put on the back burner because it seemed like such a little project. A little product that wouldn’t amount to much in terms of revenue. So it got back burnered for a couple of years and then it came back at this time we decided to do a crowdfunding campaign. And then we selected it because of its simplicity and when we started going back into it for development we thought whoa we could add a screwdriver to the tip. Or add a bottle opener and then it became all the functions we seen today. The great thing about the QuicKey and one of the things that has driven its success is the extreme density of its value. So it’s a very small thing that doesn’t cost very much but has a very high level of utility. It can come in handy in a various number of situations, and in those situations it works very, very well. Like if you need to open up that box that got delivered to you and you need to open up that tape then it makes short work of that. If you need to cut a piece of twine, scratch a lotto ticket, puncture a piece of foil on top of a medicine bottle. All these things, it doesn’t take much. So it just does those things very well. You don’t need a big knife or a Leatherman multi-tool. So you need something than just your keys on your keychain, you need something helpful and that’s where it worked out. And we went through about 20 proto-types perfecting the design getting the serrations right, do you want a lot of little serrations or fewer bigger serrations, turns out a few big serrations worked best. So it just evolved into a really useful thing. And it goes on your keychain and it kind of blends in, you hardly notice that its there until you need it. Also it goes through TSA screening without any problems. We went as far as even asking that.
ZacBob: So did you know that the project, or did you plan for this project to sky rocket the way it did to over 5000 percent?
Chris from QuicKey: No I had no idea, I thought it would do our goal, our fund raising goal was only 4000 dollars, but our internal goal was 20,000 dollars. Then we had a super secret internal stretch goal of 40,000. And that seemed like a pipe dream really but man wouldn’t it be great, that would really be something. As it is were about to hit 200,000 dollars, were officially the most successfully funded tool in the history of crowdfunding and were also the most successful crowdfunded campaign to come out of Columbus, Ohio. And it’s just been an amazing ride. And its interesting because the success of the product started 14 years ago. It didn’t happen just because it’s a great product it happened because I have a network of people, I’ve been doing business a long time I’ve been making friends and nurturing relationships with large audiences on Facebook and Twitter. People who are writers for blogs and so when I have this project and I need promotion I have a bunch of people I can turn to who have audiences and are influential. Ask them to help us promote which they did. So that dramatically helped especially at the beginning to develop momentum, which enabled us to get hirer in the rankings on Indiegogo. Eventually that generated more and more organic hits until that grew into our primary driver of our revenue. Ultimately 15 – 20 thousand dollars came from our connections. And the rest of it from the audience showing up on Indiegogo because were on the first page and people actually just want the product.
ZacBob: I can tell you’ve put a huge amount of time and effort into your crowdfunding campaign and its obviously paid off by getting you on that first page. Your campaigns page on Indiegogo clearly reflects that. So Chris, how much preparation went into making your campaign on Indiegogo, and tell our audience what it takes to make a crowdfunding campaign such a big hit?
Chris from QuicKey: When we set out to create the campaign for the QuicKey we spent hundreds of hours. I think we logged over 200 hours in research time. Researching best practices and campaigns then spent a lot of hours actually building the campaign. People wonder how you make this crowdfunding thing work, like everything else it takes hard work. It means doing the job with excellence; it takes caring about the quality of every single aspect of your campaign. Its important to have an excellent product that people desire, and it takes putting a lot of time and effort into it. Meanwhile since the campaign launched we’ve had between 20-40 hours a week vested into running the campaign. Responded to comments, developing follow up updates, dealing with issues, coming up with new perks, sourcing the product, all these things. So it’s not like it was just an easy thing. And now its paid off very handsomely, relatively to the effort that was put into it. Normally 300-400 hours of effort does not translate too 200,000 dollars in effort. But it was also several hundred hours of effort to get to where we are today. And that’s what it takes; it also took a team of people. Hard work, and learning before we started to make sure our campaign was built to succeed.
Chris from QuicKey: Well there’s really you know number 1 Kickstarter, number 2 Indiegogo, and kind of a distant third Fundable that is based here in Columbus, Ohio. We chose Indiegogo for several reasons compared to Kickstarter. You know Kickstarter was the first, but actually I think Indiegogo is in many ways a better platform for people doing the kind of stuff were doing. First of all they allow you to deliver as perks multiple copies of your item. That’s against he rules at Kickstarter and with a low cost product like the QuicKey the sales are largely driven by the higher perks of multiple keys. Buy 5 keys and get 5 free. Or choose 5 and get 5 free. The other thing about Indiegogo is they had people calling us up to help us. Come up with strategies to push our thing, we had chosen Indiegogo to be a big fish in a small pond rather than a small fish in a big pond, Kickstarter has like 5 times as many projects going at any given moment so your really struggling a lot more to get noticed on a Kickstarter site compared to Indiegogo. That was another reason we chose that platform, also the Kickstarter scene tends to be a little more the artsy and alternative hipster side where as the Indiegogo side is a little more mass general and more global. That seemed to appeal more. So there were several reasons we chose to go that route. I don’t know if we would’ve been on Kickstarter if we would’ve done more or done less its impossible to know. Probably would’ve done less with the inability to do multiple units, but I cant say for sure.
ZacBob: I heard you mention how QuicKey was largely driven by higher perk of multiple keys. Now’s a good chance for us to talk about some of your contribution amounts and perks. What was a few of your best contribution amounts for your campaign?
Chris from QuicKey: The buy 5 for $27 dollars, which is get three and then get 2 free. Then the ten pack, choose 5 get 5 free is $45 dollars. $4.50 per key. Those both generated about $50,000 dollars in revenue. Those were the two biggest by far. And then the $1000 dollar package was in third place, we only sold ten of those but at 1000 dollars a pop that adds up pretty fast. We’ve had two people so far choose a $3500 dollar perk for 1000 custom engraved keys. We also introduced a Skull key version and then a pink key version. As the campaign went on we kept adding stuff to maintain interest and keep it relevant. Keep it interesting. The pink key also leads to a 5-dollar donation to breast cancer research. You know the success of the product has enabled us to be able to give back a little. So far we sold about 200 pink keys so 1000 dollars already that were going to be able to give to a good cause. Which is a win, win situation for everyone I think.
ZacBob: You know I’ve always wondered why more and more campaigns don’t try to appeal to the charity aspect like you have. And since your campaign has gone somewhat viral then that makes it that much better that you are giving back with the pink QuicKeys. Lets talk about your crowdfunding video. For everyone listening you can find links to QuicKeys Indiegogo campaign on our website CrowdFundGenius.com. Chris your video was right about the perfect amount of time coming in at about 2 minutes and 50 seconds. I like the portion where someone was pulling items out of a box and you were demonstrating the product right there in the video. I think you had a bottle, and a few other items. How did you come up with this idea and be sure to give our audience a behind the scenes look at the QuicKey crowdfunding video.
Chris from QuicKey: Yea we just had to brainstorm. The guy in the video is Joel and he is our senior designer here at Trident Design. He’s a incredibly talented guy, he designed the final design of the QuicKey and the Skull key, he also acted in the video which he also scripted and edited the video. He’s a very handy guy to have on the team. Anyway we had to brainstorm about what the video would be. Came up with the idea of having an endless box full of stuff, each one that had something that needed the QuicKey to solve a problem. So we have a video guy, we set up the scene and shot the video. It was a real fun shoot and I don’t know if you saw the B roll video we made but we had a good time creating it. And I think part of what’s worked about the campaign is that people can tell that were having a good time. Authenticity is like one of the keys to success about a campaign. Campaigns that are run by companies that are to slick and corporate don’t generally do as well. Sometimes they do if there done right on the tech products. People who are looking to support these crowdfunding campaigns tend to look for more authentic type of situations, so I think the fact that we were having fun showed in all the work that we did and people responded to that.
ZacBob: I noticed earlier you said you had an email list. What about media and blogger attention? Were you able to muster any major publications to cover your QuicKey before or during your crowdfunding campaign?
Chris from QuicKey: Yea we’ve been in a couple dozen blogs, right at the beginning we got covered by TechCrunch. Obviously a huge blog, then Fast Company, and Fast co design blog which is also a very big blog. Then we got covered by some local press here, business first, and Metropreneur.com. So all these things help get us up in the rankings at Indiegogo. Which also lead to us being in the newsletter, which also lead us to be have a $25,000 dollar day. That was a very exciting day because were making $2000 dollars an hour. It was really exciting.
ZacBob: For those of our audience that are not familiar with the newsletter you just mentioned, do you mind shedding some light so they know?
Chris from QuicKey: The Indiegogo newsletter. Which goes out to like 15 million people when they send it out. You know a lot of people saw it and chose to support the project. That was pretty exciting and since then we have been covered by the Awesomer, and Life Hack, and then Laughing Squid which is a really big hit. Laughing Squid is a really popular website who has covered a lot of our things in the past. That was also very exciting. You know there’s been a few others as well, but those are some of the main highlights of the sites that have covered it.
Chris from QuicKey: Well its not by chance or something that we did other than we had a lot of “GoGo Factor” which we had on Indiegogo which is a combination of the dollar value of your contributions the regularity of your contributions, the amount of click trough’s that got your project gets in an algorithm that combines these various features. And that causes you to rise up in the page ranks and causes you to show up in the newsletter. So I don’t know if a person ultimately is making the decision but the algorithm delivers to them you know their options. Or maybe not, maybe its completely automatically generated. So it wasn’t anything specific, we didn’t pay or cause that to happen directly other than the success of the campaign that got it there. Obviously Indiegogo or Kickstarter have a vested interest in seeing the product succeed. You know the more money the projects raise the more money that they earn. So they want to help drive the success of your sales for your project. They also have their own PR going on, their trying to promote the projects from their end as well. So that can help drive the sells of the product, because every time the QuicKey gets mentioned, Indiegogo gets mentioned.
ZacBob: Okay so we’ve learned about the IGG newsletter for some of you that didn’t know, also we discussed a little bit on “GoGo Factor.” So lets move onto social media. Did you use Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to spread the word of your campaign? Also what did you do exactly on those social media outlets to get the word out?
Chris from QuicKey: Yea we’ve regularly posted on Facebook through our site, and also we worked our network. As I mentioned early we have friends who have networks on networks and have high follower, Internet marketing people that I know who I’m friends with like Louis House. Alyssa Dunham, Bradley Will, people with good size audiences who then as friends of mine and because they liked the product were willing to promote it to their audiences. They did stuff and they tweet about it regularly. You know I don’t know specifically how much our own efforts, I know Facebook has lead to quite a few contributors. But I don’t know which ones were caused by our activities and which ones were caused by our referral people. I know we’ve had several hundred, almost a thousand keys that were sold, 34,000 thousand so far have come from the referral campaign so that’s played a role in our success as well.
ZacBob: Since you are our first Indiegogo campaign to be featured on CrowdFund Genius, usually here I’ve grown used to asking all the Kickstarter campaigns about the popular projects section of Kickstarter, but this time we can do Indiegogo’s Trending Now, which is very similar. Were you ever featured in this section or the front page of any of the categories on Indiegogo?
Chris from QuicKey: Yea were the number 1 product in the trending now for the last several weeks and have been the very number 1 product for several weeks. Also number 1 in design as well. Even though were not the highest money winner. There is a movie that has done 1.5 million and there happening at the same time. You know I don’t know how their algorithm is but apparently it weights the number of contributions a little more than the total gross. Because were getting average sales much smaller, but the number of backers we have is quite a bit higher. For whatever reason the way its written its putting us at the top. So I think that’s been really helpful so we’ve also spent quite a bit of time on the very front page of Indiegogo so I’m sure that hasn’t hurt our results also.
ZacBob: I couldn’t have asked for a better individual to be our first Indiegogo Campaign on the show Chris. Your sharing a lot of information educating our audience on the pros of Indiegogo and how it can be more beneficial than Kickstarter it so many different ways. From Go Go Factor to the newsletter. Now tell me this, was there a point in your campaign, like a turning point when the pledges just started rolling in?
Chris from QuicKey: The biggest turning point was, well there were so many turning points. I mean we had $15,000 dollars when we hit the newsletter and then we did $25,000 dollars that day. Went from 15 to 40 in one day. That felt like the big turning point, it was like Holy cow were on to something here, were going to be bigger than we thought. We just hit our super stretch goal and were like two weeks into a 60 day campaign. So that was huge, but you know prior to that the TechCrunch and Fast Company hits were also very significantly noticed. Big bumps from them and also realizing that… Well you know TechCrunch is a tech blog, like the QuicKey hardly belongs there. But it went there because in part they covered my Power Squid in the past and I know people there because of past consumer electronics products they did. So it was interesting because it was like here’s the crowdfunding campaign from the inventor of the Power Squid. But I guess that’s how we rated but you know it still had to be something that got the people excited.
ZacBob: I feel a little silly asking this next question because of all the help and how they featured you, I don’t know if its possible, but, could Indiegogo have made your experience better on their platform?
Chris from QuicKey: I cant imagine what could’ve gone better, maybe if Id been in the newsletter a few more times. Honestly we were in there twice because we was in there again a second time last week under the final countdown. And the first newsletter did a lot more than the second newsletter probably about twice as much and that’s probably because that market was so saturated. And they have to spread the love around so you know realistically I couldn’t have asked for anymore. The people have been incredibly helpful and friendly, available and responsive; they’ve treated us like a customer. And I felt very well taken care of, and you know they’ve been very open and helpful. So I give them an A, my experience has been very positive.
ZacBob: Like I said I’m so glad you’re the first Indiegogo guest, because your really sharing how fantastic your experience has been with the Indiegogo platform and how great Indiegogo can be to you and your campaign if you decide to go with Indiegogo instead of the bigger Kickstarter. Now were done to our final two questions. So lets jump into the first one, what was the one thing you wish you knew going into your Indiegogo campaign?
Chris from QuicKey: The one thing I wish I knew, if I had known how big it was going to be I may have done things a little bit differently in terms of video, while I think that the opening video is fantastic. But at the time we were trying to do things based on the assumption of the level of success were trying to keep costs as low as possible. Not that I wouldn’t still try to keep costs as low as possible but If I had any sense as big as it was going to go, I would have done a little more on the front end I think. But at the same time I cant argue with the results and maybe something else. If we spent another week prepping maybe we would’ve missed you know some magic window and things would’ve gone very differently. Anything like this its hard to pinpoint exactly what was vital and what was incidental to the ultimate success. In retrospect we cant really say, based on the results I don’t have any regrets about how its gone down.
ZacBob: From super stretch goal of $40,000 dollars, to over $200,000 dollars. I would definitely agree with no regrets. Now what is the best tool, or piece of advice you could offer to our crowdfunders listening to our conversation today?
Chris from QuicKey: The success doesn’t happen unless you make it happen. You have to will it to happen, you have to work your networks, you have to do everything with excellence. It takes work, it takes effort, it takes passion, it takes excellence at every part of the execution. But ultimately I think a lot of people have contacted us, dozens of people have contacted us “hey can you help with our campaign, I have zero contributions.” Or “I’ve raised 150 of my 20,000 dollar goal” and your just like well how is that even possible. Don’t you have friends? You got to work your network to build that early momentum. So I guess the number 1 piece of advice is work hard at the beginning, to establish early momentum. And the way to do that is by working your networks, and if you don’t have a network then its going to be tough. And you also got to think about how your living your life a little if your not building your network, you should always be building your network of people that you are creating value for or just being in a relationship with so that when the time comes later on and you need help in life for a business thing or for when your mom gets sick or you gotta understand that you need to develop people that could help you. So as I live my life I’m constantly enrolling everyone I meet in the Trident Design story or the Chris Hawker story because that’s how you make friends and that’s how you create a network that can help you accomplish things that your trying to make an impact in the world. I’m trying to create a big impact on the world, as big as I can. My goal is to leave the world a better place, maybe that’s one widget at a time, I’m not saving lives but I’m improving lives.
ZacBob: Very well put Chris, and hopefully that opens some eyes to some of our crowdfunders out there listening, I’m constantly pestering my listeners to not only listen to CrowdFund Genius, but they also need to get out there and start building their campaigns and networks. So very well put. So now that your project has ended, were can people go if they want to purchase their very own QuicKey? Also where can people connect with you Chris?
Chris from QuicKey: So we got the little e-commerce site, QuicKeyTool.com but we will set that up as an e-commerce site. That will be live, and if you want to get in touch with me, my company is Trident Design, I also have a blog at InventorsMind.com. I’m also launching a podcast and a web-show teaching people how to invent and how to make money from ideas.
ZacBob: I look forward to the podcast Chris, and all this will be in our website under the podcast tab. Thank you for being our first Indiegogo campaign Chris, and sharing all the incredible information to our audience today.
ZacBob: Again thank you crowdfunders for listening, and in order to leave a review check out the front page of our website CrowdFundGenius.com Right on the homepage there is a large button titled leave a review. Click there and it will take you to our iTunes page where you can than click ratings and review, then leave a review. If you leave me a five star review with your Twitter handle, I can contact you when you win your pair of Skullcandy ear buds. As always thanks for listening, and happy crowdfunding.
QuicKey Facebook Click HERE
QuicKey Twitter Click HERE
QuicKey Indiegogo campaign Click HERE
QuicKey Website Click HERE
Trident Design website Click HERE
What is “GOGO Factor?” Click HERE
Inventors Mind Podcast Click HERE
TechCrunch article click HERE
Fast Company article click HERE
Metropreneur article click HERE
LifeHack article click HERE
Laughing Squid article click HERE
Awesomer article click HERE