This week I’m pleased to interview the two creative minds behind the Ryo adaptor (launching today on Kickstarter), Lori Liu and Kevin Lieber. Crowdfunding is a great way to road-test an idea, gauge market demand, and obtain financing for your project.
I thought it would be interesting to get the insider scoop on what it’s like to take the leap from idea to Kickstarter campaign.
1. What are the backgrounds of your founders?
We are a team of four made up of a creator/entrepreneur, a legal adviser, an auditor, and a Youtube channel producer and host. ItÂs a good mix of creative talents and business acumen.
2. How did you come together for this project (since some are in New Zealand and one is in the US?)
The three of us in New Zealand are associates and we came together because we believed in JulianÂs idea and also because we just wanted to go all in and take a real shot at creating something outside of our day jobs. We needed a US partner to be able to launch a US based Kickstarter project, so we pitched our idea to Kevin as he is active in the science and tech space and seemed like somebody who would be interested. Our pitch was honest and personal, and Kevin jumped onboard quite quickly. WeÂve found that if you are open and honest with people, you will get the same back.
3. Any tips or advice on working together remotely with a business partner?
It really isnÂt hard if everyone shares a common goal and is invested in the project. The logistics are a bit more difficult than working with local people, but weÂve found that thereÂs almost nothing you canÂt sort out over email and Skype (of course, Julian had to fly over to the New York to shoot our video with Kevin). The only difference in working with a remote partner is that there needs to be a clear division of labour so that he can be a lot more independent in what he is doing. Back home we just tag team a lot and pick up the slack for each other whenever it becomes necessary.
4. What made you decide to use Kickstarter to get the product launched?
We are a small startup working on a very tight budget. Kickstarter is fantastic because it is basically free market validation, and itÂs a great platform for newbies like us to build a following for future projects.
5. Any tips for someone considering going to Kickstarter with their project?
ItÂs still a bit early for us to be giving advice as weÂre still testing the waters ourselves. Rather than a tip we can share the approach that weÂve taken with Kickstarter. We have invested a LOT of time and energy to create a good Kickstarter page. Everything from the video to the visual assets and the text has been created with the utmost care and attention to detail. We believe that while the idea itself is important and is obviously central to the project, it takes a good looking campaign page to give people that extra push to really want to check out what youÂre doing. At this point we just really really really hope weÂre right.
6. How do you go from product to business? Do you have a strategy in place for how you will scale and grow?
We have a business plan for taking the product to retail after the campaign. Of course that will depend on the success of this campaign. If we are successfully funded we will be able to do our first run of production and get the ryo adapter and kushi out to our backers. If we get a decent amount of funding we will be taking this to local retailers here in our relatively small New Zealand market. If we raise a significant amount of funding we will be well placed to take this to the larger retailers overseas. We have also looked into exit strategies for our worst case scenarios. We are all at pretty critical points in our respective careers so if we donÂt hit certain targets, then this project will not be worth quitting our day jobs for. In this case we will have to look for a buyer to take over. I think if that happens the best deal we could reach would be agreeing to a majority takeover with the original founders taking reduced shareholdings as silent partners.
7. Can you share any tips from your marketing plan? Any successes so far?
I donÂt think our success can be measured until we launch. As a startup we arenÂt too focused on a commercially driven marketing campaign that shoves the ryo adapter down peopleÂs throats. We really just want people to know we exist and weÂve basically tried to use every avenue available within budget. One thing weÂre definitely limiting our spend on is banner and sidebar ads. It might have been good a while back, but if you think about the sheer number of startups we have today vying for ad revenue versus the slower growing target audience, it just doesnÂt make financial sense. We were pretty blown away by how much these ads cost, the prices have been driven up by the fast growing number of startups and other ad sellers all chasing a limited pool of money.
8. Anything I forgot to ask about that youÂd like to share?
Yeah, my credentials! IÂm so new at this myself and I donÂt feel qualified at all to be giving any tips. I hope my answers are of some value to your audience. You should hit me up again after the campaign and hopefully then IÂll have some gems to share!
I think that’s a great idea. Look for a followup article here, once the campaign closes!