First off, can you tell us about your background and your product?
I’m a designer/entrepreneur and launched Onehundred with my son in 2012 as a creative business that we could build together, to teach him how things are made and help him launch his own career path.
We look for interesting shops and factories within 100 miles of our Saxonville, MA studio, understand their equipment & capabilities, then design a product that fits. Our model is to build local, launch globally...through Kickstarter. Blox is our 20th crowdfunding campaign; we have a 100% success rate on Kickstarter and have shipped to over 12,000 backers in 80 countries so far.
How long did it take to build your initial prototype and how did you validate it?
Our products are fairly simple and we like to work fast. The first prototypes were built over the course of 4 weeks and while there’s not much to ‘validate’ with Blox, we did go through a couple iterations to fine-tune some of the details. The first prototypes were rough & fast, but as the idea for Blox matured, we had our shop do test parts so that they could learn as well. All of our prototypes are built on the machines we will eventually use in production.
How did you get your first paying customer and how long did it take?
1 minute! Seriously, we launched our project on Kickstarter at 6:55 AM and we earned our first backer one minute later at 6:56. Our average time to hit our modest project goal is about 80 minutes. Crowdfunding is a great way to launch new products - we love it! A link to our campaign: https://kck.st/2Jbt9Tz
What worked and what didn't work when finding your first users?
When we first got started, we had around 200 email addresses, but that list has since grown to about 18,000. We’re now able to fund our projects in just a few hours with them. The first crowdfunding project for anyone is always difficult, since the average person may only have 100 - 200 people they can reach out to. It takes time to build connections for sure. Blogs? It’s getting more difficult to get blogs to feature crowdfunding projects - they’re drowning in requests! We don’t pursue them so much anymore, but they will often organically find our projects and feature them on their own.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs looking to onboard their first users?
We’re big advocates for using crowdfunding as an integral part of any new product or business launch. The money is nice, but the loyal group of enthusiastic community that you earn is priceless. They’re members of your team, they give suggestions on how to improve your idea and if you treat them right, they will help spread the word about your brand. I can’t emphasize that enough - having brand advocates before your product exists is HUGE!
I like to think of it as ‘crowd finding’ v.s crowd funding!
How can people reach you and find out more?