Success Stories

What does it take to run a successful crowdfunding campaign? How can a great idea be turned into a vibrant business?

Motorbike HIGH RES
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesMarch 5, 2014

Crowdfunding Success Stories – 3Doodler

A couple of months ago we talked about some of the most exciting tech to come out of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. One of those products was the 3Doodler, whose Kickstarter campaign in early 2013 smashed its target within days.

We thought the 3Doodler sounded so cool that we’ll be having a 3Doodler scribe at some of the sessions at Technoport 2014. In advance of that, we asked the 3Doodler creators to reflect on their crowdfunding success and share some insights.

What lead you to try crowdfunding for the 3Doodler?
All three co-founders have been users of CF sites for some time. Between us we have backed well over twenty projects in the past few years, and at the Artisan’s Asylum, where we work, we have been able to witness other CF projects from inception to execution. We knew that CF, particularly on Kickstarter, would offer a great platform to garner interest in the 3Doodler, test the concept, market to potential consumers, and create a vibrant and supportive community. It also came with the benefits of having all mechanisms, such as payment processing and community management in place.

Your Kickstarter project was almost an overnight success. Did that bring unexpected consequences?
We were prepared in the sense that we had the resources to cope with the emails and media attention. We also had a concrete sense of the goals and budgets of our project before going on Kickstarter, and before putting 3Doodler into the public eye.  That said, the pace of emails and messaged (each of which we committed to respond to) caught us off guard, with thousands coming in a day at one stage. That’s when having a flexible team, and a friend or two to lend a hand can really help.

Would you do crowdfunding again, or would you look to more traditional investors in the future?
Yes, absolutely we would, crowdfunding worked very well for us the first time around. The whole Kickstarter experience was a very positive one for us – we were able to get some fantastic feedback from backers and the community. And that’s why we would do it again – the fact that we get to build a community before 3Doodler had even hit the stores was awesome.

What are your thoughts on equity crowdfunding?
It’s great for feedback and getting your project off the ground, but you just need to be careful and make sure you have resources to cope with the emails and media attention. Make sure that you have a concrete sense of the goals and budgets of your project before going on Kickstarter, since you’re putting it into public eye. Crowdfunding not only allowed us to be financially independent and get proof of concept early on, it also allowed us to build a community out of the gate.

What does the future hold for 3D printing and the 3Doodler?
Tools such as the 3Doodler represent a new medium in 3D expression. This gets you closer to being able to take an image or idea from your mind and render it as a physical object in reality. If you can envision an object you can now create it. And it will facilitate the ability for us to communicate our ideas and visions to one another.

Finally, any tips for product designers considering a crowdfunding campaign?
Prepare, take your time, get it right – make sure your idea’s great, and you have the right people to launch it. The exercise of asking all the right questions up front makes the plan much easier. Don’t ask questions too late! The moment you have launched it’s very hard to correct planning mistakes.

Also, be responsive: Every backer is a key ally. They were there first. Reply to their messages, hear their comments, give them respect. They stick by your side if they do and they’ll let others know. Good communication is also a sign that you are on top of things and can execute. But at the same time, stick to your plan and keep the backer audience in perspective, you can’t change your whole app on the feedback of a few. Keep it balanced.

Image credit: 3Doodler

NTNU Success Stories
3Eirik Gjelsvik Medbø

Eirik Gjelsvik MedbøFebruary 7, 2014

From NTNU to the World – Entrepreneurs Reveal All

Last month Technoport kicked off the semester for the cooperating villages in Experts in Teamwork, with inspirational talks from three young entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs shared how they have built up companies or organisations, starting as students or recent graduates, and what they have learned from that experience. The feedback from the audience after the talks was really good, so we thought we would share two of the talks with you.

Dynamic Rock Support

Gisle Østereng started and headed one of the most successful companies from NTNU to date, Dynamic Rock Support. He began the work having only a few years of experience after he finished his NTNU studies, when he met a professor at NTNU who had developed a new, more solid rock bolt for the mining industry.

Gisle shares how he and his colleagues, after a few difficult years, “cracked the code” and became the fastest­growing company in Mid­Norway in 2012. He talks about how they got investors, how they initially tried to sell the bolt, and the fact that “you don’t have to be smart to become an entrepreneur”, as he puts it. He also surprises by emphasizing that it was their least experienced salesmen who got the best results.

Engineers Without Borders

When Line Magnussen did a field trip to Bangladesh during her Developing studies at the University of Oslo, she discovered the need for small technical solutions to simplify the lives in developing countries. She then decided to study mechanical engineering at NTNU, with the long­term goal to develop a stove to be used in developing countries, and then start a Norwegian department of Engineers Without Borders. Along with several others, she managed to start Engineers Without Borders in Norway in 2011, but somewhat ironically, she still hasn’t developed the stove!

In this talk, Line tells the story of how this plan played out, and what she has learned from starting a national humanitarian organization for engineers. She explains how her passion for the cause more than compensated for her lack of experience as a student, and the importance of talking about your goals and dreams when you try to get attention and help from others.

Do you have any feedback or questions? Don’t hesitate to comment below!

Photo credit: NTNU Engineering

HOOK
60David Nikel

David NikelJanuary 24, 2014

Crowdfunding Success Stories – HOOK

Last year I reported on the success of the Norwegian crowd-funded project HOOK:

Whether it’s due to the funky design, the clever copywriting (strong as an ant, smart as an elephant), the successful $20,000 crowdfunding project, its sheer simplicity, or the fact the inventor spent months researching the idea in public restrooms around Europe, I’m not too sure. I’m not the only one impressed by Hook, a shockingly simple product that fits between a door and doorframe to provide you with a place for your jacket, and slips neatly away in your wallet. (Arctic Startup)

Following the product’s launch and an appearance at the Tokyo Designers Week, I asked creator Bjørn Bye to reflect on the crowdfunding approach.

What inspired you to try crowdfunding?

I have known about crowdfunding from the start of Kickstarter and Indiegogo and have been fascinated by the concept since then. In 2012 my brother and a friend of mine launched a project, and I followed the process from the sideline. The decision to launch HOOK on Indiegogo was both scary and fun. Still, just looking at five or ten project videos on any crowdfunding platform is inspiring and a push to just go ahead.

What was the waiting experience like?

The waiting is an ongoing thrill for the whole duration of the campaign. Not only do you check the progress yourself four times a day, you also know that a lot of your friends and family stop by regularly to see if they have put their money on a good horse. In the case of HOOK there was a quite rapid climb to about 50% of the funding. Then there was a long nerve-wracking quiet period. The campaign went through the Norwegian summer holiday, and I guess that was the reason for the halt. At the end of July I got a few good articles in the right media, and the funding started moving again.

Would you do crowdfunding again, or would you look to investors in the future?

I think it depends on the project or product. In the case of HOOK I had a confirmation on my patent application both for Norway and abroad. I would not have launched HOOK without the patent. The good thing about crowdfunding is that if you succeed you don’t have to sell out shares at an early stage. Instead you build value (if you succeed) and you build your first market and sales statistics. Investors can be a good and necessary stage in an entrepreneurial business, but they sure know what they want for their money.

Finally, any tips for those considering a campaign?

Yes, put effort into making a fun, inspiring and personal film. Pull as many favours as you can from people you know to make it as good as possible. Work on the marketing of your campaign prior to launch. Some successful projects have worked on PR and information months before the launch. I started working on the promotion after the launch and to get attention in the web-jungle is not easy!

Set your goal to what you really need and perhaps even a bit less. The psychology of the community is that if it doesn’t look like you will reach your goal, people wait and see. If you reach your goal early (due to a lower target) more people might back your project since it is a success. There are several blogs with good tips on how to work on a crowdfunding campaign. Search and read a few of these, and if you find tips that strike you as good ideas for your campaign, they probably are.

See the original HOOK crowdfunding project here!