What makes a Kickstarter or crowdfunding campaign successful? There’s no magic formula and sometimes even the simplest of campaigns can earn thousands and thousands of dollars (potato salad, anyone?). But, Columbus has seen its share of startups with successful campaigns.
A recent addition to the list is earbud detangling solution, Spoolee. A squishy neoprene spool that slips on the fingertip provides a quick and easy way to wrangle earbud cords into a neat little package. The flexible design of the spool makes it easy to toss in a bag or tuck in a pocket. The headphone jack is anchored with a nylon strap so users can leave the Spoolee firmly secured to their headphones while they are in use.
The device comes from seasoned product designer Ray Walker. His portfolio spans many industries and many clients, from Old Navy and Starbucks to Segway, but it was his wife who prompted him towards his latest design. Producing a tangled mess of earbuds, she said, “You’re a product designer— can you fix this?”
From Ohio and an OSU graduate in industrial design, Walker spent several years out of state before heading back to Columbus. Back in the city, he began reaching out to contacts from the product design industry when Paul Reeder of the Technology Commercialization Office at Ohio State said he had a team of people he would like him to meet. That was the team from Juiceboxx.
Earlier this year, Juiceboxx successfully funded their own product-based Kickstarter campaign. In a multi-generational melding of industrial design minds, Walker and the Juiceboxx team built the Spoolee Kickstarter campaign.
“Ultimately it’s just a great story from that standpoint of old guy meets young guys and there’s this perfect synergy,” Walker says. “This whole process has been fun.”
Spoolee was able to learn from Juiceboxx’s hits and misses to earn $37,495 (as of Nov. 25), a far cry over their initial $8,000 ask.
So what drove these campaigns to success?
“The video itself is probably the number one thing,” Walker says. While the Spoolee video clocked in at 2:30, it was a labor-intensive, DIY process.
“It’s intense,” Walker says. “If you cut one half a second out, it adjusts all the music and you have to go back in and fine tune everything.” While it saved them money to do it themselves, it also meant hours and hours of work.
Walker also stresses the importance of having a visually appealing page with photos, imagery and a great story. He recommends updating the main photo as the campaign progresses – almost funded, funded, one week left, etc. Just make sure that one week left image isn’t the last image left up, perpetuating the idea the campaign is still running.
At the heart of every Kickstarter, “It all starts with trying to solve a problem,” Walker says. Make sure that problem is clearly understood and the campaign explains how it will be solved. In Spoolee’s case, they found themselves with a common, easy-to-solve problem.
So, great video, great visuals, and the third component, great team.
“I don’t know how anyone could do a Kickstarter campaign on their own,” Walker says. He attributes Spoolee’s success to having the right team with several members, albeit one who also had experience with a successful Kickstarter.
As with Juiceboxx and many other campaigns, Spoolee is offering product as a reward. The team built the reward tiers not around making money, but around just trying to get as many Spoolees out to people as possible. As Walker puts it, he could have just sold his car to raise the money needed for first production (which is what much of the campaign will go towards), but that route wasn’t getting the word out to anybody.
While they may be nearly $30,000 over their funding ask, Walker is learning just how fast the money can go.
“It’s all of these things adding up,” he says. There’s a $10,000 patent filing fee, attorneys and higher costs than expected. However the more quickly they can get the Spoolees manufactured, the more quickly Walker can start producing the other products he already has up his sleeve.
For more information, check out the campaign here.