January 17th, 2017

From Kickstarter to Company

3 lessons we learned along the way

solidLUUV

After a long journey, LUUV is proud to say that our Indiegogo– and Kickstarter-backed products, solidLUUV and ultraLUUV ACTION are finally available. We’ve shipped products to backers in over 60 countries worldwide. Having started negotiations with investor groups in April 2016, we successfully secured additional financing. Now is time for the next phase in the journey. On Saturday the 18th of February we will complete the final sales of our pre-order batch and move into regular ‘real company’ sales. We’re still the wide eyed and bushy tailed bunch that started 4 years ago but with a little bit more sense and slightly better business acumen. Having grown our team in 2016 from 4 to 18 we’re now learning a whole new set of skills. It’s nice sometimes to sit back and take stock. Here are a couple of headline lessons that the team has learned through our experience with Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms.

Prepare for the unexpected

… at least mentally. Tim Ferriss recently mentioned on his podcast that one of the best things one can do to optimise living is to imagine a situation when you loose everything, your job, home etc. It helps you focus on the key things and avoids rating unnecessary things too highly. With LUUV, close to the start, we looked at the ‘what if everything goes tits up” possibilities. We asked ourselves questions like how long could we last if ‘x’ happened, what are the keys to our success and what can we afford to live without. This was just something we did naturally (being German). We found out later that it’s a big part of business planning and played a big part in our success thus far. We first ran into issues with parts from suppliers. solidLUUV has 54 separate parts, many that require specialist injection molding and wow did that get complicated quickly. The delays caused obviously caused issues. We tried to be as open as possible with our backers and most of whom were very understanding. These major production pot holes left us unable to ship complete products and reduced cashflow. It forced us to make difficult decisions and the time we spent visualising at start really helped us cut through the noise. That and a bit of luck got us through.

PR is really bloody important

We were lucky being a German startup in the last couple of years. Start-ups are popular news topics, especially here in our home city of Berlin. Kickstarter has been great for funding, even better was the spotlight it put on us in the media. It lead to the project becoming truly viable and the change literally came in a matter of days. Luckily we were picked up by many big news outlets like TechCrunch and cnet. Being able to leverage their audiences a lot of new people. Most of whom had no idea about us prior to that. Reviews are a big deal in steadycam world. When you can get reputable bloggers to give you product an honest review, you are on to a winner. It proves to potential backers that your product is real and genuinely works, not like Lily. Without the shout outs from ValueTechTV and Mike Suminski and other good folks like them we’d be telling a very different story.

Keep it Simple

As a hardware startup we instinctively ignore that point. If you want a simple business model then sell software, all you need is a laptop and an internet connection. Simplicity is the key and this is most true when it comes product range. The more you diversify the more divided your attention becomes. Focusing on one core product gives yourself the best chance of succeeding with one clear message. That’s exactly what we didn’t do, we had ultraLUUV for GoPro, ultraLUUV for smartphone both of which had a great response but were stalled due to manufacturing blockers. After a simple redesign they evolved into todays ultraLUUV ACTION. Law 13 of The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing gives the theory behind this, it’s also a good read. The thing was we tried to do too much and ended up having to go back to basics. Don’t try to please everyone, or you’ll please no one.

People at the end of the day will be the ones who make or break your project. Before Kickstarter we spent a couple of months going to events, pitching to groups and talking with users. We learned to understand these people, a lot of them became friends and core supporters. This community who believed in our vision are the same community that made it reality.

Now it’s our time to give the value back.

Tim

Tim Kirchner

… is the CFO and a Co-Founder here at LUUV. Usually he’s follows his first love which is financial planning but sometimes he also writes blog posts.

Message me directly on tim@luuv-stabilizer.com