Ever wondered what makes a successful crowdfunding campaign, or a Kickstarter or Indiegogo video go viral? If you’re into crowdfunding, you may have come across Israeli startup Sensibo. Its video pitch ranked #1 on Indiegogo’s Five Funniest Pitch Videos of 2014, outranking a Will Farrell-starred pitch, and enjoying massive media coverage since launch.
Sensibo automates air climate control with intelligent Nest-like features and used Indiegogo to raise money for their first mass production. The video manages to turn an outdated product – AC remote control – into a new IoT device that is transforming how we control our homes. The best part is it manages to be funny when it’s least expected.
Whether it’s Internet of Things, lifestyle or even social tech, it seems like every other campaigner I talk to mentions Sensibo as a video they resonate with.
Sensibo has just begun shipping this month, and so I took the opportunity to chat with Omer Enbar, Sensibo’s CEO and co-founder and Yaniv Tross, the creative director behind their video and CEO of Tross Creative House for Tech, to hear more about their cool factor – literally.
Omer, Sensibo recently won Indigogo’s funniest pitch video award for 2014. Did you plan it to be funny at the beginning or was that something that evolved while working on the video?
Omer Enbar: While we discussed having all kinds of styles for our video, we were convinced that going cocky funny is the best way to go. We’ve worked with the superb Yaniv Tross as we knew Tross tends to go for the funny. Shooting the video was awesome and for those of you who haven’t recognized the slick lead actor, it’s Michael Harpaz from the legendary Hi 5 band from the ’90s who is himself cooler than an air conditioner.
Did you create a lot of buzz before the launch? Socialised it heavily?
Enbar: We threw a big party on the day we officially launched the campaign but we didn’t invest heavily in the pre-launch and looking back I wouldn’t do otherwise. I believe it’s better to devote all your resources to bring people to the campaign when it’s live. You just have to make sure to get it going fast when it launches.
Yaniv Tross: IMO pre-launch is critical. Successful pre-launch is directly tied with a successful launch. Not every product is as self-sustainably cool as Sensibo’s. After all, the product is the key factor here. Pre-launch is important mainly because it’s the 48 hours and the first week that determine how successful your campaign is going to be. You want to be top trending on the Indiegogo platform, that’s worth the most money. Lately we were doing a video for a company that had 3,000 people registered on the site for pre-orders before the campaign even started and indeed they passed their stretch goal pretty fast.
A rollercoaster ride
‘Emotional roller-coaster’ is how many campaigners describe their campaign experience in their Reached-Our-Goal updates. Both Enbar and Tross highlight the importance of careful preparation and knowing what you want to achieve.
What do you consider the main benefits of a crowdfunding campaign?
I would say opt for a crowdfunding campaign if you want to.
Validate your idea. Developing a consumer hardware product is a hard and long process. Using crowdfunding, we were able to validate whether people were actually excited about our product, so we wouldn’t waste our time and money in developing something that nobody wants.
Get pre-orders. Getting pre-orders gets you money to cover the expenses for the manufacturing. It’s not nearly enough to cover the expenses of the startup or the R&D, but when you actually have to pay for the manufacturing, you got it covered. It’s a real issue in hardware when you don’t have pre-orders because you have to pay for the stock and it might take six months before you recover the money. With hardware products, you need big pockets and crowdfunding helps you bridge this period.
Generate buzz. Crowdfunding creates a lot of buzz, so you get distributors and potential partners from all over the world contacting you and it sure helps.
What are the most effective marketing tools that you have been using alongside the campaign?
Enbar: Blonde2.0 was our PR agency and what promoted us the most were articles in Fast Company, The Verge, and two promotional newsletters from Indiegogo itself. What didn’t work was Indiegogo’s Referral Contest programme that looked promising but didn’t yield much for us.
Throughout the campaign did you change or add anything based on feedback, turn of events?
Enbar: Definitely. We changed the names of the perks we offered and cancelled on perks that weren’t popular. We tried adding a Thank You contribution which didn’t work so we removed it, we added the press articles to the campaign page and a video of one of the team members demonstrate the use of our product, and naturally added a stretch goal after we’d reached our initial $70,000 (as of time of reporting, they have reached $170,047 in funding).
Tross: I asked Omer whether Sensibo had developed an alternative strategy in case the campaign didn’t turn out successful. “We discussed it, but it’s a waste of resources to plan for failure.” You can’t argue with success.
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