This success story is part of ExportWise’s crowdfunding series.
Montreal-based Revols Technologies introduced its custom-fit Bluetooth earphones on Kickstarter in 2015. Over the course of 60 days, Revols smashed the previous Canadian Kickstarter record, raising more than $2.5 million.
Where did you get the idea to create the product?
The idea to create Revols came from our mutual frustration with generic earphones. We were tired of spending valuable time and money in search of the perfect pair. We realized that irrespective of their size or shape, generic one-size-fits all earphones would never fit comfortably, or deliver the premium sound we wanted. We were determined to develop a more affordable, custom-fit solution that could satisfy everyone.
Why did you choose the crowdfunding route?
We chose crowdfunding because it was the best way to validate demand for our product, create tremendous buzz and traction, and raise funds without giving up any equity.
In your opinion, how does crowdfunding differ from traditional financing and what are the pros and cons?
We would not be where we are today without crowdfunding. It allowed us to accelerate the entire development/manufacturing process. The primary pro of crowdfunding versus traditional funding is that we do not have to give up ownership of our company. The con is that the second we did this campaign, we became a public-facing company. Communicating with backers is a responsibility that requires a tremendous amount of time and can take away from other pertinent job tasks.
Can you explain the preparation process for your crowdfunding campaign? How long did it take?
In the hectic months leading up to the launch, it became clear that, to our surprise, the planning phase of the campaign was by far the most critical and intense part. The two months prior to hitting that neon Kickstarter green launch button consisted of immense planning, sleepless nights and endless cups of coffee. Everything from the video script, page content and layout, the PR strategy and social media hype had to be carefully timed and strategically mapped out.
Though we always knew that managing the campaign would be a full-time job, we didn’t realize the most demanding part of that job really started before the campaign went live. In hindsight, it makes complete sense. Once you hit that launch button, the campaign takes on a life of its own. But before that moment, you’re the one in the driver’s seat.
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What are the key factors for crowdfunding campaign success?
While we believe it was our awesome earphones that attracted people to our campaign, we attribute a lot of our success to a few initiatives:
- PR tour & press embargo: Prior to launch, I travelled across Canada and the U.S. and met with journalists from major tech and mainstream outlets to share the Revols story and demo our molding technology. These journalists agreed to respect our press embargo and release their stories about Revols on the day of launch. As each article was released, thousands of readers clicked on the live links that brought them to our Kickstarter page. The articles gave our technology credibility and drove traffic to our campaign page on that very critical first day of launch.
- Friends & family soft launch: Though we publicized our Kickstarter launch date, we intentionally kept the exact time of day somewhat under wraps. With the press embargo lifting at 10 a.m., we let our close friends, family and our early enthusiasts in on a little secret – we were going live at 8 a.m. For two hours, our campaign was the best-kept secret, known to only those who were “invited” to our exclusive pre-launch. The response was astonishing. People were honoured to have been included in this soft launch and eager to snatch early-bird deals. By the time the masses were flooding to our page, we had already gained some serious traction and were well on our way to reaching our goal!
- Ongoing backer engagement: We never took our backers’ support for granted and made a conscious effort to keep them engaged and up-to-date throughout the entire campaign. We regularly posted exciting updates, introduced enticing stretch goals and most importantly, tried our very best to quickly respond to all the public and private messages that came our way.
Additionally, having a short and catchy video with a well-organized and detailed page is absolutely essential.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
Kickstarter does not end when the campaign ends. It is a responsibility that follows you throughout your journey going forward.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting a crowdfunding campaign?
It’s a full-time job. You can never be too prepared and there is no such thing as too early to start brainstorming and planning. While it might be the most stressful and exhausting experience of your life, it will also be the most rewarding. You can do it!
Was there a specific moment that you would consider critical for the company?
When we were accepted in the HAX accelerator, which changed our lives. It allowed us to accelerate the entire development process, learn about the opportunities that came from having a presence in China, and meet potential partners we would otherwise have never had an opportunity to meet.
What is one characteristic that you believe every successful crowdfunding entrepreneur should possess?
Persistence (and not just in crowdfunding). There will always be people that don’t believe in what you’re doing. There will always be challenges when developing your product and sometimes those challenges will make you contemplate quitting. If you believe strongly enough in what you’re doing, keep going regardless.