Smartypans, a smart cooking pan that measures calories, recently raised over $30,000 on an IndieGoGo campaign.
A year ago, the brother and sister team who founded the company, Prachi and Rahul Baxi, were attending SXSW to demonstrate their technology. While their pan had been chosen as one of the top 8 technologies of 2015 for the interactive session of the festival, they worried that their product was merely a project.
“We had a very raw prototype, and were putting censors in and testing basic functionalities,” said Prachi, “but we didn’t feel we had the right one.” It was also during SXSW that Prachi and Rahul met StartFast Venture Accelerator‘s managing partners Nasir Ali and Chuck Stormon, and found out how the program could help them.
Once the team joined StartFast that summer, they were able to craft a better prototype, drive marketing efforts through mentorship, and find funding sources. Equipped with a sleekly designed pan, and a solid marketing strategy following the accelerator, Prachi and Rahul launched a crowdfunding campaign.
Below are a few of their tips for how they exceeded their goal:
1. Find the Right Platform for Early Adopters. IndieGoGo wasn’t initially the go-to platform for Prachi and Rahul. “When we were going through StartFast, our goal was to get on Kickstarter,” Prachi said. “But the timing wasn’t right, and we really wanted to figure out where our potential customers were.”
After doing extensive research, the team came to the conclusion that IndieGoGo was the right platform for a few reasons. “IndieGoGO hosts a lot of smart devices and appliances with very active buyers, so we realized that’s where our early adopters would be,” Rahul shared. “We also discovered that they have a partnership with Target and Brookstone, which allowed for a clear pathway for us to get our product on shelves.”
After attending an event hosted by IndieGoGo, they became connected with the company’s team, and the pre-launch planning was kicked into high gear.
2. Build a Killer Pre-Launch Email List. The team knew that smart devices need a lot of marketing to get attention, and that marketing agencies were expensive and wouldn’t necessarily yield the results they needed.
Prachi and Rahul decided to take a different approach. They didn’t ask people for their email addresses, yet built an email list of more than 6,000 interested leads. So, how did they do it?
“We were presenting at dozens of events,” said Prachi. “And by not asking for emails, but showing our product, people who visited our site signed up because they were truly interested in what we had to offer.”
Prachi and Rahul estimated that they attended nearly 2-3 events per week, in addition to larger events like Consumer Electronic Shows and the Smart Kitchen Summit.
3. Command the Attention of Your Audience. Armed with a solid pre-launch list, the team turned their attention to how they would communicate effectively with their newly created audience. “We learned that just having an email list wasn’t enough. We had to put a lot of effort into making sure that our sign-ups actually opened our emails,” Rahul said.
With that knowledge, Rahul built an email template to ensure that their audience was paying attention, and that the emails weren’t getting filtered as spam or a just another marketing promotional. The personal connection with their early adopters led to higher conversion rates, and overall, a more successful campaign.
4. Expect the Unexpected. While the email list they had built produced great results, they couldn’t have predicted that they’d lose traction due to a technical issue that was out of their hands. The campaign was steadily gaining backers when the payment processing system for the campaign stopped working.
“We lost a lot of backers because of the payment issue, so we started attending more events to find new users,” said Prachi. Their commitment to keep pushing forward to promote the campaign is what led to their success. The team encouraged that once a campaign is live, to not let it run itself, but to keep promoting, networking, and finding backers.
In just a year’s time, SmartyPans went from promoting a raw prototype, to launching a crowd pleasing smart pan that continues to capture media attention. Now that the campaign has ended, the team is working on building partnerships with stores, and shipping orders to their early adopters.