Monday, November 19, 2012

The "No Spill" Kangaroo Cup

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I’m joined by Joe Born of successfully completed “‘No Spill’ Kangaroo Cup” project, thank you for joining us today Joe.

First off let me congratulate you on your successful campaign!  You earned $6,750 of your $6,000 goal what was your first reaction when the campaign closed?

I really felt Lily’s life (and mine) had changed.  To launch an invention at 10 years old is really something to build on!

Throughout your campaign you made it clear that this project was as much your daughter Lily’s as it was yours.  Now that it’s over how much of the post campaign work is she involved in?  How positive a learning experience do you think the whole campaign has been for her?

I try to keep Lily involved enough to know what’s going on at each stage and I talk to her pretty much nightly about what’s going on, but I don’t bog her down, she’s got a lot going on as it is.

I think its been life changing for her.  Tons of ups and downs, but I think that she’s learned a lot and most of all, she’s learned what the business of being an inventor is like.  She can now compare that to other things and decide what she wants to do.  its given her a lot of new confidence, that’s clear for all to see.

As an inventor yourself why did you decide to come to Kickstarter and not use your industry contacts to release this product?

There’s a long long answer, but the short answer is that I think the two really compliment one another.  Failing in conventional channels is very expensive for everyone.  You don’t want to stock 1000 stores with a product that fails.  Testing with buyers and getting feedback at the outset is crucial.  I expect that given what happened here, you’ll see the Kangaroo cup in retail, there’s currently a lot of enthusiasm.

Now that it’s a real product, and soon to go out to the people, what’s the next step?

More variants of the product, more colors and ultimately the plastic version, stay tuned for that, we’re planning on doing a crowdfunding campaign on that to give the community first access and opportunity to give feedback prior to production.

How much fun was it to go to China to actually get these cups made?

Well, as Lily said, some parts were fun, some parts were work.  Going on a business trip with a 9 year old kid is not easy (for either kid or parent).  I do feel looking back (and I felt at the time) that it was the opportunity of a lifetime.  It really did change our lives, and I think those changes are just starting to manifest itself.

One of the keys of a successful Kickstarter project is backer participation.  How did you engage with your backers?

I think as someone that’s seen both conventional launches and crowdfunding, I have a pretty deep appreciation of how profoundly important crowdfunding is.  Many young people may not appreciate how big the barriers to launching a product were ten years ago, compared to now.  Reducing those barriers changes everything because it allows 500 people to participate in launching a product for every 1 that could a generation ago.  If you imagine what products we’ll have a generation from now, the biggest impact will be the amount of independent inventors, designers, artists that can launch mass produced, affordable items

How big a problem is fulfillment going to be?  Are you ready for the post campaign craziness?

Its a bit of a pain, but again, I’ve been doing this for a while, so we have some systems and resources.

What kind of media attention did you receive with your project?

Well, the truth is that Melissa Harriss at the Chicago Tribune practically started this project with her enthusiasm.  Cory Doctorow wrote about it on Boingboing and Jacqueline Edelberg at Huffington Post as well as Dan Cohen at Gear Diary who wrote a very moving piece.

As a supporter of the STEM (or as I prefer to mention STEAM) community do you think this experience has created an opening for Lily into the Maker community?  To invent and keep creating new things?  

Yes, I think it has.  

Do you have any tips/advice would you give to anyone looking to start a Kickstarter?

That’s an article in and of itself :)

As a fellow father of a daughter I have to ask, what did you do to get your daughter to act on her creativity?  Any advice on how to support our daughters to become creative creators?  

We found a project that was doable in small steps.  The crucial breakthrough was the handmoldable plastic from inventables.  That allowed us to create a working prototype in an hour, that was key.

We broke the project into very small bite sized pieces and I tried to support the project and take care of a lot of the grunt work.  It wasn’t really until the last couple months where we really did a big push (and a lot of work).  I guess you could say I tried to reel Lily in with a lot of rewarding work up front.

Thank you for spending your time with us!  Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?

It is definitely a very difficult undertaking, recognize that I had hundreds of man hours in this project (over a period of a year or so), and I’ve done it before, so don’t expect it to be easy, but the reward of showing your kid what can be accomplished is pretty extraordinary, its certainly been the highlight of my career (and then some)

Thanks again and I hope to hear good things from your Kickstarter!

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