Kickstarter Advice from a Honolulu Veteran

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A little over a year ago, Honolulu’s Laurens Laudowicz jumped on to the Kickstarter bandwagon. After 14+ months, the journey continues…

Laudowicz, a long-time sustainability consultant and Asian goods importer, had an idea in late 2010 as he explored various business opportunities.

Juicies Kickstarter Honolulu Hawaii
Some "juicie" samples. (Source: Juicies)

“I was looking for something that would generate revenue 24/7,” explained Laudowicz. “Consulting doesn’t pay you when you’re not working.”

With a background in computer science and an interest in all-things digital, he started honing in on products that he could sell in an online store and which he could source from Asia using his importing connections. One early idea was exercise balls, but with a more creative design than the standard plain blue or purple. From that, Laudowicz focused on design and colors and differentiating semi-standard products.

During all of this ideation, Laudowicz maintained his day job. At the office, everyone had an iPhone and everyone would just grab the nearest iPhone charging cable. It caused a lot of friendly frustration, but it also sparked an idea.

“If everyone had a different color charging cable, no one would steal mine,” Laudowicz remembered thinking.

Getting Started

In March of 2011, Laudowicz started working with manufacturers, ordering a few hundred cables in various colors for a few thousand dollar investment, just to see if the idea had legs. One known risk of working with unknown suppliers is idea theft. When Laudowicz noticed, just three weeks later, iPhone charging cables available in multiple colors for sale on a popular Asian wholesaling site, he was, at first, miffed. But, quickly thought, “Wow! This shows that there’s a market for this!”

In April of last year, Laudowicz launched his Kickstarter project, seeking $5,000 total, but taking a market-driven approach to pricing: While his Kickstarter page stated that a “fair” price was $19 plus shipping, Laudowicz allowed backers to pay whatever they thought was fair.

Being Prepared

While Laudowicz found that it was easy to list his project on Kickstarter, he quickly found that it requires a lot of planning and preparation to be even marginally successful.

“It’s easy to come up with a project description,” said Laudowicz. “The tough part is the customer, the promotion and marketing, the duration, the amount of money. Once it’s live, now what? There’s a lot to worry about.”

In the very first day of his project, Juicies, he hit his $5,000 goal from just friends, connections, and the power of social media. He quickly got calls from the local morning shows and radio shows, and was mentioned in several blogs.

Kickstarter Juicies Honolulu
Juicies hits the $20,000 mark on Kickstarter. (Source: Juicies)

“Once the word got out, I knew that this was going to be big,” recalled Laudowicz. “I started to think of the Kickstarter project as just the incubation funding. As backers gave over $23,000, I started to worry about the manufacturing and how to scale up production.”

The Saga Continues

Over the course of the past year, Laudowicz has run into quality control and manufacturing issues, but he’s still putting much time into the project and intends to have it fully completed and all orders fulfilled soon.

“As the mass production date gets nearer, it is time to think about retail sales, website, distributors and so on,” he stated in his latest update. “In my next update, I will tell you more about the upcoming Juicies online store, mass production and changing your shipping address.”

For the complete story on Laudowicz’s saga, check out the posts to his Kickstarter project page, which serve as a sort of diary of this year-plus project. Or, you can sign up at juicies.com to get notified once his final product ships.

Laudowicz’s Advice

If you’re thinking of launching your own Kickstarter project, Laudowicz has some hard-earned advice:

  • Treat it like event planning:  80% preparation, 20% execution.
  • Have experience in your project before you start.
  • Just do it. But, remember that you’re personally tied to it, so there’s no going back!