Crowdfunding Strategies: Wimoto’s “Motes” On Indiegogo


nine things motesYou may remember our May article about Motes, tiny sensors made for monitoring the world around you. From that article…

Motes are small, portable sensors that can detect temperature, humidity and light levels anywhere. They can be placed almost anywhere. They last about a year on a single battery and don’t require an internet connection to work.

There are three flavors corresponding with the three functions described above: ClimotesGrowmotes, and Thermotes. Core to the function of these sensors is the companion smartphone app, currently completed for iOS devices with an Android version on the way.

The project has been fully funded since then, and it has enabled Wimoto to introduce a fourth version. Called Securimotes, they employ a motion sensor and accelerometer to enable the purchaser to monitor things like doors opening or people coming and going.

Last week I had a chance to talk to Marc Nicholas, CTO of Wimoto Technologies and creator of Motes. He had some interesting insight into what it takes to make a crowdfunding campaign successful, and specifically some of the methods Indiegogo employs to push a campaign over the top.

CFI: Let’s start with the project. Motes! Where did you come up with the idea?

Marc Nicholas: There were two stages to the ideas that lead to Motes. A few years ago, I started growing heirloom tomatoes organically, and wished I had a way to monitor for dry conditions, know how much sunlight they were getting, and when frost was a danger. I live on the edge of a small valley and therefore the microclimate is often +/-2c versus the local weather forecast.

More recently, my son was born and we were concerned about the temperature in his bedroom at night. The temperature readout in his baby monitor wasn’t terribly accurate, and I wish there was a way we could just have our iPhone or iPad alert us if temperature was an issue. Room temperature has been linked to Sudden Infant Death syndrome, which is obviously every parent’s biggest nightmare.

growmote-gardenHow long did you spend planning your crowdfunding campaign? What was that process like from your point of view? 

I left my full-time job in January to concentrate on the Wimoto project.

I put far too much emphasis on getting the product right rather than “getting out there” and launching a campaign at first. Then my wife commented that I should just get on with it [the crowdfunding] and that people don’t need to see a fully finished product.

I feel ecstatic. The biggest thrill of crowd funding has been the people — the words of support, the ideas, the validation of our idea. And being able to refactor both the campaign (we completely redesigned it on-the-fly) and finesse the product as we go is amazing.

What resources helped you strategize ahead of your campaign? Were you flying blind or did you lean on any materials? (Perhaps Indiegogo’s field guide?) 

We looked at other campaigns — both on and off Indiegogo. We didn’t actually get the Field Guide until after we’d raised about $7k.

Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 8.10.23 AMWas Indiegogo your first choice of platform? How did you settle on that platform? 

We chose Indiegogo because, even though I have a US bank account, Employer Identification Number and address, we couldn’t get approved on Kickstarter. Getting started with Indiegogo was easy and straightforward.

Have you had to seek any one-on-one support from Indiegogo staffers? If so, how have they been to work with? 

They reached out to us to offer Strategy Support. I think for less sophisticated campaigner’s, their support would be helpful. But we were already doing most of what they recommend.

They seem pleasant and helpful. We were around 20% funded when they reached out and they wanted to talk again at 30% — but we went from 20% to 130% in one day.

Obviously, Indiegogo places a lot of faith in their Gogofactor and will tell you that it’s the key to everything. Having a high Gogofactor has certainly opened doors for us — we’ve made it to their homepage and are being featured as their Campaign of the Day today.

You mentioned that things were a little slow until you were featured in Indiegogo’s email newsletter. What was that like? What type of financial impact did that have on your campaign?

Things were a little slow, yes. But we did get to 20% funded (~$7k) by ourselves organically with fairly limited media exposure. I believe we would have still gotten funded, but it would have been much closer to the end of the campaign.

Did you gain any insight into how Indiegogo curates offerings? How did they find you? For example, was it algorithmic or did someone see your campaign and think it was cool?

Obviously, Indiegogo places a lot of faith in their Gogofactor and will tell you that it’s the key to everything. Having a high Gogofactor has certainly opened doors for us — we’ve made it to their homepage and are being featured as their Campaign of the Day today.

I do believe that they hand curate popular projects in each category and look for things that are marketable. They haven’t confirmed exactly the process.

Any added pressure now that you’re fully funded with over a month to go? How are you feeling about all of this? 

I’m afraid of the campaign having exhausted itself too early and now everyone has to wait 40-days 🙂 We’re not going to do any stretch goals because we’re already busy enough, especially as we added another Mote (Securimote) after we reached our funding goal.

I feel ecstatic. The biggest thrill of crowd funding has been the people — the words of support, the ideas, the validation of our idea. And being able to refactor both the campaign (we completely redesigned it on-the-fly) and finesse the product as we go is amazing.

What do you wish you knew before launching your campaign that you know now? Any advice for other crowdfunders?

  • Be prepared to spend hours per day on your campaign. I do.
  • Answer people’s questions and be reachable.
  • Don’t expect that if you build it, they will come. Keep pounding the street and getting the word out.
  • A business is built one customer at a time — remember that mantra.
  • Experiment with different content, catchlines, etc. We have.
  • Make it EASY for people to see what your campaign is about. Pictures are worth a thousand words. Infographics of any sort really help.
  • Don’t give up faith and keep working, right up until the end.
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