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Lumapod – The World’s Fastest Tripod (Interview)

In fall 2018, a young team from Austria started a Kickstarter-campaign called Lumapod – The World’s Fastest Tripod, aiming to finance the first series of their innovative travel-tripod. A few weeks later, 3,785 backers pledged €501,691 to help bring this project to life. Now the team is further pre-selling the Lumapod on Indiegogo, while finalizing the product-development, securing production and looking for new team-members. In an interview, Martin Grabner – founder and inventor of the Lumapod – told us some background stories, how they prepared for their Crowdfunding-campaign and what the are planning for the future.

Wolfgang: Hi Martin, you are the founder of Lumapod, an innovative tripod. Please tell us more about the product and the idea behind it.

Martin: I love traveling. And I always packed my tripod. But it is heavy, bulky and takes forever to set up. After a trip through Iceland, we decided to create a new kind of travel tripod, which is compact and fast to set up. We developed two different models and optimized it for different demands. So you can use Lumapod with your smartphone, GoPro, mirrorless or DSLR Camera. A quick and simple setup will empower you to take full advantage of every photo opportunity … 4 seconds and you’re ready to go.

Wolfgang: How long did you work on the prototype and when did you decide to enter the market?

Martin: I’ve been working on the project for about 2,5 years. Very soon it was clear that I want finance our product by using Crowdfunding. A lot of time went into development and prototyping. But we also had to invest a lot of time into topics like grant-applications and registering a patent and a trademark etc. As well as into the preparation of the Crowdfunding campaign itself. We defined the launch date a few months in advance and from there on we focussed everything towards this day.

Wolfgang: Why Crowdfunding?

Martin: Our product is perfect for Crowdfunding. On Kickstarter we were reaching exactly our target group for photography, design, tech and gadget. On the one hand, we did the campaign because of the financing. But Crowdfunding is much more than that. The campaign was also a market test. You can find out what the community thinks about your product and therefore you get a lot of feedback you can take into account before entering the market. If the campaign is successful (and it was) and the press covers you, you also get international marketing and can already build up a brand.

Copyright: Lumapod

Wolfgang: How did you prepare for the campaign? What worked and what did not work for you?

Martin: We prepared very long and very intensively for the campaign. We did a lot on Social Media and also set up an email list. We  used Facebook ads, affiliate marketing for getting email-addresses which worked very well. Less good were raffles – you get a lot of leads, but with poor quality. The day we launched, we informed all our email contacts that we are now live and that the best offer is only valid for 24 hours. We also researched relevant journalist-contacts and sent them our press release. That worked well, so we were featured in some big international media. During our campaign we also used cross promotions which were performing also quite good.

Wolfgang: What are the learnings that you got from the Crowdfunding campaign, for your team, your product, your marketing?

Martin: We were indeed able to learn a lot during the campaign. From my point of view it is important that the most important skills can be covered in your team. This is the only way to always have an overview. The product definitely reaches the community, which is very valuable learning. :-) The community gave us praise, but also really valuable input for improvements. Of course, there are naysayers, but you have them everywhere, so don’t let them discourage you. A Crowdfunding-campaign means a lot of work. The effort should not be underestimated. Also concerning the costs for marketing.

Wolfgang: Now that the further financing is secured, what are the next steps for Lumapod?

Martin: We are currently working on the selection of production partners in order to be able to start series production. At the same time, we are working on topics such as fulfillment and the setup of sales channels. The Kickstarter campaign drew the attention of several dealers and distributors to Lumapod. We will process these enquiries more concretely and hold talks with potential partners. When the first Lumapods are delivered to the Kickstarter backers, which means we have a finished product, ideally all distribution channels should already be in place. We also already have ideas for the next Lumapod models ;)

Wolfgang: Thanks for the interview and good luck with your product!

Interview with Nut & Feder – a social design company

In autumn 2015, a workshop project for refugees from the Verein Ute Bock went online on wemakeit.com called bockwerk. The idea behind it: to create a perspective for refugees through craftsmanship and design. Within a few weeks, more than EUR 30,000.00 were collected for the project via Crowdfunding. In the meantime, a lot has changed and bockwerk is now called Nut & Feder and is relaunching itself as a social business.

I was asked to talk about bockwerk at the workshop “Crowdfunding and Crossborder Fundraising” in Dresden at the beginning of November 2017, because I accompanied the project as a Crowdfunding-consultant. I took this opportunity to meet with bockwerk initiator Christian Penz in Vienna.

In an interview, he explains why the project had to rename itself, what the new company’s orientation is and what has happened since the successful crowdfunding campaign.

Wolfgang: Dear Christian, you are the founder of Nut & Feder. Please tell us, what’s the idea behind it?

Christian: Asylum seekers do not have regular access to the labour market during an open procedure and are confronted with special barriers on the labour market even after a positive asylum decision has been made.

Nut & Feder understands work as a central element of social inclusion. For legal, social and cultural reasons, refugees face particular barriers in the labour market. Our goal is to involve people with a refugee background in a work process from the outset and to offer them long-term training and employment opportunities.

In the 15th district in Vienna, as well as in the “Zwischennutzungsgebiet Creau” in the 2nd district,Nut & Feder operates wood workshops in which people with a refugee background are integrated into a company structure. In collaboration with designers and architects, they produce furniture and market regional products with social added value. People with a fugitive background are integrated into the planning and production process of high-quality products as trainees or employees.

Wolfgang: Originally, you founded Nut & Feder as bockwerk and started a Crowdfunding-campaign under this name. Why did you change the name?

Christian: In order to achieve our goal of a growing workshop that gives more and more people access to meaningful employment, we needed a proper legal basis. We must be able to write invoices, even for larger orders with correspondingly higher sums. Selling products by receiving a donation will not work for us in the long term. In order to accomplish this, we founded a corporate form that fulfills the social mission from a predominant market income.

For tax reasons, such a continuation within the non-profit organisation Verein Ute Bock was not possible. So the bockwerk founding team and decision-makers discussed it and agreed to continue independently under the name of Nut & Feder with the appropriate organisational form.

Wolfgang: So there’s been a lot going on since the Crowdfunding-campaign. What are you currently working on?

Christian: On the one hand, we are currently working closely with the team of mostlikely architecture on the development and marketing of a multifunctional module. This module could be used as a stand-up table, tower, shelf (room divider), longer bench, pedestal or as a simple stackable stool. The module can soon be purchased directly on our website or can be built and taken along as part of a furniture-making workshop.

In addition, we are currently working with the Institute for Participatory Social Research to develop a set of instruments for implementing a social impact reporting in order to be able to make systematic and evidence-based statements on the social and ecological impact of our company.

Wolfgang: Where do you see Nut & Feder in the future?

Christian: We want to continue to grow and help as many people as possible, who are living in forced inactivity and give them access to meaningful employment/education. With the explicit inclusion of asylum seekers (regularly excluded from the labour market) and persons entitled to asylum and entitled to subsidiary protection in the operational structure of Nut & Feder, we want to achieve their institutional exclusion and create a basic prerequisite for social participation.

Last but not least, we are striving to increase market revenues by expanding and tapping additional marketing and sales channels and to achieve the greatest possible independence from funding and donations.

Wolfgang: Would you recommend Crowdfunding? Or can you imagine running a campaign again?

Christian: I can recommend Crowdfunding to others. After we finished our own campaign, we accompanied several campaigns directly or through one of our partners. With a comparatively low input of resources, we were able to reach out to a large number of supporters and transport our mission to a broader audience.

Well, I can totally imagine to raise funding this way again. It is possible that we will initiate another campaign around our new park-module in the spring of 2018. In doing so, we would like to test the marketability of the product, obtain feedback from the Crowd and, last but not least, lay a financial foundation for further development.

Wolfgang: Good luck with that and many thanks for the interview!

***

For further information on the project and its Crowdfunding-campaign, here’s he slides of the workshop: Crowdfunding and Crossborder Fundraising

Slovenian good practices: ‘ONDU Pinhole Cameras’

Elvis Halilović, passionate lensless photographer, industrial designer and a carpenter,  launched in 2013, his crowdfunding campaign called ‘ONDU Pinhole Cameras’, designing and producing wooden pinhole cameras.  Campaign was supported by 1,272 backers and pledged $109,391.

Want to know how wooden pinhole cameras are made ? You can find more information about it here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ondu-/ondu-pinhole-cameras?ref=category_location&ref=discovery&term=Design%20and%20tech%2C%20Slovenia

Advices of crowdfunding for future designers

Who designs the products we use daily? What about those we will use in the next future? Is it possible to produce them by ourselves?

The meaning of being a designer has been slightly changing in the last years and it is consistently evolving towards a more flexible, open, and accessible connotation thanks to crowd funding platforms playing a significant role. The production of design items does not follow a linear path and this is why social media play a crucial role in uniting global communities and in questioning long standing productive and creative systems. According to a recent research by Federlegno, 70% of Italian internal design companies invest at least 2% of their turnover in research and development.

Is this enough? The internet and social media are dramatically changing market balances in the design field. This affects both the production systems and the results of a certain company. Currently there are not huge success stories in this crowdfunding for design products and Italian companies still seem skeptical in this sense.

Nevertheless certain products born on crowd funding platform represent concrete examples of global success. Its the case of “Moon” a lamp funded via Indiegogo platform that reached almost 750% of the original objective in two months. Another example is represented by “The Level” a mobile platform to train in the office that collected 8 times the sum requested to start the production.

Last but not least the “Taga Family Bike” financed via Kick Starter to produce a bike stroller that collected around 100.000 Dollars in few minutes and closed the campaign with a 2 billion and a half dollars.

All these products had some basic steps in common: a story to tell; a strong preparation for the launch of the campaign; a dedicated team and a strong community to rely on.

The Moon: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/luna-bring-the-moon-along-with-you-art#/

The Level: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-level-a-deck-designed-to-set-you-in-motion#/

The Family Bike: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/taga2/taga-20-the-ultimate-most-affordable-family-bike