Entrepreneur: Tips on Successful Crowdfunding, The Courier Herald Newspaper

BUSINESS

PAGE 3 WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2020 ENUMCLAW COURIER-HERALD
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Local entrepreneur gives tips on successful crowdfunding

By Ray Miller-Still | Editor

If there’s one thing you should glean from exploring crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter or GoFundMe, it’s that there’s no limit to what ideas people have, or what other people will spend their money on.

For example: The Bug-A- Salt, a Nerf-gun looking device that shoots regular table salt to disable or kill insects. There’s nothing it does that a regular fly swatter can’t, except for, well, giving you the thrill of bringing down that pesky fly with a toy pump-action shotgun.

For whatever reason, the IndieGoGo campaign raised more than $577,000 with 10,764 backers, even though they were only looking for $15,000.

But not every campaign is successful — according to Statistica.com, roughly 37 percent of all Kickstarter projects were fully funded as of December 2019, with the other 63 percent falling short of their financial goals.

 

Field testing the Ballistic ScarfBeau Chevassus, Enumclaw councilman and Kickstarter entrepreneur, has been busy testing out his newest product, a scarf made of kevlar, before he starts a crowdfunding campaign.

started in 2016. Billed as
the world’s smallest MP3 player, it was meant to allow workers all over the world — specifically those with little to no literacy skills — to listen to the Bible.

The campaign was a hard flop; only $1,000 of the $29,000 was raised. Even when the campaign re-launched in 2017 with a $999 goal, the project was only fully-funded with 30 seconds left on the clock.

Other ventures were wildly successful. In August 2018, Chevassus started a Kickstarter for the Tacticlip, a women’s (or men’s — we don’t judge) hair clip that also functions as a ruler, small saw, mini screwdriver, wire stripper, and fire starter, if you have flint. Although he only asked for $1,000, the campaign raised nearly $13,000, which allowed him to buy his product in bulk and start selling elsewhere.

“I always start first with my ultimate goal, and how do I get there. My ultimate goal is to… get products on Amazon, because in that way, it’s automated,” Chevassus said in a recent interview. “If I can get to that point, that frees me up to actually do what I truly love to do, which is Knok Studio and charity film work all over the world.”

FROM START TO FINISH

There are many factors that can make or break a crowdfunding campaign, but there’s no real formula for success — just a lot of hard work and a generous pinch of good luck.

Clearly, you first need to have an idea that people will buy into; Chevassus suggests identifying a problem and coming up with a solution.

“I know that seems really ‘no duh,’ but you won’t believe how many people pitch something out there that isn’t really a solution to a problem,” he said.

For example, the Tacticlips address the issue of women’s clothing lacking pockets, and thus, they can’t easily carry around a multi-tool device. After you have your idea, it’s time to start research- ing — specifically, how the crowdfunding market operates and what potential investors expect.

“In times past, if you want to start a business, you would get a whole bunch of capital together, get a five- year business plan, find a storefront, and you hit the ground running. You’re going to gamble and hope that consumers come in,” he said. “On Kickstarter, it’s the opposite — you don’t have a product, and you actually sell something that doesn’t quite exist, and you get your customers around you, and then you start the business.”

But that doesn’t mean you should start a Kickstarter with nothing but that idea in your head and hope people are interested. “Lay pipe before you actually launch,” Chevassus said. “Get all of your contacts in a row. Get all your marketing stuff in line.”

He admitted that for his first projects, ones that started before 2016, he didn’t follow his own advice.

“I was like, I’m going to wait until the capital comes in. I don’t want to waste time on something that won’t be funded,” he continued. “I’ve learned the vital importance of actually buying proof- of-concept products from multiple factories, which takes some money to do.”

In other words, you have to spend money to make money; Chevassus is doing this with a new clothing product he expects to launch soon.

“They’re like, ‘You want a kevlar, bullet-proof, slash- proof, fire-proof scarf? Well, that’s going to be $70 shipped from our factory,’” he said, adding that situations like that can be scary, especially for someone just starting out. “But I’d much rather have a tangible prod- uct before I go to a thousand people and promise it can be done. “It’s kind of the chicken or the egg — you need the capital to create it, but you have to create it to raise the capital,” Chevassus continued.

But that does not need your prototype needs to be perfect and complete. In fact, Chevassus warned against what he called “analysis paralysis.”

“‘Done is better than perfect,’” he said, quoting Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook.
“I want to be careful with that, because a lot of people then say, ‘Does that mean you can’t strive for perfection?’ No, it means don’t get obsessed with all the little details to the point where you don’t progress.”

Beau chevassus in Nicaragua

Beau Chevassus in Nicaragua, field testing the Ballistic Scarf

As for the marketing portion of the Kickstarter, you may want to get in contact with “influencers” — people who review and market products online — to talk up your idea or product around the time your campaign begins. However, Chevassus believes there’s no real formula for success- fully finding an influencer who would be interested in helping you out.

“It’s saturation. You just have to tell yourself, for every 10 people I contact, one person is going to say, ‘This matches my blog audience, I’d love to do it,’” he said.  All of this, Chevassus said, is a lot of work—more than what some people expect.

“Be prepared to work 16 hour days. It is not easy. A lot of people are like, ‘They float this out there and they’re just going to relax and retire early in the Bahamas,’” he continued. “No, no, no. When people say passive income, there is nothing passive about [it]. It takes so much hard work to get to the point of automation.” At this point, a crowdfunding campaign should be well prepared: there’s a working prototype and a manufacturer that is willing to create the product; there are people who are talking up your product and sending their followers to the campaign; and the campaign is active and engaging its investors with updates on what’s happening behind the scenes, keeping the anticipation alive.

But nothing ensures a successful campaign, and at some point, you may want to consider quitting while you’re behind.

“To answer the question, ‘When do you quit?’ is when you are no longer providing a solution,” Chevassus said, “Again, that sounds
like a ‘no duh,’ but you won’t believe how many people don’t actually bring their head above water and go, ‘the market is saturated with these things, I should pull the plug and focus elsewhere.’

“The old way of business is that you never quit — you have your five-year business plan and you’re going

to stick to this no matter what. You’re going to ride the market for five years, because banks want to see that five years. The want to see that you’re bought in and committed,” he continued. “Now, the new way of doing things is you have to adapt, which is a euphemism for quit. Quit things that aren’t working… Every successful crowd funder can relate to ‘giving up your Isaac’; that is, at some point it is necessary to let go of something. Some- thing you’ve invested count- less hours in. Something you’ve made that you’re emotionally committed to. This is extremely difficult to let go, but wildly necessary to focus like a laser beam on what’s truly important.”

To learn more about Chevassus, head to his blog at chevassus.com.

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Newest invention: The Knifelace™ – Knife & Necklace Combination

gif of knife necklace knifelace

gif of knife necklace knifelace

I am please to announce the release of the Knifelace.  Patent-pending, trademarked, and just launched on Kickstarter.  I hope it serves our wonderful ladies with a practical tool that is gorgeous and non-obtrusive.

Specs

  • Blade style: Hawkbill / Raptor Claw
  • Blade material: 3CR13 stainless steel
  • Pendant material: Hammered & polished Nickel plated Zinc Alloy
  • Chain material: Stainless steel
  • Chain length: 20" inches / 61 CM and able to extend up to 24" inches for extra slimming look
  • Chain clasp: Lobster clasp
  • Packaging: Origami-style gift envelope

Get yours on Kickstarter

Image

Strong magnets keep the blade safely in place.

Image

Gorgeous look goes with any outfit.

Business Cards Do Not Work. You Should Stop.

business cards are obsolete

Heart check here: Have you considered whether business cards are actually hurting your business? Your nonprofit? Your side hustle? 

No I'm serious. 

Here are my top 5 thoughts why these cheap little pieces of cardboard should go the way of dial-up modems:

1. WHERE DO YOU PUT THEM? No one has a Rolodex anymore. Just use your smart phone, ask for their number, and immediately send them your contact card or text.

Bonus: You just got THEIR contact info too, instead of just a one-way information-giving scheme.

business cards suck

2. TODAY THERE’S THIS THING CALLED THE INTERNET. In the west (not Asia), business cards are discarded or forgotten about within seconds of handing them over. Think about it: When you need to contact someone, where do you go? Perhaps Facebook? Their website? There's even a new tool called "Google" that I've heard can be used to find people's contact info.

BONUS: When they search for you online, they can actually copy/paste or quickly click on your email and instantly send you a message. No need to physically read tiny text on a business card and manually input it.

3. THEY GIVE A FALSE SENSE OF CLOSURE. Ever notice that handing a business card to someone is the END of a conversation? Ever notice a smug bit of triumph as they hand you their business card, as if they just closed a deal? It's so sad. The point of a sales call is not to hand someone your contact info... it's to close the deal.

4. THEY TELL PEOPLE YOU’RE DESPERATE. If you must hand out a business card, please, please, please... only give ONE.

- A salesman's thinking when he gives more than one business card: "This person will distribute these for me."

- What people really think: "This salesman is so desperate, he has an oversaturation of business cards that he's trying to deplete."

business cards are old

5. EVERYONE DOES IT. A major key to being a good communicator (the #1 skill for being a good salesman) is being different and memorable. When everyone is using business cards, it essentially tells everyone that you’re exactly like everyone else. Seek to be different. Pursue innovation.

share_contact card knok studio

There are so many other physical objects you can give in place of a business card. We at Knok Studio love giving custom-designed stickers. Even if they don't use the contact info on the back of the sticker, at least they walk away with a sweet piece of memorabilia to put on their water bottle. Sure they’re more expensive, but at least they don’t get thrown away.

Sometimes I even physically write my information on a napkin or sticky note, along with a little cartoon drawing. Some people give magnets. Buttons. A flash drive... Really anything but a tiny piece of paper cardboard with information that they can freely get online.

It's okay to recognize that business cards are obsolete.


knok studio marketing stickerKnok Studio among other brilliant lil' marketers on top of Mailbox Peak

The quote that I live by…

beau chevassus in nicaragua revolution square

"LET'S GO!"

- Beau Chevassus

*yes, I just quoted myself on my own blog.  If it looks weird, then we are in agreement... it feels weird too.

Passport Photo Women’s Clothes Transparent Template

passport photo make white background lightroom

Creating Virtually Free Passport Photos:

  • This is the best iPhone Passport photo maker: (opens iOS App Store)
    https://apps.apple.com/us/app/passport-photo-id-photo/id917389447?mt=8 
  • This above app is free, but you can buy additional features to ‘unlock’ different sizes. Honestly I just needed the 2×2″ photos.
  • After I took the photo, I emailed it to myself and ‘painted’ the not-so-white background with the brush in Lightroom (cranked up the exposure all the way):

 passport photo make white background lightroom

  • I then made a 4×6 image in GIMP and lined up all of my passport photos. (below example)
  • I then sent my 4×6 photo to Walgreens where they printed it off for $0.33 + tax.
  • This certainly beats paying $10-15 at Rite-Aid or Costco for a passport photo. Now it’s safely on my computer, and I can send this image to the print-shop whenever I need more ID photos.

Hope this helps and safe travels!

-Beau w/ Knok.org
Knok Studio
Seattle, WA, USA

Example:

USA to print passport photos

Use this transparent PNG file (pant suit) for Passport Photo Women’s Clothes Transparent TemplatePassport Photo Women's Clothes Transparent Template

 

 

 

Emmons Glacier Route from Camp Schurman, Mt Rainier summit trail

Descending from Camp Curtis, Mt Rainier

Mount Rainier/Emmons Glacier

Climbing Mt Rainier Summiting via Camp Schurman

As of July 28, 2019, excellent, clear conditions up to the summit.

Little Tahoma and Emmons Glacier from Camp Schurman (photo by Beau Chevassus, BEAU LLC) Descending from Camp Curtis, Mt Rainier The helicopter pad at Camp Schurman, Mt Rainier Camp Schurman Ranger Station

Our team turned around at about 13,000 feet due to feeling nauseous (altitude sickness). This is even despite spending an entire day at Camp Schurman to adjust to the altitude. But it’s just one of those things that you can’t “push through“ without dire consequences.

 

camp schurman map route from inter glacier summiting mt rainierGoodies

Use at your own risk. Conditions change HOURLY on Mt Rainier.

The goal of the trip is not to get to the top of the mountain but back to your car.

“Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.“

A few tips:

– The White River Ranger station opens at 7:30 AM. Be there early, especially if you are planning to camp Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night. We were there at 7:25 AM, and there were already 10 people ahead of us in line. Plus there was no internet at the station, so they had to manually call in every single reservation to verify them. There appeared to be very little interest in attempting to fix this issue or find a solution. (ah the efficiency of the federal government… It’s a good thing they’re not responsible for something really important, like our healthcare.)(oh wait)
– Wear/bring trail shoes for the hike in.
– There is a bear box that you can put food in. Absolutely use it. There are mice everywhere throughout the camp, and they will climb in your bag. We even had a team who unzipped their tent and a mouse actually jumped all caps into the tent. It took them quite a bit to get the little guy out.
– Melted glacier water is available at Camp Schurman. No need to melt snow. Just purify it.
– Super windy at night (both nights we were up there). Be sure your tent is stakes down tightly. The wind folded our tent flat, but dang the REI Half Dome is amazing.
– Conditions of the trail up the Emmons glacier are good. Of course there will be collapsed ice bridges, so be sure to have an experienced team who knows who crevasse rescue skills.
– If it’s sunny, snow will get slushy at or before 10am. If you’re still on your way the mountain at 8:30am (our turnaround time), I wouldn’t suggest it. Have a turnaround time and stick with it.
– There are crevasses on inter glacier. No need to rope up, but just watch your step, ESPECIALLY when glissading down. There’s a big enough one to break both your legs if you fall in it.
– Plenty of water along the trail, all the way to inter glacier.
– if you lost a black, lightweight Marmot glove… It’s up there at Schurman, sitting on a rock.
– Rope up on Emmons. Always. Even on the way down. Odds are you won’t feel like it, but just do it.Overall it’s a fantastic route, and probably even safer it than DC considering the experienced climbers on this route and no rock fall being pushed on you from the Cleaver.

Just keep in mind within the next two weeks the route will be dramatically different, especially with all of this sun. Things are opening up and the climbing season for this route is on the downward trajectory in terms of popularity/safety.

Rock on, friends! Hope this helps!

Top 4 Lightweight Items that makes
(or would’ve made) my trip better

Awesome climber gift ideas too

  • 3.4 oz blow up pillow on Amazon – Increasing your sleep quality increases your energy. Take care of your sleep.3.4 oz mountaineering pillow
  • best instant coffee on amazonItalian Roast instant coffee on Amazon. Caffeine is a natural way of decreasing altitude-caused headaches. This instant coffee tastes great and is lightweight. Just drink plenty of water because coffee is also a natural dryadic.
  • Backcountry Access Shaxe Speed Shovel two in one axe shovelBackcountry Access Shaxe Speed Shovel. You’ll need a shovel. You’ll need an ice axe. Why not combine the two? Use the ice axe’s intended shaft, right? This thing is a brilliant way to cut weight.
  • MSR Dragonfly stove. This things just keeps running and running. Case in point: I left the fuel bottle out all night long, sitting in the snow, and yet still it fired right up the next morning. JetBoil? Heck no. I’ve had to sleep with those JetBoil canisters to keep them warm, and even then they only last a few minutes in the cold temps. The Dragonfly stove is amazing. For the 3 day trip, we heated water for a party of 3 using just 1 bottle of white gas fuel. (and even then the bottle wasn’t completely depleted)  Note: If we had to melt the snow, we’d have needed an additional bottle. Melting snow takes forever, but with the fresh supply of melted snow up by the Camp Schurman helicopter pad, there was only the need to heat it up for our freeze dried MSR Dragonfly stove best stove for mountaineeringmeals.

Summiting the Emmons Glacier Route, Mt Rainier from Camp Schurman

Warning Disclaimer

Technical rock climbing and mountaineering is inherently dangerous.  Any person using our recommendations, routes, maps, or gear in any manner is personally responsible for learning the proper techniques and good judgment. We strongly recommend that every climber seek instruction by a qualified professional. You are responsible for knowing and respecting our products capabilities and limitations. Always know the maintenance and use history of your equipment and destroy retired gear to prevent future use. The use of secondhand equipment is strongly discouraged. You are responsible for your own actions and decisions. Failure to follow these warnings can result in severe injury or death. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. All the photographs and illustrations on this web site are protected by copyright and should not be used without Beau LLC’s expressed or written permission: Reachout@chevassus.com

Epic new Kickstarter, just launched: Camo Tactical Hair Clips (Tacticlip)

camo tacticlip kickstarter

Tacticlip on Kickstarter

Newest variation: since our last successful Kickstarter (previously the black one, now on Amazon), we have been working hard to implement your ideas. In this new & improved Tacticlip® you’ll find a powder-coated finish with a specialized AU (arid/urban) camouflage pattern. We’ve designed a pattern that utilizes various shades derived from the toughest arid and urban environments on the planet.

Right here on Kickstarter.

The original was featured on Geekologie.

 

SPECS

Official specs: 

  • Hair clip
  • Raptor Claw point tip
  • Serrated Edge (does not cut hair)
  • Wick Holder
  • Mini-Screwdriver
  • Wire stripper

2 Steps: How to build a fanbase

My 2 rules for building a fanbase:

  1. Deliver quality content
  2. Deliver it consistently

Follow these two rules and no matter what industry you are in— it doesn’t matter whether it’s nonprofit or real estate—you are absolutely guaranteed to cultivate genuine advocates and supporters.

Just because you work hard doesn’t mean you’ll be successful

mechanic hard working

Remember: Just because you work hard doesn’t mean you’ll be successful.

“But she works 60 hours a week among three jobs, and she’s barely making ends meet. She deserves more. The system is not fair.”

Despite what politicians, Nike, and Disney promises you…

Hard work ≠ Success

This is a very difficult lesson. It’s something most adults don’t grasp, even up until their death bed.

Yes “hard work” is important, if not vital, but there are a lot of other factors.

Among many factors that lead to success, there are:

  • construction hard work does not equal successRaw skill/talent
  • Demand/how rare that skill is
  • Experience
  • Consistency/dependability
  • Teachability (my personal favorite)
  • Creativity, ingenuity, & innovativeness
  • Integrity
  • Communication skills
  • Passion
  • Initiative & drive
  • Autonomy & independence
  • Standards (quality of results)
  • Connections
  • Ease-of-replacement
  • Temper
  • Patience, grace, & adaptability
  • Love (both for his work and people)
  • Good hygiene
  • Geographic placement
  • And sometimes just dumb luck. (“Providence” for us Jesus-followers ?)

But ultimately one thing mattersGod himself. Is He opening up doors for you to be “successful” by our culture’s standards?

“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
– 1 Corinthians 10:31