January 15, 2014

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Article

Killing it on Kickstarter

FUZ Designs Makes a Crowdfunding Splash

By Julie Roberts

January 15, 2014


David Gengler and Cameron Gibbs, owners and co-founders of FŪZ Designs, had a vision of a new and exciting technological product—but they needed a way to launch their creation to the world. That’s where Kickstarter, a web-based platform that matches project creators with financial backers, came in. As Gibbs puts it, “It was the obvious choice. Kickstarter is revolutionizing the way products come to market.”

The duo turned to Kickstarter to introduce EverDock, a stylish and high-quality docking system that accommodates virtually all smartphones and tablets. They launched the product on Sept. 17, 2013, approximately two months after they conceived the idea, with a goal of raising $50,000.

To say the product launch was successful is an understatement. Just one month later, the EverDock had 4,491 backers who had pledged a total of $452,457—far exceeding the initial target. “It has all happened so fast,” Gengler acknowledges. “We went from just an idea to a test, a prototype, a completed campaign and a delivered product in just a few months.”

Not every campaign on Kickstarter reaches such a quick and seamless achievement. In fact, Kickstarter projects currently have a 43.8 percent success rate—hardly a sure thing by anyone’s standards. Gengler and Gibbs have some words of advice for entrepreneurs who are hoping to see their business dreams come true by using Kickstarter.

Set Yourself Up to Succeed

Before creating EverDock, Gengler and Gibbs had worked with electronics for years. They met each other while working at ZAGG Inc., a company that creates accessories for electronic products. Gengler, in his position as director of product development at ZAGG, created more than a dozen devices. Gibbs, as the company’s senior product manager, helped to develop and market several award-winning products.

The bottom line is that both Gengler and Gibbs had the experience needed to start FŪZ Designs and create the EverDock. Gengler notes that “you don’t have to be a great athlete to run a marathon, but it helps to have some experience.”

Identify Your Objectives

According to Gibbs, anyone who thinks about starting a new business on Kickstarter should answer this question: “Will this be a day job or just a hobby?” He and Gengler knew that they wanted to use Kickstarter for more than marketing just one product—they wanted to create a thriving business. “We wanted to be on our own and not work for anyone else,” he explains.

Because Gibbs and Gengler established their business goals right from the start, they knew how to accomplish them. “You have to be all in,” says Gibbs.

EverDock is just the beginning point for FŪZ Designs; Gengler and Gibbs hint that other products are in the works.

Create a Professional Presence

One of the keys to creating a good campaign on Kickstarter is to effectively represent yourself and your idea, and one of the best ways to do that, according to Gengler, is to create an awesome video. “The video isn’t required to be on Kickstarter, but it’s a good way to build your credibility,” he says. “People invest on Kickstarter if they love the product and trust the people.”

Underpromise and Overdeliver

After the Kickstarter campaign is over, the creators of the successful projects have to start delivering on their promises. And that’s where many Kickstarter businesses struggle. Fortunately, this hasn’t been an issue for FŪZ Designs. Before the EverDock campaign was started on Kickstarter, both Gengler and Gibbs were busy establishing business relationships to ensure that they were able to create and deliver their product on time to their customers. Gengler says that he traveled to China 13 times in the past three years to establish contacts on the manufacturing side.

The strategy seems to be working: today, the EverDock is sold in 63
different countries.

Be Responsive

On a typical early morning at FŪZ Designs, you will find both Gengler and Gibbs busy responding to their customers’ emails and online comments. In fact, the comments section of their Kickstarter page is filled not just with customer questions but also the team’s quick replies. They pride themselves on being upfront with their customers. “Everything is very transparent,” Gengler says.

Find a Partner with Complementary Skills

Both Gengler and Gibbs are technology-savvy, but they have different skill sets. Gibbs is the self-proclaimed numbers guy who handles the company’s administration and online marketing campaign. Gengler manages the creative and product side of the business, and he is grateful to have his partner’s knowledge of facts, figures and product design. “Cameron is one of my best critics,” he says.  

Discover Your Inspiration

Some of the best inventions are the ones that seem so simple that you are surprised to find that they weren’t already invented. That’s what Gengler and Gibbs strived to achieve when they created the EverDock.

“Most docks are specific to a device, but ours isn’t,” Gengler explains. “We created a product that appeals to everyone—iPhone and Android users alike.” He encourages other potential entrepreneurs to find something that is inspiring to them. “We live in a day where you can make something happen if you have an idea, passion, some common sense, and are willing to work hard.”  

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