Technology probably isn't the first thing most people think of when they think of underwear.
Joanna Griffiths is not most people. While studying at INSEAD, one of the world's largest graduate business schools, Griffiths saw an opportunity to create a product that did more than the existing options on the market. "Thanks to technology, almost everything has evolved, everything but our underwear," she says. "We created a product truly designed with women's needs in mind: underwear that looks great, fits great, and has technology built in to eradicate odor and wick away and absorb moisture."
Griffiths needed a way to fund her new venture, Knix Wear. She had interviewed hundreds of women about the idea while doing her MBA, identifying demand for a stylish lingerie line for women who exercised intensely or experienced light incontinence, and she decided that crowdfunding would be the ultimate test. "People had liked the idea, but would they actually pay for it?" says Griffiths. "I knew that it would also give us the opportunity to gain invaluable customer feedback—before the product had been made."
The campaign was a success, surpassing the $40,000 goal (by an extra $20,000). During the Indiegogo experience, Griffiths also learned some crucial crowdfunding lessons.
1. Seek out best practices
Before you start your crowdfunding campaign, Griffiths suggests that it's important to study others who have done it well. For her, there were a handful of examples of how to do things right. She drew inspiration from how the Ministry of Supply men's shirt campaign described their technology; she looked to the Saint Harridan campaign for its storytelling abilities; and she liked how the footwear project, Forus, positioned their wholesale packs.
2. Be prepared to hustle
No matter how much experience you have in the crowdfunding space, it requires a strategic approach to reach—and exceed—your goal. From media lists to ambassadors, Griffiths recommends that you plan ahead as much as possible. This means contacting your supporters before you launch to firm up their promotion and participation, and also developing a thorough marketing plan.
3. Adapt quickly to survive
For many in the crowdfunding world, there are no second chances. Griffiths shares how at just two weeks into their campaign they realized things weren't going as planned and they needed to adapt, quickly. "It was extremely difficult to let go of our preconceived notions and admit that we had launched incorrectly," she says. "But that is part of the beauty of crowdfunding," she explains. "Listen to your customers, as it could prevent you from making costly mistakes later on." Thanks to listening closely to feedback, they re-shot their promo video and repositioned their product to get better results.
4. Make your own rules
While it's key to study best practices, it's also important to seek out your own rules, as crowdfunding is a relatively new space and many best practices are still being defined. During the Knix Wear campaign, Griffiths received an email from a major retailer, HBC, saying they wanted to be her first retail partner and were going to pre-purchase product via the Indiegogo campaign. "We were the first campaign to have a major retailer pre-order through crowdfunding and we got them by thinking outside of the box. If we had only looked to what had been done before, we never would have reached that milestone." One of the perks that helped to seal this deal was the $800 retailer multi-pack featured as part of the campaign, which includes 48 pairs of Knix Wear high-tech knickers (retail value $1,600).
5. Get tactical and practical
Start your campaign on Monday and end your campaign on a Friday, says Griffiths. It will help you to maintain your momentum. She also recommends that you set your goal below the actual amount you want to reach. "It sounds counterintuitive but people like to contribute to winning campaigns, so if your goal is achievable and you hit it early on, you’ll be more likely to hit your stretch target."
KnixWear is now shipping product to its 518 pre-order supporters and planning for a future in stores around the world.
[Photos courtesy of Knix Wear]