Last year, I published a post here about memobottle™, remember that? It was the sleek and efficient water bottles which mimics the rectangular form of a notebook so it slides neatly in between your stuff inside your bag. At that time I posted it, their Kickstarter campaign was still ongoing. As some of you may know, running a successful Kickstarter campaign is not easy but their campaign ended with success and they were able to launch their product.
This year, they launched a new sleek water bottle again. The A6 memobottle™ ($22) is even more compact and convenient method of liquid transportation. It is the perfect complement to the A5 memobottle™, which has been creating a huge amount of hype since its Kickstarter campaign in late 2014. Holding 375ml (13 fl oz), the A6 mimics the dimensions of the A6 international paper size, allowing it to perfectly fit into handbags, computer cases, and even pockets.
...requiring a funding goal of $15k to send the bottles into production. This goal was achieved just 36 hours into the 45-day campaign.
A little backstory, Co-founders Jesse Leeworthy and Jonathan Byrt launched the product on Kickstarter on 29th August 2014, requiring a funding goal of $15k to send the bottles into production. This goal was achieved just 36 hours into the 45-day campaign. At the cessation of the 45 days, memobottle™ had raised over $260k, and sold over 10k bottles. Since then, the guys have been working frantically to develop the company into a global business. Memobottle™ now has 7 warehouses, and last month shipped orders to 72 countries. At the same time memobottle™ retailers have been pop-ping up all over the world – unique designer stores and museum gift shops have been outwardly embracing the bottles stylish design. Most recently the memobottle™ has been included in the Museum of Modern Art in Austria (MUMOK).
Have you been planning to start a crowdfunding campaign? Maybe you’ll learn something from the co-founders of memobottle on what it’s like running a successful Kickstarter campaign on their interview Q+A which I received. In it, they talked about where did the idea came from and what were the biggest challenges the face.
Where did the idea for the memobottle come from?
The memobottle was born from two main frustrations that we had encountered within society while growing up together. We noticed an increase in the number of plastic water bottles that would wash ashore at our local beach, and decided to look into it a little bit further. We had no idea how large this problem was initially and we were completely shocked at how in a country that provides clean and accessible drinking water, people could buy single-use bottled water and pay over 1400 time more than what it costs from the tap.
We had also experienced the frustrations of trying to fit round water bottles into our bags. All of the bottles out there were all designed around ease of manufacture. Because of this, car holders, bike holders and accessories followed suit. We decided to flip the equation and create a product that was optimized for transportation but still held the functionality of traditional water bottles.
How would you describe your Kickstarter experience?
The Kickstarter experience has been overall positive for us. It was certainly a learning curve for us on many fronts but the good and the challenging parts combined have helped shape what memobottle is today. Crowdfunding is such a beautiful and powerful tool; it allows an idea to be presented to the world, and it is society that decides whether they want/need it in their life… It’s market feedback at its finest.
It allowed us to create a product, a business and an environmental movement all at once -we think about this fact a lot. By the end of the memobottle 45 day Kickstarter campaign we had raised enough capital to produce tooling, purchase the material required, secure domains globally and solidify our IP protection worldwide.
It also brought many challenges with it. Attempting to manage the interests and needs of over 6000 different personalities was difficult. Some backers wanted to be informed of every detail while others preferred to be removed from regular update emails. In hindsight, with the experience that we have gained from the entire campaign we would have communicated to our backers very differently. Transparency is key. Initially we were hesitant and sometimes sugar coating the production delays.
The nine months between the kickstarter launch and product delivery was the biggest and most exciting learning curve of our lives.
Not everything goes to plan when bringing a new product to market -hurdles and production delays are somewhat inevitable. We were forced to switch manufacturing suppliers 3 months into production – communicating this to backers was extremely challenging -some were understanding, while others criticized intensely. This was all part of the kickstarter experience though -and has helped us to really refine our communication with our customers and build it into our customer service codes.
The nine months between the kickstarter launch and product delivery was the biggest and most exciting learning curve of our lives. It exposed us as individuals, threw us right into the deep end, and forced us to dive into areas of knowledge and expertise that we had never had exposure to before.
The beautiful truth is that the memobottle would be nothing without the support and backing of the kickstarter community.
What didn’t you expect to encounter?
Where do we start? We created the Kickstarter campaign to produce a product while having a positive impact on the planet. We never anticipated the sheer amount of work that goes into setting up and maintaining a functioning business. We quickly learnt that we needed to upskill in worlds of logistics, domain management, trademarks, patents, accounting/finance and inventory management, customer service and marketing.
What were your biggest challenges along the way?
There have been many challenges over the past 12 months, some good and some bad, but all have helped to form the business that we run today. During the kickstarter campaign we experienced several production delays, logistics hurdles, refinements and in hindsight we could have communicated to our backers on Kickstarter in more detail than we did. [But] every step of this journey has been a wonderful learning curve.
The main challenge has been workload. Initially we were both working full time jobs and while ensuring that at least one of us was completely on top of all aspects of the business.
Fortunately being located in two different time zones we are able to have eyes on all developments 24 hours a day.
What advice do you have for someone with an original idea that they’d like to make a reality?
Give it a shot! The best thing about crowdfunding and social media platforms is that we now have the ability to put an idea out to the world and receive some accurate and informative feedback. Once upon a time inventors and entrepreneurs alike were forced to place their life savings or their house on the line. These days, with platforms like kickstarter, pozible and indiegogo we are able to let the people decide first. Our advice is to work hard and work fast, put your idea out there to the world and use the feedback that you obtain whether it be good or bad, to refine and improve your idea. Good luck!
You can learn more and purchase memobottles on their website. You too can start your own online business. One of the most popular hosts for small businesses is Bluehost, which despite its marketing is actually pretty bad
*This interview has been edited and condensed.