Helen Behn started her business based on a need for balancing a busy life and managing chronic back pain. She found that icing her back after exercise reduced her inflammation and pain, but it wasn’t easy to get therapy time in without having to sit still or lie down. Noting this gap in thermal treatments available, Helen set out to create her own mobile therapy clothing line to help maintain her busy lifestyle while providing an easy and effective solution for managing back pain without taking time out of her day. In this post, Helen shares her experience in building her company Spand-Ice and launching her therapy product through Kickstarter.
We’re making clothing to help people manage back pain on-the-go. Our Revive Tank is a full zip therapy garment designed to reduce pain & inflammation using hot & cold therapy that targets the low and mid back. Our patent-pending design is flexible, easy to use, and allows you to get your therapy in while you remain mobile & active.
Process for Production:
In the past two years, my team and I have taken our product from an idea to reality. Through market research, prototyping, and testing, we built a versatile design that appeals to all back pain sufferers. We also filed a utility patent and partnered with US suppliers and manufacturers (including our thermal therapy packs) and spent the better half of a year in product development and sample-making.
Partnering with a US manufacturer was very important to us. Not only did we want more control in our designs and faster turnaround time with our samples, but we also wanted a partner that we could work side-by-side with while building our Revive Tank. When it came down to selecting a particular manufacturing partner, we chose a Virginia-based facility that helped us to perfect our design, materials, and streamline our sewing operations.
We are all set to go into production, but because the Revive Tank is a sized garment (M-XXL) in both male and female designs, the minimums needed for our first run are quite high. We needed a way to be able to pre-fund the production of nearly 700 units to reach factory minimums and we turned to Kickstarter for help.
Kickstarter is a crowd-funding platform to help new products come to life. It offers exposure and support, from not only potential customers, but also anyone who wants to see good ideas succeed. We chose Kickstarter for our product launch for two main reasons:
- It serves as an excellent platform for people to pre-order our Revive Tanks in order to meet factory minimums for our first production run.
- It’s a great way to expose our product to many different people as well as help us identify target markets and surprise demographics we weren’t originally considering. Whether you suffer from chronic, acute or occasional back pain – many people can benefit from a therapy that moves with you.
In the process of setting up our Kickstarter campaign, I’ve learned many valuable lessons along the way. Here are my “Top 5” tips as you launch your product through any crowd-funding platform:
Keep reward levels simple & product-focused:
At first, we wanted to offer mugs, t-shirts and stickers for lower reward levels for our campaign, but we learned that people fund your campaign because they think your product is cool or valid, not for the swag in your campaign. As one of my colleagues, Stefan Loble, warned from Bluff Works “You’ll ultimately be making t-shirts for your friends.” Instead, you want to focus rewards around your product and what you’re doing. For example, we chose reward levels of $1, $25, $100, $190, $1000 and $2500. Our product sells (at 20% off) for $100 + free shipping in the US. At lower levels, you can get ice/heat packs for your donations and at higher levels you can get multiple Revive Tanks or custom-made therapy products.
Keep project goals small & hope for overfunding:
We originally considered a $60,000 goal for the Spand-Ice campaign, but after much deliberation, we decided to cut that goal in half. The reality that we came to terms with was the we’re going to produce our Revive Tanks regardless of the campaign’s success, so why not set a more realistic goal and in turn a chance for a higher success rate. (Hint: I’ve heard that Kickstarter could have some ways of giving your campaign more visibility as you get close to your funding goal. i.e. potential listing on Top 100 projects).
Include a video:
In your campaign, it’s really important to show the person behind the idea. It allows a way for you to tell your story, show why your product exists and why you need support. Make this impactful and speak from your experience. (Note: Consider outsourcing videography as this is very time consuming and involves storyboarding, shooting, selecting audio/video clips and editing).
Campaign timing plays an important role:
Timing the campaign is an important part in a successfully funded campaign. We originally planned a December launch for our Revive Tank, but that timeline was too aggressive for us with all the moving pieces and parts. In addition, our product launch was competing with the Holidays and “gifting”, and the Revive Tank is much better positioned in January around fitness, health and awareness.
Launching your campaign is a big deal and takes a lot of hard work. But the moment you push the button is exciting. Why not maximize support and create a launch event where you push the proverbial ‘green button’ together? It also allows you a way to show off your product where people can touch and feel your product as well as see the person behind the idea. We also had iPad stations set up so people could order our Revive Tanks at the launch party!
Plan your PR & social media strategy:
Months before our Kickstarter campaign starts, we determined our PR & social media strategy so we could have continuous momentum throughout the campaign. This included timing and messaging of email communications about the product, the launch party and the campaign. We also reached out within the Pittsburgh community to ask for media coverage and financial commitments at certain reward levels. The launch party was also part of our strategy, as it provided excitement around ‘the moment’ and helped to create additional buzz.
Spand-Ice’s Revive Tank campaign is now a featured Kickstarter Staff Pick! Please check out the ongoing campaign and help spread the word so that we can make our Revive Tank a reality!