Imagine yourself as a product inventor on day one of your crowdfunding campaign. Aside from the exhaustion of defining a product, generating leads, and creating a buzz in social media, there is excitement and anxiety. Whether your efforts will result in success or failure hinges on one question: Will this product sell?
For decades, startups and large corporations alike have relied heavily on market research, consumer surveys, and intuition to guide product decisions. This information has historically kicked off a long and expensive product development process that culminates in product availability. The built-in assumption is that the product will sell because the research is good. However, if this assumption were always true, we would see a very low rate of product failures in the marketplace.
Product developers understand all too well that there is only one way to know if a product will sell. You have to convince people to pay for the product you believe in.
In the one year since we opened the doors of GE’s FirstBuild, a subsidiary of GE Appliances focused on developing the next generation of home appliances, we have launched 8 new products through various channels (e-tail, independent dealers, and Indiegogo). Our primary goal has been to get products we believe in to market as fast as possible. Reducing the time to market means that we reduce our investment for any one product while engaging in an exchange of value with our consumers. We sum up our philosophy as follows: To maximize your success, engage with a passionate community early. But if you are going to fail, fail fast.
This philosophy is evident in our Paragon Induction Cooktop crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo earlier this year. The original concept for Paragon showed up as an idea posted on the FirstBuild website by Brad Walchak, a FirstBuild community member. As a group of enthusiastic supporters coalesced around the concept, it became clear that we should make it into a real product.
We acted quickly, launching a design challenge to our community about 3 months prior to the Indiegogo launch date. What was that time used for? Product design, lead generation, and community engagement. We started an open dialogue with our online and local communities. This was an absolute necessity in defining the product and learning how to communicate its value to our future contributors.
Just 3 months prior to the campaign, we believed that the product was all about “sous vide” cooking, a technique that allows proteins and veggies to be cooked to within 1 degree of a target temperature. By talking to community members, chefs, and enthusiasts, we found a significant group of passionate consumers who would like to improve cooking across the board, from warming to deep-frying. We pivoted quickly to include these key features in the product design and positioning statements.
So what did day one on Indiegogo look like for us? Market validation! We knew that despite the confidence we had built in the product through direct interaction with consumers, only a real-time test in the marketplace would validate the product. After acquiring thousands of customers and more than $300k in sales, we are confident in our value proposition and are moving forward with production.
All of this explains why a company with the backing of GE would consider Indiegogo as a sales channel. For FirstBuild, it’s about validating that the product is worth our time and attention while engaging in a continuous dialogue with enthusiasts. Indiegogo has developed into an ideal testing ground for products that appeal to the early adopter market.
Paragon is the first of many Indiegogo campaigns from FirstBuild. Our engineering and manufacturing teams are on schedule to deliver a product better than initially advertised. The feedback we have received from our contributors has been very positive, and many recognize that their contribution was instrumental in bringing about a product that would not exist without validation from the Indiegogo community.
Next up for FirstBuild is the Opal Nugget Ice Maker, which we will be launching on Indiegogo on July 28. Opal is an affordable, countertop ice maker that makes crunchy yet soft nuggets of ice. We are currently in the product design and lead generation phase for that product. If you are passionate about soft, chewable ice, then check us out at nuggetice.com. We’re looking forward to another successful partnership with the Indiegogo platform.
Taylor Dawson has been developing products as an engineer, team leader, and marketer for 11 years. He is currently the Product Evangelist at FirstBuild, GE’s incubator for the next generation of home appliances. As Product Evangelist, Taylor is responsible for launching 8-12 new products per year, a pace and scale that defy the traditional model for new product development. The fast turnaround of ideas into the marketplace allows consumers FirstBuild community members to engage products early, giving critical feedback on market acceptance and helping to refine value propositions.
Follow Taylor on Twitter: @J_TaylorDawson
Thank you, Taylor, for contributing this guest blog post! Learn more about how you can start your very own Indiegogo campaign to fund what matters to you.